E-Commerce is a very competitive market with around 12-24 million e-commerce sites running worldwide. By 2040, 95% of all purchases are estimated to be through e-commerce channels.
When the competition is so strong, businesses have to work hard to make their mark in the e-commerce industry. E-commerce UX design is a crucial aspect for the success of online stores as it defines the shopping experience of a customer. A bad UX is found to be a major factor that increases the shopping cart abandonment rates.
In this blog, we will take a look at E-commerce UX design, its role, UX design principles, and best practices to help you figure out what makes an e-commerce store tick. So let’s get started!
What is E-commerce?
E-commerce or electronic commerce is a business model where the transaction of goods or services is performed over the internet using electronic devices like smartphones or computers.
It is one of the most popular markets today, with over 2.14 billion users worldwide.
E-commerce helps businesses establish new markets, broaden their reach, and provide efficient services without geographical limitations, all in a cost-effective manner. It is a fast, flexible, and convenient way of doing business.
What is E-commerce UX Design?
Imagine you go to an apparel store to buy a suit. You need help in figuring out the right fit for you, but you can’t find any customer service person around. You walk around the store looking for a salesperson and finally find one. But they have no idea how to help you!
In such a scenario, what would you do? You definitely wouldn’t buy a suit from there, neither will you go back to that store in the future nor recommend it to anyone. Right?
The same goes for e-commerce businesses as well. It’s just that the mode is different. In e-commerce stores, it is online, and in brick and mortar stores, it is offline.
The key idea remains to provide an enjoyable and easy shopping experience for customers. The focus of eCommerce UX design is to make the user’s interaction with the e-commerce platform smooth, intuitive, and fast.
The Role of UX Design for E-commerce
The success of an e-commerce store depends on three main things. They are:
- The quality of the product/service being sold
- The method of presentation to customers
- The design of the e-commerce platform
So we see the role of E-commerce UX design is a major one. The design directly influences the customers and can make or break a conversion. Design features like fast feedback, intuitive navigation, engaging product information, etc., play a decisive role in e-commerce sales.
The design is important not just to attract users and impress a first-time user but also to improve the user experience of existing users, making them want to come back to your store for future purchases.
In an e-commerce platform, the only way a user can evaluate a product is through the information available on the screen. So even if you are selling a high-quality product, if you cannot clarify it through product images or descriptions, there are few chances of customers buying it.
Similarly, if you are selling an average product but present it exceptionally well and provide a satisfactory user experience, customers will be attracted to it.
A good e-commerce UX design drives conversion by making it easier for customers to make decisions and complete purchases.
Three Aspects for Designing Successful eCommerce Platforms
Designing an e-commerce platform requires one to examine different perspectives so as to develop a comprehensive approach. There are three main aspects to consider for the design of successful e-commerce platforms– Business aspect, UX aspect, and UI aspect.
Every e-commerce venture has a business plan with some specific goal associated with it. It is essential to consider these business aspects and merge them into the design to meet the goals. The business aspects include:
- Product USP: USP or unique selling point is the factor that sets your idea apart from the rest. It is the defining feature of your venture. Your product design should revolve around your USP.
- Brand image: What image should your e-commerce platform portray? Is it a fun brand or a formal brand? How does your brand talk to the audience? Will your products be for the general audience or a luxury service? All of this will define your brand image.
- Target audience: For a business to be most effective, it is essential to target a particular range of audiences and pitch out your products to them. This could be people of an age group, a career, or culture.
- Type of business: A business can be of many kinds, like B2B, B2C, C2C, B2G, etc. Depending on the type of business, the design will vary.
- Marketing: Ideal business planning involves thinking about marketing from the beginning of product conception. Involving designers in marketing in the early stage will ensure that the product presents a consistent outlook to customers before and after launch.
The UX aspect of e-commerce platforms focuses on guiding the customers towards completing a transaction. They aim to increase user retention as it is key to profit. Under e-commerce UX design aspect comes:
- Accessibility: Will the e-commerce platform be accessible to all kinds of people is the main focus here. It includes people with disabilities, varying levels of tech literacy, etc.
- Usability: A significant part of UX design, usability aims to make the customer journey clear. Speed page loading, transparent menu, effective feedback, etc., increase the usability of a design.
- Navigation: It plays a key role in developing good user interaction. Clear and intuitive navigation increases the efficiency of e-commerce platforms and allows customers to take quick actions.
