Contextually relevant features and content can make ecommerce customer experiences more memorable – helping you stand out from the competition. To help you put together a strategy that leverages user data to deliver dynamic product recommendations, user-centric messaging, and convenient shopping and purchasing processes, consider these tips and examples for making your ecommerce site more unique and personalized.
Add search customization options
The search bar on your ecommerce site is supposed to help your customers find products. But for some customers, a basic list of products doesn't provide enough information to make a purchasing decision. Personalization features like detailed search parameters (e.g. category inclusion/exclusion, price ranges, SKU variant inclusion/exclusion, etc.) and result-sorting options (e.g. by price, by review score, by popularity, etc.) lessens the burden of research for your customers and improves your site's user experience.
Enhancing product discoverability
To increase the effectiveness of product suggestions across the site (i.e. search results, "you may also like" recommendations, etc.), make sure that you are tracking how customers browse products and use the search bar on your site. For example, by mining your site’s search data, you can learn more about what your customers are interested in and the language they use to find it. This can be very helpful in merchandising, discovering changes in customer priorities, or simply improving onsite search functionality.
Personalize for users' preferred device
Does your website provide shopping experiences that are tailored to different screen sizes, user inputs, and browsers? Consider how you can design elements or consolidate navigation to make them fast loading and tap-friendly for smartphone and tablet users.
From the perspective of customers, the checkout process is the most tedious part of shopping online. With that mindset, it's no wonder that many ecommerce sites struggle with cart abandonment.
The less time and actions your checkout requires, the more likely users will be to complete their orders. While looking for ways to streamline the design of your cart and checkout pages can be very effective in this regard, there are other strategies you can deploy to improve your checkout process to make it more convenient for customers, such as:
Alternatives to account creation
If your ecommerce site requires account creation to complete a purchase, you may want to consider alternatives like Guest Checkout and/or social media login functionality. While account creation helps you collect information about your customer base, the process adds more steps to what should be the simplest part of your ecommerce site.
More convenient payment options
Alternative payment options are designed to shorten the checkout process by eliminating the multiple form fields required for credit card payments. Additionally, the more payment options you can accept, the more customers you can serve. However, there are many systems to choose from – so consider surveying your customers to find out which alternative payment options are most popular for your target audience.
Autofill form fields (even for coupons)
By streamlining the process of inputting information, you can speed up your checkout while demanding less effort from your customers. Incorporating autofill features into your forms accomplishes this while also reducing the amount of errors that come from manual user input. By autofilling the coupon field with your latest promotion, you instantly show customers your best deal so they don't have to shop around – perhaps the most common motivation for abandoning the cart.
The number of users shopping around and completing purchases using smartphones and tablets is bigger than ever. An ecommerce site designed exclusively for desktops, no matter how well done, is no longer a viable strategy in ecommerce. For starters, the user interface for mobile devices (a small screen with touch-based inputs) makes it cumbersome for users to navigate desktop-only sites. This inconvenience alone contributes to increased bounce rates and abandoned carts. In addition, search engines now use “mobile-friendliness” as a factor in deciding how well a website ranks in search results (especially for searches done on a mobile device). In this post, we'll cover the most important changes you can make in order to provide your users with a convenient shopping experience that makes it easy to place an order from anywhere, on any device.
At the basic level, taking an existing desktop site and optimizing it for smartphones and tablets entails using existing sections of content from the desktop site and organizing them in a mobile-friendly layout by leveraging scan-able content (with large-size font for smaller screens), intuitive navigation (think: thumb-friendly), and clear calls to action.
Additionally, the conversion paths on your mobile site should be as short as possible. Generally – the fewer steps it takes to buy something online, the higher the chance of conversion from mobile users. Look for ways to declutter your site's navigation, consolidate product categories, streamline checkout forms, etc.
Finally, use A/B testing to test as many elements of your site as you can to determine which variables perform the most successfully. Part of doing well on the mobile front is collecting data and putting it to use on your mobile site. As mobile consumers engage with your ecommerce site, collect data and adjust your strategy accordingly:
- time spent on a page
- number of returns to that page
- average page views before making a purchase
Shifting your site’s focus to mobile will require time and resources. But, as the number of mobile shoppers inevitably grows, redesigning your site for mobile usability now may set you up for greater success in the future.
Ecommerce sites that host user generated content (UGC) such as product reviews and photos taken by customers are relatively common. Unfortunately, the inherent value of that content is often overlooked by e-tailers. With the ubiquity of product discounts and shipping promos, UGC can be a great competitive differentiator. According to a consumer survey from TurnTo, 81% of US consumers say they would pay more for, and wait longer to receive, products that had UGC. Rather than “setting and forgetting” the UGC features of your ecommerce site, use the following tips to leverage this valuable content to your benefit.
Establish a baseline
Step back a take a broad view of how UGC is currently incorporated into your ecommerce site. What types of UGC do you support? Of those, which do customers interact with the most? Answering these questions will help you make informed decisions on adding new types of UGC, which types you want to promote to customers, and how effective UGC is for certain products.
Expand UGC touchpoints
UGC is only effective when customers are interacting with it, so look for opportunities to make UGC more prominent on your site and in your marketing materials. Some ideas include:
- HTML coding that allow ratings and review snippets from your site to appear in search results
- Including ratings and review information in the shopping cart and throughout the checkout process
- Using review commentary and customer photos in social media and retargeting ads
A robust foundation of UGC provides both you and your customers with more accurate information. For example, the 4-star average rating on a product page with 500 reviews is more credible than a 5-star average on product page with only 2 reviews. Use techniques to get more UGC submissions for your ecommerce site.
User generated content (UGC) such as product reviews, questions & answers, photos, videos, and more provide a number of benefits to ecommerce sites. They improve your site's online shopping experience, build trust with new customers, improve brand reception, and serve as a resource for creating promotional and marketing materials. But, just because you build space for UGC into your site doesn't mean shoppers will come and start providing content. Use these tips to encourage your customers to submit more UGC, more frequently.
There are several ways you can reward customers for contributing UGC. Let contributors know that their content is appreciated and makes a difference by notifying them when other shoppers find their photos, reviews or answers helpful. If your site has a customer portal, you can borrow some ideas from gamification and award users with badges or redeemable points for actively contributing UGC.
Provide tools to make creation and submission easy
Users are more likely to provide UGC if you can make the experience as frictionless as possible. Some ideas include using review submission forms with writing prompts or icons for mobile that launch a camera app for quickly sending product photos or video.
Highlight privacy and security features
Give contributors a way to preview how UGC submissions will appear onsite (including how account info will display to other users) before they go live. If you are hosting a platform for shoppers to communicate with one another (e.g. a user forum or Q&A product page section), make sure it is moderated well to prevent offensive content.
Ask for UGC
Redesign the visibility of UGC throughout your site and use clear calls to action for shoppers to participate. Offsite, send follow up emails to customers after they receive an order and ask if they can write a review or answer other customers' questions. You may need to adjust the timing of this follow up to ensure customers have had enough time to properly evaluate the product.