You’ve spent hours perfecting the look and feel of your eCommerce shop. You’ve staged professional photos of your products. Everything is seemingly perfect and ready for launch. And yet, upon hanging the “open for business” sign, nothing seems to be happening — for days, weeks and yes, perhaps even months.
Could it be that the overall user experience (UX) just isn’t where it needs to be? Consumers are busy. They don’t want to waste time trying to hunt through your eCommerce shop, and they certainly don’t want to be sent on a wild goose chase just to come up empty handed. Perhaps more so than design, UX is what is going to mean the difference between getting those conversions and having to close up shop before you manage to get off the ground.
According to a Forbes piece, Jeff Bezos in his first year spent 100 times more on creating the ultimate customer experience versus what he spent on advertising Amazon. And look at the kind of results he achieved. As with any facet of sales, the key is customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction stems from the ease and convenience that people experience upon visiting and purchasing from your eCommerce shop. A great website design is certainly important but, ultimately, if you fail to give them clear directives and easy-to-follow processes in their sales journey you will lose them. And a lost customer is obviously a lost conversion.
In this article we look at ways in which your eCommerce website’s UX impacts conversion rates and consequently, some ways in which you might improve the overall user experience to help boost that bottom line.
1. User Impressions – Understanding What They Expect
User experience begins with (of course) the user. This is why understanding what they expect out of their online shopping experience is going to be hugely important in terms of creating the ideal UX. The problem that many shop owners/eCommerce site designers run into in this capacity is that they make assumptions regarding user impressions and/or expectations. And often those assumptions are just wrong.
Without doing their homework, online shop owners create eCommerce sites that fail to truly align with what a user wants when it comes down to experience. They take for granted that they have a handle on their target demographic and yet don’t necessarily have the data to back these assumptions up.
Use Analytics to Your Advantage
One of the primary resources that shop owners have in devising the overall user experience is data gotten from analytics. It’s out there — don’t hesitate to take advantage of it. If your shop is up and running, look to the analytical data to see exactly where the journey comes to an abrupt halt. Therein, probably lies the problem.
What’s more telling regarding overall user experience is what the customer actually thinks about it. In other words, there are a multitude of ways to get invaluable customer feedback. There’s a reason your site isn’t converting casual browsers to committed customers. So ask those people what could be going on that deters their total sales experience. Social media listening can be extremely helpful to this end. As can sending out surveys for example to those who did buy from you but perhaps had a less than stellar experience.
2. The User Journey – A Path to Nowhere?
Beyond getting into the consumers’ heads and therefore designing your UX according to what they expect, you also need to look at the entire journey involved. Holistically, is it a satisfactory one? Or, are there hiccups and flaws in the journey that prevent it from being a smooth one for the user?
One of the main reasons you lose conversions is because the user gets lost amid the journey somewhere. And that is because the journey is not a seamless one. Maybe they lose track of an email that was sent to them containing needed links. Maybe they have issues when logging in because of password discrepancies. Or maybe the landing page for example is far too cluttered and therefore makes the next steps in the purchasing process seem overly complicated.
You may need to sit down with your web developer/designer, or if you did the eCommerce site yourself, then either way you have to take the time to refine the sales journey. Make it as simple and as straightforward as possible. Again, people want things instantly. They don’t have time to wind their way through a cornfield-like maze just to get to the checkout section.
Make Sure the Journey Is Easy from a Mobile Perspective
A 2020 Ofcom UK report shows that four fifths of the time that people spend online is done through smartphones and devices. What does this mean for your eCommerce business? For your eCommerce sales strategy in general? Quite simply, if the digital sales journey they encounter isn’t a smooth experience, the conversions just won’t be there. The key to creating an ideal UX experience for mobile might be a bit more practically-grounded than you think.
For example, did you know that 75% of people use their thumb to get tasks done on their phones? Designing a UX that takes into consideration the “thumb zone” is therefore extremely important to a successful shopping journey. Gesture controls and being able to conveniently swipe and drag are also going to be key when it comes to a user finding their way to the end goal: that coveted conversion.
