Ecommerce is arguably the most competitive online business model with around 24 million sites running worldwide. By 2040, 95% of all purchases are expected to be through ecommerce channels.

With the competition intensifying exponentially, businesses are forced to find innovative and intelligent approaches to stand-out in the ecommerce marketplace. A well-conceived ecommerce UX design creates a positive and engaging shopping experience for the customers whereas an ill-conceived design leads to higher customer drop-offs and cart abandonment rates.

In this blog, we discuss an approach to impactful ecommerce UX design, doing an in-depth analysis of the factors that influence UX design, significance of design in the customer shopping flow and the best design practices that help ecommerce stores to sell more.

What is E-commerce UX Design?

Ecommerce UX design refers to the process of creating a simple yet engaging shopping experience for the customers. A good design will guide the users through the online store and help them easily find what they are looking for. With effective ecommerce UX design, users’ shopping experience can be made enjoyable, fast and stress-free.

Imagine a scenario where you are shopping for a suit at a physical store. You need in-person assistance to figure out the right size, material, fitment and price, but you cannot see any customer service person in sight. You walk around the store looking for help and find someone, only to know that he/she is not the right person to help you.

That would be frustrating, to say the least. You would neither buy a suit from that store, nor would you go back to the store in the future or recommend it to your friends. The same scenario applies to ecommerce businesses as well – just that the process is online instead of offline.

If users feel confused when navigating an ecommerce store and are unable to find what they need easily, they leave dissatisfied. A good design would instantly grab users’ attention and guide them through the shopping process effortlessly.

A user flow representation on a black background

Customer shopping flow and Ecommerce UX design

UX design plays a pivotal role in the success of an ecommerce store and influences the customers' buy or drop decision. Design features like fast feedback, intuitive navigation, and engaging product information play a decisive role in ecommerce sales.

Journey of a user on an ecommerce platform is called a shopping flow and it’s the steps users follow from discovering a product to getting their order confirmed. Creating an ecommerce UX design with the shopping flow in mind helps to increase conversions and reduce cart abandonment. Let’s see the six steps of a customer shopping flow.

1. The user discovers a new ecommerce platform

The first step is the discovery of the ecommerce platform. Here design has a significant role to play in positioning the platform well. Most users form an impression about the platform in milliseconds and in that short time span, the platform must impress users, convey information about their products and encourage users to browse the site. If users don't get a clear picture in the discovery stage, they would most likely end their shopping journey then and there.

2. The user browses the platform

Impressed by a platform in the discovery stage, users start browsing. There are two types of buyers – planned buyers and impulsive buyers.

More than 60% of people buy with a plan – they go online with a clear idea about what they need. Good ecommerce UX design makes their journey smoother by integrating efficient filter UI design, on-site product search and sort. It helps them find what they want and move ahead with their shopping journey quickly

The other category of buyers are those who have no specific intent to purchase but will buy if they find interesting products. These are valuable visitors for an ecommerce platform and a compelling design can increase their conversion rate. To entice these types of buyers, a discovery/explore mode is useful. “What’s new” and “Most popular” sections attract this type of buyers.

3. The user finds an interesting product

From browsing, users move to the next step when they find a product that sparks their interest. At this stage, the design should prioritize guiding users towards completing the purchase.

The call to action button is of eminent importance here. An attention grabbing CTA that is easily accessible and clickable will increase the chances of conversion whereas an unclear CTA will confuse the users and lead to cart abandonment.

At this stage, it is also key to provide all the information users may potentially need. A well-organized product page with detailed product descriptions, good quality product images and positive user reviews will impress users and reinforce their purchasing decision. Care should be taken to ensure that the user is not overwhelmed with the product information. Instead, only essential information should be given to users in a concise format.

4. The user adds the product to cart

a keyboard button designed as add to cart

Satisfied with the product, the user proceeds to add it to the cart. The ecommerce UX design should focus on transparency at this stage. The cart details should be clear and easily understandable for the user. All information including order quantity, price, discounts, taxes, shipping and delivery charges should be explicitly mentioned. The design should provide easy and visible options to remove items from cart, edit cart and move to wishlist.

5. The user proceeds to checkout

A crucial stage in an ecommerce transaction, checkout should be designed keeping safety and speed in mind. Some things to consider in checkout design for best ecommerce user experience are:

  • Guest checkout:Asking users to create an account inorder to checkout increases the cart abandonment rate. Allow people to sign out as guests – give them an option to register but don’t make it mandatory.
  • Payment methods:Ideally, your platform should provide all popular payment methods. People have different preferences and may choose one method over another. Supporting a wide variety of payment options including credit/debit cards, online payment platforms(apple pay, google pay, paypal etc), direct debit through online banking accounts and cash on delivery will increase conversion rates.
  • Feedback:Visual feedback during the checkout process helps users navigate the checkout process without confusion. Some ways to implement this are through progress bars, success messages and confirmation popups.

