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This article is part of my sponsored content program and was submitted by omnisend.
E-commerce best practices change every year, and it can be tough to determine which trends are temporary fads and which are here to stay. As online shopping continues to grow in popularity, companies are investing more and more resources into their user interfaces. In turn, consumers are continually expecting better designs from their favorite brands.
If you want to compete with the top vendors in your niche, you can’t afford to lose any ground when it comes to the user interface. Seemingly minor inefficiencies can actually have a significant effect on your sales — for example, of internet users will leave your website if it takes more than three seconds to load. Plus, search engines only want to promote websites that their users will enjoy browsing, so a poor UX can have a detrimental effect on your SEO.
In this article, I’ll cover some common weaknesses in e-commerce UX design and how you can adapt your interface to match your audience’s needs. While a responsive and intuitive interface won’t sell products on its own, it can help you to and conversions.
1. Gather customer feedback
Optimizing your interface is all about improving the user experience, and nobody understands the pros and cons of that experience quite like the users themselves. While you can make a lot of progress on your own by following best practices and continually updating your site, audience feedback is a crucial source of information that should inform your strategies.
Of course, customers aren’t always eager to go out of their way to offer feedback. With that in mind, it’s important to make it as easy as possible for them to leave a note about their experience on your site. Simply adding a feedback form can provide an easy way to suggest improvements, while demonstrating that you’re invested in the customer experience.
2. Streamline your checkout process
As mentioned earlier, even small hangups in the buying process will hurt your sales. The checkout process is one of the most common sources of lost sales for ecommerce vendors, and a few simple adjustments can help you retain more customers.
First, you should always try to offer as many payment methods as possible in order to cast a wider net. That includes PayPal and credit cards, along with Bitcoin and native payment tools like Apple Pay and Android Pay. The last thing you want is to lose a sale because your site doesn’t support the customer’s preferred payment method.
Similarly, while requiring customers to sign up before making a purchase might sound like a good way to increase follow-up sales, it’s more likely to turn them away and cut into your orders. While it should always be easy for visitors to sign up if they want to, they should also have the option to checkout as a guest. You can always offer a small discount in exchange for their email address if you’re trying to increase subscriptions.
Late-arriving information is another common problem for ecommerce brands when it comes to maximizing sales. For example, if a product is out of stock, some online stores may not make this clear until a certain point in the checkout process. By the time a customer has realized that the item isn’t available, they’ve become discouraged and are less likely to look for an alternative. Avoid this by providing clearly-stated stock updates on the product page, letting customers know exactly what’s in stock and preventing them from adding unavailable items to their cart.
Similarly, waiting until checkout to display shipping prices may help to move customers partway through the sales funnel, but it’s likely to have a negative impact on your conversion rate. Neil Patel estimates that of your leads will abandon their carts if they’re presented with unexpected shipping costs during checkout. The same principle applies to any other charges — these should always be visible before the user reaches the checkout page.
3. Improve your product images
Online shopping can’t compete with the in-store experience when it comes to visualizing products. But it’s still important that you do everything you can to give customers a complete impression of the products you’re selling. This should include providing high-resolution images from a number of angles, along with an accurate description that covers dimensions, specifications, and any other relevant pieces of information.
Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to product images. Some brands go further by including videos displaying the product in action. For example, you might show a model walking around in your clothes to give customers a better idea of how the outfit will look on them. You could also demonstrate features or functionality by taking a video of someone using the product and demonstrating its key benefits.
With augmented reality becoming increasingly accessible to businesses of all sizes, more and more companies are taking advantage of the technology to improve product visualization. IKEA’s Place app is a great example of AR in action — rather than relying on a few images of a piece of furniture on its own, customers can use augmented reality to see how it will look in a given space. This process gives users more confidence in what they’re buying and bridges the gap between online and in-person shopping.
Overall, the goal of your product pages is to communicate all the information a customer needs to complete an order. If they aren’t sure of how your product looks, how it works, and what it can do for them, they’ll be significantly less likely to spend money on it — and that’s especially true for new leads that don’t have prior experience of shopping with you. Optimizing your images, videos, and demonstrations is the best way to maximize conversions once a user reaches the product page.
4. Offer responsive customer support
With the rise of chatbots and live chat support, it’s easier than ever for businesses to provide top-notch customer service. A strong customer support interaction can remedy a customer’s doubts about your products, helping them move through the sales cycle without any friction. On the other hand, long delays and boilerplate support responses will reinforce those doubts and give your audience less confidence in your brand.
While some businesses hesitate to in fear of losing the human side of customer service, adding a chatbot to the beginning of the funnel will streamline your support workflow. A chatbot can’t handle every single question, but it can respond to simple inquiries, resolving a significant percentage of support requests on its own.
Furthermore, an effective chatbot can also redirect customers to the right resource. For example, they could provide a link to the relevant page from your FAQs instead of immediately connecting the user with a human. Resolving low-level cases before they reach a support agent is the best way to make your more cost-effective.
You can also improve your support efficiency by giving your customer service team the information they need to respond to each new inquiry. Far too often, companies require their users to start from scratch every time they contact customer support. There’s no reason to offer the same solutions multiple times or have your audience enter their information for each new ticket.
Of course, these are just a few of the most powerful ways to update your support practices — the point is to avoid treating this area of your business as an afterthought. You don’t need to break the bank or hire any new employees to completely revamp your approach to customer service and develop a system that responds to the needs of your audience.
5. Connect your site to the rest of your web presence
Your website and online store are obviously key aspects of your online presence, but most brands are also connecting with their audience through . Rather than treating these as two completely separate aspects of your digital marketing, you can easily leverage them by moving users from one to the other and maintaining engagement across multiple ecommerce marketing channels.
First, you should include clear links on your website to all of your brand’s social media profiles. You can give visitors an incentive to check out your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Pinterest pages by offering a discount or another small gift in exchange for each “like” or “follow.” Some brands even include social media posts on their website — for example, you might highlight a product with a Facebook post from a satisfied customer.
Product sharing is another rich opportunity for cross-engagement. If you enable users to pin your products to their Pinterest boards, you can generate organic growth as their friends and family discover your brand through the platform. By connecting every area of your web presence, you’ll move customers from social media to your website (and vice versa), expanding your audience and introducing new opportunities for engagement.
Marketers are often more focused on their products and campaigns than on their site itself, but an intuitive user interface is crucial for maximizing both traffic and sales. These tips will help you bring more first-time visitors to your site and convert them into loyal customers at an even higher rate.