Why build an E-commerce site with no cart?

Despite client misgivings, e-commerce site proves to be a huge success
Why build an E-commerce site with no cart?

Giovanni from Burford Antiques approached us during the first lockdown in 2020, as the COVID pandemic hit the UK. We chose the Shopify e-commerce platform as it is possible to put a site up quickly, has excellent inventory management features and minimizes development of the backend.

They weren’t sure they needed an e-commerce store at all, concerned how much change an online store would entail. With the shop closed during lockdown, they needed customers to be able to see their stock somehow.

One concern was mailing small items, the kind of things people pick up in person when the shop is open. Burford Antiques generally deliver goods in person with their van, or for long distances use a shipping company.

Another consideration was, while they have lots of beautiful furniture and accessories, they did not have many photos of them. Think Design provided training on how to take pictures, and how to upload them to the store. We trained staff on how to enter the information to aid discovery through search engines (SEO).

We repurposed some existing pictures of furniture from Google photos for the new site. Burford Antiques took new photos during the lockdown, while the shop was closed.

Antiques store product web page

The site itself uses a very simple Shopify theme, chosen by the client from three or four themes pre-selected by us. The benefit of this theme was it was the fastest of the themes. Burford Antiques now has a high performance e-commerce site.

Wait. What? No cart!!!

While we were keen to provide full shopping cart and checkout functionality, Burford Antiques remained reluctant. To close the functional gap, we put the phone number prominently on the page header, for customers to call in their orders. The client is very happy about this as they avoid the online processing fee, which runs in the region of 3-4%.

When lockdown restrictions eased, many customers came to the shop for the first time, and bought stock they had seen on the website.

During COVID lockdowns in the UK, Burford Antiques continue to add inventory to the site. Currently, there is no other way for customers and potential customers to be aware of the shop’s stock.

Despite COVID, for Burford Antiques, 2020 was a very good year. Some of it is no doubt due to the extended time people spend at home, with a desire for nicer surroundings. But given the shop was only open for 7 months in 2020, the website has played a pivotal role in their success.

The Results

Organic impressions are the amount of times that users on Google came across the Burford Antiques website without any paid advertising.

Phone calls to the clients showed a significant increase after the new site was launched and lockdown restrictions were eased in the UK over Summer 2020.

Directions requested from Google were significantly impacted by COVID lockdowns, both in Spring and Winter. Thankfully users were now able to view the shops inventory remotely.

There were at least 100 potential customers per month using Burford Antiques' Google listing to visit the website. In August, prime time for home-improvement buyers, the website had almost 400 visitors access their cart-less ecommerce site via Google.

The amount of times that Burford Antiques was seen on Google maps is evidence as to why it is important to have a physical location listing.

In early 2021, the lockdown in the UK continues and while the doors remain closed, fortunately interest in the e-commerce site grows.

Giovanni said:

“… being of an older generation, I was skeptical at first, and did not understand the point of a website for my store. I only saw this as an extra headache, and not of any benefit. Now, thanks to Think Design, the website has generated enquiries resulting in sales. We sold furniture to new customers: one stuck in Australia, and last month I sold a four-poster bed to a customer in Belgium.”