Imagine this. A customer sees one of your products advertised on Facebook and lands on your website to buy it. Your site takes ages to load, and he’s getting impatient.
When the page finally loads, he finds out that there is no explicit return policy mentioned on your site for the product. Also, he needs to register on your website to make the purchase. The customer finally decides the process is not worth it and abandons your ecommerce site.
So, what went wrong? The customer landed on your site with the intent to purchase but didn’t have a pleasurable user experience.
In this post, we have identified best practices that all designers should consider when creating an online store.
What Is Ecommerce User Experience?
Ecommerce user experience, or eCommerce UX, is defined as all the elements of a user’s interaction with your company, services, or products. This means that although good web design is essential, UX ensures that the eCommerce site syncs with user intent.
To provide excellent ecommerce UX, you need first to understand your customers, their needs, and their expectations.
Why Care About Ecommerce UX?
Ecommerce UX is the impression a user has after interacting with your site. This could be both good or bad, depending on whether the user’s expectations of your ecommerce website were fulfilled.
Ecommerce will be responsible for 72.9 percent of all online mobile purchases by 2021. With more people relying on online ecommerce stores for their shopping, the competition is rising.
Here are some of the reasons you must focus on providing a better ecommerce user experience:
Reduced customer support cost
Almost one-third of small businesses start with less than $5000 as their start-up capital!
Customer service contributes to the user experience, so it is wise not to overlook this aspect when planning your online business.
Enable customers to find answers to their questions themselves and provide customer chat support on your site. This will help cut down your costs.
Place links to your FAQ page on your product pages so that customers can access it when required. With the help of video hosting software you can also link to training videos to show customers how to use your products.
Ensure that all these links and materials are available across devices and even on various channels such as social media.
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Reduced customer acquisition cost
It costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.
Create a target customer profile, figure out his needs and problems, and cater to them. This will enable you to give them an unparalleled eCommerce user experience. It will also help you to focus your resources on the right things and reduce costs.
You can also track those who visit your site and leave it for some reason. When you display your ads on their browser on other websites that they visit, they may return to your site if they are still interested. This is called retargeting.
Many sales automation platforms offer customer relationship management (CRM) functions with robust tools for segmenting audiences and adding personalization. These tools allow you to drill way down on customer preferences and attitudes.
Increased word of mouth referrals
90% of customers trust brand recommendations from friends.
Organic word of mouth marketing happens when customers have a pleasant experience with the company and want to share their experience with people they know.
Your company can also carry out referral campaigns among their existing customer base. Promote positive feedback by offering discounts and coupon codes for customers who leave feedback or who bring in more customers through word of mouth marketing.
One thing to pay attention to before you launch your word of mouth referral campaigns is your ecommerce UX. There is no point in trying to make customers advocate for your brand if you are not able to provide them with an epic customer experience.
Make sure your products are of top quality. Provide customers with a smooth checkout process. Treat every customer interaction as an opportunity to impress them.
Increased customer happiness, repeat purchases, and retention
Positive customer experience not just brings you more referrals, but also keeps your existing customers coming back.
Invest in your website design and copywriting to improve your customer experience.
Loganix, an SEO copywriting agency, says, “SEO copywriting on the homepage of your website helps you improve readability. Pleasurable website design and copywriting is great for building trust and driving sales.”
The pleasing graphics and simple language help users to understand the features of different medical alert systems. The site also has clear call-to-action, which helps users navigate through the website easily.
Consistent messaging and copy helps build trust among your customers.
When your customers enjoy using your website, it encourages them to come back to your site more often and make repeated purchases.
19 UX Best Practices for Ecommerce Customer Retention and Growth
Now that we’ve spoken about how good user experience can help your customers as well as your business, let’s see some UX best practices you can follow for your online shopping site:
Overall Ecommerce Site Experience
From the time a user enters your site to when they leave, you need to ensure that they have a pleasurable experience and can fulfill their needs.
Offer a convenient and seamless experience
If you already have a brick and mortar location make sure you integrate the experience from both channels.
A customer should be able to pick up where he left off when he visits your ecommerce site after a trip to your physical store.
A store person can add in details of their purchases as well. Consider linking a form to your customer accounts online so that when they log in, they can see all these details in one place, for a true omni-channel experience.
54% of sites have a returns interface with substantial UX issues. You could also try offering services where a user can quickly return products purchased online to a retail store or vice-versa.
Users (including Google) demand speed
54% of customers say that their frustration increases as the load time for a company’s mobile site increases.
Customers these days have very high standards for online stores. They want to find what they’re looking for and fast.
Websites should be quick and run smoothly, or customers will switch to a different site. Page load speed time is something that even Google considers when they calculate your site’s ranking.
Ecommerce sites should aim for a load speed of not more than 3 seconds. Websites that are quick to load not only have higher conversion rates but can make customers stay longer and browse for more products.
