Web Design for ecommerce has changed significantly in the last few years. When creating a retail brand in the internet age it is important to consider how your brand and its products will be accessed in the digital space and how your customers will purchase your products online. Providing a streamlined and intuitive online shopping experience is paramount since roughly 79 percent of Americans are online shoppers, with 53 percent making multiple online purchases a month - according to the Pew Research Center.
But how can the ecommerce experience be improved, making customers more likely to purchase? Follow the tips below to get your ecommerce strategy moving in the right direction.
Function over Form
The primary driver for ecommerce shopping is simply that it is more convenient for customers to shop online than in stores. Therefore, when building an ecommerce experience it is important to make it as easy-to-use as possible, but in practice what does this look like? It means that your website should lose any element that doesn’t serve the goal of the site - selling your products online. There should be a clear path to find (through filters and search options), compare (using customer reviews and product specs) and to purchase (utilizing multiple payment options or check-out experiences based on a user’s preference).
Focusing on the goal of the website and eliminating all extra unnecessary items has the additional benefit of increasing page speed. Page speed is how quickly your website loads and all elements are available for users to interact with. Page speed is important because it can directly affect your bottom line, according to Google, 40% of users will leave a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Focusing on the purpose of the website over superfluous artistic elements is key to providing a fantastic ecommerce experience.
One key aspect of an ecommerce website is its checkout or shopping cart process (how users enter their information to purchase items) and by improving that process you can greatly increase your number of products purchased. Improving your checkout process starts with understanding the previous point that people shop online because its convenient and therefore your website should be convenient (easy-to-use).
The first thing to look-at when talking about your checkout process is guest checkout, since roughly 37% of users won’t complete a purchase if account creation is required (according to Salesforce). That’s why it’s important to present users with the option for a guest checkout at the very first part of the checkout process.
Optimizing how a user enters their information throughout the checkout process is another way of improving your shopping cart experience. There are many ways to optimize content entry and form fields - for instance, according to Salesforce, it has been shown that placing your form fields in a single column shoppers tend to make fewer mistakes and move through the form quicker. Another example would be to keep forms as short as possible reducing the amount of work users have to do to complete your checkout process, the goal always being to remove as much friction as possible during the checkout process.
Putting products online and having an easy-to-use website is just the first part of being successful in ecommerce, and another pillar of a successful ecommerce strategy is establishing your company’s credibility. Online customers don’t have face-to-face experience with the sales associates of brick and mortar stores and have the ability to easily compare your offerings with your competition. So how do you build and establish trust or credibility online?
The first way to establish consumer trust through a website is the inclusion of user reviews. According to Shopify, 63% of users are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings or reviews. In addition to providing customer reviews on your site it is important to review outside sources (such as Google and Amazon) to ensure that the reviews on your site are consistent with public perception.
An additional way to establish online credibility is through the use of security badges and guaranteed messaging. 20% of users hold-off on purchases when they are concerned about security, per Salesforce, so providing visible security badges and a secure checkout process is paramount. Money-back guarantees, expedited return shipping or free item exchanges are other ways to help put customer’s minds at ease when shopping online and not in physical stores.
Creating Multiple Channels
Providing a positive ecommerce user experience doesn’t have to be confined to just your website. Selling where your customers are buying is the essence of a multiple channel (or multi-channel) approach. The digital landscape for ecommerce businesses is a web of interconnecting marketplaces, social media platforms and websites that are all used differently by various user groups. As defined by Shopify;
“Multi-channel marketing is the blending of different distribution and promotional channels for the purpose of Marketing.”
In a digital space, that means providing your products not only through your website but also through marketplaces (such as Amazon & eBay), social media (such as Facebook & Instagram) and via direct-to-consumer methods (email). The key to multi-channel marketing is providing the customers with choices of how to purchase the product. Everybody has their preferred method of shopping online, make sure your product is where people are looking using a multi-channel approach.
Creating a great ecommerce experience isn’t just creating a great product and throwing it up on a website. It starts with understanding that ecommerce is built around the concept of convenience and providing a straightforward path to purchase. While this list is definitely not exhaustive these tips should hopefully provide a starting point to begin improving most ecommerce experiences.