Even before 2020, online shopping was a popular alternative to the in-store experience. In the last few years, however, ecommerce website design has been taken to a whole new level.
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From a reported 3.6 million ecommerce sites within the United States in 2019, this year saw that number leap to 9.5 million, with numbers predicted to continue to skyrocket. And that’s just in the US – worldwide, ecommerce saw a year-over-year growth of more than 200 percent in 2021. As a society, we’ve hit the ecommerce threshold, and there’s no turning back.
So now the inevitable question arises: how can you, as an ecommerce entrepreneur, make your website stand out from the surging sea of competition?
The key lies in customer experience. And the key to a great CX is a great design.
Here are four keys to ecommerce website design that will improve the experience for your customers.
The fewer clicks, the better
We’ve all had the experience of deciding to purchase something and committing to the process, only to discover that said process was far more involved than we thought.
Personally, I’ve been to more than one website where I thought I had hit the final “purchase” button only to find that there were more options that had to be sorted through before everything was said and done. I’m not saying that options are a bad thing; customers like to feel that their purchases can be tailored to them, after all.
What I’m saying is that if you’ve ever seen a product review that says, “I thought I ordered the blue one, but I received the black instead,” the chances are that there were just too many clicks involved in the purchasing process.
Ideally, when it comes to ecommerce website design, there should be as few necessary clicks as possible. This means working and reworking the brand experience design of your website, especially when adding in more product options, to streamline the process of shopping and purchasing.
The number of necessary clicks can vary depending on the site, product choice, and other factors. Nike sets a good benchmark, with seven clicks taking you from the main page to a successful purchase. Amazon can be upwards of ten clicks. The more pages that need to be loaded, the more clicks that need to be made, the more of a commitment it requires from your customer — and the more likely they are to rethink not only their user experience but their decision to purchase to begin with.
Optimize your site search
Here’s another experience that I’ve had, and which you likely have had to: trying (and failing) to locate a certain type of product on an ecommerce website, only to find it backlinked elsewhere. Why didn’t it show up on my keyword search? What am I missing?
As a customer, it’s an incredibly frustrating experience to have.
An optimized and user-friendly site search is consistently linked to a better customer experience. While some research suggests that only about 30 per cent of customers consistently use the site search for ecommerce, that segment is about six times more likely to convert, tend to spend more, and can account for about 14 percent of all business revenue. To boil it down, if you search for something and actually find it, you’re more likely to complete the purchasing process. It’s one of those cases where good CX is great for the company.
Some valuable ways to optimize your site search include:
- Put the search box front and center. It’s more common to have it tucked away in the top right corner, but bringing it just below the center of your site header makes it more likely that the customer will actually utilize it.
- Use a specific but balanced filter system. You don’t want the search results to be too broad, or the visitor will have to keep paging through results. You don’t want there to be too many options, either, or the visitor could become overwhelmed. Make sure that your visitor can choose multiple filters at a time; they’re more likely to lose interest and leave if they have to go through the process for every possible variation.
- Incorporate smart search, with autocomplete and suggested search terms. I’d recommend including personalized search suggestions, as well, especially for your returning customers who have established an account with you and about whom you’ve been able to gather key info.
Always be available
Ideally, your customer base is wide open. You could be getting site visitors from all over the country — maybe all over the world — at all hours of the day, seven days a week. Consistent availability is a challenge, especially for a startup or a smaller ecommerce brand — but it’s a vital factor of great CX.
Thankfully, smart bots are only getting better and better, which means that you can include a chat agent on your site to handle the majority of customer interactions, bringing in a human agent when necessary. Software like Dashly and LiveChat incorporate agents with chatbots; Chatfuel, Pandorabots, and DialogFlow are highly-recommended smart chatbot programs.
If you’re like me, you’re more often used live chat — whether with smart chatbots or with an actual live agent — on sites to troubleshoot or to process a return. These are obviously important for a good customer experience, because you want your site visitor to know that you’re there for them.
But I’d like to highlight proactive selling with live agents: reaching out to make a connection from the moment the potential customer lands on the site, making suggestions, answering questions, and offering any help needed from start to finish.
Almost 40 per cent of customers make a purchase after talking with an agent who provides an enhanced customer experience, so again, this is a key ecommerce website design feature that is beneficial not just for the customer, but also for the brand.
Availability is a huge plus for good CX.
Combining reliability with adaptability
My final tip to improving the CX of your ecommerce website design is by being not only reliable — a brand they can trust, giving them products they want, and a customer service experience they know they’ll like — but by being adaptable as well.
The main component of this, from a design point of view, is asking for and acting on feedback from your customers. After all, the site is there to cater to them. CX doesn’t mean much if you don’t have any customers.
Invite comments, suggestions, questions, and features they’d like to see — this is also a great way to connect with them on other platforms, such as social media, and create a further investment on their part.
Once you receive that feedback, act to incorporate suggestions that will make the customer experience more streamlined, faster, and more enjoyable.
Consistently putting the experience of your customers first creates a reputation for reliability, which will in turn encourage your customers to return over and over again.
Remember, your competition is made up of literally millions of other ecommerce brands. The products and services that we offer as ecommerce entrepreneurs are important, but if we don’t work at creating a great customer experience, our customers may not care to shop with us again.
Brands come and go. The key factor that determines success in the ecommerce world is repeat customers — which means that your ecommerce website design could ultimately determine whether your brand survives.
Guest Author: Janil Jean is a top management executive at Logo Design who loves to write about graphic design, digital marketing, branding, storytelling, startups and small business management. She has been featured in Business2Community, Business News Daily, QSR Magazine, AllBusiness.com, SmartBrief, etc. Connect with her on LinkedIn.