When Googling ‘the meaning of storefront in eCommerce,’ you find most snippets explaining it as part of monolithic solutions that comprise the entire eCommerce platform from frontend to backend.
Yes, the entire eCommerce platform you use is essential and valuable for your users and business. But we want to focus on the importance and value of your frontend as the visual and functional first point of contact with your target customers on your site.
This article will focus on the definition of an eCommerce storefront, the elements which increase its success, and the value that it brings to your business.
The eCommerce storefront definition
An eCommerce storefront is the most crucial aspect of your online business. It is where all marketing campaigns point to and is the first opportunity you have to entice and impress customers with your brand when they land on your site. It is an essential factor in their decision to purchase.
Your eCommerce storefront is the frontend UI (user interface) of your online store that interacts with online shoppers. Your frontend platform must tick all the right boxes for a generation of buyers who demand a personalized experience, the ultimate ease of use, and who do not like to wait.
Frontend vs. backend
The frontend (storefront) of an eCommerce website is the part of your eCommerce business that online shoppers see and interact with.
The backend of an eCommerce website is the part that handles all the data, such as prices, promotions, product images, order details, and fulfillment.
In short, the frontend defines how the online shopping experience feels, and the backend defines how it functions.
You can look at your eCommerce storefront as the outcome of the data stored in the backend (products, prices, order details, customer information), presented in the most appealing way to your target market. It is why we often describe it as the client-side of eCommerce that engages the user with:
- Fonts and colors
- Image sliders
- Search bars
- Drop-down menus
- Product detail pages
- Extra videos
- Advanced interactive features
So, let’s further explore the meaning of storefront in eCommerce and how focusing on a high-quality frontend adds value to your customer’s experience, fulfilling expectations and positively affecting your revenue and ROI.
What must your eCommerce storefront offer?
Business users see the outcome of a bad frontend but don’t always know that the frontend is the mechanism causing that poor performance (speed, mobile conversion, SEO).
Your eCommerce storefront must have tried and tested elements to remain competitive and relevant.
We’ll briefly discuss a few of the fundamental features of successful frontends.
Great user experience
Every executive is prioritizing their customer experience digitally, and the frontend is the foundational component delivering that customer experience. Start there to supercharge conversion and speed.
K.I.S.S. (keep it stupid simple) is an adage that never goes out of style for your eCommerce storefront. There's no valid reason to sacrifice style to achieve simplicity and user-friendliness. In a recent Hubspot survey, 76% of respondents agreed that ease of use is the most critical factor when shopping online.
You often have mere minutes (if not seconds) to make an online sale. Ensure that the user experience provides well for this challenge by offering filters, categories, and the possibility to compare prices.
Excellent web performance for better UX and SEO results
The Google Core Web Vitals (CWV) update from 2021 uses page and image loading times as core ranking signals for websites. As eCommerce storefronts rely heavily on high-quality images to sell their products, any website’s performance is crucial.
Besides optimizing for preferential Google rankings, eCommerce consumers value speed when shopping online. A recent study conducted by Portend determined that obtaining the best eCommerce conversion rates requires a page load time of 0-2 seconds. Each second of load time longer than that decreases website conversion rates by 4.42%.
Google conducted a study in 2017 that determined how page loading times affect the probability of a bounce. A 3-second page load time increases bounce probability by 32%. At 5-seconds it leaps to a bounce probability of 90%. A page using 6-seconds to load increases it to 106%, and a 10-second page load time increases the probability of the user bouncing off your site by up to 126%.
Omnichannel retail possibilities are an increasingly critical factor for success in eCommerce. As a merchant, you must address the consumer expectations of omnichannel buyer journeys on your storefront.
Omnichannel provides a seamless shopping experience between a retailer's channels, whether a customer is on their mobile device, a laptop, or a browser. It provides a level of consistency that leads to positive customer engagement that naturally leads to retention.
Personalized shopping experience and customer journey
The customer journey happens on the frontend. That's why it's best to consistently deliver unique experiences that you personalize for each customer. This includes recommendations, special offers, and promotions on their favorite merchandise. A highly personalized shopping experience encourages customers to purchase from your store.
High-quality mobile customer experience delivering high mobile conversion rates
Apart from the Core Web Vitals, as discussed earlier, 2022 is definitely the time to focus on the mobile-friendliness of your eCommerce storefront.
Unfortunately, most merchants are experiencing a mobile revenue gap of at least 49%. Customers currently browse on mobile devices but opt for buying on desktop due to storefronts that are not well optimized for mobile.
- High-resolution images and videos
Simply dropping one picture with a bullet list of why you believe customers must buy your product won’t cut it in today’s marketplace. Users want to engage with the product, zoom in, view various angles, and, if possible, even observe it in different environments.
Using JPEG images of 800x800 or 640x640 remains your best option as they look best in small sizes. Optimized images are also a significant factor in your storefront’s performance.
- User-generated reviews
According to Search Engine Journal, around 95% of online shoppers read reviews before buying. Of those, 57% mostly only use a store with at least four stars.
