10 Ways to Optimize the E-Commerce Experience

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E-commerce merchants have the greatest incentive amongst Web workers to optimize their sites and individual pages for the highest performance possible, because usability directly impacts their business’s bottom line.

However, the customer experience on an e-commerce site is drastically different from other sites on the Web because product buyers have very particular requirements. Luckily, by measuring analytics and implementing tests, merchants can gain insights into what type of features their customers prefer. In order to get you started, Website Magazine compiled a list of 10 site elements that merchants should consider testing, analyzing and optimizing.

1. Checkout

If you have high cart abandonment rates, it might be time to revamp your checkout process. For example, many consumers will abandon their cart when asked to create a member profile in order to complete their purchase, which is why it can be a good idea to offer a guest checkout option. Although this may prevent merchants from capturing some coveted consumer data, it typically results in lower abandonment rates. Furthermore, merchants can make the checkout process seem less cumbersome by displaying a progress bar at the top of the checkout page. This enables consumers to view how far they are in the purchasing process, which can sometimes feel never-ending.

2. Product Images

Displaying high-resolution images may not be enough to convert your customers, which is why merchants should test additional image options, such as the ability to zoom or rotate images. Adding these type of elements allows consumers to interact with products, which can help them in making a purchasing decision. However, if merchants want to take their product images a step further, they can also showcase their items with solutions such as LifeSizer, Fits.Me or Webcam Social Shopper.

3. Product Data

While showcasing products through innovative image technology is one way to optimize an e-commerce site, another way is through product data. Merchants should include any information about a product that could be useful to consumers, including available colors and sizes, as well as availability of items. This is because nothing is worse than deciding to make a purchase just to find out that the desired item is sold out or not available in the correct size or color.

4. Customer Support

If you receive a lot of help requests or notice that your site maintains a high bounce rate it might be due to a lack of available customer service on your website. Thankfully, there are many available platforms that can assist with this problem. For example, merchants can implement live chat functionality into their sites to help answer customer questions or use virtual assistant technology to help guide customers to the correct site areas.

5. Security Badges

If a consumer is wary about your site’s security, they will be very unlikely to make a purchase in fear that their identity could be stolen. This is why merchants can work with security companies, such as VeriSign or Truste, and prominently display security badges on their sites. In fact, merchants should make sure to feature security policies and icons on their checkout pages, so that hesitant consumers can be reassured that their personal information will be safe upon completion of their purchase.

6. Navigational Elements

If consumers can’t easily find what they need on a website, they will likely leave it quickly and could even end up on a competitor’s site. While the aforementioned customer support solutions can help remedy this problem, merchants can also optimize other navigational elements, such as menu categories and search functionality. For example, merchants should test variations of menu headers, such as “Gifts Under $25” or “New Products,” and analyze how much traffic each new category receives. Moreover, merchants should make measure how effective their search bar is by monitoring how often consumer searches lead to conversions.

7. Localization

The increasing use of mobile makes it vital for merchants to include local features on their site. Adding features like local ads, store finders or in-store pickup might not have a dramatic effect on website metrics, however, it can definitely help increase foot traffic in brick-and-mortar stores.

8. Landing Page

The landing page is the first area of a site that consumers see upon visiting an online store, which means that merchants should focus on making a great first impression. One way this can be done is by optimizing the products that are displayed on this page. For example, merchants should test out featuring different types of popular products on the landing page and then analyze which items receive the most click-throughs. By doing this, merchants will be able to gauge what type of items resonate best with new site visitors.

9. Consumer Reviews

Featuring consumer reviews can not only help site engagement metrics, but also conversion rates. This is because many customers will make purchasing decisions based on the reviews of other customers. Most retailers on the ’Net feature some type of consumer reviews on their product pages, however, merchants can take it up a notch by incorporating social features into their reviews or by leveraging platforms such as Bravo or Authntk, which enable consumers to create video reviews.

10. Recommended Products

E-commerce merchants that have low average order values (AOV), can increase this metric by featuring recommended products to consumers who have added items to their cart. By doing this, consumers might end up adding products to their purchase that they didn’t originally intend to buy.

:: Create a local presence wherever you want to do business. Get a local phone number. ::


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2 comments

ChrisG 01-03-2013 11:14 AM

There are lots more e-commerce conversion optimization examples on the WiderFunnel case studies: www.widerfunnel.com/.../case-studies

Amber Wentworth 11-07-2013 9:45 PM

One thing that some fashion ecommerce websites have overlooked when designing was to take note of the customer experience. Right from the very start of locating the item, navigation, loading of pages, and check out – these steps should take into account the customer experience. These are just the essential ecommerce website features that are often neglected (or at least one of these), and that should come as priorities.

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