Optimize your product images and audit your site to check which areas you can improve on.
Keep an updated and accurate website
Even after being an established business leader, there are certain things you will have to cope with day in and day out – your website is one of those things!
Ecommerce stores aren’t meant to be just built – they are meant to be developed and maintained. Take these specific pointers into account:
- Update in terms of design – Ensure that your site design is modern and clean, without too many distractions.
- Have a responsive-design website – The design and development of your site should respond to your user’s screen size and orientation so that they have the same experience across devices.
- Keep content fresh – Maintain a blog on your website with articles on various relevant topics that your target customers may be interested in.
If you plan to start a new blog for your site, keep it updated and factually accurate. You can segment it into different categories or verticals on your website.
Sleep Junkie’s blog is an excellent example of this. The site has an entire section about sleep health. Creating specific categories helps you segment traffic into their interests and then sell your products to them naturally.
In addition to well-written blog content on your site, start investing in other modalities, like podcasting, videos, and more.
51% of Americans over the age of 12 have listened to a podcast. It is one of the fastest-growing types of media in the world today.
BuzzSprout says, “Podcasts are a great way to build a genuine connection with your audience.
Instead of the fractured connection you make through social media, podcasts allow you to engage your audience with unique long-form content.”
You could start a podcast to talk about the latest topics your customers may be interested in, or create in-depth reviews and videos on YouTube, too.
Your homepage is the first place people usually land on when they want to buy your products or browse your site. Use this opportunity to convey your brand’s story on your homepage.
Visitors can tell a lot about a company from the way its homepage is designed and organized. Here are some homepage UX best practices you need to follow:
Your website’s homepage must be straightforward to navigate even by a first-time visitor. Make your menu bar prominent with few items.
Use clear call-to-actions throughout your homepage, so users are not confused when they need to get to a page on your site. Categorize your products and link to the categories either in the menu bar or elsewhere on the homepage.
When a user can find what he is looking for easily on your homepage, it encourages him to stay longer and explore.
Also use breadcrumbs to help users navigate through your site. This is good for SEO as well.
Save your users’ shopping carts
Enable visitors to save their shopping cart on their browser so that they can return to it when they are ready to purchase.
Visitors want to put items in a basket to checkout totals between different stores, or maybe they’re still in the dreaming phase of a customer journey.
Giving them the option to save their shopping cart will make the process convenient for them and make the shopping experience more pleasurable for them.
Personalize your homepage
People follow people, not faceless brands. Personalizing your website allows your users to get to know you better and helps you form a connection with them.
Tell your brand’s story. Showcase what makes you unique and why users should trust you. Showing users that you are just another person like them makes your brand more authentic.
Here’s an example from Elemental Labs:
Their homepage is personal and straightforward. They first introduce their products and health benefits. Scrolling past that, their ‘Our Story’ CTA helps skeptical users get to know and trust the brand.
Showcase your unique value proposition
There are more than 1.8 billion websites across the globe currently. You must show your customers what sets you apart from your competitors.
Do you offer free shipping, a money-back guarantee, discounts, or coupons? Do you have a campaign going on for a specific product /category?
Whatever it is, make sure that everyone sees it. Customers are always looking for the best deals they can get, and if that is what you are offering them, make sure they don’t miss it.
Apart from your social media channels and ads you may be running, showcasing your unique value proposition helps those who have directly landed on your site to know what you are offering, so make it bold and clear.
Signup is the most painful step for most users in the whole online shopping process. 31% of users abandon their shopping cart because the site had a registration procedure.
So how do you prevent your signup form from putting off your users? Keep the process as simple and straightforward as you can make it.
Define the value proposition
Users generally do not like signup forms. This may be because signing up to a website is a time-consuming process. Also, many users are not comfortable in sharing their details with websites, especially if they are visiting the site for the first time.
Tell them why you need their details and what benefits they will get by signing up to your ecommerce store. These benefits could be a quicker checkout process, exclusive deals only for members, or free shipping.
When people see that they are getting value from you, they will part with their information more easily.
Help users distinguish between sign in and sign up
Sometimes, the buttons for ‘Sign in’ and ‘Sign up’ may appear similar to users. It can be annoying for them if they often click the wrong button when they want to sign in to your site.
Avoid this by displaying the two differently. It could be as simple as using different terms for both buttons.
Here’s an easy way to design your signup form:
Allow social login
Social Login enables users to quickly log in to your website if they have an existing social media profile. Users usually like this feature as it allows them to login to your site quickly without filling in their details and having to remember another password.
Social login also makes your site appear trustworthy. Seeing your site integrated with huge social media platforms shows users that you are genuine and have no intention of selling their information to third party websites.
Avoid asking users to create a username
Instead of asking users to enter a new username, ask them to enter their email address or phone number. This avoids another username they have to remember and makes the process easier.
