6 essentials every eCommerce website needs in 2020
What are the mandatory fundamentals required to make an eCommerce store successful in 2020?
These days, setting up and maintaining an eCommerce site is easier than ever. There’s plenty of platforms, frameworks, and plug-and-play technologies that can help make the whole process a breeze.
Simply find a platform that includes the essentials and you’ll have your store up and running in no time.
But what are those essentials?
Well, lucky for you, we’ve asked our team of engineers that exact same question and compiled a list of the top 6 website essentials that every great eCommerce site needs to have. So, before you settle on an eCommerce platform for your store, check their features list and make sure they offer all of the following…
Today’s eCommerce world is a competitive, cutthroat industry. Your competitors will likely do whatever it takes to shave off milliseconds of page load time, increase their Google ranking, and outperform other stores (like yours!)
To stay in the game, you’ll need to ensure that your eCommerce website includes all the essentials. So whether you’re looking to create a new website or revamp the one you already have, keep the following in mind:
- You need to be using HTTP/2 and SSL - Remember, this helps protect your users and reduce your website load time.
- Enable caching and get your site on a CDN - Keep your site speedy by enabling caching and ensuring it’s accessible from anywhere.
- Stay safe out there! - Get yourself a WAF to stop DDoS attacks and ensure your data is regularly backed up.
1. SSL: Better Google Presence, Better Peace of Mind
Check out our URL at the top of your screen. Notice the ‘S’ in HTTPS? That stands for secure and it’s critically important for any website. Without it, running a successful eCommerce website can be extremely difficult.
Why is that one letter such a big deal? Well, having that ‘S’ in your URL means that anything your users do on your site is encrypted using SSL. It helps prevent important information from being leaked and makes it more difficult for third parties (i.e., hackers) to snoop on your users.
What’s more, Google has recently begun penalizing websites without HTTPS and ranking them lower in search results. And as if that wasn’t enough, if your website doesn’t have a valid SSL certificate, Google Chrome will tell users that your eCommerce website is “Not Secure” whenever they try to connect to it.
Not a good look.
Save yourself the headache by getting an SSL certificate and having one of your developers install it on your eCommerce site. If you’re an Artifakt customer, this will already be done for you so feel free to skip this step.
Breaking it Down: Let’s say you’ve just set up a new online store, KittMitt.io, in order to sell your collection of hand-stitched mittens for kittens. Without an SSL certificate, your website would be unable to keep sensitive information like credit card details from falling into the wrong hands. Instead, you decide to do things right by getting yourself set up with HTTPS to protect your users. Within a few weeks, Google’s algorithms notice this change and begin listing you higher in their search results. Bottom line: more business and increased sales.
2. The new kid on the block: HTTP/2
In 2015, a new way to connect to websites was approved and released to the public. The new protocol, called HTTP/2, is an improved and updated version of the original HTTP we all know and love. For anyone who works on eCommerce sites, this is great news as it means improved performance across your entire website.
How is it better?
If you’re a techie, you’ll be excited to learn that upgrading to HTTP/2 will give you improved flow controls, modern error handling functionality, and better management of images and scripts through minifying.
On the other hand, if you’re a regular joe like the rest of us, it essentially means your eCommerce website will run faster and will make life easier for your developers.
Making the jump to HTTP2 is relatively easy. In fact, most decent providers include it as standard (including Artifakt) and will likely even be preparing for the upgrade to HTTP3 as well. If you’re not already on the latest protocol, update now and give your users a faster online shopping experience.
Breaking it Down: KittMitt.io is doing well. You’re slowly helping the world’s felines become more fashionable one mitten at a time. However, their owners are complaining about slow load times and often abandon their cart before checking out. By implementing HTTP2, you can immediately increase your page speed, give your developers more tools to work with, and connect more kittens with the mittens they deserve.
3. Protect against DDoS with a Web Application Firewall
What would happen if millions of people all tried to access your eCommerce website at exactly the same time? Without the right protections in place, it would quickly get clogged up, choke on the unexpected traffic surge, and grind to a halt.
That’s essentially what happens during a DDoS attack.
DDoS stands for Distributed Denial of Service. It’s where a malicious third party floods your website with an overwhelming surge of fake traffic from all over the world. As your site struggles with increased load, your users will be unable to use your store and make purchases. In most cases, they’ll have no idea what’s happening and may assume that it’s your website’s fault for being so slow.
