A Sidesupply Guide — Published Sep 25, 2019

The Art of

Insights into building a direct to consumer brand or online e-commerce business.
Essential pagesWriting your storyRemoving hesitationsOffersCheckout experienceSales & MarketingInspirationEcommerce podcasts
The continual growth of ecommerce is an attractive pursuit for entrepreneurs—with affordable startup costs and access to the nearly 2 billion online shoppers. Yet, it requires a thoughtful approach to persuade people to click that checkout button. We’ve put together some insights to help you build your online brand.

What’s included in an ecommerce website

We looked at 100s of ecommerce sites to distill down what the optimal structure for a successful online store is. The most important pages we discovered are the Homepage, Products, Our Story, and FAQ. We’ll dig into the product pages in a bit.


The homepage of your website is meant to be the summary of your offering. A successful homepage makes it easy for customers to understand what you’re offering and access ways that they can purchase your product.

Noteworthy features of your products
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Clear links to pages to purchase your products
The Combo

Homepage Checklist

Descriptive headline
Large visuals that showcase your product
Obvious calls to actions (eg. Shop now, Buy now)
Clear links to pages to purchase your products
Noteworthy features of your products
Testimonials, quotes or social proof on why someone should buy your product
Unique incentives such as guarantees
Soft lead capture (eg. Newsletter form)

Our story

You’re selling more than a product, you’re selling your brand. A story page helps communicate to your customers what you believe in and why they should purchase from you. If potential customers align with your values, they’re more likely to purchase from you.


A FAQ is a simple way to quickly organize and present common concerns and questions someone might consider before purchasing your product. Pay attention to the common issues people have and write convincing answers to their hesitations.

Writing your brand story

Writing an honest brand story that connects with your audience can be an overwhelming task, it requires a balance of introspection and pragmatism. With any type of writing, it's important to just start writing and improve as you go. Your story may not be perfect the first time, but it will improve and maybe even change as you and your company evolve.

When beginning your story, think of these three questions as a beginning framework:
What do
we value?
Think of why you started the company. Why this business or this product? In an ideal world, what impact or effect does your company have on your customers?
What are we
creating and what
makes us different?
Describe what it is you’re selling, is it a product, an experience, what’s the thing that makes you unique? Don’t just list features, think about the problems you’re solving.
How do we
approach this?
Beyond your product, is there anything unique about your business or the way that you approach creating or selling your product?

Designing product pages and removing

It’s much easier to close a browser tab than it is to leave a store after a long day of shopping. In ways you’re at a disadvantage as an online store, so you need to work hard to remove any hesitation a potential customer might have.


Reviews provide an important element of social proof for your online store. 91% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Opinions of your business are quickly formed based on the reviews of others. Start emailing your customers right away for reviews and look at integrating a review tool into your site.

Free shipping

The internet is a wasteland of abandoned shopping carts—61% of which are because of additional costs such as shipping fees and taxes. By including free shipping, you can make the choice just a little bit easier, which is sometimes all you need. You can increase the price of your product slightly to absorb the cost of shipping.

Guarantee offer

Another way to remove a purchasing hesitation is to offer a guarantee. The 100% satisfaction guarantee is a popular one that provides customers a risk-free purchase and a second chance for you to fix any mistakes with a poor first purchasing experience.

A well-designed product page tailors its content to its customers, it knows what they’re looking for and how to communicate it to them. By clearly countering any hesitations, you’re starting to increase your conversion rates.

Some online stores have it more difficult than others. Online fashion brands, for example, cannot communicate fit or finish as easily as a physical retailer can.

Brands have invented new ways to help their customers. They use descriptive imagery with model sizes labeled, visuals, and unique offers. They also suggest customers post photos of their products so others can see.

Many emphasize their return policies, making it easy to buy, try on, and return if it's not perfect. They’re focused on positive user experience which, if done well, translates into spokespeople for your brand.

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Offers are ways to capture interest and push potential customers into making purchases. There are various types of offers including promotion codes and limited time offers. You can use pop-ups or notification bars to draw attention to your offers in different ways. These tools also help update your website without requiring major design changes.
The three objectives of a
successful checkout experience are:

Maximize revenue, maintain focus, and remove hesitations.

After all of that effort, without a thoughtful checkout experience, you’re going to lose out on your hard-earned customers. Keep your shopping cart simple and to the point—make it easy for customers to understand what they’re buying and what to do next—click that check out button.

You can also take advantage of impulse buying by providing relevant suggestions. Don’t get greedy and throw high priced items at them, keep relevant goods similar to or lesser value than the item they’re purchasing.

I feel the need, the need for speed.

Not just a great Top Gun reference—speed is one of the most overlooked factors of a successful ecommerce site. For every second someone waits for a page to load, your conversion rate drops.

Everything is a compromise and page speed is not the whole story, however, you need to determine if what you’re putting on a page is worth the extra load time. Be pragmatic with your choices. Your checkout page should be one page where you’re very strict, make sure load time is in tip-top shape.

Optimize your assets and remove unnecessary code. You might think using all the analytics software is a great idea but it can result in a bloated page, prioritize what’s important and remove anything extra.

Getting the word out

Turns out “If you build it and they will come” was exclusive to cornfield baseball diamonds—you need to find ways for people to discover your ecommerce site. Depending on the sales and marketing channel, you may see results immediately or they may require longer-term investment.

Which you choose depends on your objectives, skills, and capacity. Don’t invest heavily into a blog if you’re not willing to commit.

Content creation

With 55% of consumers having made a purchase after discovering it on social media—Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are worthy investments. Consider what content your audience would appreciate—with a competitive online landscape, it’s important to create something unique. Don’t expect the same results from copying others.

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Make your product unboxing share worthy
Suggest customers tag you in posts to be featured
Contact magazines and blogs to be featured in their gift guides
Build a blog with valuable content for your audience
Partner with relevant companies to create giveaways
Work with micro influencers with relevant followers
Create a referral marketing program that incentivizes sharing your product
Make a viral video that explains your product or story in a completely new way

Partner & referral marketing

Similar to the value of reviews on your website—people are four times more likely to make a purchase when referred by a friend. Explore different ways to incentivize your customers to share your product with others and think beyond cash incentives.

Influencer marketing

While many will balk at the term influencer, it’s a valuable resource into crafting customer connections. Instead of focusing on the bigger names, find smaller influencers to work with that have good engagement and a relevant audience.


Looking at what other brands are doing is a great way to get new ideas, validate existing ones, and see how others are executing on similar concepts.

An important consideration is that replicating how a big brand approaches something won’t necessarily work for a new brand. Think deeply about the problems you’re solving and if they’re solving the same problems.


Check out these great listens for some insights into building your online brand.

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