User experience is a fundamental component of your ecommerce storefront. So much that you may never finish truly optimizing your site’s UX. There is always something we can do to improve a user’s shopping experience. 

But the world of UX doesn’t have to be daunting to those who aren’t experience design experts. 

In fact, improving your store’s user experience usually entails making small yet impactful modifications that don’t change much on your storefront, but make a world of difference for shoppers.

We have compiled a list of seven small changes you can make on your ecommerce store in order to improve the user shopping experience and create a more seamless checkout process for your customers. 

The more user-friendly your shopping experience is, the more likely customers are to come back and the less likely they are to abandon their shopping cart halfway through the process.

Need help with your site’s UX? Get in touch with us for a free website checkup here.

Enable Anonymous Checkout

The less steps customers have to take in order to check out on your site, the better. 

Not everyone will become a repeat customer or care to save their shopping history. Therefore, not everyone will want to take the time to create an account on your page. 

In fact, having to sign in and create an account is a critical moment in which many users decide to abandon their shopping cart. According to a study conducted by Statista in 2015, 22% of online shoppers abandon their shopping cart because the site required them to create a user account. By 2017, that number increased to 37% according to a study by the Baymard institute. 

For most ecommerce sites this is a simple yet significant modification that usually only requires checking off a box but will vastly improve customer satisfaction.

Depending on your ecommerce platform (the above photo is from the Volusion backend) you’ll want to ensure that guest or anonymous checkout is enabled for customers. Here are some guides on enabling guest checkout from the top ecommerce platforms:

Offer Multiple Payment Options & Enable Secure Checkout

The easier it is for customers to pay for their items, the faster your checkout process. 

When you enable multiple payment options, especially those that don’t require customers to manually re-enter their card info, you significantly cut down the checkout process. Sites that offer easy checkout options such as Paypal, ApplePay, Google Wallet and any other payment method that already have your customers’ card details saved, offer a faster and more secure checkout that shoppers are more likely to trust. 

In the study conducted by the Baymard Institute, 19% of shoppers abandoned cart because they didn’t trust sites with their credit card information. 

In the crucial last step of the purchase process, the last thing you want to do is restrict how your customers can pay you. Here are the top online ecommerce payment processors as of 2019:

  • Authorize.Net
  • Stripe
  • PayPal
  • Braintree
  • Amazon Pay
  • Square
  • BlueSnap
  • WePay
  • 2Checkout
  • Dwolla

If you offer any or several of these payment options on your site, chances are, your customer is going to have an easy and enjoyable checkout process.

Properly Categorize Your Products

No one wants to click through multiple pages to find the specific product they are looking for. In fact, not categorizing your products can put a damper on shopping experience early on in the sales process. 

If you take the time to organize your products into specific, relevant subcategories, it serves as a navigation guide that allows users to refine their search early on in their shopping experience. 

Properly sub-categorizing your products not only saves shoppers time, it also creates a visually appealing organizational layout. 

Creating a visually appealing layout also improves your user experience by creating a shopping process that is easy to navigate and can actually be enjoyed by your customers. 

When you fail to do so, you create an experience that is frustrating for shoppers and encourages them to leave your site.

In order to properly categorize your products, start big and then work down to more relevant and niche groupings. If your customers have ever asked for it over the phone or via email, chances are it would make sense as a subcategory. You can also peep competing sites to see how they’re organizing their products to get an idea of where to start. If all else fails, find a big box store that sells the same products and mimic what they’re doing.

Use High-Resolution, Quality Product Images

This is as close as you’re going to get to a product demonstration through a browser window, therefore you want to make sure that the quality of your product images is top-notch. 

You want to provide shoppers with an accurate preview of your product and the best way to do that is by providing the best possible product images. 

There are two ways to obtain quality product images: 

  • obtaining them from the manufacturer
  • taking your own high-resolution product images

Sometimes you are lucky enough to be able to obtain high-quality images from the manufacturer. But if your manufacturer provides you with low-resolution images, you might want to invest the time and energy into taking your own photos. 