6. The user receives a confirmation message

Checkout is the last user action on an ecommerce platform, but it's not certainly the end of the shopping flow. For the flow to be complete, users must receive confirmation of their purchase. A confirmation message containing order details, delivery method, delivery date and tracking details must be given to the customers after checkout.

It is best to give the confirmation on websites/apps and through email or text messages. Keeping users notified with the order's shipping status also is a good practice. Most ecommerce platforms today use push notifications to give real-time updates to customers.

Three aspects that influence the design of ecommerce platforms

an image showing laptop and cart to signify e-commerce shopping

There are three key aspects to consider when designing an ecommerce platform– Business requirements, UX aspect and UI aspect.

Business requirements

Every ecommerce venture has a business plan with specific commercial goals. The business goals take shape well before the design phase begins and can help to create an appropriate foundation for the design. A successful design must work in tandem with the business aspects and support various ways to achieve the goals using a well-defined UX strategy. Business aspects that influence the design include:

  • Product USP : USP or unique selling point is the factor that sets your product apart from the rest. It is the defining feature of the ecommerce platform around which the design must revolve.
  • Brand personality : The brand personality defines the identity you want your ecommerce platform to take. The style, voice, tone and attitude of a brand are determined by its personality. How this brand personality is brought to life is majorly dependent on the design. For example, a luxury brand will have an elegant, formal look and target a niche audience rather than appealing to the mass.
  • Target audience : A design is most effective when it is tailored for the specific audience. Knowing your target users and their needs and pain points will help to create a design that instantly connects.
  • Type of business : Depending on the sellers and end-users, a business can fall under different categories like B2B, B2C, C2C or B2G to name a few. The end users of each category are different and have varying expectations from sellers. The UX design of an ecommerce platform should understand the specific end-user and cater to their needs to get predictable results.
  • Marketing : Ideal business planning involves thinking about marketing from product conceptualization. Considering marketing in the early stage will ensure that the product presents a consistent outlook to customers at all times and on all platforms.

UX aspect

The UX aspect of ecommerce platforms focus on ways to increase user attraction, engagement and retention to grow sales and business profits. UX plays a major role in satisfying customers and improving their shopping journey. Key UX aspects to consider for ecommerce design are:

  • Accessibility : A good ecommerce platform accommodates all kinds of users. Designing for accessibility requires thinking about different end users, such as people with impaired vision, varying levels of tech literacy or color blindness and developing a design that is accessible for everyone and helps them achieve their goals.
  • Usability : A significant part of UX design, usability aims to make the customer journey clear. Transparent menus, effective feedback, and fast loading pages are some aspects that increase the usability of a design.
  • Navigation : Navigation is the backbone of good user experience. Clear and intuitive navigation increases the efficiency of ecommerce platforms as it allows users to move towards their goal naturally and take actions quickly.
  • Layout : How an item is presented in an ecommerce platform is a decisive factor that drives successful transactions. The key information must be placed at the right areas where users' attention will go first. High priority items should stand out in the layout for creating the best impact.
  • Desirability : It focuses on creating an emotional connection that will attract users to an ecommerce platform and make them feel the desire to purchase. The goal here is to make the users feel belonged and encourage them to be associated with a platform.

UI aspect

The UI aspect deals with the visual appeal of ecommerce platforms and it brings to life the UX and business aspects. It is a crucial aspect as the right balance between UI vs. UX design is what creates an attractive and successful ecommerce site. The UI aspects to consider include:

  • Color : The choice of color must reflect your business type and brand image. From logos to web pages, product designs and marketing campaigns, the color should be maintained consistently at all touchpoints and should convey your message without words.
  • Visual hierarchy : Visual hierarchy guides the user's eyes through the platform and determines how users will navigate it. It refers to how information is arranged in a design. Contrasting colors, different font sizes, images, etc. are some elements that are used to implement visual hierarchy on a site.
  • Typography : Like color, the font is another factor that plays a key role in brand image. The typefaces convey the tone of interaction, communication style and the personality of the platform. For example, an ecommerce platform selling fashion or beauty products may use calligraphy fonts but an electronic store would go for more formal looking typefaces.
  • Style : The nature of an ecommerce platform determines the style of the interface. The designs should embody the personality of the brand by adopting different styles. Throughout the platform, the style should be maintained consistently across all elements and screens.

Eight best practices for Ecommerce UX design

To deliver an optimized user experience, features like navigation, product pages and checkout need to be specifically designed and implemented. Here we share eight best design practices for ecommerce UX design to help you create a platform that users will love.

Easy navigation wins the heart

Nothing is as satisfying for online shoppers than well-designed navigation. Clearly organized categories, tabs and menus help users move through an ecommerce platform with ease. Effective use of microcopy further enhances the user journey. Design navigation based on your target audience – know the users, their habits and learn how they interact in the real world scenarios to get a good idea about their expectations from the site. When you use this basic information to build navigation, you design for long-term satisfaction of the users.

Let the checkout be a breeze

Making the checkout process fast and easy is an evergreen tip to enhance ecommerce user experience and reduce cart abandonment. Research shows that people cancel a purchase for reasons such as the ecommerce platform not supporting their preferred payment method, asking for mandatory sign up, not looking “safe” and “reassuring”, or asking to fill a long form. While these may seem like tiny things, for the users who are at the final stage of completing a purchase, these small obstacles cause big frustration.