3. The Speed of Your eCommerce Site – Faster is Definitely Better
As we’ve been saying, people are not about wasting valuable time. With as hectic as life/work schedules are, they want to go in, purchase and get out. A slow loading site is going to kill you here. In fact, if a page is taking too long to load, odds are that the user is going to head off to your competitor who happens to have a much faster loading version of a similar product page.
Always be on top of the rate and speed at which your pages load. Don’t wait until sales drop off and you’re confused as to why. There are things you can do to help speed up how your pages load.
Optimize Your Images
Images that are larger than they need to be are going to gum up the works as they say. Make sure you have the right formats and the optimal sizes — not too big, not too small.
Cut Down on the Number of Redirects
Redirects can make your UX quite frustrating. And of course, they contribute to how slow the site pages might be loading. Requiring multiple server responses is obviously going to lead to a much more sluggish experience in general.
4. Complicated Checkout Forms – Lead to Abandoned Carts
Many studies have found that one of the main reasons for cart abandonment is because the checkout process is too complex, too frustrating and just too hard to follow. Forms that require a ton of information — such that might be unnecessary — or forms where it is unclear what information needs to go where often leads to lost sales.
Wherever possible you need to streamline your processes, and when it comes to checking out you most definitely want to take the time to streamline.
Reevaluate the Checkout Form Itself
Are visitors required to input tons of information and/or long blocks of information? This is a no-go for many users, and again, it will affect conversion rates. Short, simple boxes requiring short simple inputs — that’s all you really need.
You yourself most likely understand how convenient autofill is. Especially when short on time, and yet you still want to make sure you get that purchase made. Enabling the autofill function on your eCommerce site will without question help with conversions.
5. A Customer Centered Layout – Avoid Information Overload
UX is all about the customer, of course. Therefore, when designing your online shop, in particular those critical product pages, you want to make sure that they are in fact customer-centric. Users need a certain amount / kind of information in order to comfortably make their purchasing decision. Is that information readily available? Or are they going to have to search all over the place for it?
Images should be front and center. And the corresponding product info needs to be adjacent or at least located quite close to the image they are viewing. You want to make sure that you have everything they would need to know prior to pulling that buying trigger, without creating an information overload situation. So for example include price, shipping information, any color or size options that may be relevant or any other pertinent item details. But make sure to lay these out in a way that is easy to read and consequently digest.
Keep It Concise
When it comes to the information and specifics regarding a product, make sure that the user can easily scan through it. Bullets work great to this end. Bulky paragraphs tend to be a turnoff.
Have the CTA Apparent
Product images and descriptions should always be accompanied by a call to action (CTA). After all, that is what you want the customer to do — click on it and buy now. So you probably want to ensure you have standout buttons directing their actions.
Make Sure Product Reviews are Transparent
This is a review-driven world. That said, offering a section on your product pages especially for spotlighting recent reviews can go a long way in terms of winning over user confidence.
6. Spotlight Promos and Discounts – Help Boost Conversions
Who doesn’t love a deal? Users don’t want to have to go searching for those clearance items or bulk discounts. Whatever the promotion, putting it front and center as soon as they arrive at your online store will make them more willing to explore the deal of the day further.
In tandem with deals and promotions, you also want to showcase new products on your site’s home page. According to a Salesforce survey, 75% of online shopping search queries are brand new each month. This means people are indeed looking for new products, for that next big thing.
Be Sure to Advertise Your Promotions and Products on Social Media
In conjunction with what you feature in your eCommerce store, also be sure to advertise these same bargains and new products on your social media channels. It is about making it as easy as possible for users to see and then consequently experience all that your shop has to offer.
Your User Experience: Where Do You Go from Here?
Even if there are some issues with your current UX as far as your eCommerce site goes, many such issues are an easy fix. It might take a little time, perhaps a little legwork on your part, but again, if you are losing customers during their sales journey because of unsatisfactory experiences, then you’re probably not going to be in business for that long. Think like a consumer. Try out your own shopping experience from time to time to see what exactly people encounter when they come to your site. And make the necessary adjustments to create a smooth and pleasant shopping experience.