A Merchant’s Guide to Building An eCommerce Store

In the past, a brick and mortar store was all you needed to sell your goods and services. Today, consumers spend most of their time online, where there is a vast selection of virtual retailers, and purchases are just a couple of clicks away. Is your business missing out on potential sales?

Opening up an online store is quite different from opening a physical one. There are already a ton of resources available online explaining the Do’s and Don’ts of building a virtual store. Instead of telling you what works for your business, we’ve compiled some best practices to help guide you on your eCommerce journey.

Design and User Experience

Website design should never be an afterthought. Aesthetics play a big part in an online customer’s buying decision. An unpolished website is a sale crusher and eats away at your business’ credibility. The experience of an online store plays an integral role in the customer’s buying decision. If your customers don’t like your website because of the design or a complicated navigation, they won’t buy. Your website’s design should visually communicate your brand message so it must be consistent with the overall brand image.

Just remember to keep it functional. A user’s journey from start to purchase must be seamless and easy to navigate. Make it simple to find products and information on shipping, taxes, and returns. Design and functionality should go hand in hand to deliver your website’s ultimate goal: to bring in sales. Design and functionality should go hand in hand to deliver your website’s ultimate goal: to bring in sales.


The most important element on your website is your navigation. You never want to overwhelm your customer with an over-complicated navigation. People have an easier time making decisions when they have fewer options to choose from. Every clickable item on a page creates a new hoop for your customers to jump through to get the information they need. Reducing the number of links in the header and footer navigation will help emphasize call-to-action buttons, such as “Next Step”, or “Complete Order”.


Your customers may not immediately find what they are looking for on your website. Even if they know what they’re after, give them the ability to search your website. Adding a search box in the top right corner of your page will help shoppers easily find what they’re looking for.

Page Loading

Customers shop online because it’s convenient. If your customers are waiting through slow page load times, they’ll go to a competitor with a faster and better-performing website. Work with a dedicated website developer to clean up the code on your site and remove unnecessary scripts and plugins. This will help speed up the time is takes your website to load up. Amazon found that every 100 milliseconds in loading time results in a 1% loss in sales.

User Experience Checklist:

  • Clean design
  • User-friendly navigation
  • Search box
  • Clear terms and conditions
  • Easy to find shipping, tax, return policy and contact info

Product Details

Avoid using stock images on your website. Use beautiful photography that is relevant and will help your customer reach a buying decision. Having current, well-curated images of your products or services is your website’s version of a first impression. The attention to detail will support the credibility of your brand.

Your photos should provide multiple views of the products. Always begin with an overall view of a product and follow with close-ups, as well as different angles. Your online customer expects as much of a tangible inspection on your website as they would in stores. Showing detailed product images provides a real-life shopping experience and helps convince them to buy. Keep in mind that your images must have a consistent look and feel across the board to provide your customer a seamless branded experience.

Help your customer find the product that is right for them by giving your merchandise a clear title and detailed description. Spend time crafting your product descriptions instead of going with the manufacturer’s standard blurb. Include image thumbnails in the cart page so customers know they are buying the right item from a glance. Realizing they’ve select- ed the wrong product at checkout creates friction and ultimately decreases the likelihood of purchase.

Product Details Checklist:

  • Professional and beautiful product images
  • Detailed product descriptions
  • Shopping cart thumbnails

Security and Terms of Service

Establishing trust with your customers solidifies your online store’s reputation. When a customer is comfortable making purchases on your website, they are more likely to refer your business to their friends.

Always include links to both your security and privacy policy, and try to display any third party security certificates on your homepage as well as checkout. Providing a secure checkout along with product guarantees, and a visible return policy will make your customers more confident when deciding to make a purchase.

Security and Terms Checklist:

  • Security information and badges
  • Privacy policy
  • Return policy


Did you know about 70% of carts are abandoned during the checkout process? With this shocking eCommerce statistic, it’s never been more important for you to make your online buying process as quick and painless as possible.

Avoid using an off-site checkout. Taking your customer away from your website to complete a purchase jeopardizes security and trust, putting them at risk. All customers want a seamless shopping experience, so design a checkout experience that even less tech-savvy customers will be comfortable with.

If you don’t have the resources to implement a check out within your website, pick an Ecommerce processor that can provide a secure hosted check- out that is user-friendly.

Minimizing friction for your customers from entry to purchase is a massive part of conversions, so make sure you have the tools to keep your website and checkout process aligned. During checkout, if your customers must go through more than 5 steps to buy something from your site, you’re asking for too much. Keep it simple and only ask customers for essential information.

Here is an example of a successful checkout process:

Step 1: Cart Review
Step 2: Billing
Step 3: Shipping
Step 4: Payment
Step 5: Order Confirmation

Shipping, Taxes, and Fees

Online shoppers prefer to have as much information as possible before making a purchase. Be upfront about taxes and shipping costs, before asking for payment information. Showing fees at the last possible second is an easy way to aggravate customers, and lead them to abandon their carts. Being transparent with your customers goes a long way and creates repeat business.

Checkout Checklist:

  • Secure checkout
  • Quick checkout process
  • Display shipping and tax charges upfront

Expanding Your Market

As a business you are always looking for new revenue channels, online sales are one of the largest revenue streams available. With this guide to eCommerce, you can confidently take your business online, expand your reach and increase revenue.

For more information, talk to a Payment Advisor at 1.800.747.6883.