Promote user generated content (UGC)

Your ecommerce platform needs to garner user generated content to increase conversions and build trust. The design for the platform should promote the UGC explicitly as it has a high impact. A report shows that UGC influences the buying decision of 84% of millennials. Further, most buyers report trusting the UGC content over the website content when it comes to buying. Evidently, if an ecommerce platform is not sharing UGC, they are losing out on a lot of potential customers.

Keep the users coming back

As important as it is to attract new users to your platform, that shouldn’t be the only focus of your ecommerce design. Businesses make the most profit with returning customers. Therefore, adopting ways to increase customer retention is a crucial aspect to address. Discounts and offers, special rates for existing customers, personalized shopping suggestions and free hampers are some ways in which you can get your customers to come back. Highlight the features with attractive designs for maximum user retention.

Create comprehensive product pages

In ecommerce shopping, product pages are the decisive points that help users make an informed decision. An effective product details page increases the chances of purchase.

Customers want to know if a product meets their requirements before buying. To help them decide, the product details page should include descriptive product names, specifications, price, availability and images. Features like image zoom, user rating, product videos, etc. are features that shoppers appreciate during online shopping.

In an ecommerce UX design project we did for a leading electrical ecommerce store in India , we designed the images in a carousel view rather than as a one-image-at-a-time format to help users get a complete view of the product in one glance. Not having to swipe to see other images significantly simplified users’ purchase decisions.

Answer all the questions

Users coming to an ecommerce platform will have a lot of questions. Many platforms focus on giving users superficial and fluffy information but that rarely serves the purpose. It's best to tell users what they need to know in a straightforward manner. Use explanatory descriptions, answer questions through videos or images, let users compare products with other similar variants and provide necessary information related to shipping and delivery. Having an FAQ section that answers frequently asked questions is a good practice. When users find all their concerns answered, they trust the platform and make purchases.

Guide users with visual cues

Design can influence people in subtle and subconscious ways. Using visual cues to direct users’ attention to specific areas can be used to implement strategic navigation. Visual cues such as arrows or lines, eye directions, encapsulation, and white space can be used to direct users' attention to call-to-action CTA) buttons or high priority information. It will boost conversion rates significantly.

Use search and filters

Filters and search play an important role in improving the user experience of ecommerce platforms. It helps people find what they need easily. A major chunk of online shoppers come to ecommerce sites with an exact product in mind. They intuitively look for the search bar to help them find the product quickly. Likewise, filters help people refine their search and simplify their shopping experience. Use best filter design practices and search guidelines to enhance the eCommerce UX design.

How to stay ahead of user expectations

Retail ecommerce revenue is expected to reach a whopping $1.3 trillion by 2025 in the US alone. Trends show similar explosive growth in the ecommerce sector across the globe.

For users, the wide variety of choices in e-commerce platforms gives a lot of freedom to choose. All it takes to find another platform is just a few clicks! They are always on the lookout for what serves them best. So it’s not enough to meet their expectations, but rather to offer services that are beyond their expectations. 

How can e-commerce UX design help with this?

Provide high-speed performance

Statistics show that when page load time goes from 1 second to 3 seconds, the bounce rate increases by 32%. By ensuring that your website’s page loading time is minimized and that it provides a high-speed performance, you can improve user engagement.

Offer multichannel experience

Today, there are several channels through which users can shop for products. Website, mobile apps, social media pages- the options are ever-increasing. The best e-commerce platform is the one that offers its customers a seamless multichannel experience. 

Stay updated

Whether it is in terms of design or providing updated product details, maintaining a fresh outlook is key in retaining customers. When an e-commerce platform deploys the latest design trends and gives up-to-date product information, it impresses customers with its reliability.

Listen to customers

Getting feedback from customers should be done as an on-going practice rather than a step taken when there is an issue. Because the best way to stay ahead of user expectations is to know what they need and then deliver more than what they expect.

Be transparent

When it comes to the products, tell customers everything that they need to know. And not just about the product details, but also regarding buying policy, return policy, shipping details- don’t keep the customers in the dark about any of these!

Why choose Aufait UX as your Ecommerce UX design agency

Ecommerce UX design requires a strategic approach to engage visitors and convert them to revenue generating customers. In the current competitive landscape, your ecommerce platform requires the touch of experts to liven it up. We, at Aufait UX, have accumulated a wealth of experience offering ecommerce UI UX design services for different verticals. From fashion to grocery, beauty and electronics, our expertise is well established in diverse areas.

A user flow representation on a black background

Our hands-on experience in ecommerce UX design has enabled us with practical insights on what works and what doesn’t. We know the best design practices that make online shopping effortless and different ways to leverage them for maximum user conversion. Our designs have helped ecommerce platforms increase their user engagement and sales revenue. To explore design opportunities for your eCommerce platform, leave us a message and we will get back to you.

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