Most Important Webstore Elements for a Shopper’s User Experience

September 18, 2015

Digital Marketing Mel Hoeppner By Mel Hoeppner

These days, creating a webstore can be a fairly simple project. With Shopify, Bigcommerce and other platforms providing user-friendly templates, a decent webstore can be up and running with the use of just a little HTML and light JavaScript. Sounds great, right? Before you sign on the dotted line, keep in mind that competition is fiercer than ever. But don’t worry, we’ll clue you in on the elements needed to rise above the crowd and ensure your customer experience exceeds expectations.

Go Mobile

If your site isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you’re definitely missing the mark on an important webstore element and valuable traffic to your site. Not only will you lose a chance to organically convert shoppers browsing from their phones, but you’ll miss out on opportunities to drive paid traffic via mobile ad campaigns as well. Google also recently announced that on some mobile queries, three text ads — as opposed to the previous two — will now appear. This provides more valuable real estate to retailers. Only being optimized for desktop traffic means you’ll continue to forgo opportunities like this to showcase your brand!

Likewise, a recent comScore study revealed that in the US, millennials (ages 18-34) spend 61% of their digital media time on their phones. But it’s not just millennials who love to use mobile devices. ComScore also noted the age group represented by 35-to-54-year-olds clocked in with about 50% of their digital media use coming from mobile phones. Because of this mobile saturation, our most important piece of advice is to take advantage of a responsive (mobile-optimized) template when creating a webstore. Check out Shopify and Bigcommerce for specific mobile features offered by both!

Create Granular Filtering and Deep Categorization

Have you ever taken a look at Amazon’s filtering experience after entering a search query?  Amazon uses what’s called faceted search — a product-specific filtering method allowing shoppers the ability to drill down their search query further with a selection of applicable attributes. This feature usually appears on the left-hand side of the web page and can help speed up the shopping experience and, in turn, conversion of a shopper. Right now only 40% of top websites are using this, but it’s a brilliant element retailers can use to give customers more control of their searches.

A categorization tree is another organizational feature to include on your site to help make it appealing to today’s shoppers. Your categorization tree should be configured in a way that makes sense for your products and goes deep enough to get customers where they need to be. As a rule of thumb, your tree should go at least two levels deep, but three is preferable for today’s buyer. For example, if you sell apparel, make dresses a first-level category. Then add a second level that allows a browser to drill down further, to categories such as business-casual dresses, sundresses, etc.

Faceted search and deep categorization trees are available through Shopify and Bigcommerce.

Be a “Hero”

Grab the attention of unique visitors hitting your homepage by utilizing templates that allow you to display large hero images above the fold. Most new templates have easy drag-and-drop functionalities allowing you to add these images as carousels. Carousels can either auto-rotate or you can add small arrows and icons that allow users to browse at their own pace. Make sure the images are clear and swapped out frequently. Common themes seen frequently in this particular real estate on webstores include best sellers, seasonal items, sales and editor’s picks.

Get Your Cart in Check

The average abandoned cart rate is 68.53%. Just like customers who grow frustrated at long lines in stores, setbacks during checkout can have your online shoppers running for the hills. To speed things along, consider a single-page checkout, such as the one offered by Bigcommerce. This checkout process lists steps that can be completed on one page without annoying reloads.

Other tips to increase checkout conversions include listing a clear spot for customers to add coupon codes, pre-selecting billing/shipping addresses and offering free shipping. Free shipping will be the most important tool to keep customers on track during checkout. If you already have lean margins, you’re better off baking the shipping cost in during the onset and increasing the price. No one likes to be surprised with a deeper hit to the wallet — especially when they’re one step away from placing an order.

The Bottom Line

Many webstore elements will make or break the user experience on your site. Be sure to take advantage of the functionality offered by the platforms you choose and don’t steer away from adding a feature because it seems time-consuming or complicated — chances are it’s not all that difficult.

Bigcommerce and Shopify are two platforms that are both easy to use and offer the bolts and nuts to build your masterpiece. Just make sure you have the appropriate resources in place before you dive in.


Blog post written by Mel Hoeppner, enterprise account manager, ChannelAdvisor

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