10 Ecommerce Mistakes To Avoid When It Comes to UX
The user experience. It needs to be the hill you’d die on; having an exceptional user experience is absolutely critical to every industry, but perhaps none more than Ecommerce. If you have an online store, UX should arguably be your number one priority.
Why is it such an integral component of success? You can look at the logic, or the numbers, or both, but it’s unmistakable either way.
Research shows that 88% of people are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience, but a flawless UX design could potentially raise conversions by 400%. And that has nothing to do with the product; those statistics are only concerning design.
Even if we didn’t have these compelling numbers, it’s just common sense that, if you’re selling something (in any context) you want to make it as easy and as enticing as possible for potential customers to purchase. If you have a physical store, this means organizing your items in a certain way and labeling store sections clearly, having smiling employees, keeping multiple checkout counters open to keep the lines short, advertising sales, etc. Put any obstacle in their way that frustrates them and the likelihood of a sale rapidly decreases. If you frustrate them badly enough, you could even lose their business forever, and you could decrease the likelihood of their family, friends, or acquaintances ever becoming a customers either (after they’ve heard the frustration).
The same is true for an online store. Yet we see so many Ecommerce business owners that keep expecting their web visitors to jump hurdles in order to purchase. Possibly this is because they don’t realize they’re doing it, or they do realize their mistakes but don’t have the time to fix them, or they don’t know how. If you’re in the first category, this blog post is for you! If you’re in the second or third, we can help.
Here are ten mistakes that could be keeping you from realizing your profit potential:
Mistake #1: Not focusing on the mobile experience
35% of US consumers shop exclusively with their mobile device, and by 2021, predictions anticipate that mobile commerce sales in the U.S. will pass $420 billion. If you design your Ecommerce store with desktop in mind, you’re making a serious error. Most people these days use their smartphones to look up products, compare prices, and make purchases. So your website needs to be completely mobile responsive.
What does this look like, practically? There’s a lot that goes into mobile design, and we recommend working with a professional developer to ensure you do it the right way. They will have the knowledge and experience to take care of the details that you might miss or simply don’t know how to fix. However, if you are trying to make improvements on your own, here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to mobile optimization:
Make sure you keep it simple. Phone screens are smaller than desktop, so don’t clutter pages with an overwhelming amount of buttons and text (especially text) and images and video; maintain space and put the focus on the product. Users are going to be turned off by a large amount of text, and any amount of small text, so keep that in mind when creating content. Less is more when it comes to mobile Ecommerce design.
Make clicking easy. Think about thumb reach and the way most people hold their smartphones – no one wants to reach all the way up to the top all the time (Bitcatcha has a really cool visual example of this). Keep the important buttons closer to the home button. All buttons should be big – nothing is more frustrating than being unable to click on a small button or accidentally clicking something else because your thumb or index finger is too large. The same goes for the phone number – make sure it’s text, not an image, so it’s clickable and users can copy and paste it for their own reference or to send it to a friend.
Make navigation obvious. Don’t make it hard to search for items, and don’t have a cluttered menu; opt for predictive search and an expanding menu instead, and don’t have so many pages on your website that it’s difficult to return to the home page.
Make checkout painless. If they’ve made it to this point, they’re ready to buy, but Ecommerce sites lose about 60% of conversions here, because they make the process complicated. Ensure that the user doesn’t have to do too much work to buy the product. The screen should be optimized to fit any mobile device. There should be predictive type boxes, auto-fill options, and scrolling tools. And users should be able to confirm that their information is secure or have the option to save their purchase for a later time.
Hard data should be the main factor influencing all of your decisions. Look at the analytics and look at research that others have done before implementing any changes to your mobile design. However, your thought process should always be guided by getting into the mind of your user – think about their behavior, desires, and reactions. When you think as your customer does, you are more likely to achieve a mobile Ecommerce design that works.
Mistake #2: Mislabeling items
Have you ever come across a product on a website, read the description, zoomed in on the photograph so you could see details, and got excited enough to click “add to cart”, only to receive a message a message informing you that the product is out of stock or unavailable? Few things are more disappointing and off-putting…it would have been nice to know that before you got excited about it, right?
If you’re an Ecommerce owner, check your inventory and site regularly to guarantee that everything that you are advertising can actually be bought, and bought immediately. Make people wait for products, and they probably won’t return. If you tell them they can’t have the product they wanted, they are likely to search other places online for it, and not browse your website anymore.
