The web is filled with less-than-ideal retail e-commerce websites that are losing dollars over simple design flaws. This blog series shares tips on retail e-commerce usability, covering how to improve different parts of a retail e-commerce website.
Starting at Home
Imagine walking into a store and there is no directory explaining what is on each floor and no signs leading you to the department you desire. You look around for help and can’t seem to find a customer service representative - is anyone working today?
Navigation in online stores is just as important as it is in real stores; customers need to be able to find what they are looking for and it shouldn’t take them a few laps around the place to figure it out. E-commerce websites are too often thought of as a different beast compared to their brick-and-mortar counterparts. After all, the visual merchandising is 2-d and the customers are not walking through departments, but clicking through.
Try thinking of the homepage as the front door. Just like any store, customers need to know what’s available to them and how to get there. Intuitive design and clear signs can make shopping online natural for the customer, just as natural as walking into a store, picking out a piece of merchandise and bringing it to the register. However, not all e-commerce websites are designed with ease of use in mind.
How shop-able is it? How usable is the e-commerce site?
With such a competitive online market, usability issues with a retail e-commerce website can highly affect its success.
After all, if you walked into the department store with no signs, how long would it take for you walk out?
Here are 6 tips for retail e-commerce usability when it comes to the homepage.
1. Welcome Customers
- Avoid any pop-ups or sign-ins that prevent customers from accessing your homepage immediately. The same goes for requiring Flash or another application that requires installation. What if you had to have a key to get into every store you wanted to browse?
- Make sure that your brand name is clearly established on the front page. The best place for the logo or brand name is the upper left hand corner. Remember this is where you make your first impression!
2. Show Customers What You Offer in an Organized Manner
- Provide clear and easy to read navigational tabs or links that highlight the main departments of the site.
- -The title of each tab/link should be easy to understand and intuitive. This is an area where creativity should be limited because you want customers to be able to know what’s in each section without thinking.
- Make sure to organize the titles or tabs in a natural browse, in other words, don’t make the customer search for the categories or departments.
3. Don’t make customers search for the SEARCH bar
- Place the search bar in the top right area, as this has become a standard placement that customers are familiar with.
4. Be Available
- Customer service phone numbers or email contact information should be easy to find. Customer service numbers are often placed at the top right of the homepage or somewhere close by the shopping cart and customers’ personal information.
- Store locations and other contact information should be kept in one place, ideally in the site map. We’ve found that most users navigate towards the bottom of a retail homepage to find information related to the company in our eye tracking studies.
5. Get Personal
- Offer sign-ups to newsletters and accounts on the homepage. Highlight the area in a different color or place at the top of the page to make sure customers notice the feature is available.
- Customers respond to personalization; make sure you have greetings that can be personalized and suggest products to customers based on previous history (e.g., “Welcome Back, Sabrina!”).
6. Avoid Redundancies - They confuse customers!
- Why not just put everything in the most logical spot with the most logical title one time instead of putting it two places? Redundant text and links confuse users and clutter the page, two things you do not want to do.
Follow our blog for more tips on retail e-commerce usability. After all, we still have the product detail pages, quick look features, and more to cover!