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5 Tips to Reduce Friction on Your E-Commerce Website

Chris Christoff
Updated Nov 10, 2022

Learn ways to lower shopping cart abandonment and increase online sales.

To increase conversions on your e-commerce site, you must consider the user experience it provides your visitors. It’s challenging enough to drive customers to the checkout page; additional complications can cause them to give up on the process. 

Points of friction can interrupt a customer’s buying decision and cause them to leave a website without purchasing. Anything that slows website browsing or makes it challenging to navigate causes friction. Eliminating these issues on your e-commerce website site is essential to reduce shopping cart abandonment, streamline and increase sales, and generate more sales leads

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What is friction in e-commerce?

Friction in e-commerce is anything that confuses, frustrates, distracts, discourages or annoys customers when they’re trying to complete an action on your website. Friction can occur while purchasing, filling out a web form, or navigating your site. 

While customers can overcome friction, they often give up. On average, e-commerce stores experience a nearly 70% shopping cart abandonment rate, according to Baymard Institute data. And even if customers work through friction and complete a sale, they may leave with a negative attitude about your store and never return because of their poor user experience. 

Websites with friction can squander web traffic, lose potential customers and produce fewer sales. Their brand reputation may suffer permanent damage.

What are the types of friction in e-commerce?

There are several types of friction users may encounter on your e-commerce website:

  • Technical friction: Technical friction, like buggy code that produces error messages, slow loading or display issues, can frustrate customers.
  • Navigational friction: Navigational friction can stem from website design mistakes, like product listings that are difficult to find or a confusing checkout page. This can lead to shopping cart abandonment.
  • Content-related friction: Content-related friction can include confusing or misleading web copy, distracting links, or a lack of information about taxes, shipping, and other fees. Users may view content-related friction as a lack of transparency and end up feeling distrustful.
  • Payment-related friction: Payment-related friction includes limited payment options or too-rigorous authentication requirements. Customers may opt for a competitor that better meets their needs. 

Any of these issues can cause a potential customer to leave your site without making a purchase, joining your email list or filling out a web form to become a lead. 

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How can you reduce friction for your e-commerce website?

Well-executed and thoughtful website design can minimize friction and lead to a better customer experience, more sales and more prospects in your sales funnel. Use the following website design tips to reduce friction on your website.

1. Increase site speed to reduce e-commerce friction.

Slow site speeds are a common source of e-commerce friction and shopping cart abandonment. Visitors can’t browse your products, learn about your brand or finalize a purchase if your website lags. Many users have experienced slow-loading checkout pages that cause frustration, leading them to abandon the purchase. 

Page load speed affects user behavior drastically. According to a Digital.com survey, half of online shoppers expect a website to load within three seconds. Positive first impressions impact how users interact with your site and determine whether they’ll spend time with your content. If your website lags, few will stick around to wait for it.

To increase site speed: 

  • Regularly test your site speed so you’re the first to know when lagging occurs. 
  • Update specific slow-loading web pages.
  • Optimize images.
  • Get rid of content that takes up too much space. 
  • Compress high-resolution content on product, landing and sales pages.

TipTip: Use one of the best web hosting services to ensure fast page-load speeds. Your page-load speeds can be affected if a company hosts too many sites without proper infrastructure and support.

2. Offer multiple payment options to reduce e-commerce friction.

You can make more sales with more e-commerce payment options. If you offer only a few payment options for visitors, you automatically reduce sales and lose customers. People won’t go out of their way to buy from you if you make it challenging for them to purchase your products and don’t consider their needs. 

It’s crucial to accept credit cards online. You may already accept Visa and Mastercard, but consider other options, like American Express and Discover. Additionally, consider the following payment sources: 

Consider the types of payments you currently accept. Could you add more to the mix? Have people previously complained about your e-commerce store not accepting their preferred payment method? If so, it might be time to add more options to the checkout process and win back those customers. 

