As most in the e-commerce industry know, the usability of your site is critical to driving conversion. In fact, as recent research from Forrester shows, sites with well-designed user experiences can convert visits at rates as high as 400%.
But what steps can we take to push conversion and drive stickiness earlier in the customer journey? Whilst by no means an exhaustive list, we’ve identified a few optimisations to help your users convert early and often.
1. Contextualised search
For the large online retailer, search can be key to keeping users on your site. When you have hundreds of diverse products, guiding users to the right or relevant product by keyword becomes more complicated. And while it may seem obvious, Baymard Institute’s third benchmark analysis in the past five years revealed surprisingly “weak support for essential search query types” with 61% performing below their standards.
For contextualised search, we should focus on the “query structure”, which determines how the search engine interprets the query. Whilst sites may perform well in exact query matching, implicit searches (i.e. when a shopper forgets qualifiers, such as “women’s” in a search for “shirts”) and symbol, abbreviation (i.e. replacing centimetre with “cm”) or synonym searches are all stumbling blocks for search engines. When we optimise the search results to the context of the user’s query – that is to say, configure the search engine to account for forms of non-exact query matching – we can generate search results contextualised to the user’s query. Taking this a step further, we can further optimise for the user’s context (e.g. location, gender, etc.) and display relevant search results. For example, the same key phrase might yield different results for different markets: the screen capture on the right shows results for a shopper in Germany (where CUBE is the name of a popular bike manufacturer), whilst the shopper on the left is in the UK.
Search results for “cube” in the UK (left). Search results for “cube” in Germany (right).
2. Eliminating scrolling fatigue
A recent study published by Google found that “scrolling fatigue” was the main concern of shoppers in the exploration stage, as “endless scroll” contributes to time-wasting and monotonous shopping experiences. While the pain point is somewhat irrelevant for relatively small product inventories, enabling users to navigate search results easily will have a definitive impact on conversion. The same study found that in Norway’s electronics industry, “scrolling fatigue” represents a barrier to a potential 15.5% incremental conversion uplift on mobile, and, in Northern Europe, a barrier to 5.1% in the personal care and beauty industry.
We can cut down on time spent browsing in a variety of ways. First, we can help the user exit the scroll quickly by implementing a sticky menu with a search bar that doesn’t disappear as the shopper scrolls down. Second, we can help the user find where they are in the listings by adding components like progress bars or the number of items loaded and total results. Both of these simple design enhancements would improve how a user navigates product content without involving personalisation or contextualisation.
3. Personalised product recommendations
Suppose you did want to take it a step further. Whether your inventory holds 200 or 10,000 products, enabling personalised product recommendations can speed up the exploration stage of the customer journey by surfacing relevant options earlier, and in some cases can be more effective in some scenarios than standardised filtering.
More importantly, recommendation carousels on your product pages can be instrumental to your upselling and cross-selling. Research conducted by Monetate in 2018 found that online shoppers “who engaged with a recommended product had a 70% higher conversion rate” during their initial browsing session.
Adidas recommended products carousel.
Most retailers today are familiar with the benefits of personalisation: the Netflix and Amazon shopping experiences have served as exemplary models for several years now. Furthermore, personalisation tools have grown in availability and intelligence, enabling e-commerce sites of any size to take advantage of what was once the boon of large retailers.
4. Influential product information
A slightly more obvious way to speed up the customer journey is to surface as much information about your product as possible, without overloading your UI. There are a few simple components which help consumers make the final purchase decision.
Firstly, the user needs to know that the product is available. When a user is browsing your products, they are still exploring your product range and may still be comparing your offering to other vendors. In order to drive users to convert, “low stock” alerts on the product results page can help keep users informed about the availability of the product and drive them to convert faster. In a “quickview” of the product, you could surface other information that influences the buying decision – such as pre-calculating the total costs when applying promo codes or one-day shipping- and allow your customers the option of an easy add-to-basket flow.
Some components may also have a greater impact on conversion rates in different industries. For example, in fashion, additional prompts such as a size charts or AR modules to “see how it fits” can help push the buying decision.
These areas of optimisation should indicate the breadth of enhancements and design choices you can make which directly impact the buyer decision. More importantly, each optimisation directly correlates to a user benefit, which ultimately drives engagement rates.
What underpins each optimisation, however, is the need to validate and refine each component with design iterations and experimentation. Our team of in-house eCommerce experts can help you leverage best-in-class AI personalisation tools, as well as design and optimise retail experiences that meet your user needs – get in touch with us to learn more about what makes a well-designed e-commerce experience.