To stay competitive in ecommerce, you should always be searching for opportunities to improve your website and the experience it offers your customers. Over the course of helping several clients bolster their ecommerce businesses this year, we noticed a few common tactics that were effective at improving sites in a variety of areas:
Your product pages should provide shoppers with as much detail as possible so customers can comfortably "add to cart" without needing to leave your site to do additional research... and potentially find the information through a competitor. Think about ways you can enhance manufacturer-provided content to make it more robust and preemptively answer customer questions.
Call monitoring tools (if your customer service department uses them) can be a great resource for pinpointing areas of the customer experience that need improvement. Reviewing customer service calls can reveal patterns or errors you may not find otherwise, such as missing information (see above), frequently asked questions, or areas where CSRs need more training.
Cart & checkout
Upgrading the functionality of your site's cart and checkout process can be the most effective tactic for turning abandoned carts into completed purchases. Of all the strategies for improving ecommerce performance, this may be the one that most e-tailers struggle with. It's also perhaps the subject we've covered the most extensively on our blog. Click here to browse our collection of ideas for making better checkout pages.
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.
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.
In order to please your ecommerce customers and maintain a competitive edge, it's important to have features on your website that make it easy to shop. To improve your ecommerce site’s user experience on mobile and desktop devices, here are four features you should have:
Robust search functionality
Site search is one of the main tools customers use to navigate your site and products. If your site search bar is hard to find, hard to use, or ineffective at finding products, they’re more likely to leave without buying. First, make sure your site's search tool is prominent within your site's navigation. Then, enhance its usefulness by adding features like autocomplete, category filters, and click/tap-friendly dropdown lists. In addition, make sure all searches return results. If you don’t have an item a user is searching for, let the user know and show results for “similar products” or “other products you might like” – which are much more useful than an “item not found” message.
Write useful product descriptions
Written descriptions educate shoppers about the product's functions and features, specs and measurements, and advantages over similar products. However, you don’t want to frustrate your users with a wall of text – so keep your product descriptions short and to the point. When possible, summarize the key selling points in a bulleted list and let your images and/or videos do the rest.
Curate user reviews
While product descriptions give shoppers essential information, user reviews give a better (and sometimes more convincing) picture what it’s like to actually own and use a product. By supporting product reviews on your site, you can appeal to the growing audience of consumers who make purchasing decisions based on reviews. To get more reviews for your site, send follow-up emails or push notifications to customers after they complete a purchase.
One-click buying & single-page checkouts
A multi-step checkout process can cause shoppers to abandon their carts, so providing a speedy and simple checkout process is necessary. Make sure your site supports convenient features like guest checkout, mobile-friendly payments, and one-click payments technology.
Using web design features on your ecommerce site to streamline the shoppers' journey is a great strategy to increase conversions, reduce cart abandonment, and improve brand perception. In this post, we'll look at some features you can incorporate into your site to decrease the amount of time it takes to complete a purchase.
Requiring a login to complete a purchase can cause shoppers to abandon their carts - either because they don't want to set up an account, they can't remember their login credentials, or because the process takes too long. For returning customers, you can use a credential management API to automate the login process. The API remembers the account and signs users back in after a session expires, eliminating the need to manually login.
Simplify the checkout process
From the user’s perspective, the less time and effort they have to spend checking out, the better. Look for opportunities to reduce the number of steps or form fields in your checkout. For example, you can get rid of payment fields by enabling native web-based payments through a payment request API.
Add “buy now” buttons
Add instant buying buttons to your product pages so customers can skip the traditional checkout process. Now that Amazon's patent on one-click payments technology expired this year, you will no longer have to pay a licensing fee to add this functionality to your site.
Improve load times
There are a number of ways you can speed up your website, but these can involve cutting away features you like. Consider incorporating a progressive web app, which shows your web pages to shoppers in a way that is optimized to the device and browser they are using.