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The essentials of a reputable online store

The essentials of a reputable online store

These days, we can buy (almost) everything online. But we usually gravitate towards the online stores that we know and trust. And if a new online store pops up when we search for something specific, there are a few things we tend to notice that help us assess whether the site is reputable or not. We don’t part with our money unless we’re certain of the legitimacy of an online store and the likelihood that we will, in fact, receive the products or services we pay for. Whether you’re an online shopper trying to make sure you’re not scammed or a business owner trying to figure out why no one is buying from your online store, this list is for you. Let’s take a look at 40 essentials of a reputable online store.

40 essentials of a reputable online store

1. Consistent branding. If there is no logo or company name, or if there are inconsistencies across pages or between the website URL and branding, users will become apprehensive.

2. Fresh homepage. If the slider on a homepage has been promoting a launch offer for two years then users will become worried that the business is stale and no longer active.

3. Visually appealing. A website that looks like a dog’s breakfast is usually viewed with a raised eyebrow. If users are put off by a website then they will be put off buying from the store.

4. Excellent spelling and grammar. If a site’s copy is even slightly suspicious then users will think twice before purchasing a produkt or servise.

5. Attention-grabbing. It takes seconds for users to decide whether or not they’re going to stay on a website, so if there isn’t any copy or visual element holding their attention, they’re gone.

6. Unambiguous menus. A nonsensical menu structure that confuses users and doesn’t help them navigate quickly and easily to where they want to go on the site will cause annoyance.

7. Dynamic offers. Customers are fickle. If there is no offer, discount, promotion, freebie, deal or new product then they could lose interest.

8. Clear categories. If subcategories don’t fit into the correct main categories, or if there are no categories at all, then it becomes hard for users to click through to the right place.

9. Straightforward navigation. Users are easily irritated when they cannot get to the page on a website that they’re trying to get to within a few clicks.

10. Effective search. If there is no search bar, or if using the search functionality produces futile results, then users who prefer this option will easily give up.

11. Efficient filtering. If filtering of products or services by attributes such as price, size, rating and brand is not available, slow or useless then users will usually abandon their hunt.

12. Product photos. If there are limited, poor or no images of the products on sale then it is unlikely that they will be bought, as photos help shoppers make purchase decisions.

13. Image variety. Whilst one product image might suffice for some products, one image doesn’t cut it when users are after a variety of views or angles of the product.

14. Lifestyle visuals. Online stores with product-only images/videos look boring and do nothing to help users visualise the products or services in use.

15. Findable FAQs. Customers have lots of questions, and if they can’t get these questions answered quickly on an easy-to-find FAQ page or section then they’ll shop elsewhere.

16. Quick links. If users can’t quickly and easily navigate to the most visited pages and parts of a site then frustration may set in.

17. Structured content. A website that has its photos, videos, copy, sounds, animations, etc. spread across the site in a haphazard way has no flow and is difficult for users to navigate.

18. Delivery information. If there is zero indication of how long products will take to be delivered and how much it will cost then it is unlikely users will take the risk of purchasing.

19. Return details. If a website specifies that no returns are allowed, or even that returns are “for your own expense”, then users will shop elsewhere, as there is too much risk involved.

20. Customer recommendations. When there are negative, limited or no customer comments about the online store and its products or services then people are less likely to trust it.

21. About us. If there is no background information about the online store, and no story of who is behind it and why it came about, users are less likely to buy into it.

22. Mobile friendly. A lot of people are shopping online with their phones or tablets, so if an online store is not responsive or optimised for these devices then users will leave.

23. Security certification. If a website doesn’t begin with https then alarm bells start ringing and users immediately assume that the website is not safe to purchase from.

24. Invaluable information. It’s not great when a store sells a product or service without offering any advice or insight on a blog that could help users get the most out of their purchase.

25. Social links. When there are no links to be found to any business social media profiles, users will begin to wonder if the business is legitimate. A brand needs a strong digital presence.

26. Limited pop-ups. Pop-ups are annoying. If users have to close multiple pop-ups before even being able to view a website, they’re unlikely to stick around.

27. Privacy policy. Users don’t trust sites that don’t have privacy and cookie policies. They feel much safer sharing personal information on sites that have these in place to protect them.

28. Contact us. When a user cannot find a working phone number, a proper email address or an actual address for the business then users can become sceptical of shopping on the site.

29. Online chat. Online stores without live chat or chatbot functionality may put some users off if they have a specific question they want to have answered before purchasing.

30. Delightful design. There are some basic elements of design that online stores must follow. If a design audit hasn’t been done before launching, there’s a risk that it won’t delight users.

31. Payment options. If a website has limited/unfamiliar payment options, suspicious bank details or even no way to pay (i.e. catalogue site) then users will think twice before paying. And there will be customers wanting to spend their ebucks.

32. Distinct header. When a website’s header and top bar are obscure, users who land on the site may not know where to go next and simply end their journey feeling disgruntled.

33. Full footer. An online store without a footer, or without a full footer with all the usual links, is like a leg without a foot. If a website can’t stand, it will fall.

34. Terms and conditions. If users can’t view the terms and conditions of an online store they may feel like shopping is too risky, as there is no indication of customer protection.

35. Helpful guides. Online stores that offer no assistance in the form of product, how-to or sizing guides are aggravating for users who want to figure out what product is best for them.

36. Obvious CTAs. If call-to-action buttons are non-existent, hidden or confusing then a user’s journey might get thwarted or simply end.

37. Page consistency. If different pages on an online store look completely different from one another it might make users feel insecure in purchasing.

38. Store finder. Some prefer to experience products for themselves and might get discouraged when there is no store finder, retailer or showroom where they can see the products.

39. Fast loading. No one likes waiting. If a website has slow loading speeds then users will usually become distracted or close the tab.

40. Simple pricing. Pricing that is unclear is annoying. Online stores that try to pull the wool over customers’ eyes are red-flagged by users.

Well, there you have it – 40 essentials of a reputable online store. Reputation is everything when it comes to online shopping. You can sell almost anything online, but if your online store is not seen as reputable then your efforts will bring no return. Get in touch with our team to help you build an ecommerce store that people can trust.

Yes! I have an idea and I need your innovation to turn it into an online store invention!


Louise is the write woman to be the Marketing Manager at Flicker Leap.

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