A Peek Into the Customer’s Mind: What Customers Want From Ecommerce Websites
Posted: May 19, 2017
Competing in the tough and overpopulated eCommerce marketplace is difficult if you don’t have your finger on the market pulse. Simply setting up a pretty store and putting your products online is not enough. Customers are finicky, smart and increasingly hard to please with so many options and sellers wooing them simultaneously. Do you know who your primary audience is? What are their expectations from an eCommerce website? What will differentiate you from your competitors? These are some important questions to understand and fulfill customer expectations.
According to Forrester the number of Customers browsing and buying online will hit 270 million by 2020, driven largely by activity on mobile devices. This is a potential goldmine of customers for eCommerce stores of all shapes and sizes. If leveraged right, it could be very profitable and rewarding for online merchants. So, here’s a detailed look at the age-old question that perplexes business owners: What makes customers happy and what they do want (now in the context of an eCommerce website)?
Here are a few pointers and suggestions based on market surveys and consumer research. Read on to find out the essential features of an eCommerce website.
1. What Customers Want: Faster Websites
Research shows that a 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. If a web store is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second page delay could cost you $2.5 million in lost sales each year. The internet and speed of things in general have spoiled the modern, busy shopper who is well-aware of his options. If your home page doesn’t load in a few seconds, then it spells trouble in terms of bounce rates.
If you think your website is not up to speed, then consider using a content delivery network (CDN), or optimize your webstore by optimizing images, reducing HTTP requests, caching, fixing 404 errors etc. There is a lot that you can do to improve page load speeds but this should be a top priority for merchants.
2. What Customers Want: Simple UI/UX And a Decluttered Webstore
User interface and experience have a larger role to play in the shopper’s journey on your website by converting your webstore into an intuitive and friendly shopping excursion. The placement of products, the quality of images, the navigation menus – each pixel matters. Therefore, hiring a right design firm or freelance designer is very important.
Fortunately, there are many ways to get independent feedback on your website. Rope in experienced beta testers who have expertise in usability testing. There are also websites like Usertesting.com that do a fine job of stress-testing your web design from a business user perspective and providing insights.
In general, the quicker the user can travel from the landing page to the completed order, the more their chances of staying with you and coming back for more. Make the shopping cart and search bar in easy reach.
3. What Customers Want: Trust Signals
First time buyers are very wary and looking for signs and symbols of reassurance on your website. Trust is the foundation of all eCommerce and your website needs to relay these trust signals strategically so that it inspires faith in potential buyers.
Customers now know that a padlock on your website and a green bar in the browser window means it is trustworthy. Every eCommerce site must have a basic SSL certificate not only because it is quite easy to implement, but also because it is the right thing to do.
Some other signals that make customers feel secure include – security badges like Symantec, Comodo, TRUSTe, Better Business Bureau etc. Using recognizable trust badges and placing them at specific sections of your website like payment and checkout can be fruitful. Also, provide contact information ensuring there are more than one ways to reach their business if you have any queries. Provide links to social media channels and accounts to establish authenticity.
4. What Customers Want: Shopping Cart and Ease of Transaction
It is surprising that many eCommerce websites go wrong where it hits them the worst – in the shopping cart and checkout process. Customers expect transparency in pricing and ease of checkout. And there are more than one ways that eCommerce websites wreck this up. Some of the common culprits are: hidden shipping and delivery charges, additional cost for Cash on Delivery, rejecting certain payment gateways, requiring users to create accounts before they can place an order.
A well-thought out shopping cart offers multiple payment options, real-time inventory, express checkout and a meticulous order-tracking process that keeps the consumer in the loop after the transaction. One factor that websites ignore is the use of bigger buttons from the accessibility perspective. Shoppers are in a hurry and checkout pages often have too much information. Buttons for going back, to continue, delete, update cart must be clearly visible with sufficient color contrast to the background.
Many websites have now introduced the Proceed as Guest feature to allow customers to continue shopping without having to create an account. The addition of this single feature can enhance conversion rates greatly because nobody likes filling out forms and it is very convenient for those in a hurry – which most shoppers are.
5. What Customers Want: Easy and Free Product Returns
One of the daunting aspects of virtual retail is the returns process and policy. There are many ways of handling a return request. Customers may need to contact you for a return package or they should be able to print a self-service return package label. Research shows that people prefer to buy products offline only because the returns are easier. Therefore, making returns hassle-free for the consumer should be the priority of every online store.
In fact, data from Walker Sands shows that the possibility of free returns encourages 65 percent of users to buy from websites as opposed to physical retail, and easier returns motivate some 51 percent of respondents.
Formulate a buyer-friendly returns policy and promote it well. Publish this information at strategic touchpoints in the transaction – on product pages and shopping cart pages. Magento is one of the more robust choices of CMS that allow you to customize your storefront to a great degree. If you are looking to outsource your eCommerce development, then there are highly skilled Magento developers in India who may deliver on expectation.
In Conclusion: Customers are discerning and expect a lot from the modern eCommerce store. Your webstore investment must be aligned to these high expectations and stand out from the competition. Do you have any tips that can make a webstore more accessible and consumer-friendly? Please share in the comments section below.
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