Retail E-Commerce Usability Part 3: Just Browsing
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.
A customer can walk around a department store and look for a pair of shorts for several hours. Are the shorts all kept in one area? No, they are dispersed among different designers. Are all of the designers in one area? No, they are categorized by targeted age group or price range. Is everything available out on the floor? Of course not! There is a stock room full of merchandise and multiple stores across the country or around the world that might have the pair of shorts in the size and color you are looking for.
Online shopping gives retailers the advantage to let customers find what they want without leaving their chair. That is if the site’s navigation system and design doesn’t hide it from them.
Here are a few tips on how to make browsing on a retail ecommerce site useful.
1. Let Customers Refine their Browse
- After choosing a main category to shop under, it is ideal for a user to be able to refine the selection they have made.
- – The most common way to do this is by including a left navigation that reveals all of the different options the user can check/uncheck, with the items re-populating based on the customer’s selections- A more recent change on retail ecommerce websites is the mega drop-down menu that doesn’t appear until the user clicks on a header category.
2. Let them Sort!
- Offer “Sort By” options in addition to the filters to give the users a chance to explore by price, relevancy, popularity, designer, style, etc.
3. Viewing Options
- All sites should know this by now. Let users choose how many items they want to see on a page at one time. A “View All” option should always be available to users when categories of items have say 200 items or fewer.
4. More than Breadcrumbs
- When you are using filtering systems it is important to clearly display what categories have already been chosen by the user to prevent them from getting lost in their browse.
- A clear path between product pages and the user’s browse (with customized selections/sorts) should always be available (e.g., “Back to Results”)
- Customers should have the option to deselect categories and clear all the selections with one click.
5. Show the Customer’s Progress
- Don’t let customers drown in merchandise – let them know how many pages you are going to show them and where they are at all times (e.g., “Showing 75-95 of 560 items,” “Page 13 of 62″).
6. Back and Forth Action
- Make sure users can add items to their shopping cart and return to where they were in their personalized search.
While there are many more specific attributes you can use to improve your retail e-commerce website’s browsing function, remember that the main goal is keep the customer on the purchase pathway. Always consider how you can make your website easier to shop and easier to use!