User experience plays a critical role in ecommerce. No matter how well designed your online store is if you fail to provide your customers with the kind of shopping experience they expect, then it’s no use at all.
Say your site’s overall look is amazing but you fall short in showing your shoppers shipping estimations as they go along the way. This easily affects the way they assess your online store usability.
But before we go any deeper into the subject, allow me to define what user experience is and all about.
User experience (also referred to as UX) constitutes many components in your ecommerce site. It is the overall feel and functionality you provide your customers, like visual appeal, navigation, content, payment options and even how fast your website is.
All these elements make up for what shoppers end up experiencing while they are within your store, be it positive or negative.
Now that we know what UX is, it’s time to proceed to the ways you can give your market the best possible user experience when they’re in your online store.
1. Provide intuitive navigation.
Once customers land on your page, it’s necessary for them to figure out how your website functions right off the bat. It shouldn’t be rocket science for them to search around your page and move about it.
Navigation is the how easy or hard shoppers can look around your store. From how you categorize you products all the way to filling out order forms, it should be a no brainer. The last thing you want is to make it difficult for your customers because they will move on to the next store.
Breadcrumb navigation is a technique in which you show customers what the next step will be. An example is that of Amazon where they put in the process step by step: Sign In – Shipping & Payment – Gift Wrap – Place Order.
This way, shoppers won’t feel lost and are assured that the ordering process won’t take them too long.
2. Include a comprehensive search feature.
Extensive search is essential to a great ecommerce website. When your customer starts typing in “running shoes”, there should already be a predictive text right under the search bar like “running shoes”, “running shoes for girls”, “running shoes for boys” etc. This way, it saves them time to type in what they need and at the same time, see what other options there are.
Moreover, a comprehensive search feature should also have corrective spelling so that when a user types in “ruinng shoes”, you can easily correct it to “running shoes” and not limit the search results.
Keep in mind that it mostly begins with search because majority of your market don’t really know what they want yet when they land on your store. So it helps big time if your search feature is as useful and as extensive.
3. Don’t force them to register before shopping.
One of the biggest pet peeves of online shoppers is when they are forced to register before they can even look around the site. This is a big no no and can affect your user experience in an instant.
Don’t be tempted to block off your customer’s entrance by making them sign up a form. Allow a guest checkout and the option for them to save their information for future use when they come back and shop again. I understand the need to collect e-mail addresses but this isn’t the way to go. Remember, people came there to shop, not sign up for something.
4. Incorporate image features.
The main difference between actual shopping and that of online is the inability to touch the item one is selling. This means that online shopping banks heavily on product photos in order to give customers the maximum experience of studying the item before purchasing it.
Adding image features like zooming in and out, panning and even video demos about the products. It will help your customers appreciate the product more since they don’t see it in an actual setting compared to a physical store. Keep in mind that user experience counts a lot on how you present your products. Try not to pass up on the opportunity of showing all the features and benefits of your items.
5. Keep necessary information visible.
When users are shopping in your store, it’s important that they have an easy access to valuable information they may need at any point of the shopping process. Even when these customers are just there window-shopping, it counts a lot to have such info visible in their screen at all times.
Your contact information should always be visible in and around your store. FAQ’s will also aid your customers especially if they need answers to certain, more generic questions about your products and order process. If you can afford to have a 24/7 help line or live chat, that’s a big plus as well so customers know they can communicate with you anytime they need to. Shipping charges and estimated total should also be visible from start all the way to checkout.
User experience is everything to ecommerce. So make sure apply all four of these tips in order to provide nothing short of a pleasurable shopping spree for your market.