- Layout: How an item is presented in an e-commerce platform is a decisive factor that drives successful transactions. Too much information can overwhelm the users, and not enough information can’t convince them. So it’s ideal to find the right balance between the two.
- Desirability: It focuses on creating a look and feel that will attract users to your e-commerce platform and engage them enough to initiate a purchase.
The UI aspect deals with the visual performance of e-commerce platforms. UI design is crucial as it sets the ground for the UX and business aspects that we saw above. The right balance between UI vs. UX design is what makes an e-commerce platform look desirable and create a good first impression of users. It includes:
- Color: The choice of color must reflect your area of business and the type of brand image you want to develop. From logo to web pages, product designs, and marketing campaigns, maintaining a consistent color scheme is excellent.
- Visual hierarchy: What do you want a user entering your e-commerce platform to notice first? What are the hierarchy levels you want your user to follow? All these design aspects come under UI.
- Typography: Like color, the font is another factor that plays a role in developing a brand image. The typefaces of your e-commerce platform depend on the type of products being sold, the tone of interacting with customers, etc.
- Style: Does your e-commerce platform sell beauty products, electronic devices, or apparel? The UI aspect of your design should make that clear. Depending on the nature of your platform, you should create the style.
Types of UX Research for E-commerce Conversion
UX Research is essential in an e-commerce UX design process as it helps to shape your e-commerce platform according to your customer behavior.
Research helps to identify what leads to more user conversion, what are the prominent traffic sources, etc. This will help e-commerce channels to focus more on areas of higher conversion and invest more in them.
It also helps to create more accurate personas, which will guide in making the e-commerce platform more personalized and customer-centric.
There are four types of UX research that aids e-commerce conversion optimization. Each type focuses on enhancing different key areas so that altogether it will help in bettering the e-commerce platform as a whole.
Let us take a look at them one by one.
1. Technical Research
Identifying technical issues is an important and comparatively easy thing to do. Because these issues are objective and easy to detect, fixing them is quite straightforward.
In technical research, you should check for:
- Loading speed issues
- Error in code
- The occurrence of broken links
- Platform responsiveness on different browsers, devices, and screen resolutions.
To identify broken links, code errors, etc., there are several tools such as Google Webmaster and Screaming Frog. Observing customers using different browsers, devices, etc., will help analyze problems related to specific browsers or screen sizes. Fixing technical issues should be a top priority as they play a significant role in decreasing conversions.
2. Quantitative Research
Quantitative research will give a numerical analysis of customer’s behavior on an e-commerce platform. It helps to identify things such as:
- Where a user engages the most
- What frequent actions visitors take
- How many clicks a CTA button receives
- At which point users stop engaging
Quantitative analytics tools like Google Analytics, FoxMetrics, etc., help to gather this information efficiently.
Before moving to quantitative research, it is crucial to identify what are the metrics that you want to measure. And accordingly, you should define your research process so that the data you collect is accurate and beneficial for your e-commerce platform.
When you have a user behavior pattern, you can utilize it to recognize user needs, address them, and consequently improve conversion.
3. Qualitative Research
Qualitative research deals with optimizing the e-commerce platform based on customer perceptions. The aim here is to gather as much information as possible about the target audience through various UX research methods and give them an experience that will meet their expectations.
Here is the focus is on identifying:
- What do the users want
- What problems do they face
- Why do a user take a particular action
Qualitative research will give a deep insight into customers’ mindsets. By analyzing the valid data from real users, it is possible to enhance the e-commerce UX design to provide a service that is of value to its customers.
4. Heuristic Research
Sometimes, you may have a fully functional website, and still, it may fail to achieve conversions. This could be caused due to some UI or UX issues.
Heuristic research is aimed to solve this problem. It generally involves a UX consultant performing an analysis of a site’s UI and UX design to uncover the potential issues and optimize conversion. Factors like a site’s functionality, usability, consistency, etc., are checked in the heuristic analysis.
It may be through conducting user testing or design audits to identify pain points and ensuring that the best practices are met. It checks areas such as:
- Whether the navigation is intuitive
- If a customer can easily complete a purchase
- Whether CTAs are prominent
- If the website is clearly structured and informative
Heuristic research helps to identify areas for personalization and conversion optimization and guides on how it can be achieved.
