The way that your customer interacts with your website, your brick and mortar store and even your marketing initiatives are all part of the user experience (UX) of your organization.
Yet for some reason, retailers take so many of these activities for granted on a daily basis.
These endless, ongoing interactions either lead shoppers down the path towards helping you meet your business objectives or they take them to your competitors or worse… Amazon.
So how does that happen? How does one experience send your potential, interested buyer into the competitor’s arms? It comes to how we make decisions – and I wish I could tell you we all make decisions based on data or truly convincing arguments.
Unfortunately, sometimes, it just comes down to how we feel – and the perception we have from a company’s UX.
For example, we, as consumers, will often continue to visit a specific retailer, even if they don’t have the best price or the best selection, simply because years ago they gave us great customer service.
In delivering great customer service, we’ve been hooked and it will take something massive to change that purchase pattern. This particular user experience fit the needs and checked all the boxes. Consequently, lifetime spend with this retailer will reflect that loyalty and rise over the years.
Factors Influencing Online User Experience
Online user experience is no different and is even easier to manipulate, both positively and negatively. If a shopper tries to complete an order and is confronted with long forms and extra hurdles, they will be more inclined to look elsewhere for an easier process.
For example: it’s common to see retailers ask online shoppers to create an account when they’re ready to pay for the items in their shopping cart – but did you know that 23% of shoppers will abandon their purchase if they have to create an account?
If your mobile experience doesn’t allow a customer to find product information or purchase a product, visitors may not return later on other devices. Even just having a mobile website that takes more than three seconds to load will make 40% of consumers quit trying.
How do you get around these hurdles? Make the path to purchase clear by improving the user experience.
In our latest eCommerce Benchmark Report, we found that returning customers have a 97% increase in conversion rates versus first time visitors. You cannot afford a bad first impression in online retail.
I’m hoping by now that you are beginning to see the true value of user experience.
If you’re still not sold, email me and we can discuss further… seriously. I could talk about this for hours.
Reducing Your Customers’ “Hardships”
The ultimate goal of a great user experience is to meet the needs of your customers, with the least amount of difficulty.
Starbucks has famously reduced the “difficulty” of getting a cup of coffee by having multiple locations, even when that means having stores across the street from one another or on different floors of the same building. The “incredible hardship” of waiting for an elevator or a changing light has been removed, expediting the process of getting your sweet, sweet coffee.
It may seem crazy, counterintuitive even, but it works.
Although focused on larger ticket items, the Apple Store app has made purchase and in-store pickup seamless. Their app allows you to scan, pay and leave with products while in the Apple Store without relying on a “Genius”. It is an amazing feeling to be able to avoid the pressing and real roadblock to purchase: the line.
The innovation seemed radical at first but it really wasn’t world changing or a massive disruption. Lots of other companies were working on similar technology but it seemed magical because it was a method most retailers wouldn’t even try.
Other commerce disruptions such as tap to pay and mobile pay are changing the way we shop in very real ways. These modifications just line up with customer goals and create an easier path to purchase.
The initially radical, small innovations and updates can seem huge based on the impact they have on your customer and their experience with your brand. The larger changes already have a major reliance on UX and continue to work to improve it.
A Little Test
If you think you’ve got a good handle on your own UX, grab a paper (don’t use your phone just yet) and write down the entire process your customers have to experience to make a purchase through your online store.
Done? Ok. Now, open a new tab in your browser and go through the actual process.
I’ll wait, but remember to come back.
Okay. Here are a few questions and be honest…
How many actual steps did the process take and how many did you miss?
Are all those steps necessary?
Do they help advance your customers down the purchase flow in the most efficient manner?
Was it a fun or simple experience?
If any of the answers to the above are “No,” it’s time to address the user experience flow of your site.
4 Tactics to Improve Your User Experience
Here are a few tactics we’ve implemented for our clients which have been successful:
1. Review Your Data
Take a look at your overall purchase, customer and site analytics. While a deep dive into the data is advisable, a quick scan looking for patterns of drop-offs or site exits, time-on-page, purchase patterns and other insights can be very helpful to point you toward areas that need improvement that you might not even realize.
Plus, it’s always good to periodically review your data. You’re welcome for the reminder.
2. Create a User Experience Audit
By reviewing your current website, processes and marketing collateral in addition to the
data, you can start to see where some roadblocks lie. You may have helped build the site
and have an affinity towards some aspects or you may simply be too comfortable with it to give an honest assessment. This can be tough and often it is best to look for outside assistance – even just asking all new hires for their thoughts on how simple or complex your site is to navigate can help. Fresh eyes give a fresh perspective on UX.
Incidentally, I’ll remind you that this is one of Demac’s services and one of my favourite things to do with clients. Regardless of how it’s done, the outcome should include wins, elements to test or experiment on and probably immediate changes to your site. Be ruthless and honest.
If something isn’t helping you achieve your goals, it needs to be modified and if it is negatively affecting your customers, it needs to be destroyed with fire, banished and never allowed to return. Don’t forget to include mobile in your UX audit. While mobile is still behind in overall conversion rates, it is gaining and is a key element for research and extending your brand identity.
3. Begin A/B Testing
Assumptions can be very dangerous. Just because a CEO says something or you have a gut feeling about an element of your website, it doesn’t mean work should be done or a change should be implemented.
A/B testing allows you to create experiments to validate assumptions, or, as scientists call them, “hypotheses.” Tools such as Optimizely or VWO can help set up, implement and report on your experiments and remove any assumptions or guesswork out of your optimizations.
You’re looking for incremental changes – don’t be discouraged if you don’t see any huge home-runs right off the bat. Small tests can net amazing insights and results and as you get more comfortable with tests, you’ll start to gather an incredible amount of insights and data.
If you need some help deciding how to start A/B testing, this infographic is a good place to start.
4. Talk to Your Customers
A very dangerous, yet effective way to figure out what optimizations are needed is to ask your customers for feedback. Granted, it sounds simple, but to do it properly, you need to be a little scientific and you’re going to get some responses which you will have to ignore.
This method shouldn’t be seen as perfect and everything collected will have a caveat with it, but there can be some great discoveries. Be sure to have some basic, non-leading questions ready and a method to collect the data. There are a lot of products available to help you organize and collect the questions and the data, and one of the offerings should line up with your budget and objectives. You might need to offer a discount or incentive to get the feedback, but this shouldn’t be the focus of the request.
Make UX clear and Simple for your customers!
I hope these four tactics help you analyze if you’re making the path to purchase clear and simple for your customers – and ultimately, improving conversions. Plus, if you ever want to chat UX optimization and commerce strategy, just let me know.
Now excuse me, I have to order a coffee on my phone from the Starbucks down the street…