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A retailer's homepage needs to convey what the site is about and provide all the elements that customers are looking for, and that will entice them to explore the rest of the site. 

I've listed 27 elements that are commonly seen on retailer's homepages, many essential, others desirable.

If I've missed any, please leave a comment below... 

Essentials

Search box

Vital for helping customers to find what they want quickly, though as our Site Search Report found, retailers need to work on the quality of the results returned. 

Logo

Tagline

Not something all retailers use, but it can help to quickly define your brand for visitors. Here are 17 tips for creating a website tagline

Store finder

Many retailers (M&S, Comet, John Lewis etc)  are now placing this at the top of the page, which makes sense if customers have come to your website just to find their nearest shop. 

Telephone number

A prominent telephone number on a homepage is a great way to reassure customers, as well as a useful shortcut. 

Contact details 

Customers should be able to easily find contact details on the homepage. There should at least be a link in the footer, but above the fold is preferable. 

Address

Providing the company's registered address at the foot of the page is a good way to reassure new visitors. 

My account / sign in

For returning customers, or for those that need to check or track an order. 

Top navigation bar

Obvious, but this is something customers will be used to seeing. 

Shopping basket / checkout link

Most customers will expect to see this on the top right of the page, so it makes sense to place it there. A basket or bag symbol can help to make it more visible. 

Latest offers

If you have some offers on, or are running a sale, it makes sense to promote it on the homepage. For some reason, Gap didn't link to its post Christmas sale from its homepage, making it much harder to find.  

Promotional area 

There are several ways of doing this, which I'll look into in a future post, but it makes sense to promote your products and give customers some ideas. 

Images

Images not only make a site more visually appealing, but also help to convey what they site does to the new visitor. 

Email sign up

Email marketing works for retailers, so give customers the option of signing up.

Delivery information

This could be another footer link, or more prominent if you have a delivery offer to promote. Either way, customers should be able to find it from your homepage. 

About us

One for the footer, but useful for customers and journalists. 

Link to press office / corporate site

Makes it easy for journalists to find out more about the company or financial reports.

Terms and conditions 

May not be read by many, but needs to be there for those that need it. 

Sitemap 

Another one for the footer. 

Status updates

Various events may affect prices or delivery, such as VAT rises, Royal Mail strikes, Christmas, or bad weather, so adding a message to the homepage is a good way to reassure customers. 

Desirables

Delivery offers

If you offer free delivery, or have some delivery offer, showing this prominently on the homepage, as Webtogs does here, can be very persuasive. 

free delivery

Personalised recommendations

Showing products based on previous purchase and browsing history is an excellent way to make promoted products relevant to returning customers. 

Social media links

As with email sign up, it makes sense to provide ways for customers to follow you on Twitter or Facebook. M&S does this quite prominently on its homepage

Accepted payment methods

While most sites will accept popular credit and debit cards, customers may be looking to find out if they can pay by PayPal or some alternative method. Play.com conveys this information well with the symbols at the bottom of its homepage. 

Link to blog or community section

If you have a community section, then it makes sense to provide a clear link from the homepage, as ASOS does. 

Maybe...

Trustmarks 

This is debatable, as trust is better conveyed by a professional looking website that is easy to use and error free. However, trustmarks may be more valuable for smaller retailers and less well-known brands 

Change language / country 

Websites should detect a user's location and serve the relevant version of the website, but some may need to provide the option to change this, in case users arrive at the wrong site. 

Graham Charlton

Published 10 January, 2011 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (26)

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Nick

What about main product categories? Saves one click, right?

over 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi, that comes under navigation really, though some retailers do have other options further down the page. 

Maybe one for the 'desirable' section. 

over 5 years ago

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Alex McCreath, Managing DIrector at Rocktime Limited

Great list - we have just been discussing and would like to add a few more:

Essentials: Great Design, Favicon/Social media icons, Online archive of emails (as appropriate), Community sign up, link to blog or community section, feed of news/latest offers, search engine friendly & attractive page titles, meta description and header tags, link to your mobile site, automatic XML sitemaps, google webmaster tools account, Web Analytics.

Desirables: Google Product Feed, Google Places and link to Google API (shop locations), Analytic tracking code on banners, Testimonials.

