Even though your kids may not think so, shopping from home has been around for decades - long before the dawn of the personal computing age. In fact, the first mail order catalog was released by the Montgomery Ward department store way back in 1872. That was the only shop-at-home method for Americans for the next century until television advertisements began imploring people to write or call (toll-free!) for their products.

Then the shop-at-home business underwent a sea change with the invention of the Internet and e-commerce websites briansclub. These developments finally allowed consumers to quickly and easily order merchandise using their computers in the comfort of their homes. E-commerce sites in all product niches began popping up almost overnight; and today, a significant percentage of all shopping is done over the Web.

Now that there are countless e-commerce websites in cyberspace, they have to focus on getting customers to their individual sites rather than simply relying on an easy-to-use shopping method. This means that online shopping sites will have to distinguish themselves from the pack in order to attract business. So how are they going to do that?

Here are several characteristics of a superior online shopping experience:

Variety. Most virtual shoppers don't know exactly what they're looking for when they go online. Therefore, the websites which offer a wide variety of product choices, features, and price points will generally be the initial portals that buyers visit. This allows shoppers to browse through different options and pick the one that is best suited for them.

Searchability. What good is an online superstore if you can't find anything in it? That's why a good e-commerce site allows the user to search its inventory by product type, brand, item number, and other keywords. As easy as online shopping is, consumers don't want to waste time scrolling through unwanted merchandise just to get to the item they want.

Photos. If a site doesn't have a picture of what it is offering to the customer, he or she may be better off driving to a brick-and-mortar store where they can actually see what they're buying. That's why it's vital that a website have at least one photo (and preferably more) of the item so buyers can get a visual image of what they're spending their money on.

Author's Bio: