They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and in the world of e-commerce, first impressions really do count. If you’re not making a good one, chances are you’re not making a sale. But is there a sure-fire way to create a website that entices customers to buy every time? A few user experience improvements could make all the difference.
By Charles Brewer, CEO, DHL eCommerce
A good e-commerce site is made up of a number of elements working together seamlessly to create a fantastic customer experience: from a fast and easy-to-use front-end, to an ordering, payment, fulfillment and delivery system working away efficiently in the back. It sounds simple, but it isn’t. Anyone who has built their own online store will know that each part can function fine on its own, but put together, the result is sometimes far from perfect. Here are 10 simple ways you can improve your e-commerce user experience:
Keep it simple
There’s nothing more off-putting than a complex, confusing website. Google research found that users judge websites as beautiful or not within 1/50th – 1/20th of a second. And “visually complex” websites are consistently rated as less beautiful than their simpler counterparts. Basically, when it comes to design, simplicity and practicality win. Check out the look and feel of Skullcandy’s clean, no-clutter approach and fantastic product images – it’s no wonder they won “Best New Site” in BigCommerce’s 22 Best Ecommerce Website Designs of 2018. You should also make sure you’re not leading customers to a dead-end at any point in their user journey, and if possible always show them where they are in the buying process so they can see how close they are to the end – Skullcandy’s checkout also does this beautifully.
Consider guided selling
Making an online purchase isn’t always quick and easy, especially when you’re spending a lot of money. Some 60 percent of consumers will spend up to a week conducting research before they make a purchase. Guided selling can speed up the process and encourage consumers to buy from your site. How does it work? It’s basically a form of product recommendation that makes suggestions and provides information and data by asking specific questions on what the customer is looking for. According to ‘Practical e-commerce’ websites that use guided selling report an increase in conversion rates of up to 70 percent. There are all kinds of applications, from cars to cameras, footwear to hair products. Using it makes your customers’ buying decisions easier and shows that you’re putting their needs first. Here are some good examples.
Make ‘augmented’ a reality
Augmented reality is catching on in a big way online and you don’t always need a pair of fancy goggles to make it work.
Ikea was one of the first online shops to allow customers to view Ikea products in their virtual home, and even offered an augmented reality version of their catalogue back in 2014. Converse launched a shoe sampler app back in 2010 that allowed customers to see how their footwear would look on their feet and purchase direct if they liked what they saw. This kind of functionality is becoming ever more mainstream and affordable so it’s well worth considering if it’s applicable for your products as it helps create an even more meaningful shopping experience for your customers.
Social commerce on the rise
The importance of social media can’t be underestimated – which is why businesses should ensure their social media pages are synchronized with their websites.
Social commerce continues to grow in popularity as platforms make it easier for consumers to purchase direct. In fact, 87 percent of e-commerce shoppers believe social media plays a vital role in helping them make shopping decisions. There are a lot of new technologies that businesses can take advantage of. Social buy buttons are now available on sites like Instagram, Snap and Pinterest which make it possible to buy an item they like straight away. Instagram’s ‘shoppable tags’ currently take consumers to a merchant’s site, but in future the platform plans to allow shoppers to make a purchase direct through an Instagram app. Smart TVs offer another way for businesses to get closer to customers as they surf from the comfort of their sofas, many even offer forms of voice control like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home. Near-field communications payments like Apple Pay and Alipay are also helping to drive a shift toward social commerce.
Use interactive content
There’s a lot of noise out there on the Internet and it’s getting harder and harder to make a brand stand out from the crowd. Using interactive content can help. 79% of marketers who use it say it has boosted their number of repeat visitors and improved messaging retention. It works because humans simply can’t resist a call to test themselves, compete, compare, share their opinion, and have fun. Consider quizzes, questionnaires, polls and games to engage your site visitors. More importantly, create something fun that also adds value for your customers. Here are some examples of good interactive content.
Videos make the sale
There’s been a growing trend over the past couple of years to add videos to homepages. Why? Because it’s a proven way to increase sales. By adding a product video to your website, you can increase the likelihood of a purchase by some 144 percent. Customer’s like them too, some 90% report that product videos help them make purchasing decisions. It doesn’t have to be the highest quality either, you just need to be able to convey useful information to your customers in an easy, short and concise format. You can also use your videos to further promote your brand or product on social media and other communication and sales channels like email and YouTube.
Customer reviews and feedback
What’s the first thing you do when booking a hotel online? You look at the reviews. According to People Claim some 70% of consumers consult reviews or comments before making a purchase. It’s hardly surprising when you can’t actually see or touch a product, which is why it’s so important to ensure your customers have a chance to provide their feedback.
Some 63% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product rating and reviews, so if you’re not offering them, you should be.
When designing a website, consider how easy it is for your customers to get to the shopping cart, and once there, how many clicks it takes for them to buy. Do you have easy-to-use payment options? If not, customer’s may well go looking for the product elsewhere. The more payment options you offer, the better. According to research from FuturePay 40% of shoppers feel more comfortable purchasing from a retailer with multiple payment options. Credit cards should be a standard, adding Paypal and solutions like Apple Pay, Amazon 1-click, Google Wallet will also prove popular, especially with a younger audience. And do your options match your customer demographic? For example, consider mobile wallet payment for India, where the popularity of such apps is growing. Many countries prefer to pay cash on delivery so make sure you team up with a delivery service that can offer a secure solution. DHL eCommerce offers best-in-class COD in markets such as Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia.
Work on your SEO
It may not be directly related to your customer’s user experience, but unless you have your (Search Engine Optimization) SEO in order, they won’t be able to find your site at all. It’s a fact that well-optimized websites get more and more traffic over time, and that means more sales. It may seem like hard work, but it’s worth it. After all, there are hundreds of competitors fighting for your customers, and with just a few simple tweaks to your keywords and content, you can ensure your business appears higher than theirs in the search results. There are a number of things you can do to your website to improve its search engine rankings, but the guidelines and parameters change regularly. Here’s a good overview to help you get started.
Make shipping easy
Don’t make shipping or delivery complicated for your customers.
Give them too many options, and they may click away from your website. Consider adding APIs or plugins which add value, such as tracking, convenient delivery options and a variety of pricing levels. We offer plugin solutions for WooCommerce, Shopify and now Magento, allowing sellers to easily ship domestically and internationally from a single platform of their choice – virtually automating the shipping process. The easier the shipping section of a transaction, the more likely a customer is to click through to the checkout.
These are just some of the user experience improvements you can make. Even if you don’t take them on board, you should definitely take a close look at your website and check if there are any areas where you can make improvements. After all, it’s your chance to make a first impression that counts – and ultimately, make a sale. What could be more important?