Although it can be a bit time consuming, providing accurate and high-quality product images can make a distinct difference in your user experience.

Looking to take high quality photos of your products on your own? If you have a smart phone and a modestly priced lighting setup, you can get reasonably close to pro-quality photos without the cost. Here are some tips to improving product photos:

  • Get even, natural lighting – lighting kits are available online, or you can use household lamps. Be sure to light your product from 2 angles to prevent shadows
  • Backdrops with contrast – a simple solid color backdrop is ideal for the majority of product photos. Make sure you use a color that is going to give you plenty of contrast from your product
  • Multiple angles – get as many angles of your product you can; front, back, profile, any print details and more. The more information you provide the customer, the better
  • Center the product and frame on a 1:1 square ratio – don’t bother with landscape or horizontally-cropped photos unless you have a specific use for them. 9 times out of 10, a square photo with your product centered will look great on desktop and mobile browsers and won’t cause issues with layout
  • Compress photos before upload – this is an often overlooked part of the photo process, but you need to be sure to compress your photos for the web prior to uploading them. Use a photo editor like Photoshop, Photopea, or free online compression tool to help keep those load times nice and fast

Ask for Reviews & Display Them on Your Site

Online shoppers look to reviews for personal recommendations on products. They’re often a deciding factor in whether or not a customer buys a product, hires a company for a service, or picks a place to eat.

If your products are lacking or have few reviews, this can communicate to shoppers that the product is not popular or not that great. 

On the other hand, if you have products with plenty of four and five-star reviews, shoppers are more likely to trust the quality of the product you are selling,especially when it is personally recommended by many other shoppers. 

You want to not only enable reviews for your products, you also want to encourage shoppers to review your product by sending a follow up email after a purchase is completed. Once customers fill out a review on your site, it is also beneficial to encourage them to leave a review on Google or Yelp as reviews on a third-party site can drastically increase your credibility, a major deciding factor for shoppers.

Be Transparent with Shipping Costs

Many users also abandon their carts due to unforeseen costs incurred with shipping. You might think that by displaying a lower price than what customers will actually pay entices them to buy, but hiding costs is a bad ecommerce practice. 

Although you are not necessarily including any hidden costs, it can be perceived as such. When the customer goes to checkout and the price they are asked to pay is higher than anticipated.

Here at Studio, we have a client who sold large displays that cost tens of thousands of dollars and they noticed a drop in revenue over the span of a few months. Organic traffic was still on the rise and paid ad strategy hadn’t changed in months so everything should have continued to progress and grow. The only thing that changed was the client had removed shipping costs from the checkout process and opted to send paying customers a followup email after purchase with their final shipping cost as a separate invoice. 

Their intention was good: show the lowest price to customers at checkout. Because their products were huge, their shipping costs were usually hundreds of dollars and the client thought that would be deterring checkouts.

We had a hunch that that the mystery of how much it would cost to get our clients’ large products shipped was causing people to abandon the purchase and go elsewhere. We made the recommendation to the client to add in shipping costs to the checkout page so customers knew what to expect, even if it was an additional charge. 

After a month transactions had jumped from 10 per month to 30 per month.

Offer Free Shipping

In an ecommerce world dominated by Amazon, free shipping is essential. Even if you require a purchase minimum, free shipping is highly favored by shoppers and can be a strong incentive to buy from your site. 

Requiring a purchase minimum will increase your conversion rate as it encourages shoppers to spend more than they planned to, only to meet the minimum requirement for free shipping. 

Although it may seem like one more cost to your business, it is actually a sales incentive for shoppers.

These are simple but impactful changes you can implement to improve your ecommerce user experience and increase your revenue by encouraging shoppers to buy throughout the entire online shopping process.

Optimizing the user experience of your site can be done through simple tweaks that reap exponential benefits. When you make it easier for customers to shop on your site, you increase conversion rate, reduce bounce rate, and improve customer satisfaction, all of which helps grow your business.

Need help with your site’s UX? Get in touch with us for a free website checkup here.