Creating usernames that are unique to each user means they may have to try out multiple names in case their chosen username is being used by someone else.
Save your customers the hassle and give them this easier option instead. Check out Amazon’s signup/login page:
Keep users signed in for faster login
Allow your users the option of keeping themselves logged in on their personal devices. This helps them login quickly without having to enter their username and password every time.
Also, they can choose to stay logged in only on their trusted devices so that their details are secure.
Another option you can tell your users about is to use a password manager. When they use a password manager, they will be able to save passwords to your online store as well as other websites. This gives them a quick and secure login option for multiple sites.
Display clear error messages
Most often, users do not understand what they did wrong if they are not able to sign up to a site. Instead of displaying a generic error message, it would be helpful to be more descriptive.
Don’t leave your users in the dark about what mistake they may have made while filling the signup form. Tell them exactly what they need to correct so that they do not leave your site in frustration.
Here’s Amazon’s signup page example again:
Product Page UX
Product pages are one of the most crucial pages on your website. It is on these pages that your potential customers learn more about your products and decide whether to buy them or not.
Since customers cannot physically touch or see things that they purchase online, they rely solely on the product descriptions and images that are available on the site. Providing a good product page UX is vital to making the final sale.
Provide customers with all the information they need
Including all the information regarding the specifications of the product as well as shipping details will not only increase your conversion rates but also encourage people to stay on your site for longer.
Keep sections on your site for both FAQs as well as Q&As from the community. Link to these sections on your product pages so that users get all the details they need in one place.
Here’s Nintendo’s FAQ page for example:
Suggest alternative products for your customers to purchase
There are many ways users could have landed on a specific product page. Sometimes, the product they see on the page may not have been the one they were looking for, but they want something similar.
If you have a section on your product page that suggests other similar products, chances are that the user may be interested and click on it.
Another scenario is if your customer is looking for different variations or pricings of a similar product. Take a look at LFA Capsule Filler’s packages, for example:
Customers who are looking for different price variations of LFA Capsule Filler’s products can easily compare and choose from this section.
Provide in-scale images for products
Images that are shown in scale help users understand how big the product is in comparison with everyday items. Show the size of the product next to a scale or in a typical physical setting/ background.
For example, in the image below, users can figure out the height of the refrigerator based on the human model and other objects in the background:
This helps them make the right choice and reduces the hassle of product returns because the item was not as big (or small) as the customer expected.
Display social proof
Customer testimonials and social proof are vital for your potential customers. When they see a product they like, customers usually look for testimonials from previous customers to make sure the product works as well as its claims.
Displaying social proof on your product pages helps customers see all the information they want without having to look for other online resources or customer testimonial websites.
Here’s an example of social proof from Loganix:
Check Out UX
Most people consider the checkout process as the most frustrating part of the online shopping experience. 70% of users abandon their online shopping cart before completing the checkout process.
This could be due to various reasons that are not under your control as an ecommerce site owner, but there are still some things you can do to reduce this rate.
Display the checkout flow for users to see
One of the reasons people find checkout processes frustrating is that they don’t know how long it’s going to take them to complete.
Design the checkout flow so that customers can see the whole process at a glance. You could also map the customer’s progress so that he knows how far he is from the final page.
When users can see their progress, it gives them an idea about how much time they will need for the checkout process.
Create a clear visual hierarchy
Visual hierarchy is how a user goes through the content on a page. It helps users understand the information on the page easily.
Use different fonts and text sizes to highlight certain vital pieces of information on the page, such as special offers or deals.
Offer your users instant assistance
No matter how good your checkout UX is, your users may still run into issues they need help with. Unfortunately, if they do not find answers to their queries quickly, they may leave your site.
Ensure that your users have access to all FAQs and community Q&As even while on the checkout page. Offer chat support also if necessary. Often, instant chat messengers are more helpful than FAQ pages, which may not have answers to the questions your customers may have.
Good ecommerce UX can significantly reduce the number of users leaving your site. Apart from ensuring that your customers have an enjoyable experience on your online store, ecommerce UX helps in reducing your customer support, customer acquisition, and marketing plan costs.
Offer your customers a seamless and convenient experience while shopping on your site. Make sure that your website is updated, accurate, and quick to load.
Make sure your homepage is user-friendly and easy-to-navigate. Give users the option to save their shopping carts. Showcase your uniqueness on your homepage.
Keep signup forms simple. Keep your users signed in on their personal devices and display clear error messages that tell them what they need to correct to proceed.
Provide your customers with all the information on the product page. Display the checkout flow for them, so they know how far they have progressed.
Keep these tips in mind while designing your eCommerce site to give your customers the best eCommerce UX possible.
Ezekiel Cohen has a special affinity with numbers and patterns, on top of being a natural at PR. This gives him the edge when it comes to SEO analytics and advertising strategy.