Plus: links to press office are good for bloggers as well as journalists.

over 5 years ago

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Blueclaw

id be tempted to move the address, but then guess it could help in geo targeting for the search engines and add some peace of mind for the buyers. T&Cs, indeed discoverable from the HP, but not a focus... rather than the email sign up - id be tempted to add - especially if we are using the social buttons - to be updated about your order on facebook or twitter... then we can leak links and noise out at the same time as adding to the long term reputation management that is the social sphere Thanks for the read JG

over 5 years ago

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Just Link Building

Loved the post - one think i would object to - the about us - i hate these about us pages - they're such a waste of a page, you have covered off most things the average users wants to know - so why waste a page that is linked to from the homepage, often has a dedicated section of main nav etc. I would ditch this page for something more conversion focused. Other than that - i would ensure teh latest offers/ sale iteams are not hard coded into the nav - as this detracts from long term brand image. Thanks, iDCx

over 5 years ago

Elizabeth Bell

Elizabeth Bell, Independent Consultant at Quintry

It's quite easy to put things like the About us page into the footer, especially with the deeper footers which tend to be used now.  I certainly wouldn't put it in the main nav, but it is something people are familiar with, and it's necessary for several groups of users, so it needs to be there.

I think the list is great, but the next step is to get all this information onto one page which is visually appealing and easy to use.  The best homepages are clear and simple but give each different type of visitor access to the information they need - no mean feat!

over 5 years ago

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NK Smith

Nice, comprehensive list Graham.  One more that might go in the 'maybe' section is a live chat link.  If the retailer is taking phone orders, it's just as easy to set up a chat server now.

over 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi Chris, 

Yes, not every item should be on every site, and perhaps a few of the 'essentials' should be moved to the other headings, taglines for instance. 

over 5 years ago

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Depesh Mandalia, Head of Digital Marketing at Lost My Name

It's a good list but it's also worth considering many e-commerce homepages represent half of all entry pages to the site, so it is good practice to ensure many of the 'must haves' are visible on your key landing pages, to reinforce some of the same messages of brand, trust, reassurance etc but perhaps less obvious, things like special offers, delivery deals etc which many retailers bundle onto their homepage forgeting that not everyone will visit the homepage on their journey through the site...

On another note, would love to see more of a personalised offering on the homepage however unless this is done right and done well, it is a waste of real-estate....

over 5 years ago

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gianluca greco

What about a returns policy like Zappos or Amazon and CIS and NPs about products, supply chain and customer servicelike Monclick.it

over 5 years ago

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Ross Macdonald

Some trust marks aren't worth the pixels they are displayed on.  

i however do think that customers will increasingly seek assurance that a trusted authentication solution is used by the site to protect the user from ID Theft / Man in the browser attacks and so on.  As these incidents continue to proliferate - I would suggest that websites that do not offer these minimum levels of security / trust will become marginalised if not by their customers then at least by the Information Commissioner. 

over 5 years ago

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Albie Attias

Good post but one thing missing I think is some USP content. Examples include 'Customer Promise' or 'Price Match Guarantee' but there should be something to convey 'Why Us' to potential customers.

over 5 years ago

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John Waring

Quite frankly, Out dated information that could have been cut & pasted from any armchair consultants web site ten years ago - mostly superfluous and sadly missing the real issues that face e-commerce site owners in 2011.. bizarre topic to be still discussing...

over 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi John, this is a checklist toi be discussed, not a comprehensive guide to e-commerce or current issues - for that there is plenty of other content on the blog and in our reports. 

Why is it outdated to add a search box or a telephone number to a homepage? 

over 5 years ago

Nic Jones

Nic Jones, Head of Digital at UBER

An interesting list which you could have broken down in to the constituent parts as some of them will / should appear on every page, not just the homepage. You mix header, footer and main homepage area information together here where things like search, telephone numbers etc should appear in the header or footer at all times.

Worth remembering that only half of your visitors will arrive at the homepage, yes it's a large proportion, but don't forget everyone else by only having key details hidden on the homepage.

over 5 years ago

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John Waring

Hi Graham, thank you for your reply. I am saying it's outdated to expect that potential visitors to your web site have little or no internet experience. The majority of 'on line customers' are looking for the best price and cheep delivery. They will not be prevented from making a purchase just because they have to click on a 'contact us' link to retrieve your phone number .. If on the other hand you disagree.. sites like Tesco , Sainsburys, Play.com ( I use these examples.. many more.. if required) will be expecting a sharp down turn in their online trading from now on! I would still buy an EOS 5D from a web site even if they failed to display a 'strap line'.. These are trivial matters that are usually discussed in great lengths by people trying to get 'consultancy work'.. And it wastes too much time.. What use is a search box if your product search function returns poor matched results? Its better to say you require a comprehensive search facility rather than just a search box. We should move on and start to really understand what customers really want and expect.. I hope this explains where I’m coming from.. kind regards

over 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi John, 

While the majority of customers may well be looking for the best price, this is not the only motivation, and factors such as brand, trust, and user experience are also important. 

