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Ecommerce is dominating the way we buy right now, and if you want to make the most of it, you need to make your customers’ lives easier by giving them what they need. To ensure you achieve this (not only before and during but also after their purchases), you must understand exactly what great ecommerce experiences look like, and find a way to consistently deliver them.
There are various ways in which you can pursue that goal, from polishing your copy to optimizing your animations. In this piece, we’re going to look at how you can review an existing UX or build one from scratch — so whether you currently run an ecommerce brand or you’re looking to start one, you’ll have some actionable takeaways. Let’s get to it.
Every experience starts with a (customer) journey
The route a customer takes before converting can be convoluted. They can reach your site from a search result, a PPC ad, a social media link, an email link, an old-fashioned bookmark, or even a direct referral from a friend — and they might convert right away, or leave and return at a later date. It’s difficult to predict.
If you already have a store in place, then paying attention to the routes your customers take before converting can tell you a lot about what is and isn’t working on your website. Maybe there’s a page on which many visitors drop out — if you can discover as much, that’s the first step to amending it. And if you don’t have a store, you should try to factor in as many potential traffic sources and journeys as you can in the design process.
This is because user experience (UX) is incredibly important for online buyers. Some contend that attention spans are the lowest they’ve ever been, but even if that’s not entirely true, it’s undeniable that consumers have lost their willingness to deal with hard-to-navigate pages or sites that don’t function well in mobile browsers.
Imagine that you’re a prospective customer, and run through the steps you might take on your store to achieve whatever you’re looking to do. Is it clear what you need to do and where you need to go? Are there sufficient prompts to push you towards converting? There should be a flow to the whole thing, which each step leading smoothly into the next. Any disruption will lessen the impact and lead to people leaving.
So, now that we know why UX is so important for ecommerce experiences, it’s time to get more detailed about specific elements, starting with convenience. Ease of purchase is arguably the most important thing for you as an ecommerce seller. If buying from you isn’t easy, then you’re completely wasting any effort put into your copy and your designs.
To make things quicker, condense your purchase steps as much as possible, leaving minimal barriers between first interest and the point of conversion. When someone decides to buy from you, that decision isn’t permanent and irrevocable — it’s contextual and typically temporary. If you don’t take advantage of that actionable intent, it might disappear, losing the sales opportunity completely.
You only have to look at services like Amazon’s 1-click ordering to see the effectiveness of offering your customers a quick bag-to-buy option. The speed of the 1-click system clearly made things easier for consumers, and led to Amazon profiting from countless impulse buys and snowballing shopping sprees. If you can find fresh ways to make your ecommerce system easier to navigate, you’ll significantly improve the experience for the user, leading to more sales and better reviews.
CTAs & prompts must be carefully placed
Now that you’ve made purchasing as easy as possible, it’s time to pay some attention to how you’re going to nudge a highly-interested prospective customer over the line — and in the end, this comes down to your CTAs (calls to action). You should never underestimate the power of a good button: people love to click on things, particularly when they’re presented well using strong visuals and solid copy.
If you’ve ever talked to marketers, you’ll know that they talk about calls to action a lot. In truth, that kind of discussion can prove counterproductive — the concepts are addressed in such detail that everything starts to feel abstract and gets needlessly complex. Most of the time, you’re best served being direct and simple with your wording and placement.
Figure out where you want your customers to go and at which point they’ll be most likely to follow your direction, and pick out the most strategic placement. A great CTA will show up at the exact point of greatest interest, using clear wording that confirms what lies ahead and pushes the reader on. Try taking a look at these great examples.
Audience alignment is crucial
At every step in your sales funnel (the series of steps and events leading from first arrival to conversion), everything you present to your prospective customers must be carefully tailored to their specific preferences and requirements. If you fail to align your content to your audience, they’ll notice it immediately, and be driven away.
First, think about the type of store you have (or intend to get). What products are on offer? What types of people want to buy those products? Create buyer personas to lend some clarity. By segmenting your audience by income, hobbies, and other relevant factors, you can better understand what you should and shouldn’t say.
Consider that every field contains niches, and those niches often contain further niches. You might consider it odd that there’s such a proliferation of gadget websites for sale in today’s website flipping market, because, well, aren’t almost all of the products drawn from a generic supply pool? But it’s the specialized approaches that matter. One store focusses on smart eyewear, another on practical gear for hiking, etc. — each one will attract a different group.
So look past the basic details of what you’re selling, and think about whom you’re selling it to. Barring certain legal requirements, you have freedom to present your products however you like, with creative descriptions limited mainly by your imagination. Reflect the tone and desires of your target audience, and you’ll create ecommerce experiences that really stick with people.
Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to giving through growth hacking. Visit the blog for your latest dose of startup, entrepreneur, and charity insights from top experts around the globe to help you take the next step in your journey as a successful ebook author. Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.