You’ve figured everything out. You have a great product that either beats the competition or hits a niche demo that no one has capitalized on. But the sales aren’t rolling in. Hell, they aren’t even staggering in. You plain don’t have any sales.
Because your website sucks. Specifically, you aren’t focusing enough on the user and their experience. The successful websites operate knowing that the user will change their mind often and rapidly. They want to always know where they are in the order process, and add/drop items from their cart with ease, and at their every whim. Let’s look at a few of the top things to keep in mind to improve the user experience on your site, and build a better eCommerce site.
Unless they are a regular at your site, users don’t want to be forced to register with your site to checkout. The time it takes to register a new account could be the difference between closing the sale or dropping it. Checkout as guest should always be an option, with a signup page immediately following the order confirmation. This way you can have guests register accounts after the purchase is made, making sure you don’t jeopardize your own sale by turning away the less motivated buyer.
CONTROL THE CART
Sometimes a shopper will know exactly what they want, review the item, add it to their cart, and checkout. If you’ve designed your site well however, shoppers will browse your site leisurely, stopping at suggested related items, and adding them to their cart. It’s for this reason, that the shopping cart icon should not only be in the top right corner, it should have a live-updating item count. A single click at any time on the cart icon should take the customer to an “edit your cart” page where they can review their sub-total, item quantity, and each item. Losing sight of the cart should never be an option; it makes your customer feel in control of what they are ordering. If they lose control, you will lose the sale. Content management is crucial.
BUY ME NOW
Call to action buttons are too-often overlooked by most designers. Sometimes we don’t know what we want until it’s staring us in the face. The call to action button puts something up front, unavoidable to your customer with a command: click me now. It’s a call to action. Click me now, buy my product, change your life. Make these buttons stand out by being large, brightly colored, and centered on the page. Make your user be forced to stop and read them. Keep them simple, and to the point. Don’t lose the message in the shuffle of things, and don’t lose your customer because they don’t get the itch to buy.
WHERE AM I?
Breadcrumb navigation during the ordering process will keep your customer feeling like they are in control and know exactly what is going on. Having the customer know exactly where they are in the ordering process, as well as what is still to come will allow them to confidently continue with their purchase. Having this navigation at the top, and clickable to move between the steps allows the customer to make necessary changes should something be inputted wrong, but also gives them the power to navigate as they like. If they have been deciding on purchasing more items and are now leaning towards adding items to their order, but they can’t get out of the billing address screen, they will become frustrated. Keeping complexity down and making sure your user doesn’t get frustrated with the navigation and process of your site is key to keep them coming back, and ordering often.
FIND WHAT I WANT
The search bar, located at the top of the page centered, allows your user to have quick and easy access to find what they are looking for. Keeping the search highly visible lets the users mind drift from item to item at their own will, and find out if you have what they want. Offering as many category refinements as possible will allow the user to navigate a multitude of items with greater ease, which will keep them pleased to be using your site. If your site offers a large variety of items, a search bar with category refinement should be considered standard.
MAYBE YOU WANT THIS TOO
Specifying related items is an easy way to continue to sell to your customer without it feeling too forced. Similar to the call to action buttons, a customer might not know that they are looking for a certain item until it is directly in their line of sight. Suggesting other items that are related to the item that is being viewed or has been added to the cart is a good way to improve retention and increase profits. Keeping the customer browsing and adding to their cart should always be the goal, and related items is a simple and effective way of doing so.
PROTECT THE CUSTOMER
In an age of hacked security information and untrustworthy sites, the customer wants to feel safe. Receiving a safety certificate and displaying the badge on your site is a quick and efficient way of doing this. Customers can relate to the big names in safety certification, and will be put at ease with seeing it on your site. Reassuring the customer that their information is safe and private keeps them coming back to your site, and lets them focus on purchasing, not worrying about what happens after the buy.
Keeping customers on your site, looking at as many products as possible, and letting them navigate rapidly between all the different processes of the ordering system is the goal of any eCommerce site. Keep them on your site, and they will purchase more. It’s as simple as that. How you actually keep them on the site however, is not simple. They must feel safe, and in control of what is happening throughout the entire process. Keeping the customer in control will result in greater retention, higher profits, and happier parties for both the user and the shop owner.