Mistake #3: Showcasing bad product photography
We compared Ecommerce to a operating a physical store earlier in this post, but this is one of the ways in which Ecommerce is drastically different from a physical store. With Ecommerce, people can’t actually interact with your products. And the way human behavior works, they’re likely to distrust anything they can’t physically see or hold in their hands; after all, how do they know what they’re going to get is going to be worth the value they paid?
Almost half of all consumers cite that their biggest concern when shopping online is that their products won’t look the same when they arrive. This uncertainty is an obstacle to buying, and it’s your job to remove it. You accomplish this when you do everything in your power to bring your product to life on screen.
This means having quality photos of your products. Not iphone shots. Not grainy, fuzzy images. We’re talking crisp, clear, close-up photographs that showcase your product in the best light. They should give the viewers an idea of the real size and color (they can and should be edited, but they shouldn’t look too edited…. there should be an obvious authenticity to them). It’s always a good idea to show people using the product.
Videos are even better. Videos are becoming the number one media on the internet, and there’s something about seeing a product in a video that gives the customer reassurance of its quality, more so than a still photo. 80% of people surveyed say that they have more confidence to purchase after watching a video! But even if you just have photos, you shouldn’t have an image that doesn’t look professional and attractive – that is a sure way to decrease your conversion rate.
Along the same lines, you want to help solidify this image in the minds of your consumers with appealing product descriptions. While good photos and videos are key, product descriptions go a long way in helping your shopper visualize what they’re getting and how it can fulfill their need. While you don’t need to have an overwhelmingly long description, you should use imagery, adjectives, and other literary devices to help your uses understand and desire the product.
Mistake #4: Not including reviews on the site
This is true for every industry, but perhaps none more than Ecommerce, for the same reasons we just listed – with Ecommerce, buildling and highlighting your credibility is vital. Have you ever heard of the uncertainty reduction theory? It’s the idea that people have this intrinsic discomfort with not knowing things; they need to find out more before making decisions. When shopping online, people want to know as much as possible about the product and the seller, including experiences that other people have had. They will hunt for this information elsewhere on the Internet if you don’t give it to them, and because you don’t control outside information, you run the risk of them coming across a negative review or a competitor’s offer.
Positive and relevant product reviews, testimonials, and referrals are things you should absolutely emphasize on your site. Pick the best ones, and put them in a prominent location where your visitor is sure to see them; make sure that the reviews have a “Verified Reviewer” badge or “Real Customer” badge so that your visitors know they are genuine.
Mistake #5: Failing to balance the media mix
An Ecommerce website with only text, or only photos, or only video is not going to be effective. No one wants to scroll through a page that’s entirely text, and no one is going to read it, even if it’s really well composed. Too many images are going to overwhelm a viewer, and no one is going to click on eight videos. In order to increase conversions and sales, balance your media mix.
You don’t necessarily need to have the same amount of each on your site – by “balance”, we don’t mean “equality”. You do need to have the right amounts that your users expect and that fits with the nature of what you’re selling. For example, if you’re selling clothes, you probably want more pictures than anything else. But if you’re selling some sort of tool or product that’s new to the market, you want to have more explaining text and demo videos.
And you shouldn’t be just selling your product…get creative and invite people into your brand. Start a blog, or a vlog, or something that engages customers beyond the purchase point. This makes them more likely to become repeat customers and increases your chances of obtaining new customers who are interested in your content.
Mistake #6: Not fixing slow loading times
We’re living in the age of instant gratification. People don’t like to wait, especially when shopping online. A Google study found that as page load time increases from 1 to 5 seconds, the probability of bounce increases by 90%. And if you’re an Ecommerce store, this means that the slower your page is, the less revenue you’ll make; if you make $100,000 per day, a 1 second delay can result in $2.5 million in missed revenue.
You need to speed up your site, or you’re not going to stay competitive! There are several platforms that can help you check site speed, and if you find that it is slower than optimal speed, hire an experienced web developer to help. If you’re familiar with coding, here’s an excellent article by Moz about ways to improve page load times.
