eCommerce Sites Gone Wrong:
5 Simple Actionable Solutions

Working in the eCommerce industry fuels my curiosity and allows me to test new websites & mobile apps. I’m always striving to see what’s new, learn from the big companies, look at the latest trends and see what IS and is NOT working. I’ve put together a list of eCommerce sites that demonstrate areas of friction and opportunities for improving user experience. Here are 5 Simple Actionable Solutions for When eCommerce Goes Wrong.

Solution 1:
Simplify Inherently Complicated Processes

Ordering food online, specially pizza, is a complicated process. First you have to choose among the different kinds of pizza crusts, and select all your toppings. Do you want that on your entire pizza or just half? The right half or the left half? Top that with delicious offers like choose two flavours and get a third one free. Would you like a drink with that? How about dipping sauce? What kind?

Just thinking about it I’m already exhausted and hungry. Now think about the programmers of the site. Could that be the reason why most programmers are fed with pizzas?

pizza-programmer

I would have thought the bigger the company the more they would invest in UX, Testing and Research and Development. But seems like that’s not the case. We should try to simplify already complicated processes, like ordering pizza online, by removing unnecessary steps. Specially those that could lead to shopping cart abandonment or “I will never use this site again”. Let’s examine the Dominos pizza site closely.

Upon entering the site you are welcomed with a great offer: Choose any 2 or more for $7.99 each, ORDER THIS DEAL. WOW… I want one of those, but the low quality resolution photos make it hard to really see what these items look like. They were kind enough to add the product titles on top of the images for clarification purposes.

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After that you’re immediately asked to provide some instruction for obtaining your order e.g.: delivery or carry out. This is starting to sound complicated.

Wait, it gets worse: “We just need to know where you are so we can deliver to you: in a house, apartment, business, campus/base, hotel, other”. Seriously? Do you really need this information?. Why do you need this information from me? What should I choose if I live int he lower unit of a condo? Will I be charge differently if I say so? What if I live in a bungalow or an igloo? …

Dominos Pizza Landing Page

I think you understand my point here. I haven’t even selected the product I want to buy and I’m already having doubts on how to order. Let the users choose what they want first, and then ask them where to deliver, that’s fairly normal and common when it comes to eCommerce. Even if they haven’t registered you could leave all this question to the end.

Related: 5 Ways to Reduce Friction for Better UX

Solution 2:
Categorize & Search

Clothing retailers are among the most common merchants of eCommerce. They research, explore, try, fail, and try again. That’s amazing; however, some of them just try. A perfect example of that is H&M’s current website. At the time of this post, it seems like it fails to provide the most simple and rudimentary elements every eCommerce site should have:

  • There is no search box, forcing shoppers to browse by category instead of quickly drilling down to a search results list.
  • There is no add to cart button on product pages.
  • Consumers cannot filter or sort products on category pages.
  • There’s no mini cart, actually there’s no cart.

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Seems to me that they started building an eCommerce site but decided to disabled it. They must have had their reasons.

Let’s pretend that they have all these elements, and that this is an eCommerce site. Try to navigate the site and find a product; either their categories have too many products in them like “Women Tops” or they have almost none like “Mens Bootcut”. All I’m saying is, if you’re going to have an eCommerce look-a-like site, at least provide a good categorization of your products, filter by size, price, colour options and please add the Search box.

hm

Related: On-Site Search – Is it working for you?

Solution 3:
Show product information

While many things are wrong on this website, the most obvious one jumps right away. Once you load the home page you’re welcomed with a huge list of products and their high resolution photos. However product name, pricing, descriptions and rating are not shown. I would categorize this site as “what you see is what you get”.

The navigation presents itself fairly simple with the usage of “icons”. It certainly is easy to understand how to navigate the site. Click on one of the icons and you’ll be redirected to the product shown there. No need to read:

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In order to view the product information you have to hover on one of the product images and you’re immediately shown a huge call to action (CTA) that are kind of outstanding to the eye. But wait, ohhhhh those two products are the same it’s just the front and the back of the same shirt. I get it now. Click on quickview and you’ll be presented with a sweet animation and the product name, detail and price. It wasn’t that hard right?

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After getting a feel of how this works I selected a few items and added them to the cart. Now, let’s view the cart.

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Hmmm maybe not.

Related: Zappos.com – Product Page Updates Worth Talking About

Solution 4:
Be smart When Displaying Reviews

This is where it gets tricky for some companies. In-store purchases are easier because you can feel the product, wear it, smell it, take a selfie and send it to your friends.. you name it. Buying online is a different story altogether. You rely on: knowing the brand, knowing your measurements, trusting that the product description is 100% accurate and detailed enough, great quality images and lastly but most importantly trusting the reviews from others devoted buyers.

Showing reviews is simple right? Just add the ratings and show the average and you’re set to go. Let’s say you are selling a ring that has an average review score of 3 out of 5. You would love to show that to your users. What will happen if the product had just one review of 2 out of 5? To implement user reviews well, think about the minimum number of reviews before you present the average.

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Customers may be turned off by a product’s low ratings, not realizing that it’s just based on a single review. So, pick a threshold (20 to 30 reviews) and do not display averages until you reach that threshold. Or choose to show the amount of users that have reviewed the product. Keep your buyers informed and they’ll make a smart decision.

Related: A Review of Online Reviews

Solution 5:
Keep your customers informed

Searching for other big companies, and profitable ones, another example of a not so great eCommerce site is Costco.

Shopping is an experience that should satisfy the soul. When I add something to the cart I want to be cheered, high-fived, I want to hear the glorious sound of my coach saying “You did it, congrats!”, You’re a rock star! Seriously I want to be notified that something has happened. As a buyer you expect to know that the internet still works and that the site responded to your action. Costco on the other hand chose to show a simple and blunt green text “Item added to your cart”. Well, at least is “my” cart.

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Don’t make your customers jump out of their seats trying to figure out if they clicked where they’re supposed too. Do you want them to abandon the shopping process just to check if they added something to the cart? This kind of information needs to be immediately available and easy to find.

The are several tricks to do so:

  • Show a spinner wheel
  • Disable the add to cart button
  • Show a drop down mini-cart

Bonus Tip


Shopping online is changing the world. Retailers are finding that this model is actually working and it’s more profitable. Users are getting more technology friendly and savvy. The future is here. This is not only true for the small/medium retailers that can’t afford a big retail space, big brands like Indigo/Chapters in Canada are closing stores and putting an emphasis on their online businesses.

Online selling has a unique and different strategy than retail. Pay attention to small details, and avoid others mistakes. If you still find you need some help, reach us, we will be able to help you.