According to Walker, the global business intelligence firm, by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Delivering a memorable customer experience means ensuring consistency across a range of brand touch-points. However, the flow, functionality and design of your website or app (otherwise known as the user experience, or UX) is becoming an increasingly important battleground for consumer loyalty – particularly when it comes to eCommerce.

What’s more is that there’s never been a point in history where consumers have had more control over the branded experiences they choose to be part of. So with this in mind, check out our list of top tips for unleashing a user experience that converts visitors to customers.

1. Optimize Your Website for Speed

It’s no surprise that customers want speedy and effortless browsing, but did you know that even a two-second page-load delay can increase the abandoned cart rate by 20%? The takeaway here is that websites have to be optimized for loading content with minimal delay. As a starting point for lowering your page load times, consider trying out these nifty optimisation hacks:

  • Where possible, use CSS instead of images – and where images are necessary, make sure they’re optimised for Web browsing.
  • Streamline the number of elements on your page and remove unnecessary features that could distract or confuse visitors.
  • Lengthy checkout processes are a culprit too, so ensure you eliminate redundant fields that aren’t mandatory to purchase.
  • Minify your CSS, JS and HTML code – this tactic consolidates the number of “calls” or requests the browser needs to make, speeding up the overall visitor experience.

It’s been shown that 79% of dissatisfied online shoppers are less likely to buy from the site again, so avoid losing out on return business by being bulky online.

2. Mobile Matters

This one shouldn’t even need to be said, but if your website still isn’t responsive in design for mobile devices, then stop everything and do that – now. Mobile retail shopping is on the rise globally and is expected to soon overtake desktop as the primary platform on which customers search, shop and work. What’s worth noting however, is that some research has shown the number of shoppers on desktop who abandon their cart before checkout is shown to be around 68%, contrasted to a whopping 97% for mobile users.

Even amidst the exponential growth that eCommerce sites have experienced, there is still a frighteningly high last-minute drop-off rate. This is – in part – due to a break in the online experience between cart and checkout.  A visual disconnect, or change in eCommerce website design, between the checkout and the rest of the browsing experience can subconsciously alarm customers. Online retailers need to be particularly cautious of this with mobile shoppers, as people tend to be more rushed and have less patience when shopping on their mobiles.

To remedy this, aim for consistency: try keep the same background colour, stick to your brand’s font and keep the “Next” button in the same place on every page.

ecommerce-mobile-meltwater

3. Align Your Priorities

It might seem like a negligible detail, but the order in which you ask for customer details can have a marked difference on the end result. The most important thing to the company would be the customer’s billing information, while customers are more interested in accurate shipping information and ensuring their new purchase gets to them safely and on time.

Asking for the billing information upfront screams, “We want your money now!” While on the other hand, aligning yourself with your customer’s priorities and collecting shipping info first, can encourage customers to stay with you throughout the checkout process. In fact, it’s known that customers offered free shipping are likely to spend 30% more per order – so consider realigning your priorities and perhaps covering the cost of the delivery.

4. Tidiness

Which shop are you more likely to make a purchase at?

tidy online retailer to enhance user experience

Keep your design clean and uncluttered. Make sure there is a clear flow to the user journey and navigating back and forth between pages can be done with ease. Remember to have clear “Help” or “Contact Us” buttons visible so your visitor’s aren’t left guessing how to find you when in need of assistance. Adopting this design gives visitors the impression that you are well-managed and care about your customers. If these two stores were websites, we can safely assume the first store would have a much higher bounce rate, regardless of whether they were selling the better product. Give your customer enough reasons to stay.

5. Listen

The eCommerce companies winning at customer experience don’t only monitor trends in website design or UX, they listen to the feedback of their actual users. To stay relevant, companies must focus on leveraging social feedback and Big Data to cater to the needs of the people who matter most, their shoppers – whether that be product or feature related.

ecommerce customers feedback meltwater search

For instance, local online retail company Spree recently launched a highly innovative new feature. Within the existing search function, customers can now take a photo or upload an image and the platform returns visually similar items in seconds. The technology, which is now used by Amazon other international retailers too, was bred from the widespread and generalised online shopping criticism that describing products in detail can be impractical and yield mixed results, but being able to upload a photograph of what you’re after might make for an easier solution.

“Our goal is to make the shopping experience for our customers as easy and intuitive as possible and, with our new image recognition capabilities and similar style shopping feature, we think we have come closer to achieving this,” says Sven Schoof, Spree’s Head of Customer Experience. “In a world where words are commonly replaced by emoji’s and images, it makes sense that our shopping habits follow the same path and we’re very proud to be the first online retailer in Africa to lead this visual trend.”

Spree’s tracking of industry-relevant trends and close understanding of what their customer wants makes for an ideal strategy for continuously evolving their user experience.

You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure

In today’s technologically overwhelming age, it can be challenging for companies to analyse all the accessible data to make informed decisions. Gleaning feedback about your user-experience through surveys and questionnaires can be time-consuming and an inconvenience to your users. With social media monitoring tools however, you can listen to the conversations around your business (or your competitors’) where they actually happen, and in real-time.

Now, let’s get optimizing.