Thanks to ever advancing technology pretty much anyone can publish a professional looking E-commerce site these days. But with so much competition, the real challenge with an online store is converting visitors into paying customers. Sure, you may have the latest and greatest products in your store, but if the user experience at all touch points is less than exceptional, chances are your visitors will avoid your “Buy” button and bounce to another site that can give them what they want in the way they want it.
In an effort to help increase conversions in your online store, here are 6 critical user experience considerations for your E-commerce site.
- Search Options Should be Obvious—Users may or may not know what exactly they are looking for when they visit your site. But in either case they will not stick around very long if your search options aren’t obvious and well organized. Using simple, one or two word general product category labels helps shoppers to immediately understand the types of products they will find in your store, and even lead them to discover products they may not have considered. Keeping search options obvious gives your customers a fast and easy way to discover what they need.
- Responsive Web Design is a Must—In today’s world of PC’s, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, your E-commerce site needs to look and work great across all platforms. To make that happen you need to incorporate what is known as Responsive Web Design. And it would be wise to bring in a web designer who is well-versed in responsive design and has experience with corporate training companies or instructional designers who know how to make sites look clean, beautiful and easy for shoppers to navigate on whatever device they choose.
- Product Images and Descriptions Should be Accurate—At some point most online shoppers have purchased products that upon arrival did not meet their expectations. And although they get it that they are purchasing a product that they can’t actually experience in the physical world before buying it, they still want assurance that what they see on your online site is what they will get. As a result, you need to provide product images and descriptions that reflect reality as closely as possible. Multiple high-quality images should show shoppers the product from different angles and, if possible, in use. Text descriptions should stick to the product’s real-world features such as color, height, weight, and if applicable, actual fit. Other important details should be provided in the copy to help shoppers feel that their expectations will be met and, as a result, place the order.
- Online Reviews are Essential—As accurate as your product pictures and descriptions may be, shoppers want to know what others who actually bought the product have to say about it. As a result, social media, online reviews by other customers, and online review sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List are essential for providing the “social proof” that prospective buyers want and need to help them make purchase decisions. You need to be transparent with respect to online reviews, meaning that you need both the positive and the negative. Shoppers respect and are more loyal to E-commerce sites that have great products and aren’t afraid to post honest reviews both good and bad.
- Inventory Should be Kept Up-to-Date—When your shoppers finally find what they want, the last thing they want to see when they click to make the purchase is that the item is out of stock and may or may not be available at a later date. People are motivated to shop online because it’s easy and convenient, and an out of stock notification can make them feel that they’ve wasted their time and possibly make them think twice about visiting your E-commerce site again. To reduce buyer frustration, be sure that your online inventory only reflects products that are in stock and ready to ship.
- Check Out Must be Clean and Simple—Today’s large and popular brick and mortar stores are constantly trying to make their customer’s check out experience as simple and painless as possible. And when it comes to an online customer check out procedure, the same rules must apply. Once a customer starts on the check out track, the journey needs to be as clean, clear and uncluttered as possible. This is not the time for pop-up advertisements for other products, as these can distract customers and potentially cause them to click away. It’s also not the time to introduce other check out barriers, such as unnecessary fields to fill out. And by all means don’t require first time customers to create an account in order to check out. Let them complete their transactions as simply as possible.
Competition in the world of E-commerce is getting more fierce each day. By taking the above criteria into consideration to enhance the user experience of your customers, you’ll be on your way to running a competitive, successful, and profitable online store.