Ranjit Dhillon Shares Expert Knowledge On E-commerce, Ecommerce, E commerce Websites, Online Shops, Shopping Carts, Online Stores, E-business, Website Ecommerce And Webstores
Usability and a good customer experience is one of the most important determinants for the success of all e-commerce sites. The first law of e-commerce states: “if the customer can’t find the product or service, the customer cannot buy the product or service.” In fact, there are many additional usability concerns in e-commerce beyond the simple ability to locate a desired product or service.
Each and every usability deficiency in a design becomes an obstacle to the shopper’s ability and willingness to buy. Low usability equals lost sales. It’s as simple as that.
In simple terms, the success of an e-commerce site can be described with the following formula:
Unique-Visitors x Conversion-Rate = Sales
Increasing the first number is the goal of your marketing budget. Increasing the second number is the goal of your usability (UX) budget. In almost all e-commerce companies, the relative size of the two budgets is such that the greatest increases in sales will come from increasing the investment in usability (UX). After all, to increase the desired outcome by a certain percentage, you can increase either of the two deciding parameters by that percentage. To increase visits by 10% usually requires an increase of much more than 10%, in an already-large advertising budget. But the conversion rate can be increased by 10% through even the smallest usability project, if the site has never been subjected to systematic usability evaluation.
For the first few years of online and e-business, more attention was focused on the number of unique visitors to a site. Companies were sometimes valued based on this number instead of their real business models or ability to derive revenues and profits from the visitors. Getting people to your site certainly still matters; having the best site does no good if nobody knows about it. But it is at least as important to make sure visitors are satisfied and turn into customers.
This second problem is the focus on usability and the goal of our design guidelines. Of course, reality is more complex. It also matters how much each customer buys and whether people become loyal customers. These parameters are also highly affected by usability. The more pleasant and trustworthy a site seems, the more likely people are to return. The easier it is for shoppers to find what they are looking for, the more they buy. And the more that product descriptions and other content satisfy customers’ needs the more likely they are to spring for-high-ticket items.
Why people abandon E-Commerce websites
Is online and mobile really the ultimate customer-empowering environment? The Internet as a whole is empowering, because consumers have the power to click over to the competition at the slightest whim. Why then do websites so often leave people feeling powerless? The internet increases accessibility and defies geographical barriers. But e-commerce websites often decrease accessibility and make it easier just to go to the nearest shop.
Online websites as a whole are all about choice. The range of places available for people to do business is astounding, the options almost endless. Individual websites, however, often don’t give people the flexibility that a physical shop provides. Shoppers in physical shops have more power than those on e-commerce websites. Shoppers in physical shops can approach an expert (a sales assistant or even a fellow shopper), to ask questions, explain their problems, and get recommendations. If shoppers want to compare similar items in a shop, they can usually view the items side by side.
One of the oldest, guidelines for usable interaction design is to increase the users’ sense of control and freedom. It feels good to be in control. It feels bad to be dominated by a machine. There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as operations that happen only once and when it may be better to abandon responsibility and let the system take over.
Viewed overall, the internet encourages unparalleled user freedom with its millions of sites to choose from. In many user studies, people sometimes browse several sites in parallel, which gives them even more control over where they shop and when they leave I site that is too difficult to use. In contrast, users are often completely powerless over the details of their destiny oil individual sites. They can leave at any time, but if they stay, they are locked into the site’s way of doing things.
The contrast with physical shops is great: shops empower shoppers by allowing them to change tactics if ‘something isn’t working for them. If you get a lousy salesperson in a large shop, you can look for a different one. If the shop map doesn’t help you find the department you need, you can ask a salesperson or a fellow customer for help. If the item that you need is not available, good salespeople will help you to locate items in other departments or at other locations and have items sent to you directly. Good shops know that it’s not enough for the shop to look nice; it must act nice as well. They Support the customer’s total experience, including location, staffing, returns, payments sales and so on. Too often e-commerce sites focus on looking attractive or cool, without investing in the underlying needs of their customers.
A superior e-commerce site would put its customers in control of shopping again, by offering the best of both worlds: convenience, good product selections, price and feature comparisons, flexible strategies for locating products, and-helpful customer service. Whenever people have the options they want, they feel powerful and in control. Unfortunately, most websites don’t provide a user experience that feels like, shopping – instead the experience feels like searching, which is not the shopper’s goal.
People want to shop (or find) in a way that seems natural to them, not to search or struggle using web tools and features that offer inflexible ways to do things. Worse, these tools and features are often built without any regard for how real users think, group things, name things. or approach their problems.
Physical shops aren’t perfect – far from it. Frustration abounds in traditional shopping, caused by lack of parking, crowds, annoying salespeople, better prices for the same goods in other shops, and products being out of stock. It is harder to abandon a shop and shop at a different one instead. Sure, you can walk out of one shop and drive to another, but it’s a hassle. And would the next shop be any better, or might you have to drive to the next town if you’re still not satisfied’? So in the physical world, people have a great incentive to shop where they are.
When shoppers don’t get what they want, they leave the shop, on-line or not. But they leave more readily on the Web. In the physical world it is fairly difficult to get to another shop but very easy to try alternative ways of getting what you want in tile current shop. In the on-line world, it is extremely easy to visit another e-commerce site but very painful to stay and attempt to get the current site to satisfy your needs.
Usability is the answer to this dilemma. Help your visitors get what they want. Make your site easy, fast, smooth, and pleasant. Watch people stay; watch sales increase.
Increases sales from 100% to 400%
Most e-commerce and online businesses closely guard their sales numbers, so there is not much publicly known about increased usability’s effect on sales. In many cases, however, I’ve found that sales can increase by 100% to 400% when an e-commerce site launches an improved user interface.
Exactly how much do different degrees of usability impact sales? We don’t know for sure. All expert – research proves is which design elements work, which designs are too difficult to use, and that poor usability call prevent a large proportion of’ users from being able to shop on a site. If a site follows more of the usability guidelines, it is natural to expect sales to increase, but usability cannot scientifically predict how much sales will grow.
We can speculate about the causes of the huge sales increases we often see. It appears that given two sites with the same merchandise and prices, people tend to choose the website that’s easiest to use and ease of use is perceived as a sign of trustworthiness.
One of the most likely explanations for the growth in sales that results from improved usability is that people recognize and prefer good service and high quality websites.
As a simplified example, let’s consider two websites that sell a similar item. Let us furthermore assume that Site A is 10% easier to shop at than Site B. If a person finds both sites in a search engine, then where will that person end up buying’? Site A Will probably win in many more than 10% of the cases.
Further, let’s say that some shoppers make an initial purchase from both sites. Where will these customers turn for their next purchase? People will be more likely to choose Site A because it is easier to use. Quite likely, Site A could sell 100% more than Site B, even though it was only 10% easier to use.
A second explanation for why a good customer experience increases sales is related to trust a site that is easier to use sends the message that the company behind the site cares about its customers and has a commitment to good customer service. If it is easy to find the product the shopper wants to buy, and if the product description is easy to understand and answers all the person’s questions, then he or she may believe that the company is likely to deliver the goods it promised and that the shipment will be in good shape and arrive on time.
People may also assume that the ease of shopping indicates that getting support or other help would be easy too. Such user predictions are more emotional than logical, because there is no reason to expect that a company that has a high-quality web design should necessarily have a high-quality fulfilment department or a responsive support centre. But people are quite likely to transfer their impression of the quality of the user experience onto their expectations for other aspects of the customer’s relationship.