5 key principles for a successful e-commerce user experience

Source: 5 key principles for a successful e-commerce user experience (retailcustomerexperience.com)

James Brooke, Amplience founder and CEO, offers five fundamental principles retailers should understand in order to differentiate in e-commerce and benefit from the massive surge in traffic caused by the pandemic.

For retailers to differentiate in e-commerce and benefit from the massive surge in traffic caused by the pandemic, they need to fill the experience gap created by social distancing in stores.

However, before retailers can even begin to innovate the user experience, there are fundamental principles they need to consider first.

What are some of those principles?

1. Develop for mobile

Mobile has accounted for half of the website traffic globally since 2017. And, findings have shown that consumers who have a negative experience on mobile are 62% less likely to purchase from a brand in the future.

Amplience data revealed mobile surpassed desktop (70% average) as the channel of choice for e-commerce interactions. But you can’t rely on an attractive native app. Fifty percent of smartphone users are more likely to use a mobile site for browsing and shopping as they don’t want to download an app.

On July 1, 2019, Google implemented its mobile-first indexing by default, meaning the Google search algorithm will prioritize mobile-friendly websites. If your site is not mobile-friendly, it will be pushed further down Google search results.

Statistics from SaleCycle point out that, although mobile traffic is higher than desktop, conversion rates for mobile are close to half that of desktop globally (1.82% mobile, 3.90% desktop). They also register a gap between those who browse and those happy to purchase on mobile. Many studies highlight that improving mobile UX, particularly mobile-specific UX elements, boosts mobile conversions.

2. Ensure performance is speedy

Website performance is a fundamental factor for user experiences. A research study equates the stress sustained from waiting for slow pages to load to the anxiety of taking a math test or watching a horror movie. This level of stress might explain why 53% of mobile users won’t wait longer than three seconds for a page to load. A site’s performance on mobile devices is especially important for SEO as it’s a significant factor in Google search rankings as noted above.

Page speed has a dramatic effect on e-commerce, as approximately 70% of users agree that page speed influences their likeliness to buy. Google attributes a 1-second delay in mobile page load to a fall in the conversion of up to 20%.

Furniture Village alongside GreenLight reduced page load time and page size by 20% through code refactoring and using Amplience Dynamic Media to optimize image load — a significant component of page load. These measures resulted in an organic traffic increase of 15%, bounce rate decrease of 9% and mobile conversion rate increase of 10%.

3. Invest in design

You may have a robust e-commerce infrastructure, superior logistics, paid ads directing more customers to your site and have optimized your website to be super-fast, but all of that could be in vain if your site design is inadequate.

Customers decide within 50 milliseconds what they think of your site. This initial option has a significant bearing on whether customers stay on the site and how satisfied they are with future interactions. First impressions are 94% design-related, and a further study shows 46% of consumers base the credibility of a website on its visual appeal and aesthetics, including layout, typography, font size and color schemes.

Images are crucial in the design of an e-commerce site. Striking images attract attention, emotionally connect, and convey your message through visual storytelling.

Don’t go with an out-the-box design template as your design is fundamental for differentiating your e-commerce site from the herd. The best website designs will captivate your customers, reduce bounce rates and ultimately increase your conversions.

4. Put your customers first

Don’t let technology define your UX. Instead, base it on your actual customers. e-commerce experiences have become commoditized and controlled by large platforms and suites.

To deliver a unique and personalized shopping experience, take control of your UX and build differentiating encounters that put customers and their desires at the forefront of the design. This can be achieved through leveraging a headless content management architecture.

5. Be locale-sensitive

Local context plays an essential role in considerations for UX design. If you misinterpret the target culture the UX won’t be just unsuitable but also potentially offensive. Things to watch out for when localizing a UX include:

• Culture references for color choices; Colors can have significant meanings in different cultures. Blue can symbolize masculinity in North America and Europe, but in China, it is considered a symbol of femininity.
• Component sizing and orientation to accommodate text for different languages: Navigation design can be particularly sensitive to longer word and test orientation.
• Iconography: Shopping cart icons may be different for different countries, and components like burger menus may not recognizable at all.
• Gestures and social cues used in images and for icons need to be appropriate for the cultural context.
• People and clothing: Images of people, clothing and anything remotely seen as sexual should be handled with great care across borders.

An essential aspect of localizing a UX is understanding how your brand is viewed in different countries as well. If your brand is well known in one market you may consider presenting product-driven navigation on your website, whereas your sites in other markets may need to be discovery-based to help establish your brand more clearly.

The principles noted provide the basic tenants for building an e-commerce experience with users at the forefront. Once these principles are established, businesses can then address how to evolve further to make their online experiences more fun, immersive and engaging as well.

James Brooke is founder and CEO at Amplience

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