How to make your eCommerce website easy for shoppers to navigate
When retailers prepare for the holiday season, they may think of brick-and-mortar stores crammed with tons of shoppers, lines of people at registers and full parking lots of potential buyers. For sellers, this is a great mental image – it suggests they are busy and selling a lot of product during the prosperous holiday seasons. View this scenario from a customer’s perspective, however, and this sounds like a nightmare, which is why many people are shopping online this year. As a result, merchants must think long and hard about how to make their eCommerce websites easy for shoppers to use.
Make no mistake, the in-store experience is still vital. However, a recent infographic from SDL makes one thing apparent: online is not far behind. While 63 percent of shoppers say they research gift ideas at actual retail stores, 46 percent said they do so by starting with simple online searches. Additionally, retail websites and non-brand specific eCommerce websites were also noted as top research destinations.
Additionally, as many as 60 percent of customers engage in “showrooming,” which is the act of trying a product in-store and buying it online. Whether they left the retailer because they did not want to wait in a mile-long line of holiday shoppers or because they found a better price online, the fact that so many people engage in this activity only reinforces the importance of having an easy-to-use online website.
So, how do retailers make their websites more intuitive and approachable for customers?
1. Do not complicate the buying process
We have all seen websites that are difficult to use – navigation is broken or otherwise nonfunctional, search does not return relevant results, and a round about check out process. When it comes to Web design, efficiency is often measured in clicks, and the more clicking people have to do, the more likely they will give up their purchases.
The first step toward making eCommerce websites easier to use involves eliminating clicks and steps that impede people from buying products quickly. Retailers should be aware of how many clicks it takes to do anything on their pages, particularly when it comes to purchasing products but also regarding other top activities as well, such as looking up store hours or finding contact information.
Another important part of simplification comes into play when retailers require shoppers to sign up for websites and enter information when they want to buy products. Of course, some basic information is needed to ship a product and process payments, but many retailers go overboard and play 20 questions as people try to make accounts.
2. Have the right information
Part of the draw of shopping online is the convenience of it all – people can do most things they do at physical stores from the comfort of their own homes. Merchants can double down on this by making their websites one-stop shops for their customers, featuring detailed information about their products and other crucial information.
Yet, some merchants sport product pages that leave customers wanting more and going to other Web pages – or competitors – to find the answers to their questions. It is crucial that retailers ensure their product pages contain accurate information, as well as other content such as frequently asked questions, videos of the item, customer reviews, physical attributes, links to manufacturer information and other important data points. Inventory management solutions could even help fill product page space by providing intelligence regarding store stock availability.
3. Enhance the store experience
Every retailer opens an online store with the intention to sell products, but that should not be the only thing merchants do on their websites. After all, if the shop only exists to sell, why would shoppers pick one retailer over another unless one store consistently had the lowest prices?
In that regard, retailers need to make the shopping experience a focus of their online stores. If sellers have weekly blogs, newsletters, gift guides, live customer chat and other similar content that brings value to consumers, retailers can build relationships with their customers, which results in more repeat sales. Additionally, this auxiliary content can make shopping even easier by giving people relevant ideas and pointing them toward hot products.
There are numerous steps merchants can take to improve the usability of their websites, but these are the top three places to start.