Make sure you give your customers the option to add reviews and rate their experience by providing you with stars.
Wish lists are a great way to secure future revenue through remarketing campaigns. Users must be able to bookmark those items they want, and saving them on a list makes it easier to return and purchase them.
eCommerce is exceptionally competitive, and consumers are spoiled for choice. What separates you from your competition? Consider how much added value your brand offers besides delivering a user-friendly and intuitive experience, personalization, and an aesthetically-pleasing design.
Technical features to increase customer satisfaction could include a ‘Click-and-Collect’ option. This offers consumers the freedom to take their time researching, comparing, and paying for their purchases online while collecting them from the store in person.
It’s a superb way to bridge traditional objections to online shopping without the opportunity to examine the products first-hand before taking them home.
Comprehensive FAQ sections
Some purchases are more complex than others, and you have to create confidence online instead of physically facing your customer—which is more challenging.
An easy way to build confidence and trust in your product or service is by providing in-depth, frequently asked questions to share information about your product or service.
The value of a high-quality eCommerce storefront
These are only a few key elements to focus on in your eCommerce storefront. Other key factors include social proof, security features, advanced payment solutions, and much more.
When building your storefront, the key to success is to put your customers first in every detail. By analyzing and fulfilling their needs, you will be able to provide an excellent user experience and increase your storefront’s success.
When analyzing the primary pain points raised by executive team members it becomes clear that much of what is going wrong is caused by the ‘bandaid effect’. This happens when the ‘symptoms’ are constantly being doctored without addressing the actual system that causes the symptoms—outdated and poorly performing frontends.
The ‘symptoms’ we refer to above can manifest as any, or all, of the following:
- Low mobile conversion
- Poor web performance
- Poor SEO results on the SERPs
- Poor customer experience
These metrics can be improved in one swoop by focusing on a high-quality storefront that is easy to maintain and places a strong emphasis on mobile UX and SEO metrics.
A recent study conducted by The Baymard Institute found that the most successful eCommerce storefronts engaged their visitors on average for 6 minutes, during which they visit more than 6 pages. Does your storefront offer enough engaging content to achieve this?
Customers can find you via many roads, but they all lead to the one place where the magic happens—your eCommerce storefront. It does not matter where they are in their customer journey or how brilliant your advertising efforts are—all your marketing efforts have one common goal — to lead customers to your storefront, make sure they easily find what they are looking for, and make the sale.
Ensuring that your frontend is appealing to your target market and performing well on all the essential performance aspects discussed above is a golden ticket to increased success.
What is the future of eCommerce storefront software?
"Gartner estimates that by 2023, 60% of mainstream organizations will list composable business as a strategic objective and will use an increasing number of packaged business capabilities (PBCs)."—CMSWiRESource: https://www.gartner.com/en/documents/3994550
When searching for the meaning of eCommerce storefronts, the top spots on the SERPs are rapidly populated by descriptions of different headless commerce solutions. It explains why Forbes asked: ‘Why is headless commerce getting USD1.6 bn in funding?’ early on in 2021.
It’s simply impossible for monoliths to stay ahead of the demands for more satisfying experiences made by users and developers in the eCommerce industry. Due to its ‘composable’ nature, headless commerce is fast becoming the best solution to these challenges.
The headless commerce strategy decouples the frontend and backend layer of the system and is based on the API-first approach. This enables merchants to choose from various ‘best-of-breed’ eCommerce solutions and integrate them with an API-first frontend, like Vue Storefront.
We don’t want to regurgitate the age-old adage of the accelerated digital revolution (old news, we know) or that you can’t miss the next best thing to hit eCommerce. But, you really shouldn’t miss the next best thing that has already hit.
And no—the meaning of a headless commerce storefront in this instance is in no way an indication of anything being senseless. The ‘head’ of any headless eCommerce system is the ‘brain’ where all the logic must meet and collaborate to ensure a super-fast and user-friendly UX for your target consumer.
Going headless is the only way to:
- Systematically separate from aging legacy systems that negatively affect your website and business performance without affecting your entire environment.
- Installing the last eCommerce storefront software you’ll ever need.
With Google’s ever-increasing pressure on website performance as a ranking factor, your eCommerce storefront software can increase performance (website and business) by decoupling from unnecessary lagging extensions.
Check how painless it is to make a move to Headless Commerce with Vue Storefront Platform. Read various case studies about clients migrating from monolith to headless for enterprise brands.
A modern eCommerce storefront is the most crucial aspect of an online store. It is where all marketing campaigns point to and is the first opportunity you have to entice customers with your brand when they land on your site. It is also an essential factor in their decision to purchase.
Quick steps to improve your storefront’s Core Web Vitals scores include:
1. Continuously evaluate your site’s performance.
2. Eliminate large layout shifts.
3. Compress all images and videos.
4. Load page content in viewing order.
5. Employ aggressive caching using a content delivery network.
Yes. Your eCommerce storefront becomes a valuable lead generator by focusing on creating engaging content that offers value to your target audience.