An ecommerce site should help shoppers buy what they want as effortlessly as possible. The simpler the path to the purchase, the more likely the sale will complete. Online sellers have only seconds to close a sale — and customers expect online retailers to make the shopping experience smooth and efficient. In fact, 70% of customers say seamless handoffs are very important to winning their business.
Ecommerce revenues were set to grow to $4.88 trillion in 2021, although the coronavirus may put a wrench in these projections. The projections may not necessarily be negatively impacted — in light of the current pandemic, shoppers may be more open to online shopping than ever. Spending may be down across the board in most categories except groceries (which are slightly up), but online grocers’ sales have skyrocketed to roughly 80% higher.
As more consumers shop online in an effort to socially distance, developing a user-friendly ecommerce site will set your company apart from the competition and potentially grow your sales now and in the future.
A well-executed user experience design is essential to your ecommerce site’s success. The secret to good UX is simplicity, transparency — and knowing your audience. Bad UX has cost big companies such as Apple, Google, and Amazon, millions of dollars in lawsuits. The Federal Trade Commission found that the tech giants’ websites “mislead consumers” and ordered them to pay over 50 million in the form of customer refunds and fines.
Knowing your audience is critical to successful UX design. You may discover that utility trumps the latest design interfaces. While an attractive platform adds to the overall experience, it’s not necessarily what customers look for most. Hubspot reports that only 10% of your audience is interested in “beautiful design” and 76% say the most important factor is ease in finding what they want, so they don’t feel confused or misled during the shopping process, as was the case with Apple, Google, and Amazon.
Take the statistics above into account when you’re examining your online shopping site’s functionality. Set aside the aesthetics and review how your store’s online shopping experience flows from start to finish. How many steps does a customer need to take to drop items into the shopping cart, check out and pay? Is the process clear and simple? Are your terms and conditions, return policies, and warranty information easy to find? Learn from the mistakes of the major retailers and identify any problems in your ecommerce website first, so that they can be addressed and solved.
When performing a user experience audit, enlist a larger group to review your store’s ecommerce practice. Getting the perspective of your target audience can prove invaluable. To get their insight, send a follow-up email to customers who may have dropped out of the shopping cart process early for feedback on why they didn’t complete the purchase. Offer a coupon code or discount as an incentive to take a short survey to uncover why. Reach out to current customers about their recent online shopping experience with your store.
Once you have a better picture of what shortfalls your ecommerce site may be suffering from, you can get to work at solving them with your design team.
If you uncover several major issues in your audit, it may be easier and cheaper to scrap your current site’s design and start with a new one. WebFX reports that adding ecommerce functionality can cost you up to $25,000 in 2020. And overhauling your existing ecommerce site could take days to weeks.
If you’re on a tight budget or don’t have the number of sales on your ecommerce site to justify a major investment, consider implementing an existing ecommerce site builder such as Weebly. These builders have worked out many of the major kinks most ecommerce sites suffer from and provide free or low-cost themes and templates that will save you time and money so your customers’ shopping experience is smoother.
You’re not necessarily stuck with a cookie-cutter look — you can always customize the design to better reflect your brand. The variety of free themes available makes it likely you’ll find a design that better flows with other components of your website. Plus, there are third-party paid themes and templates that come with more customization options and technical support.
To add an extra layer of user-friendly experience and design, hire a UX specialist to review best practices and make small tweaks to your templated ecommerce site to personalize your customers’ experience further.
Once you’ve implemented the changes to your ecommerce website, it’s time to examine how user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) work together. Testing is critical to ensure the changes you envisioned are working — and well received by your customers. Add these components to ensure your testing will be accurate:
A persona represents a group of your website users. They are similar to using a demographic report but go into specifics. For example, if you have an e-commerce website for baby clothes, you may have several different personas. They could include:
- Stacy, first-time pregnant mom who is focused on providing her new baby an organic and “crunchy” lifestyle free of chemicals and pesticides.
- Karen, Stacy’s affluent mother-in-law who loves to shop for designer brands and would spare no expense when shopping for her new grandbaby.
- Jane, mother of three, who is in search of deals on infant clothes and is planning to reuse many of her previous kids’ hand-me-downs.
The three example personas have different requirements when shopping online. Stacy and Karen may not be as online-shopping savvy as Jane. Stacy may like to see more messaging about how your company is committed to sustainability.
Developing a detailed narrative for your company’s identified personas can help you and your UX team design an experience your customers can relate to. Test your new ecommerce design with personas in mind. Enlisting people that fit your persona profiles to test your ecommerce site’s functionality is the most accurate way of knowing how your shopping site meets your target audience’s expectations.
If you’re unable to have persona representatives involved in the testing process, ensure that testers are well aware of who the personas are and what their characteristics and preferences are like.
Your ecommerce website has a certain series of functions that are the most important to your users. The checkout and payment process are usually the most common. A red route is where functionality tends to get clogged or bogged down most often, sort of like the red route in a road traffic map.
Focus on the red routes when testing to ensure that the components your customers use the most run well. Test for scenarios and issues that stop your customers from your ultimate goal — paying for the items in their shopping cart. A common red route is how many steps customers have to take to check out and pay. A flow process in which a customer can enter their credit card, billing, and shipping information all in one page to save time is an ideal process.
Some red routes that interfere with the outcome could be asking customers to navigate through two or three pages to enter their information. Another red route could be requiring customers to choose their country from a dropdown list where they have to scroll through a hundred countries to select theirs.
When creating a user-friendly ecommerce site, remember that your customers are looking to save time and effort above all else. Beautiful design is a bonus, but prioritize an experience that’s simple and straightforward.