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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...
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.
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.
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.
A prominent telephone number on a homepage is a great way to reassure customers, as well as a useful shortcut.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Another one for the footer.
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.
If you offer free delivery, or have some delivery offer, showing this prominently on the homepage, as Webtogs does here, can be very persuasive.
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.
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.