A Simple Way To Build An E-Commerce Website That Works For Amazon, John Lewis and Asos

October 16, 2015

Even if you’re a tiny, one person e-commerce business.

If you have or are thinking of having an e-commerce website, you’ll know that the investment is significant if you want to do it properly.

There’s a misconception that e-commerce sites are just a method to print money.  That by putting some products on a website and charging for them, that you’ll be inundated with revenue.

In truth, e-commerce websites can be EXTREMELY profitable.  John Lewis, Amazon and Asos have made profitable online stores.  Not just because they’re already a big name, but because they follow the most simple path towards generating customers and making all customers PROFITABLE.

You do not have to be a big household name to run a profitable e-commerce shop.  The good news is that the big boys, have done all the market research.  So we’re going to dissect what they’ve done and make it work for your e-commerce business.

1. They build an email list

Building an email list is just like building a roller-deck of visitors, customers, leads and prospects that you can reach out to.

There are 101 ways to build and email list, but you’ll notice that ALL the successful big e-commerce websites do it.

a-simple-way-to-build-an-e-commerce-website-that-works-for-amazon-john-lewis-and-asos-fat-face-email-capture rs

Fatface.com’s email sign up in the left hand sidebar

For example, let’s look at fatface.com.  On the left hand side is a little box asking ‘Sign up for email updates’.  By entering your email address you’ll receive news, updates and offers.

a-simple-way-to-build-an-e-commerce-website-that-works-for-amazon-john-lewis-and-asos-not-on-the-high-street-email rs

notonthehighstreet.com has their email newsletter sign up in the footer

Notonthehighstreet.com has their newsletter in the footer for their sign up.  Now I’ll let you in on a secret.  These newletter sign up boxes don’t have a great signup rate.  We call this a conversion rate.  Traffic, or visitors coming to the site, converting into newsletter subscribers.

Spyder.com has got the right idea. Lightboxes.

Spyder.com has got the right idea. Light-boxes.

If you go to spyder.com, you’ll soon see a light-box pop up and ask for your email address.  You along with many people might find these annoying.  However they have a very high conversion rates (some of ours are north of 50%).

Finally, building an email list doesn’t have to just come from users ‘opting-in’.  It can also be built from customers buying from the shops.

I promise you that if you buy from a successful e-commerce store.  Even if you don’t sign up.  You’ll receive emails from them as a newsletter basis.

2. They offer you further products

Following on from building an email list.  Successful e-commerce sites are always offering you more products.

  • When you’re looking at items
  • When you’re checking your basket
  • When you’re paying at the checkout
  • After you’ve paid
  • In your email inbox
John Lewis offers loads of products

John Lewis offers loads of products

As you can see in the well annotated image above, a single product page on the Johnlewis.com website, offers 5 other product areas.

Amazon.co.uk Shopping Basket rs

Away from the product page – on Amazon’s shopping basket

Here we are on Amazon’s shopping basket.  We’re not on a product page, yet they’re still showing you two product addition areas.  On the right hand side we have ‘Customers Who Bought Items In Your Basket Also Bought’.  Showing you products that are related to yours, via community selection.

Below, when we decide to proceed to the checkout, we’re not taken to the checkout straight away.  We’re offered ANOTHER product, in the form of Amazon Prime.  Amazon Prime is a recurring payment delivery product.  Delivery is absolutely another product.

Complete your Amazon Prime sign up rs

The page is even called “Complete your Amazon Prime sign up”

3. They reward loyalty

The successful (note: not BIG) e-commerce sites take community very seriously.  They want you to feel a part of their business, they want you to be loyal.

“Great products get people to buy, great communities get people to stay”

-I have no idea who said this

Loyalty cards, points, social media groups – there are ton’s of ways to REWARD customers and keep them buying.  All you need to do is reward customers and think how you can reward them.

It doesn’t have to be loyalty points, many lucrative e-commerce businesses use achievements, competitions, shout-outs, re-posts.

Reward your customers by giving them back what they want.

4. They’re uncluttered

Amazon.com is a bad example of this.  Although they have got better.

There is a myth that everyone likes ‘clean, white design’.  Every customer and design client of mine, has at some point, asked for CLEAN.

Yet – if I asked them to define that, we run into a few hiccups.

What I THINK people mean, is that they want customers to easily identify the next logical step in their journey on the website.

However it’s very difficult to define ‘clean’.  So we prefer to use the term, uncluttered.

We use that term by asking, “does that need to be there?”

Lots of space, not trying to sell too much

Lots of space, not trying to sell too much

If you look at shops that LOOK successful, they’re almost empty.  Products are given the right amount of space and enough information so the customer can take the next step.  That’s it.

A good rule of thumb, if you want CLEAN (uncluttered) design, is once a page is finished; identify the number of objects on the page and count them.  Then half it.  Be really brutal and get rid of HALF of the object on the page.  Trust me.  Think about if there is a way to add that object later, or is it even necessary?

5. They prompt feedback

Finally, feedback.

When we buy from a strong e-commerce website, they follow up with us, right?  They send us a few emails and ask for feedback.

After we’ve purchased, we’ll be provided with a string of web pages, requests and emails asking for-

  • Can you review our product?
  • Can you review our business?
  • Do you want to share your purchase on social media?
  • Take a photo of you and our product with the #hashtag

Follow on journeys like these not only help with rewarding loyalty, they let you CUSTOMERS become your sales force.  Adding to your credibility and increasing the trust to other users.


So, in conclusion, you’ve got 5 methods to make your online e-commerce store successful.  Is this is and is it that easy?  Of course not, all websites require a lot of work.  But these 5 points are 5 big ones that the bigger businesses have discovered and that you can use.


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