CEO of LeapVista.
When peers ask for my tips on how to thrive in e-commerce, my response always revolves around providing a positive user experience. This includes experiences with both products and other aspects of a business, including its website, checkout process, customer service and policies.
With the growing number of competitors in the e-commerce industry, UX (or user experience design) has become a crucial way for stores to stand out in their niche. How can you use this to your advantage? Here are five tips.
1. Create intuitive navigation for your online store.
Intuitive navigation simply means that your website is easy to use. Customers shouldn’t struggle with finding the pages they need, the important menus or buttons should be highly visible and any new visitor shouldn’t feel like they’ve just entered a maze upon landing on your website.
Although you can (and should) use creativity to build your online store, it’s not advisable to deviate too much from the standard structure of e-commerce websites. Doing so may confuse your site visitors and lead them to click away.
2. Invest in both desktop and mobile UX design.
Your store should be responsive regardless of what device a customer is using. All website elements should load quickly, and their placement and size should adapt appropriately to the device.
For a positive mobile UX, it’s a good idea to enable touch gestures that allow users to zoom in on your product photos and descriptions. Your calls to action (CTAs) should also be finger-friendly — ideally for both right-handed and left-handed users. Most importantly, your online store should be usable for all customers as well as on all devices.
3. Provide virtual assistance.
Virtual assistance is the equivalent of the human sales representatives we see in brick-and-mortar stores. Customers look for it when they have concerns or questions, which is enough of a reason why you should offer it in your online store or on other sales channels, like social media.
If you can anticipate the questions that your store visitors might have, you can use this information to create scripts and set up conversational marketing tools like chatbots or live chat. Live chat is when someone from your team directly chats with a customer about their concerns. On the other hand, chatbots are software applications that mimic human speech based on pre-written scripts. Depending on your resources and the level of support that your customers need, you could use either one or both methods.
4. Streamline the checkout process.
The checkout page is where the make-or-break moment of the customer experience usually happens. Does your checkout page look trustworthy? Is it easy to place an order, or do you require customers to enter too many details? Does your store offer multiple payment options?
Your checkout process should be clear, simple and seamless. Avoid making the process longer or more complicated than necessary. Otherwise, your cart abandonment rate could soar.
One best practice for designing a checkout process is saving your customers’ information for future purchases. Let them leave items in their carts until they’re ready to purchase. And once they’ve purchased, give them the option to save their information for their next order. It’s also important to offer diverse payment methods and let your customers complete their payments using a method they trust.
5. Set a transparent and user-friendly return policy.
Did you know that, according to 2017 Narvar research, 49% of shoppers check a store’s return policy before they purchase? I believe this is because many shoppers need to have some kind of assurance when they shop, especially if they’ve never bought anything from you before.
So even though you probably want to avoid or minimize returns, you should still have a policy that your visitors can easily read and refer to when needed. Let people know how you’ll handle issues if they arise, and set their expectations on your obligations, warranties and any other guarantees you offer.
You shouldn’t simply rely on your products when it comes to user experience. You should also mind the other aspects of your business, especially the platforms you’re using to interact with customers and potential buyers.
With that said, go ahead and start using UX design to optimize your store, close more sales and boost your customers’ satisfaction.