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Five e-commerce UX tips to drive sales in 2021

Excellent user experience has never been more relevant or crucial, as the pandemic pushes online retailers to meet significantly changed expectations.
Read time 4min 30sec

At a time when consumers are demanding seamless, intuitive and immersive experiences online, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed cracks in the user experience (UX) strategies of several e-commerce retailers.

It has therefore become vital for retailers and brands to adopt new strategies to effectively meet rapidly changing consumer needs in a highly competitive online landscape.

In the last economic recession, McKinsey research found companies that prioritised customer experience realised three times the shareholder returns compared to the companies that did not.

The role of UX has never been more relevant or crucial. The COVID crisis has revealed that for many brands the status quo is not sustainable, and UX must mirror the new marketing reality. Thinking with the customer mind is the key to providing a robust user experience.

The pandemic has been a wake-up call for e-commerce retailers, pushing them to really get to know their core audiences to ensure they meet significantly changed expectations. There’s no question that those retailers that rethink their UX strategies, and adapt them to our new reality, will deliver impactful results.

Retailers need to take a holistic look at the entire customer lifecycle, and conduct an inventory of every touchpoint that a customer has with the business. From there, they can use that data to get a stronger understanding of audience needs, and develop a new narrative around the purchasing journey in the next normal.

These five e-commerce UX tips will be instrumental in driving sales in 2021:

1. Get personal

Customers now expect a personalised online shopping experience with multiple, personalised touchpoints that enable them to shop, browse and pay, according to their preferences. People are 40% more likely to spend more than planned when they find the shopping experience is highly personalised.

By capturing customer analytics in real-time, retailers can adjust product recommendations based on evolving trends.

There’s no question that those retailers that rethink their UX strategies, and adapt them to our new reality, will deliver impactful results.

A one-size-fits-all approach to personalised experiences no longer suffices. Leverage data as well as emerging technologies, including machine learning and artificial intelligence, to create more powerful and personalised product recommendations that can yield incredible results and boost customer loyalty.

2. Simplicity is key when it comes to checkout

Cart abandonment rates average 69.57% across industries, meaning almost two-thirds of online purchases are not completed. To minimise cart abandonment and encourage consumers to check out, make sure the checkout process is as simple and intuitive as possible.

Retailers need to create a frictionless checkout experience for customers. This can be achieved through removing all kinds of distractions from the checkout page, offering guest checkout, and integrating a variety of payment offerings, including flexible and alternative payments.

3. Provide a consistent experience across multiple channels

In the post-COVID-19 landscape, consumers are constantly moving across channels and devices. This underscores the importance of a unified omnichannel experience that ensures visitors experience consistency regardless of the platform or channel.

A robust omnichannel strategy is no longer a competitive advantage, it's an essential tool for survival that increases the brand's visibility, improves customer experience, and provides rich data about customers.

4. Slow and steady doesn’t win the race

Speed is an essential barometer of UX, especially in these times of unprecedented change. During busy periods like holidays or special calendar days, retail Web sites need to be equipped and optimised to handle additional traffic volumes throughout the year.

Some 47% of consumers expect Web sites to load in two seconds or less and 40% will abandon a page that takes three or more seconds. Every customer who bounces from the site due to load time represents a potential lost sale. If your site can’t meet the growing consumer appetite for speed, others will.

5. Make it accessible from all devices

The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of responsive design across multiple devices. A responsive Web site detects what kind of device the visitor is using and then scales images, wraps text and adjusts the layout to best fit that particular device.

A responsive e-commerce site that is optimised across all devices is a crucial weapon in a merchant’s post-pandemic marketing arsenal.

UX is a major battleground for business success in a COVID-19 world. It is clear that in the post COVID-19 retail landscape, consumers will no longer tolerate below-par online shopping experiences like they may have prior to the pandemic. Retail success post-pandemic therefore relies on a strong customer experience strategy that not only maintains but increases customer loyalty.

UX has emerged as an important tool for retailers seeking an edge in a highly competitive environment, especially as frictionless user experiences across devices and channels becomes the expected norm.

The COVID-19 crisis hasn’t just changed retail trends, it has accelerated them. It’s clear there will be no going back from the expectations and standards required in this ‘new normal’. This means those retailers that don’t actively look to improve their customer experience, particularly that of their online shoppers, are going to be left in the cold.

Derek Cikes

Commercial director at buy now, pay later fintech Payflex
Derek Cikes is commercial director at buy now, pay later fintech Payflex. He brings in-depth knowledge, experience and insights into the payment fintech and digital space, as well as the retail and e-commerce environment. His 21 years of financial services experience in building successful partnerships at Hollard for the banking, retail and motor industries plays a key role in delivering creative value for Payflex retail and industry partners.

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