In other words, you’ll lose revenue that day and even future business as customers decide to buy from faster, more reliable websites.
Fortunately, you can avoid all that headache by getting yourself a Web Application Firewall. Without getting too technical, your WAF is a buffer between your website and the outside world. It will inspect all incoming traffic to ensure that you’re not being swamped by fake users. Avoid lost revenue and customer trust by making sure you’ve got your very own WAF in place.
Breaking it Down: Your eCommerce store is doing so well that you’ve cornered the market on kitten mittens. You’re at the top of the search results and sell hundreds of mittens a day. Unfortunately, your top competitor, Hatz4Catz.co isn’t happy. They hire a team of hackers to flood your website with fake traffic and make it impossible to use. Or… that was the plan. Luckily, your eCommerce platform provides free DDoS protection and it’s just business as usual.
4. Go global with a CDN
No matter where your users are, they expect your eCommerce website to load extremely fast. In fact, more than half of all your customers will leave your site if it fails to load in less than 3 seconds. Unfortunately, no amount of tweaking of image sizes or other on-page elements will help your website speed if users are located thousands of miles from your website servers. If a user lives far away, they’ll just have to wait.
The solution? Duplicate your website and store it in multiple data centers all over the world.
A CDN, or Content Delivery Network, is a distributed network of servers and data centers. They help websites maintain a standard speed by storing an updated copy of your website in multiple locations around the globe. When a user connects to your site, they’ll automatically be matched with the closest server and can load your website as fast as possible.
If you’re building a global brand, it doesn’t make sense to have a quick loading time in one country but not another. Keep your customers happy by working with an eCommerce platform that gives you access to a global CDN. At Artifakt for example, we help you stay global by distributing your website across our massive network of global data centers.
Breaking it Down: KittMitt.io has gone viral. You’re now receiving orders from every corner of the earth. The only catch is, your new customers in China, New Zealand, and Turkey are complaining that they can’t complete orders because the site is struggling to load. You immediately get your site duplicated and distributed to data centers in Europe, Asia, and Australia in order to ensure that no kitten is left without a mitten no matter which country they call home.
5. Encourage Repeat Business with Caching
You already know that quick page load times are crucial for any successful eCommerce site. However, once you’ve managed to reduce load times to under three seconds, how can you make the experience even better?
One of the quickest ways to make your users’ lives easier is to enable page caching across your entire site. In a nutshell, this makes its so that users won’t have to redownload every image, video, and script each time they visit your site.
Instead, they’ll load everything once and then be treated to lightning fast load speeds whenever they return. If your store relies on repeat business to succeed (who doesn’t?), then page caching is absolutely mandatory. Be sure to go with an eCommerce platform like Magento that offers modern caching options so you’re covered from day one.
Breaking it Down: Over lunch with one of your developers, she casually mentions that while you’re selling plenty of kitten mittens, you’ve also got a very high “bounce rate”. Basically, your missing out on extra sales because customers leave your site after only a few seconds. She tells you that by enabling caching, you can help keep users on the site and it will load almost instantly during any repeat visits.
6. Keep Your Data Secure and Backed Up
Have you ever had a hard drive full of data fail on you for no reason? All of a sudden your precious family photos are gone forever and all you’re left with is a useless hunk of metal and plastic.
Unfortunately, the sad truth is that all hard drives, given enough time, will eventually fail. This is why it’s essential that no matter which eCommerce platform you work with, it should be regularly backing up your data and storing it on reliable hardware.
Be sure to check with your eCommerce platform to ensure they’re using solid state drives (more reliable than hard disks) and performing regular backups of your site across multiple locations. After all, the last thing your store needs is an unexpected crash without a backup!
Breaking it Down: A major wildfire has gotten completely out of control and swept through the California headquarters of your web hosting company. The entire data center has been reduced to ash… taking your website and all your customer data with it! Fortunately, you did your research when selecting a hosting provider and chose a company that backs up your data to multiple locations around the world. Your site automatically begins pulling from an intact copy and your users don’t notice a thing.
There you have it, the 6 essentials that your website needs in 2019. But don’t stop there… if you want an eCommerce site that goes beyond the essentials, book a free demo with us to learn how Artifakt can help you build a best-in-class eCommerce store.
Or register now for free and try Artifakt.