How to greatly improve your eCommerce users experience and improve profits.

Word count: 2,035 Reading Level: 11-12th Year Reading time: 7.4 Mins

In today's 2016 eCommerce market a good customer experience is effortless and often forgotten with few thanks. This of course excludes exceptional service, which I cover on another blog here. However a bad customer experience seems to be itched in stone and broadcast to the world in an instant. I am a pragmatist and realise that not everyone can deliver mind blowing customer service all the time, it is just not possible mentally or budgetary wise for many of us mortals. However there are some simply things you can do to make your user experience on your eCommerce store, whether it be Magento, Woocommerce or Shopify have more profitable outcomes.

Visuals:

Note: If you still have an eCommerce store that is not tuned for mobile use you are nowhere! seriously, read no further and hire a developer/designer to fix this asap.

Everyone says you need to have a clean modern design that is user friendly. This basically means nothing, if you can't take direct action somewhere. Though there is a clear feeling you get when you are using a truly user friendly website and one that suxs. It is the middle ground where there is a lot of grey and rife for UX / Marketing Guru bullshit. My rules are simple and if you start with these the rest will fall in place.

  • Menus - Keep that main menu simple, ideally I like to only have 4-5 main items which are universal points of reference across the whole website. Use on page nav items like titles, linked pictures, category side menus to nav through a themed areas. Keep each area reachable within max 3 clicks and make sure you don't have any dead ends. Make sure a user can always go back, find the home, find the beginning of the area they are in easily.

    Avoid creating rabbit warrens, where users have to click and click from page to page endlessly to get to where they need to go. Then they are unable to get out, for the lack of a back or home button. This is a common newbie mistake.

    Put it all on one page where possible, there is nothing worse than have to click through 4-5 pages to bloody buy something! In a mobile world that extra page load can mean the end of your user visit if that mobile connect drops for just a second you likely will looser the customer.

    Truly simple is best. Stick to the above rules then honestly play with it and look for stuff you can remove, hide, simplify. Don't add to justify your status.

  • Message - Stay on point. As soon as a user loads your site they should no exactly what you do! exactly what you do! If you sell property a visitor should know it straight away, selling wine, selling pest control, selling tyres, webservices... it should not be a mystery. Remember most users do not have the insight you do or the background to your business. Therefore you need to convey it instantly and the best way to do that is with images, backed by concise text.

  • Give them want they want - If you are a local business 90% of people just want to touch base with you. So make it easy, don't hide your damn phone number 10 pages deep. Put it right at the top. If you want people to contact you via email put that at the top instead. Like wise for your social media, if it is worth visiting ;)

    * Selling *

    If you have specials display them, don't hide them because you don't really want to special them. Be proud of them and make it as easy as possible for users to understand the deal.

    Put your most popular selling items in their own automated category and in corporate that into your front page. Make it easy for people to find what they want and then concentrate on upselling/cross selling

    Upsell/cross sell - Actually set this up, look at what people normally buy with xyz and upsell it. It is not just force selling it is a service! Additionally, look at what users come back and a buy after their first purchase and offer those items as an upsell or in an automated email followup.

    Featured products - Be careful with this one. Try not to clog it with dud sale items. Rather use it for exciting items,

    Valuable real estate

    Your most valuable estate is on the top of your front page. Just like a bricks and mortar stores window displays, your front page and the top of every page is valuable pixel space and it should be turning a profit. That first screen load on every page should have the highest dollars per pixel space of any part of your eCommerce store.

    Don't waste it on fluff and pomp. Make sure whatever you have there is paying its way. Improving this area goes hand in hand with improving user experience. You need to give users what they want to improve sales in these areas.

    Engagement

    This is really missing from most businesses online, in every field not just eCommerce. In real life we want customers to call and email. We spend tens of thousands of dollars on directory listings, flyers, business cards, going to meetings, fancy phone services, email systems, mobile phones to get clients and fancy marketing spin to get interaction from clients/users.

    Then when we put our businesses online and in social media we run and put our heads in the sand. Go for engagement, put yourself and your business out there and engage. That is how you now gain an audience, sales, Serps ranking and a brand.

    Gone are the days where you can passively put a site online and automate some social media and go to sleep. You need to interrupt and engage actively with users.

    On that note, Live chat on eCommerce sites is incredibility effective. For one it shows the user there really is a real live person behind the html facade. You can show some personality and often this is the catalysis to earning a life long customer. I've lost count of how many times a customer has requested live chat from our site in the evening and I've responded and it has resulted in a small sale, which later became a significant sale.