3. Improve website design to reduce e-commerce friction.

Your website’s design should be seamless so that it feels natural for users to browse your pages, find the content they’re seeking and complete their purchases. If visitors have difficulty finding answers to their questions or don’t know how to navigate your site, you’ll see an increase in your bounce rate and a decrease in conversions.

Simplicity is key. The easier it is for users to navigate your content, the higher your conversions will be. For e-commerce websites especially, it’s imperative to provide a smooth user experience for visitors so they turn into paying customers who return. 

Tips for improving your website design include: 

  • Browse your site like you’re a first-time visitor. Identify what doesn’t work for the average user.
  • Prioritize clean, simple and minimalistic design. 
  • Avoid squishing text together.
  • Implement whitespace so pages are easy on the eyes. 
  • Use visual content to break up the monotony of text and prolong user engagement.
  • Get rid of content that doesn’t serve a greater purpose on your website.
  • Remove links in your navigation bar that don’t need to be there. 
  • Ensure your calls to action are easy to see. 
  • Remove images that distract from the page’s purpose. 

FYIFYI: If website design isn’t your strength, consider hiring a UX designer to improve your site’s user experience (UX). UX designers examine how customers interact with your site to deliver a practical, user-friendly experience.

4. Simplify the sales process to reduce e-commerce friction.

When consumers shop on your website, they face several decision-making opportunities. The more decisions they must make, the more likely they’ll experience decision fatigue. If they feel overwhelmed, completing their purchase is more challenging, and they may leave your site without taking action.

Here are some tips for eliminating design fatigue: 

  • Reduce options on your website. If you sell similar products, do you need them all? Consider eliminating redundant products. 
  • Group products. Group similar product items together so they’re easier for customers to find. Grouping also helps customers browse other items they might want to add to their cart. 
  • Focus on product descriptions. Update your product descriptions and images so they’re crystal clear and informative, and bring consumers closer to a buying decision.  
  • Prioritize user-friendly forms. Review your contact forms to ensure they’re user-friendly. Many visitors will abandon your form if they encounter complications, so it’s crucial to improve contact form conversions where possible. 
  • Streamline checkout. Avoid asking for unnecessary information during checkout. If you don’t need it, don’t ask for it, as this only prolongs the checkout process. 

TipTip: Since online shoppers have infinite choices about where to shop online, offer incentives at checkout. Promo codes, free shipping, coupons, freebies and volume discounts can spur order completion.

5. Optimize for mobile to reduce e-commerce friction.

As more consumers use smartphones to shop and make purchases, it’s crucial to have a mobile-friendly e-commerce website. Improving the UX for mobile users is crucial to grow your brand and attract more customers.

Some tips for optimizing your e-commerce site for mobile include: 

  • Use a mobile site speed tool. Use a mobile site speed tool to regularly test your website’s performance on mobile devices. That way, you can improve it before it costs your business conversions and revenue.
  • Avoid pop-ups and sidebar navigation. Popups and sidebar navigation menus are difficult to deal with on a smaller, condensed screen and hinder users from exploring every section of your site. Keep the most important components above the fold or in the top quadrant of the web page. Your call to action should be easy to locate and send a direct message that users can’t ignore. 
  • Keep your shopping cart visible. Make it easier for mobile shoppers to purchase your products by keeping their shopping carts visible at all times. Provide one-step checkout buttons so they don’t have to enter their information repeatedly. You can also offer a guest checkout option so new customers don’t have to create an account if they don’t want to.

Cater to your customers on your e-commerce site

To achieve your e-commerce business goals, catering to your customers and improving their experience on your site is crucial. Without an optimized website, it’s frustrating for consumers to browse, learn and purchase. You can increase sales and generate leads by reducing friction and creating a pleasant experience for online shoppers.

Jennifer Dublino contributed to the reporting and writing in this article. 

Image Credit: Poike / Getty Images
Chris Christoff
Co-Founder of MonsterInsights, the leading WordPress plugin for Google Analytics.