Ecommerce EssentialsEcommerce stores earned $226 billion in revenue last year. But just getting your store online won’t net you customers. A shopping cart system incorrectly implemented can hinder online sales and hurt your brand reputation. Web users expect speed, convenience and safety. If any of these three factors are poorly designed, the ecommerce store will take a hit. Here’s how to do them right.

How Does Your Shopping Cart Perform?

Any good ecommerce owner should familiarize him- or herself with bounce rate numbers. Bounce rate is the metric used to determine if pages engage users. When users find a site using a search engine and immediately leave without browsing product, the bounce rate increases. Bounce rate is an ecommerce store’s nemesis, and store owners should watch these numbers carefully to make sure users are liking what they find.

Performance is one main factor in bounce rate. Forty percent of users will bounce from a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. Each additional second results in a 7% additional loss. Slow load times typically occur during high traffic spikes unforeseen by the site owner. One way to reduce load time is by selecting a fast cloud host. Cloud hosts offer scalability and the ability to increase server resources dynamically during traffic spikes, keeping your performance high.

Is the Shopping Cart Reliable?

Availability and reliability tie in with performance, but incredibly poor servers can add a “crash” factor to store metrics. High traffic spikes don’t just slow down a website, but can also crash a server while the customer is shopping. According to a recent Rackspace infographic, poor availability results in 58% of users who will not return to the site. Up to 72% of users will go to a competitor site. For high visibility and better conversions, the ecommerce store should be hosted on servers that have a 100% uptime. A reputable host with high-end web farms and data centers will guarantee 100% uptime for online stores.

Online Shopping Safety

As the Internet intertwines with everyday life, users are more aware and savvy about online safety. Ten years ago, users didn’t know to look for the SSL safety seal, but now shoppers are more aware of what it takes to keep their credit cards secure. If you don’t have security, users lose trust and bounce from the site.

Most reputable hosts offer SSL certificates for customers who purchase domain hosting. Each step in the shopping cart system should use the HTTPS protocol, which is visible in the URL. Standard browsers display a security logo, making shoppers aware that the ecommerce store offers standard data encryption. Not only does this build trust with customers, but it’s also required in standard security compliance with PCI.

While improvement in these three factors doesn’t guarantee ecommerce success, safety, performance and convenience greatly affect sales numbers. Online discounts and prices only get customers in the door, but having quality hosting and performance helps keep them from immediately leaving.

Jennifer Marsh is a software developer, programmer and technology writer and occasionally blogs for ecommerce hosting company Rackspace Hosting.