    Social media is the same. It is advantageous to automate your posting. If you have insane numbers of followers it is probably advantageous to automate some or your first responses. However it is poor to have automated responses when users are wanting to really engage. I personally don't like any automated responses. If your clients/users matter then engage one on one with them.

    What I love about engagement in social media is it is public. All your potential customers get to see how you really deal with customers. It is also out in the interwebs for ever until it gets irrelevant and buried. Most eCommerce owners jump to the negative aspect. However, I say if your awesome it is great to show it in the flesh. Then when you do an awesome job every customer doing a police check on you will see it.

    On the negative side if you are doing a shitty job, at least you'll get instant feedback on it and you can take immediate action to deal with it. Don't leave those negative comments to hang unanswered.

    Ask yourself how many times you where doing your police check on a business and found their facebook page, which looked professional, but you see lots of unanswered comments. I'm not really sure which is worse, unanswered positive or negative comments. For the love of god at least get off your ass and hide or delete them!!

    I've seen comments like 'Hey I can't contact anyone to cancel my billing subscription...' sit for months on some facebook pages. I've also seen rage quits site for months with no reply.

    It is also a ranking factor for Serps yeee happy days, talk to people, make money improve ranking make more money. The message here is engage for success, automate for loss and ignore at your perl.

    Search

    Have good search. You must have good search. Advanced shoppers use search to find products they want. Guess which segment of the market is great to capture and is most profitable and likely to staff with you long term...you guessed it tech savy shoppers.

    The larger your stock list the more important it is to have.

    Research

    I like to follow this rule. Keep all your front and center information brief and bullet point style. However, keep more greatly detailed information neatly tucked away, using things like modals, tabs, accordions, footer links. Most users don't need a full scientific breakdown, they want the main points and they are ready to buy.

    Some tips:

  • Fashion - Have your fitment guide on every product available on one click.
  • Products that need to be compared have a comparison guide handy.
  • Products that size matters - Have the dimensions in metric and imperial.
  • Where deliver time and method can vary make it clear.
  • Have your most commonly asked questions front and centre, with supporting information tucked away if needed.
  • Have return policies easy to find. Just remember if your hiding stuff because you feel it is negative own it and see if you can change it so it is a positive.
  • Be clear on the process if something goes wrong with there order.

    Make sure your shipping guidelines are clear and simple. No one wants to have to call Steven Hawking for math advise to workout their shipping.

    Options

    Our tech culture demands users have control or at least the illusion of choice. So don't fight it, give some good options that match what your market might want.

    Examples:

  • Several payment options, such as paypal(pro, express), Bank account EFT (polipay), Payment plans (ZIP, paypal in the US), B-Pay (Pay advantage), Directdebt.
  • Several Shipping options, slow cheaper, faster at a higher cost.
  • Different Quantities
  • Bundles of volume or different products
  • Gift wrapping... I love this one for a personal touch!
  • Day of delivery, weekend, weekday, morning, evening

    Security

    If you want to wreak a great customer experience on an eCommerce store here is one guaranteed method have no SSL Security Certificate, No SSL Branding at important moments in the checkout process is just as bad. You must have an SSL certificate installed correctly (check using this tool here ) and the branding/badging to match at checkout, in the footer, header. It doesn't have to be a neon sign, as when users have that O Oh moment just before they commit their eyes will be darting around looking for something to tell them the site is secure. If you don't have that info clearly marked you could miss a sale.

    Customers/users will not buy from you if they don't trust you. Having a basic SSL Certificate is the minmium. I explain how to buy and install a cheap SSL which will do the job here

    FAQs

    I've been lucky enough to be involved with some big budget eCommerce store reviews. Where independent eCommerce UX experts came in at huge cost and ripped apart the store and gave very detailed analysis, focus groups, followup questions etc etc. Every time, not having good or any FAQs in clear view has been brought up.

    Every time, it has been a fight to get this simple page written correctly. Every time it has been followed by increased sales, less support and generic help sales emails.

    Shipping

    Keep it simple. Offer two good options fast or slow and be clear on how it is calculated or better yet have flat rates. Full Disclosure creates trust and trust earns sales.

    Include tracking numbers with your followup after sales emails. Customers in control and much happier. The higher the customer anxiety of your industry to not ship or packages to be stolen in transit the better your tracking should be.

  • Author image
    Senior Developer at Mebsites on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Mebsites is an acclaimed Magento and Custom Framework Web Software coding house.
    Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia Website