The Digital Shopping Experience: What Is Your Online Store Missing?

Business.com / Sales / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Streamlining the online shopping experience is essential to the success of your shop and continued consumer satisfaction.

Nearly all consumers look online to research products, and more than half (55 percent) prefer to do their shopping through an online retailer.

Customer needs vary, however, and it is important to meet their needs in an online shopping environment. Streamlining the online shopping experience is essential to the success of your shop and continued consumer satisfaction.

Considering that two-thirds of shoppers abandon their shopping cart without completing their order, your online shop should be designed to make purchases as easy as possible.

Related Article: The Essential Checklist: Must Do's When Starting an E-commerce Website

The Customer Experience—Design & Structure

The majority of online shoppers want a quick checkout; in fact, twenty-one percent of online shoppers cite a lengthy shopping process as the reason for abandoning their purchase. An online shop that is intuitive to navigate, offers helpful information and is simple to use encourages consumer confidence.

Use consistent messaging: Repetitive images and a uniform design allow users to familiarize themselves with your website; this reduces the frustration customers experience if they are unable to locate an item quickly.

Focus on the homepage: Your homepage is the face of your online shop. The messaging, layout and information of the homepage will drive shoppers to the products on your site, so ensure it is clearly navigable and informational without overwhelming the shoppers.

Don’t force registration: Some users do not want to take the time to register for an online shop, especially if they are trying to buy something quickly. Offer options to check out without registering alongside a short registration form, including the ability to quickly sign in with social media accounts. A study of one retailer showed that the number of buying customers increased by 45 percent—all by removing the “Register” button.

Add clear CTAs: Use a call to action buttons such as “Where to Buy” versus “Nearby Retailers” or “Store.” On your final checkout page, remember that the language can have a big impact—positive or negative. Buttons that prompt a shopper to “Review Order” result in greater order completion rates than “Almost Done” or “Continue.”

Remove unnecessary navigation: Reduce options at checkout to prevent customers from navigating away from the checkout process and encourage their concentration on the task at hand.

Expand the shopping cart: Use a design that clearly shows an item made it to the shopper’s cart. Hovering or clicking on the shopping cart should bring up additional information such as other product orders, photos, and the total.

Be responsive: Mobile e-commerce is rising, with 53 percent of smartphone owners having used their phone to make a purchase online. Shoppers want the same experience and information everywhere, regardless of the device they use. Responsive web design ensures that mobile users can view products and make purchases with the same ease as shoppers using a desktop or laptop computer.

Offer access to help and information: Make sure shoppers have easy access to additional information, such as an FAQ or helpful tips, to help them with their decision. Customer service information should also be available, including an accessible phone number or live chat.

Related Article: What We Learned From Etsy's Top Sellers

The Customer Experience—Service

There are many other tactics you can use to improve conversions other than a well-designed online shop, such as visitor segmentation and reduced shipping costs.

Use visitor segmentation: Not all online shoppers are alike, so don’t treat them that way. Interact with shoppers more strategically by using visitor segmentation, in which you direct users to different pages based on identifying information. When return shoppers log in to their user accounts, you can tailor their shopping experience, promoting an ongoing shopping relationship. Encourage shoppers who haven’t returned to your site recently with a promotional offer by tracking their last purchase and sending them a targeted communication.

Offer reasonable or free shipping: Finding the best deal on a customer’s purchase is often the top priority. More than half of shoppers cite high shipping costs as a reason for abandoning their shopping cart before completing their purchase. By offering free shipping, reduced shipping or combined shipping deals, you can retain those shoppers who are dissuaded from purchase by high shipping costs at checkout.

Give customer a place to review: Consumer reviews and recommendations carry more weight than advertisements in today’s Ecommerce marketplace: 65 percent of consumers cite marketplace reviews or posts about products as a factor in making an online purchase. By giving your shoppers the opportunity to leave feedback, you can build valuable trust with consumers.

Reward your customers: Loyal customers love rewards, but this doesn’t mean loyalty programs that only shell out rewards to consumers if they spend an obscene amount of money. Rewards programs shouldn’t only offer money for spending money, either. Make the program worth the consumers’ time and offer special discounts for members on a periodic basis. These programs benefit both parties, as consumers are more likely to enter real contact information—allowing the e-commerce business to build a correct contact database—if they are guaranteed real savings.

Approach the abandoners: Reach out to those consumers whose shopping carts are still full long after they’ve left the store. These reminder emails are especially effective if they offer a deal for the consumer, such as free shipping or a discount that will help seal the deal.

The Ecommerce Marketplace

Effective online shops take advantage of social media as a way to build an online presence. Including social share buttons on your site is a great way to let your shoppers connect with you in other ways, as well as promote your shop in their networks. This can also be a way for shoppers to provide feedback or reviews, which can drive more traffic to your shop. When you consider three out of four shoppers are connected to social media, leveraging the marketing power of these outlets is a simple choice.

Getting to know your shoppers and their preferences can boost your online sales if you use that information to make strategic changes to your online shop. Remember that it is important to test the changes you make to your website design to determine if they have resulted in an increase in conversions.

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