Looking for eCommerce best practices to make your online store successful in 2021? Then, you’re in the right place!
These days, setting up and maintaining an eCommerce site is easier than ever. There’s plenty of platforms, frameworks, and plug-and-play technologies that can help make the whole process a breeze. Find a platform that includes the essentials you need to realize your projects and you’ll have your store up and running in no time.
But what are those essentials?
Well, lucky for you, we’ve asked our team of engineers that exact same question and compiled a list of the top 6 website essentials that every great eCommerce site needs to have. So, before you settle on an eCommerce platform for your store, check their features list and make sure they offer all of the following.
Let’s dig in!
Today’s ecommerce world is a competitive, cutthroat industry. Your competitors will likely do whatever it takes to shave off milliseconds of page load time, increase their Google ranking, and outperform other stores.
To stay in the game, you need to ensure that your online shop follows eCommerce best practices. So, whether you’re looking to create a new website or revamp the one you already have, keep the following in mind:
- Use HTTP/3 and SSL—helps protect your users and reduce your website load time.
- Enable caching and get your site on a CDN. Keep your site speedy by enabling caching and ensuring it’s accessible from anywhere.
- Stay safe out there! Get yourself a Web Application Firewall (WAF) to prevent Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks and ensure your data is regularly backed up.
1. SSL: better security posture and Google presence
Check out our URL at the top of your screen. Notice the ‘S’ in HTTPS? That stands for secure and it’s critically important for any website. Without it, running a successful eCommerce website can be extremely difficult.
Why is that one letter such a big deal? Well, having that ‘S’ in your URL means that anything your users do on your site is encrypted using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). It helps prevent important information from being leaked and makes it more difficult for malicious attackers to snoop on your users.
What’s more, since 2018, Google has been penalizing websites without HTTPS and ranking them lower in search results. But, most importantly, if your website doesn’t have a valid SSL certificate, Google Chrome will tell users that your eCommerce website is “Not Secure” whenever they try to connect to it.
Save yourself the headache by getting an SSL certificate and having one of your developers install it on your eCommerce site. If you’re an Artifakt customer, you can skip this step since Artifakt does not allow any HTTP requests, and all requests made in HTTP are automatically redirected to the equivalent in HTTPS.
2. HTTP/3 makes the difference
In April 2021, HTTP/3, the successor of HTTP/2 was introduced, The new protocol is an improved and updated version of the original HTTP we all know and love. For anyone who works on eCommerce sites, this is great news as it means improved performance across your entire website.
How is it better?
Some of the benefits of upgrading to HTTP/3 include:
- increased performance—especially around fetching multiple objects simultaneously.
- 0-RTT support—subsequent connections start faster by eliminating the TLS acknowledgment from the server when setting up the connection.
- QUIC that overcomes TCP limitations—HTTP/3 runs over QUIC and QUIC runs over connectionless UDP instead of the connection-oriented TCP that was used by all previous HTTP versions.
But that is not all. HTTP/3 comes with a bunch of security improvements that include end-to-end encryption, TLS secure connectivity, full forward secrecy, replay attack protection, IP spoofing protection, and SSL downgrade prevention.
In simpler words, these features help your eCommerce website run faster, be secure, and make life easier for your developers.
Making the jump to HTTP/3 is relatively easy. In fact, most decent providers—including Artifakt, of course—natively use the HTTP/3 protocol. If you’re not already on the latest protocol, update now and give your users a faster and more secure online shopping experience.
Check if your website uses HTTP/3 here.
3. Protect against DDoS with a Web Application Firewall
What would happen if millions of people tried to access your eCommerce website at exactly the same time? Without the right protections in place, it would quickly get clogged up, choke on the unexpected traffic surge, and grind to a halt.
That’s essentially what happens during a DDoS attack.
DDoS stands for Distributed Denial of Service and refers to a malicious attack where a third party floods your website with an overwhelming surge of fake traffic from all over the world. As your site struggles with increased load, your users will be unable to use your store and make purchases. In most cases, they’ll have no idea what’s happening and may assume that it’s your website’s fault for being so slow.
In other words, you’ll lose revenue that day and even future business as customers decide to buy from faster, more reliable websites.
Fortunately, you can avoid all that headache by getting yourself a Web Application Firewall (WAF). Without getting too technical, your WAF is a buffer between your website and the outside world. It inspects all incoming traffic to ensure that you’re not being swamped by fake users. Avoid losing revenue and customer trust by making sure you’ve got your very own WAF in place.
Note: WAF actually protects you against a number of malicious attacks. Find the full list here.
4. Go global with a CDN
No matter where your users are, they expect your eCommerce website to load fast. In fact, more than half of your website visitors are likely to leave your site if it fails to load in less than 3 seconds. Unfortunately, no amount of tweaking of image sizes or other on-page elements will help your website speed if users are located thousands of miles from your website servers.
The solution? Duplicate your website and store it in multiple data centers all over the world.
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a distributed network of servers and data centers. They help websites maintain a standard speed by storing an updated copy of your website in multiple locations around the globe. When a user connects to your site, they’ll automatically be matched with the closest server and can load your website as fast as possible.
If you’re building a global brand, it doesn’t make sense to have a quick loading time in one country but not in another. Keep your customers happy by working with an eCommerce platform that gives you access to a global CDN. At Artifakt we help you stay global by distributing your website across our massive network of global data centers.
5. Encourage repeat business with caching
You already know that quick page load times are crucial for any successful eCommerce site. However, once you’ve managed to reduce load times to under three seconds, how can you make the experience even better?
One of the quickest ways to make your users’ lives easier is to enable page caching across your entire site. In a nutshell, users won’t have to redownload every image, video, and script each time they visit your site.
Instead, they’ll load everything once and then be treated to lightning-fast load speeds whenever they return. If your store relies on repeat business to succeed (who doesn’t?), then page caching is absolutely mandatory. Be sure to go with an eCommerce platform—for example, Magento—that offers modern caching options.
6. Keep your data secure and backed up
Have you ever had a hard drive full of data fail on you for no reason? All of a sudden your precious family photos are gone forever!
Unfortunately, the sad truth is that all hard drives, given enough time, will eventually fail. This is why it’s essential that no matter which eCommerce platform you work with, it should be regularly backing up your data and storing it on reliable hardware.
Be sure to check with your eCommerce platform to ensure they’re using solid-state drives (more reliable than hard disks) and they are performing regular backups of your site across multiple locations. After all, the last thing your store needs is an unexpected crash without a backup!
This worst-case scenario became reality quite recently with the infamous incident in a popular data center, causing an outage for thousands of websites and the loss of their data. This was a great loss but even the biggest catastrophes come with valuable lessons. Use these lessons to implement eCommerce best practices and make sure something like this never happens to your business!
To sum it all up
There you have it, the 6 eCommerce best practices you need to follow in 2021.
But don’t stop there! If you want an eCommerce site that goes beyond the essentials, book a free demo with us to learn how Artifakt can help you build a best-in-class eCommerce store.