When many retailers want to boost sales they think about techniques and tactics—they focus on stuff like discounting, generating more traffic or increasing ad spend—and they ignore perhaps the most important factor: user experience.
Data from Eisenberg Holdings show that for every $92 the average e-commerce business spends on generating traffic, a measly $1 is spent on conversion and user experience. This is practically marketing suicide for most businesses, especially when you consider that a whopping 95 percent of people expect good user experience when they visit a website.
By tapping into recent research and online purchase psychology, I’ll share six UX tweaks you should make to boost your e-commerce sales.
1. Ditch the “Sign Up Before Purchase” Approach: There are many reasons why you want a user to sign up to your site. Just a few:
- It makes it easy for them to access their purchase
- It makes it easy for you to reach out to them again in the future.
Due to these reasons, many e-commerce businesses insist that users sign up to their website before they can make a purchase. This is a mistake, however.
Asking people to sign up before making a purchase can be very costly. In fact research shows that 30 percent of people will abandon a purchase if asked to sign up before making a purchase. At the end of the day, the real reason you want people to sign up is to purchase from you, so it is important to focus on getting them to purchase first and then eventually get them to sign up.
Forcing people to sign up before purchasing is bad UX practice. Instead, let people make a purchase first, and ask them to sign up so that information about their purchase can be safely delivered to their email.
2. Simplify the Checkout Process: For any e-commerce business, the sale is the ultimate goal. However, many businesses jeopardize the sale by overcomplicating the checkout process. When you start asking for things like age and gender before users can checkout, you’ll lose a lot of sales. Of course, it’s a well-established fact that segmenting and proper targeting can boost sales, and you need all those extra information to effectively target your audience. However, there’s a right time and place for that—if possible, ask only for billing information and nothing else during the checkout process. In fact, data from Formstack’s research of millions of their users found that reducing form fields can boost conversions by up to 160 percent.
If you need more information from users, you can get it by:
- Only make the necessary billing information compulsory and make the extra information optional. Also, make sure that users know that providing additional information is optional but encourage them to give you the extra details.
- Offer a discount or coupon in exchange for extra information about users.
3. Don’t Let Essential Elements Blend In With Your Design: What is the best call-to-action (CTA) color for boosting sales and conversions? Red? Green? Orange? If you had answered “red,” “green,” or “orange” you’d be wrong, because there’s no best CTA color. In fact, the concept of why one button color, or why one CTA, outperforms another can be simply explained by a psychological phenomenon called “sensory adaptation.” We tend to get used to stimuli after repeated exposure, as a result ignoring it.
If your design is monotonous, and your CTA uses the same color/format as your design, then your conversions will suffer. This is bad user experience—you want users to notice what matters, so that it is easy for them to take action on your website. To do this, avoid letting essential elements blend in; Button color should be different from website color scheme, and important elements should be bigger than other elements of your website.
4. Use a Progress Indicator to Let People Know Where They are At When They Interact With Your Website: We’re now more impatient than ever. Not only has the average human attention span declined from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to eight seconds now, but research shows that a one second delay in site loading time can result in a 7 percent loss in conversions. There’s also the issue of perceived delay; users don’t like it when it feels as if they are not making progress on your website.
That said, there are a lot of moving parts that power your e-commerce store; while you can make things faster on the front end, the back end—or even third-party services, like your payment processor—can make things slower. The solution in instances like this is to let people see that they are progressing. Available research shows that 75 percent of people would like to have a progress indicator on websites they interact with.
5. Have a Well-Oiled and Automated, Interest-Based Follow-Up System: Statistics show that for every 100 people that get to your shopping cart, 68.81 percent will abandon cart—while you can reduce this number with the other UX tweaks in this article, it is important to come to the realization that not all sales will be closed immediately.
One of the best UX tweaks you can make is to have an effective and automated follow-up system. Most top email software providers promote the ability to use automation as one of their core features, but you want to take things a step further. Automate follow-up with people who abandon carts. More importantly, automate offers and promotions to people based on their interests (calculated based on their activity and interaction on your site) and only show them relevant offers.
Besides automation, you should also only display relevant offers on your product pages; you shouldn’t suggest diapers to someone who has been shopping electronics. This can create a disconnect that will cost you sales.
6. Optimize Your Customer Service: Customer service is perhaps the biggest UX tweak. First, statistics show that loyal customers are worth as much as 10 times as their first purchase. Secondly, research shows that as much as 86 percent of customers have stopped doing business with a company because of bad customer experience.
There are many ways to optimize your customer service to improve user experience and boost sales:
- Give customers as many options as possible to reach out to you.
- Respond to customer questions as soon as possible; most customers expect a response within 24 hours, or even within as a few hours on social media.
- Work on the quality of your response; most customers prefer a delayed response to a response that doesn’t address their concerns.
- Actively solicit feedback from your customers to improve your services—not only will this make them feel involved in, and as a result make them more loyal to, your brand, it also shows that you care about them.
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