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Online shopping rapidly becomes the most important way of shopping. There are many reasons for that but the most important is that customers can compare many products in a short period of time and they can order them from a distant location. Many companies have recognized this opportunity to greatly expand their business.
As time goes by, the competition gets stronger and stronger. This leads us to steps that need to be taken in order to attract as many customers as possible. This article is about the UX aspect of this task. Main principles and processes are mentioned in relation to cases from the practice. Every eCommerce online store should, of course, adjust these activities to its own needs.
Many aspects can be involved in the process of advancing an eCommerce product. They can be summarized into:
Companies often invest most of their efforts into one aspect and neglect others. That, of course, reflects on the overall success of the eCommerce product.
It is crucial to have a clear business strategy before starting any project. Some points have to be included in planning:
Target audience – Pivotal aspect of any sale process. It must be defined from the beginning of the project. It may vary during the process but the basic part must be defined. Aspects of target users can be for example age, gender, interests, etc.
User surroundings – It is very helpful to know where and when users are searching for products. The device they are using is also an important aspect in efforts to adjust the layout.
Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – It is a component that separates a product from its competition. This can be, for example, better quality, lower price, original features, etc. This requires a deep analysis of the competition.
Brand personality – It is the way the brand depicts itself and the consumers perceive the brand. Customers are more likely to purchase a brand if its personality resembles their own. Main types of brand personalities are:
These characteristics are important because they form a brand image.
Marketing – Efficient marketing should draw the attention of potential customers in order to increase sales. This is often difficult to do at the beginning of the project but with good preparation, it can be done easier.
Type of business – This is also an important aspect because it sets a direction for the entire project concerning target users, design and communicating with customers.
Since all of these points are connected, they should be discussed by all the employees involved in dealing with them.
Ecommerce is gaining more and more in importance in today's trade. Physical stores are still popular because customers can have physical contact with the product. Ecommerce stores cannot offer that to their customers but with good UX they can reduce that deficiency.
The first impression is crucial for eCommerce because of the huge competition that is only a few clicks away. It is important to keep things as simple as possible but handling user requests must also be efficient. Beautiful design is great but if it doesn't hinder the functionality. For example, websites sometimes put too many photos on the homepage or even an autoplay video that is difficult to turn off. It is also very important that the website clearly shows where there are their products positioned in the market. For example, luxury products must be presented differently than low-cost products.
Integrity is decisive for any long-term business. It must be shown to the clients that already purchased a product but it also must be visible for newcomers. It is recommended for websites to have displayed ratings and reviews. Majority of customers read them before they decide to purchase a product.
The checkout process must be straightforward and uninterrupted. The best way is to have this done with only one click. Here it is important not to put everything on the same screen. Security will depend on the eCommerce system being used but also on the website host.
Customers should be able to log in with an existing account (e.g. Google or Facebook account) in order to rid them of the task of creating a new account. It is recommended to save information of previous customers who logged in, so they don't have to answer the same questions every time.
The good first impression is not enough. Customer's satisfaction must be prolonged in order to get him back on the website. Online shopping cart menu is crucial for that purpose. Its design must be clear and show price and number of items in the cart with a link to the page with details of the content. Majority of the customers abandon their online shopping cart. There are many reasons for that but usually, it is because of the poor UX. It is important to have a system for bringing these customers back. First thing will be, of course, to improve the website's UX. After that, improving promotion of the product by contents and sales. This can be done through email newsletters and social media.
Many customers will not buy something on their first visit but that doesn't mean that they are not interested. Maybe they have just abandoned the cart because they wanted to see the process of purchasing and some additional information. That is why it so important to keep them interested.
It is crucial to bring customers back so it is necessary to provide the means to contact a company if they have any questions or maybe they are not satisfied with a product. Customer support must be available to them as soon as possible and also, if a problem cannot be solved, the product return option must be provided.
Customers must be looked after during the whole process of shopping because they will probably have some questions about the product or about the delivery. It is good to have a FAQ section but it is also good to have clearly visible customer service tabs and live chat boxes.
Registration is an important moment in online business because it helps to make a lasting bond between the online shop and a customer. It must not be forced to the customers but gains from it must be suggested. It is also not advisable to make this move to early in the interaction with customers.
Personalization is highly recommended for any eCommerce website. Today's customers want a more customized shopping experience because they have many similar products at their disposal. Their past actions must be analyzed in order to provide them with personalized suggestions. This enables clients to find the desired products more easily and increases their loyalty. Ecommerce websites often have a section that shows other products that buyers of one product also bought which serves this purpose very well.
It is essential to have an extensive visual presentation of products because of the aforementioned deficiency of eCommerce that it doesn't offer physical contact with the product. This way people can see photos of products from many angles. It is recommended to use high-resolution photos on a white background with a zoom option. Sometimes is also useful to include animation.
Shop owners must keep in mind that users search for products from different devices so the content for them must be optimized. It is also common for online shops to provide their customers a set of items with a filter option in order to help them in choosing the best product for them (e.g. new men's shoes from $50 to $200). Products should have a short product summary next to the photo with price and a link to the reviews. Loading of all these contents, of course, must be fast.
The positioning of the website in the website search is crucial for attracting customers and therefore for persuading them to purchase goods. In the page title, the most relevant and simple keywords must be employed. Other keywords must be employed in the summary of the category. Internal links are also useful for boosting SEO.
Most of the customers enter a website through the homepage so it is logical that it contains basic information about the products that it sells and about characteristics that make it unique on the market. It should present the main offerings but still keep it simple without going too much into details that would overwhelm the user with information. There is a popular comparison of a homepage with a show window of a physical store – products they see should motivate them to explore further but they shouldn't block the view to the rest of the store.
A website should have a clear design with product categories adjusted for quick navigation. Users should be familiar with these categories and labels and be able to figure out where certain actions lead. Sometimes is useful to incorporate some features in more categories, because many users tend to presume that something doesn't exist if they can't find it.
This is a relatively new approach to eCommerce but it is gaining momentum. With this type of product, presentation customers can get very close to a physical shopping experience. For example, if they are buying shoes, they can point their mobile devices on their feet and see on the screen how they look.
Today it is hard to imagine many businesses without their online component. Still, many companies don't give deserved attention to this aspect of their work. That is strange because a good UX strategy can enormously boost their business results. There are also many that recognize the importance of this aspect but, for some reason, make wrong moves in the process of improving their eCommerce business. That is why it is so important to know basic principles and practices that make a good eCommerce business. Some of them are easy to implement and some of them not so easy or even rather complicated. It is up to the company to decide to deal with them themselves or to consult a UX agency. Anyway, they offer valuable guidelines to any eCommerce online store that wants to improve their business.
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