Mistake #7: Hiding customer service information
As your customers are browsing your website and contemplating buying products, chances are that many of them will have questions about a certain item, a specific order request, or something else that necessitates customer service. If you don’t present contact information clearly, and they have to search for it, it is extremely annoying for them – especially if they are trying to contact you about something that has gone wrong. Hiding customer service information is a sure way to provoke customer dissatisfaction and bad reviews.
Present yourself openly to the visitor. Have a clickable number in the top right hand corner, and an address, email address, and repeated phone number in the footer or somewhere prominent on the page. FAQ pages are always a good idea, as this provides an easy way for the customer to get information they might be looking for before contacting you. Chat boxes are another good idea – people love being able to communicate in real time and have their questions answered as they browse.
Mistake #8: Assuming visitors know everything
Don’t assume that your store visitors are already familiar with your product and brand, because many of them probably are not, unless you are a major retailer. This relates to the credibility hurdle that Ecommerce businesses face; if you only showcase your products, as many Ecommerce sites do, users still may suspect that you’re not a legitimate company. They’re very wary of being swindled by scammers. So just like you are going to have good product photography and reviews to calm their fears, you need to tell them a little bit about yourself and your product.
Even if you have a simple product, tell your visitors about who you are, why you started, why your product is different from your competitors’, what your product can do for them, and what your vision is – you need to build brand loyalty with them. Not all of that will fit in the product description, so create an About Us page, or find ways to incorporate this information succinctly on your home page.
Mistake #9: Having confusing menu navigation
Your homepage is the place where visitors land, but it’s not the place where you want them to stay. Think of yourself as your customer’s guide on their journey to purchase. Your goal is to have them explore other places on your Ecommerce site with the purpose of finding something they want, and buying it. If you want them to get all the way to the purchase point, you need to make it incredibly easy for them to get there. Often, we see Ecommerce sites that have menus with confusing terms, or worse, links that don’t work, which defeats the purpose of menu navigation in the first place.
You don’t want to overcomplicate navigation. Categorizing your products is key, but don’t overdo it. More clicking means less buying, because there are more chances to get lost along the way. Keep their journey to purchase as straightforward as possible. One site recommends keeping your site (specifically your mobile site) three layers deep: category, subcategory, and product page. This keeps you from creating a rabbit hole of options. And allow them to search for things in a way that gets them to where they want to be – if they know exactly what they want, they’ll head to the search bar, so make sure this is functional (filters, exact matches, etc.).
Mistake #10: Allowing a poor to mediocre checkout experience
You have done so much work to get your customer to this point – checkout. They’re convinced they need and like your product. So far, your Ecommerce website has performed really well. Yet, a mistake here can send your customer away for good, item still in cart, never to be purchased. A bad checkout experience is likely to result in missed revenue. Why?
No one wants to create an account – Nothing, I repeat, nothing, causes customers to abandon a purchase faster than having to make an account with you. Most people just don’t want to expend the effort. Even if you make the account creation process simple, it still takes them away from the cart, which is where you want them to go. Account creation is great for remarketing/retargeting efforts and for engaging customers past the purchase point, but you should always give users the option of guest checkout – you increase the chances of them purchasing and becoming a repeat customer this way.
People need to know their information is secure – Customers are skeptical about sites they don’t know, and don’t want to enter their card or bank account information in a place where it can be stolen. By getting an SSL certificate for your site, you let your customers know that you will safeguard their information and that they can trust that their purchase will not cost them anything extra than the specified amount.
No one likes hidden fees – Be cautious not to spring extra prices on your customers at checkout; this can cause them to abandon their cart because they just weren’t expecting the higher price. Let them know other places on the website, or even somewhere on the purchase page, what the cost of shipping and any other fees will amount to, so they are prepared to buy and there aren’t any unwelcome surprises.
Not everyone pays the same way – Including multiple payment and shipping options will ensure that all of your visitors can purchase in a way that’s most convenient for them (it’ll make the checkout process smoother, because they won’t have to find another form of payment – they can just use what they are comfortable with!)
We hope this blog post helped open your eyes to a few areas where you can optimize! If any of this information overwhelms you, if you have questions, or if you want an audit of your site, contact us! Empirical360 has extensive experience in Ecommerce development and we actually own a business, ourselves, so we know what it takes to make a profit.
Shea Duncan - Author
Director of Content Marketing
Shea is an expert content writer and is a classic literary nerd! She loves writing highly engaging content and has a knack for making it convert!