So you have got your virtual store set up with carefully selected products that would surely satisfy your target customers, you have run a costly advertising campaign for your website. Despite all the efforts, what returns still does not meet your expectation.
Maybe it is time to take a look at the actual shopping experience on your site and see if it is pleasant enough for a customer not to abandon their browsing in frustration. Some of the must-have elements that facilitate an enjoyable virtual browse, as would be illustrated below, are an easy-to-use design, an effective layered navigation, detailed product pages, live chat and a fast checkout.
Helpful User Interface
Intuitive and responsive design
Aside from being eye-catching, a landing page should be easy-to-use with just a glance. This means when a customer comes to your website, they can immediately use it with little to no instruction, which allows for a smooth and relaxing surfing experience. For example, if a first-time visitor goes to your store and wants to browse or find your contact details, do they intuitively know where to click to bring out all the information they want? Or do they have to break their mind out of the task at hand to figure out how to use the site first?
There are many rules involved when making a website intuitive, but some of them are: be conscious of your target end user, follow convention and carry out testing.
First of all, know your customer. Are the people going to your sites mainly tech-savvy, or are they new to the Internet? In any case, ask yourself how much the visitors may and may not know about using a website and design your page accordingly.
Secondly, adhere to the norms: there are things that Internet users have been trained to do, such as clicking on the big logo at the top left corner to go back to the homepage, scrolling to the very bottom for site owner’s contact or clicking outside a pop up box to close it. Going against convention just means confusing newcomers, not impressing them. Moving your homepage button to the side may look nice, but somewhere there will be a frustrated customer who cannot seem to find their way back to the main page.
Lastly, always test at least once to see if your site is intuitive enough. Usually, this simply involves having a new comer going to your website with you watching from behind, silently taking notes without interfering. If there is any problem, it should emerge itself quickly after about 10 people.
On a side note, according to Neklo, about 40% of your customers are using mobile devices for online purchase, yet making your site responsive is sometimes looked down on. I suppose that it is a good idea to take extra effort in working on it. Responsive design can be understood as making web content displayed nicely on different scales on different devices - be it at 100% or 50% view on a PC web browser, on a tablet or on a smartphone.
Just like in brick and mortar where goods are systematically categorized and put on shelves, a virtual store also needs a navigation pane to let the customers easily get to the product they want. Don’t stop at just giving the name and types of products; offer the options to pick between price ranges, ratings, colors, brands, sizes and the like as well. Having a layered navigation means shorter searching time and more convenience for the customers.
However, keep in mind that the filtering system should also be easy to use and understand, just as with the general design of the web. Use simple design and common words so that even someone who has never shopped online can figure out how to navigate your web by themselves.
Informative product pages
After making sure the navigation steps are easy to go through, you would want to ensure that the product page itself has enough information for the customer to know the product and decide to buy it or not.
Be up-to-date with every product in your store and give them sufficient description. If they are physical products, then write down all of their available sizes, colors, weight … and put an out-of-stock notice on what run out. If they are software, then give proper instructions (or the link to it) on what they require to operate and how to run them.
Another important part is having a review section enabled. If a customer is still uncertain about a product, then the review will give them more information and maybe a good review or two from others will give them the push. In addition, this also shows that you are attentive to your customers’ opinions and inquiries-another plus to customer service.
Real-life product images
It is said that “A picture is worth a thousand words” and it is particularly true for ecommerce, where physical examination is impossible. For many, lack of sufficient product photos could be a deal-breaker. Instead of having a generic pictures of a dress or a bag lying on a flat surface, why not try it on a real-life model? Instead of a picture of a chair, show how it actually fits in a living room. Showing the customer how a product looks in everyday use will make it much more convincing and friendly as it replicates the experience of traditional shopping.
You may think that Q&A section, email, social media and phone will suffice in replying to customers’ questions, but they can take up a day to provide any sort of response while live chat offers intermediate answer and consultation. It is this instant nature that makes live chat so valuable. It can even spark a browsers’ interest and keep them longer at the store.
Furthermore, a greeting popping up from a chat box makes visitors feel attended to, just like being welcomed by an assistant at a traditional store but without the irritation of being shadowed around the store, bringing up the level of satisfaction in your store
Fast loading speed
Last but by no mean least, ensure that your web loads fast. Long loading time is a conversion killer. According to Forbes, a report shows that after a page loads for three seconds, 40% of browsers drop out of the site. On mobile alone, this rate increases to 53% according to doubleclickbygoogle. An ideal web should load under 2 seconds if it wants to keep visitors’ attention. If your site has a slow loading speed, then you might want to optimize it more. Take a look at the images, animations, fonts and the layout you have and see if you can simplify any of them. Ajax loading would also help in shortening wait time. Aesthetic is indeed important, but user experience needs to come first. If customers’ patience runs out, then they will never see your page no matter how well the content is presented inside.
Optimized checkout page
Scoring a sale is usually the final step of a successful conversion. Yet, stores can still lose customers at this very final step. It can be because of a complicated process, a long loading time, or both. Instead of using the default checkout, you should consider using an optimized checkout where a customer can quickly check back at their order and readjust it, fill in information, choose a shipping method and finish their purchase on just one page.
To conclude, there are many factors involved for a thriving online business, but enabling the customer to shop in the most comfortable way is one prerequisite for it. After all, you may not have a price or product advantage, but you can always make it so that your shop is the easiest to buy from.