How E-commerce UX Design Principles Influence Customer’s Shopping Flow
Shopping flow refers to the steps that a user follows to make a purchase. It starts from the time a user discovers a product to the time they complete a purchase successfully. When a design is created keeping the shopping flow in mind, it leads to more purchases, increases conversions, and minimal card abandonment rate.
Let us see how e-commerce user experience design influences shopping flow.
The shopping flow usually takes the following route.
1. The User Discovers a New E-Commerce Platform
In this step, that is, website discovery, e-commerce UX design has a significant role to play. Most users form an impression about a website in less than one second. In that time span, a website must be able to convey to its users what type of products they sell, should be able to engage them and lead them onto browsing their products.
If a user cannot get a clear picture of any of these, they would most likely end their shopping journey then and there.
2. They Browse the Platform to Find Out the Products or Services it Offers
More than 60% of shoppers go online with an idea about what they want to buy. To make shopping easy for such shoppers, the e-commerce UX design should integrate features like on-site product search, filtered search, sort, etc. This aids convenience and enables users to complete transactions quickly.
And for the other category of shoppers, who are impulsive buyers, the design should have features such as explore or discover. These types of shoppers won’t be looking for anything specific to buy but would make a purchase if they find any exciting product. So to catch their attention, sections that showcase new or popular products will be a great idea.
3. They Find a Product They Want to Purchase
Once the users find a product they want to buy, the e-commerce platform’s focus should be on two key areas.
One is providing the user with all necessary information about the product. A well-organized product page with detailed product descriptions and good quality product images will reinforce the users’ decision to make the purchase. Care should be taken to ensure that the user is not overwhelmed with the product info, instead, it is presented to them in a readable and precise manner.
The second thing to focus on at this stage is to ensure that the option to add products to the cart or buy them is prominently displayed. The CTA button should catch attention, be easy to click, and should be quickly accessible. Here the e-commerce UX design plays a significant part.
4. They Add it to the Shopping Cart
Once a user has added an order to the cart, they should be able to view the complete order and make any edits as desired. The overall summary of purchase and detailed breakdown like the quantity of each item, price of each item, shipping charges – everything should be clear to the user.
5. They Proceed to Checkout
This is a crucial stage in an e-commerce transaction. People want purchases to be completed fast as well as safe.
So one thing to take into consideration here is to provide an option to checkout as a guest. This makes purchases faster for non-regular customers. While it is okay to provide the user with an option to register if needed, it shouldn’t be made mandatory.
Another thing to consider is providing feedback to users during checkout, like indicating their progress or giving confirmation on their actions.
Users should also have an option to choose from different payment methods, like debit card, credit card, using online money transfer apps such as Google Pay, Paypal, etc.
6. They Receive a Confirmation for their Order
A user’s shopping experience does not become complete after finishing the payment. A user should receive confirmation regarding their purchase. This includes their order details, payment receipt, delivery details, etc.
The confirmation details can be shown to users on the app or website soon after they successfully complete a transaction. Sending a confirmation email or SMS should also be a mandatory practice. It’s the best way to keep customers updated about their order status. Using push notifications to update about order status is a recent trend of e-commerce apps.
How to Stay Ahead of User Expectations
By 2023, e-commerce sales are expected to reach upto $740 billion in the US alone. In the other countries too, e-commerce sales is predicted to increase at an exponential rate. In such a competitive scenario, it is crucial to stay ahead of user expectations.
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?
1. Provide High-Speed Performance
Statistics show that when page load time goes from 1 second to 3 seconds, the bounce rate increases by 32%. So to hold customers, page loading time should be minimized as much as possible.
2. 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.
3. Maintain a Fresh Outlook
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.
4. 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.
5. 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!
How to Hire a UX Design Agency for eCommerce Solutions
Satisfying customers is at the core of every industry. A good e-commerce UX design helps to make your e-commerce platform reach a wider audience.
But every e-commerce venture has a different story. Their products are different, their audience is different, the way they offer their services is different. A good UI UX design agency will be able to guide you efficiently through the design process.
With their experienced insight, they will help you create a solution that appeals to the customers and provides them value. Their expert designers will use the latest UX design trends to develop a design that’s competitive and fresh. Aufait UX is a top UI UX design agency that provides excellent design solutions. If you have any design-related queries, don’t hesitate to contact us!