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NICE inContact February 12 webinar

Designing a Winning E-Commerce Customer Experience

By Athar Naqi
Jan 11, 2020 4:00 AM PT
optimize e-commerce website design for an excellent customer experience and boost sales

In 2020, an optimized digital customer experience can tip the balance toward gaining a purchase instead of losing a customer. Excellent CX has transitioned firmly from something nice to have to a business requirement.

No matter how good a product or service is, the e-commerce Web and mobile design surrounding it will play a key role in maintaining engagement and ensuring consumers complete their shopping journey. Even the slightest friction, such as poor load speeds, can drive users away from a site, resulting in an immediate lost sale.

In fact, research shows that "53 percent of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load."

E-commerce businesses can optimize their CX by implementing effective design and technology tips and tricks.

E-commerce design best practices alter over time due to shifts in consumer behavior, such as the population increasingly choosing mobile devices over desktop to shop. It often doesn't matter how good your product or service offering is. If your site looks outdated, or if it is confusing to use from a consumer's perspective, you'll lose a sale.

Following are the top features and functionalities for creating an exceptional CX for online shoppers.

1. Dark Mode

Dark mode switches the background of a mobile operating system to black, reducing eye strain in some environments, enabling mobile devices to adjust better to ambient lighting conditions, and (since black pixels on a mobile phone are turned off) extending battery life.

Recently several social media platforms, including Twitter, released dark mode versions of their apps. This practice is expected to extend to e-commerce sites and applications in 2020.

The increase in customers who choose to shop via social media has amplified the practical application of dark mode for e-commerce retailers. When customers are redirected to an external site, dark mode functionality will improve the consistency and reduce friction.

2. Accessibility for All

Designing for accessibility helps e-commerce companies better serve shoppers with disabilities, and avoids lawsuits alleging that sites are not accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

To avoid implementing features that are difficult to use or incompatible with devices required by users with disabilities, designers must ensure that sites are following Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

3. Smooth Navigation

Where does your site's navigation menu button appear when it's accessed from a mobile device? Typically, buttons appear at the top left- or right-hand corners of screens, to replicate desktop versions. How useful is that on a mobile device?

Instead, e-cCommerce sites are starting to position navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen to help ease frustrations and facilitate thumb use, putting the end user first. This makes sense, as 94 percent of smartphone users hold devices vertically, research indicates.

4. Minimalism and Simplicity

The "less is more" principle applies to e-commerce Web design, and many sites are moving away from intrusive design features such as pop-ups and widgets.

Sites with minimal design and a simplified shopping journey allow more white space, opting for relatively larger fonts, and focusing on simple navigation.

Too much content and functionality in an industry that is, by nature, image-led is offputting for users and may lead to cart abandonment.

5. Content-Centric Designs

A content-centric design provides information that shoppers need to discover new products or make purchases.

Consumers are now "the experts," because they're able to research products and services independently. Content-centric design enables this and, in turn, improves the user experience.

It's useful to remember that 83 percent of online shoppers intend to do something other than make a purchase when visiting a brand's website for the first time, according to an Episerver report.

To give your visitors what they want, fill your website with relevant educational content and offer interactive experiences to build a rapport with your audience. This tactic will help position your brand not only as a vendor that people buy from, but also as a company that really cares about creating a positive connection with shoppers, which ultimately helps you build brand loyalty and more sales.

6. Powerful Microinteractions

If you're fully up to speed with a user-centric design, you may already be aware of the power of "microinteractions." This term refers to small, subtle features on a website that grab audience attention.

Microinteractions are the finishing touches that add to the overall experience visitors get at a website. The idea is to help businesses that operate in crowded marketplaces to stand out.

They include items such as scrolling visuals, sound effects, confirmation messages, hover animations and transition animations. Another example of a microinteraction is enhancing the view of products, as when informative text is displayed when users hover over an item image. Another is the use of animation to track checkout progression.

Microinteractions add to the overall experience visitors get at an e-commerce site and can be used strategically to push consumers to completing a sale.

As technology progresses, more microinteraction capabilities will be available to integrate with any e-commerce site. These features are not brand new, but they became popular in 2019 and are likely to gain more prominence in 2020.

7. Well-Timed Chatbots

Chatbots have come a long way since they were introduced. They once were seen as clunky, automated, soulless systems, but artificial intelligence and machine learning have changed that perception, and they now add a lot of value to sites.

When powered by industry-leading technology, chatbots can help enhance a consumer's online experience with a brand, provide shopping assistance and answer questions, at any time, which makes them a winner for international e-commerce sites that attract visitors from all around the world in different time zones.

One caveat about chatbots: Use them with precision timing. For example, there's no point in activating a chatbot when a user has just landed onto a page, as it can cause distraction.

8. Voice Purchases

More online shoppers are beginning to turn to voice for their e-commerce needs. In 2018, 12 percent of online shoppers used voice devices to research multiple times a month or more frequently, Episerver research suggests, and this figure grew to 22 percent in 2019.

When it comes to buying products and services by voice, 17 percent of online shoppers made multiple voice purchases a month in 2019. up from 11 percent in 2018.

A voice-enabled checkout process represents a growing opportunity for e-commerce businesses in 2020, especially for mobile devices. Enabling voice input will distinguish your site from the pack.

9. Personalized Privacy

While it's clear that personalization provides benefits when it comes to customer experience, privacy now plays a more dominant role in shoppers' buying decisions.

Proactively offering personalized privacy as part of your CX will build trust and transparency between your brand and your customers.

For example, send communications and content that educates consumers on how their information is used and stored.

10. Frictionless Checkout

Create frictionless checkout by implementing data and technology integrations that increase speed and convenience for customers.

To make checkouts "frictionless," you must begin with your data -- and this is even more important for e-commerce sites that operate on an international scale.

By having access to accurate international address data and offering multiple payment and currency options, you can streamline the checkout process for your users, and optimize checkout flows.

In addition, functionalities such as enabling guest checkout, simplifying form fills, and using predictive type-ahead technology that autocompletes an address as it is being typed can help ease data input and reduce errors.

Watch Sales Soar

By introducing the above functions on your e-commerce site you'll improve your customers' online experience.

That in turn will help to boost brand loyalty and trust, and have a positive impact on your overall sales.


Athar Naqi is head of strategic alliances at Loqate, a location intelligence specialist.


NICE inContact February 12 webinar
How do you feel about government regulation of the U.S. tech industry?
Big tech companies are abusing their monopoly power and must be reined in.
Stronger regulations to protect consumer data definitely are needed.
Regulations stifle innovation and should be kept to the barest minimum.
Over-regulation could give China and other nations an unfair advantage.
Outdated antitrust laws should be updated prior to serious regulatory efforts.
Tech companies should regulate themselves to avoid government intervention.
NICE inContact February 12 webinar