Let’s just get this out of the way: without an easy, intuitive user experience, your eCommerce website is doomed to fail.
It’s really as simple as that.
True, UX is important to any industry online, but eCommerce, where sales are dramatically affected by the ability to easily find and buy products, is completely dependent on it.
(Having bunk products won’t help you either, but there’s not much I can do about that).
What I can do is offer suggestions for improving your website’s user experience to boost conversions. In eCommerce, conversions can be anything from clicks on specific products to sales, both of which are helpful to your business, and influenced by your website’s interface.
Check out some of these tips for better ecommerce UX.
Your website should instill confidence in browsers. Obviously, they can’t see, touch or try on the item, so you need to create a virtual tactile experience. This goes beyond quality images and product descriptions (although those are important too).
To really convince users that they’re making the right choice, trying using video. According to a study by Invodo, a video strategy and production company, approximately half of online consumers feel more confident about their buying decision after watching a product video.
Your video doesn’t necessarily have to be a cinematic tour de force. All you really need to do is showcase the product, perhaps with a sales person explaining some of its features and benefits. You’ll most likely find that a single video can go a long way, as two-thirds of consumers who watch product videos more than once are much more likely to buy the item, according to the same study.
Add some personality to your product descriptions
While visuals play a big role in eCommerce, visitors to your site expect to be able to read about your products as well. Even if they don’t necessarily scour every detail of copy, just the site of a description will reinforce the fact that you care about customer service and quality assurance as well. Some companies simply list features of a product, which may work if they align with their brand voice.
However, other companies take a more creative approach. Perhaps recognizing that its customers enjoy wit, wordplay and storytelling (and are decidedly geeky), ThinkGeek invests heavily in copywriters who can spin a yarn out of a novelty item, such as a Death Star Bluetooth Speaker.
While you don’t have to necessarily write paragraphs of funny description, infusing some personality that conveys your brand voice and also provides useful details will definitely help consumers form a relationship with your products.
Use quality images
When it comes to e-tailers, I can’t overstate the importance of great images. Ultimately what’s going to sway people one way or another about a product is how it looks. Web design trends these days tend to be more minimalist and flat, which only emphasizes images more than ever before. In other words, make sure you use quality images of your items, especially if you have a modern-looking website.
Consumers will probably want to click on the images for enhanced, close-up, and alternate views, which means there’s no excuse for graininess. Design blog, Fifty-Three sells really classy pencils and styluses, and their photos are eye-catching.
You may fill your product pages with a little more information, but this is a great example of how appealing you can make your items look by putting a little effort into your hi-res images. Details such as shadows and – when juxtaposing different angles of a single item – alignment can go a long way.
Create accessible customer service pages
By contrast, a site that makes service information obvious and clear instills trust in consumers. They feel that you’re not trying to hide anything, and because of the ease of use, are motivated to invest more time in your brand.
Here’s a great example of customer service options that are simple and easy to find (thanks to Usability Geek for the reference).
Make products easy to find
No matter how amazing your products are, you’re bound to sell less if consumers have a hard time finding them on your site. Take a look at what competitors are doing. Is it effective? If they’re using other tools such as enhanced site navigation, would they work for your site.
Amazon uses just about every search and product feature under the sun to make interacting with items as easy as possible. While your company may not have the budget of the largest e-tailer in the world, you should consider adding these features to your site if you don’t have them already:
- Category browsing. Provide both general and specific categories for customers to seek out their items.
- Search box. Allowing users to find a product through a keyword search can greatly improve UX.
- Intelligent recommendations. Enhance the value (or just drive excitement) for a product by pairing it with another similar item.
Include user reviews
According to research, 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a website that features user reviews. It’s no surprise really. Customers drive marketing online. They wield purchasing power, and brands reorganize to keep up. These days consumers are more inclined to trust the words of their piers over the promises of a manufacturer who may be perceived to not necessarily have your best interests in mind.
Plus, with the rise in popularity of pier review sites, eCommerce companies simply need to stay current with the times. If your website doesn’t feature reviews, it now looks out of fashion, and may even seem suspicious. Encourage purchasers to write a review of a product. It’ll show that you trust your own brand, and make it easier for users to make up their mind.
Give customers a simple check out process
Check out should be simple and painless. Keep each stage focused on one major task, such as billing info, and maybe even consider adding buttons declaring “you’re almost done!”.
Asking customers to register with your company when checking out is a great idea. Having their email or street address allows you to send them correspondence, coupons, and more (and you can keep their credit card info on file for faster service next time). Additionally, they’re already showing interest in your company, so you can request some personal info with confidence.
However, don’t ask for this in the early stages of check out. You don’t want to give people any reason to bail on the purchase. You can give them the option to register early on, but generally it’s better to wait until the final stages of checking out, when they have more to lose by not registering.
Make your site responsive
Reportedly, 1 out of every 10 eCommerce dollars is now spent using a smartphone or tablet, and the trend is only expected to grow. So if you haven’t made your online shop accessible on a mobile device, it’s time to get started.
Utilize mobile websites’ key features, such as drop-down menus, and focused, singular pages. Many shoppers may initially come to your mobile site while out and looking for the nearest brick and mortar location. Make sure you include basic info such as address and hours, as well as a click-to-call button. If people are out walking or driving, it may be easier just to dial the phone than search around your site.
Similarly, if people have a hard time on their phones with your desktop website, they may lose patience and change their minds about shopping altogether.