I'm sure that, since they are well-known brands, a prominent contact number isn't much of a deal-breaker for the likes of Tesco and Play.com, it can help for smaller retailers to reinforce customer confidence.

A prominent contact number can also provide potential customers with a quick way to get in touch if they have any questions about a product, therefore increasing the likelihood of them making a purchase. 

And of course, a search box isn't much use if the results are poor, I made precisely that point in the article above. This doesn't meant that the search box should be discarded, it means that the retailer needs to improve the way it works. 

Some items in this list are more important than others, and the importance may vary between the type and size of the retailer, but the idea behind these features is to improve the overall experience for users, all of which makes it more likely that they will make a purchase. 

over 5 years ago

Kurt Wilson

Kurt Wilson, Managing Director at Advansys Limited

Hi Graham

I think your points are valid and a good starting point.  What frustrates me is that people forget to think like a shopper when considering design elements/structure of an ecommerce solution.  The name of the game is to make sure the customer journey is seemless and the only way to do that is to think like a shopper.

over 5 years ago

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John Waring

User experience of course is a major factor.. but you have to understand that there are millions of e-commerce web sites out there all selling a vast array of products to a wide range of customers and presenting their data to a variety of formats. Each one of those potential transactions will require a different approach. To 'expect' these '27 things' from a site I feel is missing the point..and potentially has the 'knock-on' effect of web site owners spending more money on web site redesigns with possibly no increase in their turn over or traffic. If however your blog was entitled “how to instil brand loyalty and trust in a potential customer.” more of those points would be valid. But this would be true of all web sites not just 'e-commerce' ones. The 'home page' augment falls down (as correctly put by a previous commentator) because most customers will be looking at your product information page first. And so its this page that is far more important than the home page. '27 things I would like to see on a product information page' would be a good start. I have been involved in developing e-commerce sites sine 1995 and this kind discussion took place in and around 2001. Thankfully the number of internet customers has risen and continues to grow.. Its a great field to be involved in.. but its changing big time.. and to keep up with this change – you must be willing to sometimes take a fresh look at what’s going on out there.

over 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

John, I'm well aware that there are lots and lots of different e-commerce sites out there, and that the 27 things are not necessarily applicable to all. I'm not suggesting that every online retailer should redesign it's hompage based on this list either. It also goes without saying that any changes should be tested before implementation. It's a checklist which was intended to promote a good debate, which it seems to have done ;)

over 5 years ago

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John Waring

Indeed so! ;)

over 5 years ago

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Rob Stocks

I don't think I saw anyone mention the currency.  Changing country or language is not always the same as changing the currency.  Many countries use "$"

As for trust marks, my only beef with them is that they tend to slow down the page load and some merchants go crazy with them.

over 5 years ago

Artur Jach

Artur Jach, Technical SEO Manager at MPG Media Contacts

Hi Graham. What about the text content? Surely the homepage is your best bet to rank for any generic terms, particularly if you're a start-up or your site's on a new domain and your category pages still don't rank the way you want them to.

over 5 years ago

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Richard

Hi Graham,

Interesting list - and like you said; not all items are likely to fit every homepage. One point which for me stands out as a question mark, is the payment methods - unless you have a call-to-action "Buy" within a purchase context (ie, not just a link), I would imagine such info is more suited on the actual payment page. Is there a comparative value in showing Payment methods before we distinguish the "Shoppers" from the "Browsers" on a page which have so much responsibility?

over 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Artur I wasn't looking at this from an SEO angle so much, so I may have missed some things such as text content, title tags etc. @Richard I think the point about payment methods is perhaps more applicable when sites offer alternatives like PayPal. It lets them know that they can shop(safely) at that site. This is perhaps more applicable to smaller retailers.

over 5 years ago

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seo cyprus

Excellent tips. This post rocks. A nice all in one guide. I ll print it and keep it for future reference.
Thanks for sharing.

over 5 years ago

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