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The Value of UX for an Ecommerce Website

Find out what makes user experience in ecommerce so vital for business growth.

The purpose of an ecommerce website is quite straightforward: to generate sales. However, the science that goes into producing sales and conversions is complex. Pricing, content, goods, shipping policies, returns, and many other factors could impact the success or failure of an ecommerce website. Perhaps the most important single concept to take into account in ecommerce website development is user experience or UX.

Customer relationships with products are not static but instead evolve over time. This evolution is heavily affected by user experience. Ultimately, the quality of user experience will determine whether the relationship grows weaker or stronger, with the latter increasing long-term product use and customer loyalty.

UX in ecommerce should guide buyers through their entire journey, be it B2C or B2B customer journey. For ecommerce sites, this means offering a website that makes it easy for customers to obtain desired products and services.

Finding the right product or service is king. When Hubspot asked users what the “most important factor in the design of a website” was, 76% responded, “the website makes it easy for me to find what I want.” Appearance, cutting-edge experience, and other factors attracted far less attention.

What is the most im[prtant factor in the design of a websiteImage Source:

UX and UI

UX is closely related to the User Interface (UI). Indeed, UI can be seen as an element of UX. However, while UI focuses on the various buttons, pages, and other tangible elements of a website or platform interface, UX considers every potential touch point and the customer journey as a whole.

Regardless, a clean, easy-to-use, and intuitive UI is an important component of a strong UX and is vital for the customer journey. The UI must enable visitors to acquire exactly what they want easily. This means being able to find and sort products via an ecommerce search engine, product categories and listings, and other methods. The UI must also take payments into account, ensuring that it’s easy for customers to securely check out.

A poor UI and UX may lead to shopping cart abandonment. The Baymard Institute found that 69.23% of online shopping carts are ultimately abandoned, resulting in lost opportunities for ecommerce websites. Statista dug further into shopping cart abandonment, finding that complicated website navigation was responsible for 16% of customers leaving without paying, while 21% reported that the process was simply taking too long. Separately, Business Insider found that roughly $4 trillion worth of merchandise was left in shopping carts in 2014, but roughly 63% of these potential sales could have been recovered.

A strong, intuitive UI that reduces clicks and gets customers to the purchase page quickly may help to reduce abandonment. Beyond making it easy for customers to find relevant products, a good ecommerce site should require as few clicks as possible. Among the top 100 ecommerce retailers, the vast majority kept clicks-to-purchase to six or less. Amazon sets the high bar as far as clicks go, having patented the one-click process that is now licensed to many other leading retailers.

Beyond the user interface, customer service, marketing and communications, products, packaging, and various other elements will influence UX. Indeed, whenever and wherever a customer is interacting with the company, UX must be taken into consideration.

Going beyond UI to craft an amazing UX

UX goes beyond a great UI. The UX must consider the entire customer journey, and while much of that journey will be determined by the UI, some aspects won’t be. Consider pricing, product selection, and customer complaints, among other factors. A strong UX will pay close attention to these factors. By handling them right, a strong UX will help ecommerce websites establish profitable relationships with their customers.

Price is important, but there are many other elements to successful ecommerce. Sound UX strategy recognizes this. Consider Amazon, arguably the world’s preeminent ecommerce website. It’s tempting to assume that cheap prices have driven Amazon’s success. Simple economics, after all, suggests that customers want to pay the lowest price for comparable goods.

Yet Cheapism conducted a comparison of prices at Amazon, Walmart, and, finding that out of 75 items, Walmart was cheaper for 12 of the items. Amazon held the overall edge, being cheaper for 14 items. Still, when customers log onto Amazon, they can’t be certain that they will be getting the lowest prices.

Customers don’t necessarily believe that Amazon is cheaper, either. A Reuters poll found that only 2.6% of people felt that online retailers, such as Amazon, had the lowest grocery prices. Local stores were generally perceived as more affordable and offering higher quality. And yet, Amazon’s grocery sales are among its fastest growing segments, with One Click Retail estimating that Amazon’s grocery sales increased 50% in 2017 in the US, UK, and Germany.

The most affordable prices

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How can this be explained in light of the Reuters poll? If so many people believe their local grocery store offers better prices and selection, why is Amazon locking up such strong growth?

Convenience? The local grocery store may be more convenient if you need your groceries right now. You don’t have to wait, just head to the store and buy what you need. Even Amazon’s fastest delivery methods take at least a few hours, and more often, a few days. Yet Amazon offers a complete user experience that a local grocery store simply can’t compete with.

Goods can be ordered right from the website, or you can use push buttons and subscriptions to make ordering even easier. Running out of laundry detergent? You don’t have to start up your car, drive to the store, and wait in a queue. You can simply press your XX button and new detergent will be automatically sent.

Customer relationships are important components of UX

It’s tempting to focus on the most easily tangible aspects of UX, such as UI design, copy, and the products themselves. Yet the intangible elements of user experience may be even more important. Besides its powerful website, quick shipping, and low prices, Amazon is well-known for its accommodating customer service.

Customer service is increasingly being integrated directly into the user experience. Rather than requiring a customer to call an 1800 number, for example, chat programs can be integrated into websites and social media accounts. This allows for quick, easy access to customer service. Resolving issues is one way to build up trust and customer satisfaction.

Amazon is well-known for its wide selection of products, easy-to-use website, and low prices. Yet customer service is likely one of the key components that keep customers coming back. Amazon topped the UK Customer Satisfaction Index for the 5th year in a row. The index measures various components of customer service.

Top 50 Organizations for Customer Satisfaction, UK:

Amazon, first direct, Yorkshire bank

Data source:

Your user experience has to reflect your company’s brand

Impressions count. Your UX, including UI, should match your company’s brand. Consider Mercedes versus Chevrolet. Two large and very well-known automakers that sell similar products, automobiles, but target different customers and use cases. Let’s compare Mercedes’s website and branding versus Chevrolet’s:

Mercedes websiteSource:

Chevrolet websiteSource:

The Mercedes’s site features toned down colors, and marketing language that emphasizes “intelligence” and cars that are “masterpieces.” Chevrolet, on the other hand, emphasizes strength with the alive and vibrant great outdoors set as the backdrop. Two different brands, and two different UX’s. Mercedes deemphasizes price and instead distinguishes their products by luxury features. Mercedes emphasizes customer service, German engineering, and what it means to be a Mercedes owner. Chevrolet puts discounts center stage and focuses on everyday living, such as totting the family around.

Ecommerce websites will obtain the most value when their UX is closely paired with their brand. Luxury brands are usually paired with sleek, clean websites. A toy store, on the other hand, is probably going to be better serviced by an ecommerce website and brand that is fun, features bright colors, and is easy for children to relate to and interact with.

Or consider Amazon. Their “A to Z” philosophy is paired with a website that immediately leaves the impression of being a one-stop shop. Product categories are easy to sort, as are prices, features, and other attributes.

Conclusion: UX is valuable for every ecommerce website

Writing for the Harvard Business Review Peter Kriss found that not only could customer experience lead to better outcomes, but that it could be quantified. Further, the value of customer experience was rather large. A customer who enjoyed the best experience, a 10 out of 10 in Kriss’s Customer Experience measurement, spent 140% more than those who suffered through the worst customer experience.

Customer experience drives sales

As customer experience improved during Kriss’s study, revenues also increased. Providing excellent customer experience will require investments into your ecommerce website, customer service, and even branding. However, improved customer experience satisfaction should also increase sales. As a result, investments in customer experience should more than pay for themselves.

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