Intro to eCommerce UX
Below I’ve written about fifteen different ways you can use to Improve an eCommerce store UX (user experience) and I’d love to hear your thoughts, tips and techniques in the comments.
When it comes to eCommerce, user experience is more important than ever. Although there are many similarities between an online store and a simple website, there are just as many differences.
Far too many people have a quick think about running an online store, realise it’s easier than running a physical store and go all in. Just because it’s easier that doesn’t make it easy in any way.
Shipping, order processing, payment gateways and product pricing are only a small handful things you’ll be dealing with on a daily basis. eCommerce solutions like Shopify and WooCommerce make online business a lot easier but there’s still a lot of work to do.
Here are 15 things you should cover to Improve an eCommerce store.
1.) Product Discoverability
You’d think finding what you’re looking for online would be super-simple and for the most part it is. However some stores make it a lot harder than they need too.
Being able to discover your products is the number one thing that needs to be addressed. The easiest part to overlook when working on your store is how people will actually find the right products for them.
Product discoverability is a rather broad definition and there are a few different problems that cause it. A large part of my advice below focuses on improving product discoverability in your eCommerce store. Let’s turn some of those window shoppers into paying customers.
Note: You’ll see me use the word “obvious” a lot in this article. So many eCommerce problems can be solved by making things more obvious to the end-user.
2.) Show What’s New
Potential customers aren’t going to see what’s new if you don’t make it obvious to them. It should require minimal effort on their part.
By showing people the latest products that have come into your store it lets them know you’re constantly adding new things for them to buy. People like things that are new so take advantage of it.
This is a great way to get some exposure on newer items that people will be less familiar with. A featured area on the home page is a good way to go, just don’t let it take up 100% of the users attention.
3.) Cross-Sell Products
Cross-selling is where you offer up recommendations on what people might also like. Essentially this is two birds, one stone.
It’s generally a good idea to show complementary products instead of the same things. You don’t want people buying the $10 pair of shoes but only because they saw them as a recommendation on the $30 pair of shoes.
Many eCommerce stores make this mistake and it can lead to a loss in revenue. You still get the sale but you earn less money from it. It’s much better to sell a $30 pair of shoes with a complementary $60 dress.
This can actually lead to two sales where you would’ve only gotten one. The technique doesn’t work on all types of products but use it wisely and you’ll soon see an increase in the amount of products ordered for each transaction.
4.) Include a Compare Option
The ability to compare selected items can mean the difference between a sale and an abandoned basket.
A lot of websites limit the amount of comparable options to three. In my experience four to five is a much better and more realistic number.
Make sure the differences are easily noticeable. Being able to see how product A is better than product B is what can push a user to buy that item.
5.) Show Recently Viewed Products
An emerging trend in recent years has been to show people products they’ve recently viewed. This is a fantastic way of helping users find an item they were looking at ten minutes ago but can’t remember where on your site they saw it.
Consider showing at least 4 products people recently looked at and include an option to see all recently viewed items. You don’t want to lose a sale because a potential customer had viewed one too many products to go back.
6.) Deals and Promotions
There’s so much deals and promotions can do for your business it’s crazy.
The majority of products I’ve ever bought, especially tech items or games, have been because of a sale like black Friday. I’m a sucker for a bargain and so is everyone else. Take advantage of this by running weekly deals on certain categories or products.
Make sure you get in on the big sales like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These can lead to not just a high volume of sales but also a boat load of new customers, many of which are likely to buy from you again.
7.) Guest Checkout
According to a study 14% of checkout abandonment is because of eCommerce stores not offering a guest checkout option. That’s a big chunk of customers and money going right out the window.
If you make one change to your online store make it so people can checkout as a guest. It’s a huge turn-off and people will likely look elsewhere. If the product is on a site like Amazon or eBay where they already have an account, they’ll likely go there, even if the price is slightly higher.
8.) Obvious Pricing and Shipping Info
Making the total order price obvious is an often overlooked aspect of the checkout experience. If people come to buy from you because the prices are low but discover all the tax and VAT on the final checkout screen, they will disappear. Any trust you’ve built up-to at this point is immediately thrown under the bus.
Consider adding a free shipping option if orders are over a certain amount. A good example of this is Jack of All Trades clothing where any orders over $60 automatically gives you free shipping anywhere in North America.
9.) Regain People Who Leave
Sometimes people add items to their baskets and for some one reason or another leave without making a purchase. There is a high probability that these people won’t return.
If they’re logged in or have at some point entered their email address you can send them an email a few hours later. By reminding them they were in the middle of shopping you can claw back that previously lost sale.
Tip: Make it sound like you’re simply trying to help. For example “We saved your items for you”. People are much more likely to at least open the email if they think you’re doing them a favour.
10.) Top-Notch Customer Service
Many times people want more information on a product and so far a quick Google search has yielded them no answers. Being able to get in touch at the click of a button or by simply looking up at a phone number is immensely powerful. It shows potential customers that you’re there and are ready to help in any way possible.
Tip: If it’s a struggle to find any contact information people will leave. You’ll appear less and less credible the longer it takes to reach you.
11.) Customers Reviews
This is known as social proof, which I’ve written about before in an article titled The Process of a Portfolio Realign.
The basic idea is that people will buy what other people say is good. The psychology behind this is that nobody wants to buy a crappy product. If others have bought it, tested it and said “Yeah it’s good”, people will be more convinced.
12.) Bigger and More Consistent Product Images
A lot of eCommerce stores give you the option to zoom in on product images. However this doesn’t help much if you just want to see a bigger version.
Instead of making your potential customers struggle, give them bigger images to begin with. At the very least give them the options of bigger view, different angle and zoom.
Another thing to think about is the consistency of product images. If all the photos look as if they were taken in the same setting it adds a huge amount of credibility to how your products come across.
13.) Obvious and In-Depth Product Descriptions
If you’ve ever shopped on Amazon you’ll know the pain of trying to find the product description. A lot of the time the descriptions are so small they’re completely unhelpful. Now this isn’t really Amazon’s fault but they should be doing more to help customers in this regard.
On your product page make sure that each section is clearly defined. Most importantly make sure the product description is above the fold (I know, I know) and easy to read. I advise using an online tool such as Hemingway to make your descriptions easy to read for everyone.
14.) “Added to Cart” Recognition
This is another part of eCommerce UX (user experience) that needs to be really obvious. Adding a product to the cart is a huge step for anyone on your site because it changes them from a window shopper to a potential customer.
By highlighting that a product is in the basket on category pages, search results and any other appropriate pages is the best idea. Also think about a small animation to aid the user visually when they click the “add” button.
15.) Product Videos
Last but definitely not least is the mention of product videos because they are the most powerful tool for selling your product. If it’s a tech-like product a good video can make the sale immediately.
People are far more likely to buy a product if there is an accompanying video. It needs to give detailed information and a much better look at what the potential customers money is investing in.
Running an online business takes a lot of hard work and dedication. The main thing you want to focus on is a better shopping experience for you customers.
Please don’t take the above as the definitive guide to eCommerce because it’s far from it. However by using the tips and techniques above you’ll be able to push you’re sales figures much higher than before.
Just remember that nobody likes bad UX, even if they don’t know it.