Who’s Minding the Store? The Importance of eCommerce User Experience

Traditionally, brick-and-mortars have focused on presenting their storefronts in a favorable light. They work to ensure signage is easy to read and that it clearly marks their location. They design window displays to be aesthetically pleasing and showcase popular offerings and special promotions. And, they task employees with ensuring the insides of their shops are clean and well-organized, making it easy for customers to quickly find the products they need.

Don’t Underestimate the Look and Feel of the eCommerce User Experience

The look and feel of a physical store can be just as critical as the products and pricing when it comes to attracting potential customers, making sales and engendering long-term brand loyalty. Today, with most businesses creating a digital storefront for themselves, the eCommerce user experience has become just as critical.

A recent study by Forrester Research – titled The eCommerce Forecast – predicted that online sales in the U.S. would grow from $334 million in 2015 to $480 billion by 2019, representing a compound annual growth rate of 10 percent. So clearly, the opportunity for businesses to grab market share and grow online revenue is out there. At the same time, today’s online shoppers are extremely discerning with regard to the eCommerce user experience.

Don’t be a Victim of Site Abandonment

A recent infographic from Business Insider on how to take your business online reveals that 75 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds will abandon a website within two minutes if they can’t find what they need, and 61 percent of customers will abandon a mobile site immediately for the same reason. These figures make it clear that providing an excellent eCommerce user experience is a make-or-break proposition for online retailers. No successful brick-and-mortar store owner would stand for a cluttered exterior and disorganized interior. In the same way, eCommerce businesses must be sure their digital shops project a professional image and provide a seamless experience for their costumers.

Take, for instance, a website’s home page. When customers arrive at it, they are essentially stepping through the doors of a physical store. If departments are clearly labeled and signage makes it easy to find the section they seek, the experience is likely to be positive. If the customer is forced to wander down aisle after aisle, he or she may never revisit that store again. Similarly, an eCommerce website’s home page can make a positive first impression by providing the following:

  • An easy-to-find, easy-to-use search box
  • Clearly labeled navigation bar
  • Multiple-channel contact information
  • Prominently featured special offers or promotions

Clear Navigation is Key

Customers who navigate to subpages or product categories on a website are essentially moving from the front of the store to its various individual departments. Just as in a brick-and-mortar location, subpages should have visual representations of products, easy-to-read specs and clearly labeled prices. And, of course, just as customers in physical stores want the checkout process to be quick and painless, online shoppers want to be able to load items into their shopping carts, provide payment information and complete the transaction quickly and securely.

Superior eCommerce User Experience Requires a Multifaceted Approach

However, there is one significant difference between providing a first-class experience in a physical store location and on a website. Generally speaking, a diligent owner can, through sheer effort—and with the help of employees—configure a brick-and-mortar store to provide a top-notch customer experience. But optimizing an eCommerce’s user experience takes a technical expertise that not every organization has in-house.

Creating a top-notch eCommerce user experience is a multifaceted process that includes:

If you are the decision maker at a company with eCommerce business goals or plans, and you suspect you might not be providing your customers with an excellent online experience, I suggest you think of the challenges in the same way you would if you owned or managed a brick-and-mortar location. If your store’s entrance were littered with trash and the paint on your signage was beginning to peel, would you ignore it? The answer, of course, is no. As such, you should not delay in fixing your website either.

Is your eCommerce user experience in need of some repair?

Related blog posts:

  • Clutch.co – an industry directory that identifies leading software and professional services firms – recently featured a review of UpTop’s eCommerce website redesign project for a nationwide mattress retailer.