Customer Experience

9 Best Practices to Improve Ecommerce User Experience

November 14, 2019
12:00 am

You’ve got a great product, competitive pricing, and an ecommerce store all set up to sell your goods. But if your website’s user experience misses the mark, your ecommerce sales numbers might too.

Here’s how to improve the ecommerce user experience to attract and retain customers and increase your ecommerce sales by addressing the most common user experience issues.

What is ecommerce user experience?

Ecommerce UX describes your buyers’ experience or journey of shopping at your digital storefront and encompasses all the things that go into creating seamless online shopping.

This includes, for example:

  • Whether you offer personalized product recommendations based on purchase history
  • The clarity of your calls to action (e.g. ‘Buy Now’ and ‘Add to Cart’ buttons)
  • The number of steps or clicks involved in your online checkout process
  • How fast your site loads

Learn how to create modern experiences that wow ecommerce customers. Download "The Definitive Guide to Ecommerce Customer Experience".

Creating a good ecommerce UX is crucial for any business wanting to attract, retain and upsell customers. Ecommerce UX represents a fundamental part of delivering an excellent customer experience.

Not convinced? Consider the following stats:

  • Most of the world’s consumers are e-shoppers: 98 percent of global consumers shop online, including browsing, researching and buying (Google) providing a clear business case to optimize your ecommerce experience.
  • Mobile matters: By 2021, 53.9 percent of all retail ecommerce in the U.S. is expected to be generated via mobile. (Statista)
  • Personalization generates sales. People are 40 percent more likely to spend more than planned when they find the shopping experience is highly personalized. (Google)
Ecommerce sales - Online shopping
Source: Think with Google

So, it’s very natural for retailers to wonder how to increase ecommerce sales with UX. The experience of your website (whether on mobile or desktop) can have a massive effect on revenue and brand.

If you're on Shopify or plan to give it a try, check out this podcast on how you can build your Shopify brand and sales by offering improved user experiences.

Top 9 best practices to improve user experience on an ecommerce website

1. Avoid spammy interfaces

This is a catch-all for “too many…” — too many pop-ups, too many fields to fill out before purchasing, too many clicks to get to the checkout page, too many loud, distracting ads. Pop-up ads tend to be among the most disliked by consumers: according to HubSpot Research, users consider them the second most annoying form of advertising after telemarketing calls. 

Ecommerce sales - Pop up ads

Source: HubSpot

Tip: Test and analyze the effectiveness of your pop-up ads and shopping cart checkout process. If your popups don’t affect bounce rates, but your buyers drop on the second step of checkout, then you might want to revisit that particular step.

2. Allow users to purchase without signing up for accounts

Requiring buyers to register with your website before they buy from you is a common ecommerce sales tactic. Marketers then use these email addresses to send promotional newsletters. But most of the time, all buyers really want to do is purchase your product, no strings attached. 

Tip: Consider implementing a guest checkout process, with the option to register for an account after purchase. In the Crate & Barrel example below, shoppers can continue purchasing online as guests, without signing up for an account. This ensures their ecommerce user experience carries on, uninterrupted. 

Ecommerce sales - guest checkout example Crate & Barrel
Source: Crate & Barrel

3. Avoid hidden fees

Imagine the scenario: you’re browsing on Instagram, you hover over a t-shirt advertised as “free” and click checkout, only to find the shipping fee is bloated to include retail and shipping prices. This falls into the ‘gotcha tactics’ category: and it doesn’t look good. At best, your visitor buys from you but their trust in you is damaged. At worst, you lose a potential buyer. 

Tip: If you want to create a relationship with buyers that leads to a great customer experience, be transparent. Make sure you include all fees upfront, even in your product description copy. 

4. Signal trust and security

Buying from an ecommerce store feels risky for shoppers concerned about the security of their online transactions. Make sure you have a secure ecommerce payment process in place. Once you do, display trust seals to demonstrate your business takes financial security seriously. A study by Baymard showed how 18 percent of shoppers who abandoned their e-shopping carts during checkout did so because they “didn’t trust the site with my credit card information.” 

Ecommerce sales - trust seals for checkout page
Source: Baymard Institute

Tip: One other way to signal trustworthiness on your checkout page is to include copy referencing confidentiality. A disclaimer about the security and encryption of buyers’ credit card information helps put potential buyers at ease. 

5. Offer immediate customer support

Ecommerce sales happen 24/7. Make sure you can deal with customer issues and product questions, no matter what time they come up. Whether it’s a quick question about pricing, or an inquiry into your product’s capabilities, providing support at all hours is essential for a great ecommerce user experience. 

Tip: It’s not always possible to be online 24/7, so make sure your site includes self-help resources, like a knowledge base or FAQ page, to guide users needing a quick question answered (e.g. “Is your sale still in effect?”) Go a step further by adding live chat and chatbots to your website, capturing all user questions and contact information — even those you can’t get to straight away.

6. Aim for friendly mobile ecommerce UX

Mobile usability isn’t an optional extra anymore — 77 percent of smartphone shoppers are more likely to purchase from companies whose mobile sites or apps allow them to make purchases quickly, according to Think with Google. Sites that fail to provide a seamless ecommerce mobile experience are losing out on ecommerce sales. Strive to provide a truly omnichannel customer experience across all devices.

Tip: Utilize responsive design in your development, and keep your content short and sweet. Responsive design scales and contracts to fit the device being used, and long text looks wordier on smaller mobile interfaces, slowing down the user experience.

7. Resolve navigational lags

Site speed, lack of a search bar, sloppy site architecture — these factors all contribute to navigational lags on your website. The more lags your users experience, the more likely they are to bounce. Create a quick and efficient experience on your website to help increase ecommerce conversions.

mobile ecommerce user experience matters
Source: Think with Google

Tip: While there are a host of technical changes you can make to improve navigation on your site, one of the most important things you can do is ensure your site loads faster across all devices. Take the time to learn about some technical improvements you can use to boost your site speed

8. Offer multiple payment methods

Imagine your customer has taken the time to select all the products they want and gone through the checkout process, only to find out that they can’t pay with their digital wallet or with cash or with their credit card. That doesn’t make for a good ecommerce user experience.

Think With Google actually notes that, in many countries, alternative payment methods represent a higher proportion of ecommerce growth than credit cards.

Tip: Add as many payment methods as possible (e.g. PayPal, Apple Pay, cash on delivery, etc.) for the potential to increase ecommerce sales.

9. Enable product reviews and testimonials

We have already mentioned trust when it comes to security, but what about trust in products? Customers shouldn’t take too high a risk when they purchase products — and it’s also in your best interest to make sure they make the right choice in order to avoid costly returns.

Tip: Enable reviews for your products to create a better experience and eventually increase ecommerce sales. You can link to review sites (e.g. TripAdvisor) or look for user-generated content to feature on your site (e.g. if someone has tried your product in a video on Instagram, ask them if you can share their content). 

Even if you don’t have reviews on your site, you should, at a minimum, send customer satisfaction surveys asking helpful questions to see what works and what doesn’t — this is essential to learning how to improve the ecommerce user experience.

Ecommerce user experience is critical

Creating a better experience for your customers on an ecommerce site is crucial these days. With over 90 percent of the world’s customers interacting with online businesses in 2021, your ecommerce site needs to prioritize their needs. These nine best practices to improve ecommerce user experience are a great starting point to upgrade your online store. 

Do you have an online store? Are you looking to improve your ecommerce UX?

If so, which of these strategies have you tried out and what were the results? Leave us a comment below.


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