5 elements which will improve the online shopping experience

I’m sure we all did some kind of online shopping in the run-up to Christmas. I’m also pretty sure you are doing some online winter sales shopping to quickly get that 50% off, aren’t you? I know I am. Online shopping is an easy alternative to the bricks and mortar stores and is a growing business around the globe. In 2015, 44.3% of worldwide Internet users purchased products and services online and by 2018 this number is expected to grow to 47.3% (source). In 2014, 64% of the Belgian population purchased products or services over the internet, spending on average 153 Euros per month (source).

However, these figures aren’t only a good reason to focus more on growing profitable online operations, they also act as a motivation to create a simpler, clearer and practical shopping cart.

A good shopping cart experience is extremely important and has a major influence on whether or not the customer is going to pursue their purchase process. In the short term a great experience will increase your sales number and in the long term it will make your customers return and turn them into loyal customers. By offering a great experience, you show your customers that you care and they will leave your website with a satisfied, happier feeling. And we all know that a happy customer means in the end more revenue for the seller….

But how can you improve your shopping cart experience for the better? We’ll discuss 5 main UX aspects which in our opinion will have the most positive influence on the overall user experience.

1. The directness and simplicity of the website navigation

Did you know that 25% of online shoppers abandon their shopping cart (source) because of the website navigation complexity. Over-the-top design and cluttering a website with unnecessary icons and figures, multiple fonts and font colours or high-contrast colours can considerably decrease the completion rate.

Users will simply stop browsing your website if they first have to learn how to do it. They expect the browsing experience to be as good as on other websites, or even better. Most shoppers have visited several webshops, which, though differing, mostly have the same setup. People expect a certain standard when visiting a website. Confusing them and hoping they will still place an order by guessing or searching where they should go or what they have to do on your website is not the best strategy.

One of the best shopping carts I’ve seen is the spyder.com one. The e-commerce website is very well designed, clear and intuitive, and user attention is not distorted with unnecessary details.

2. The clarity of the labels

The accuracy and simplicity of the labels not only helps users understand quickly what the next step in the online shopping process is, it also shows them how trustworthy your business is. If the next step is “Registering”, say it clearly, not by using labels such as “Submit”, “Continue” or “Secure checkout”. Don’t try to be original or creative, make a button which does what the label suggests. In the case below, you would assume that after pressing ‘secure checkout’ you would then pay, but in reality they are asking you to register.

For this aspect, if you need a source of inspiration, a good one is the e-commerce website lecoqsportif.com. As you can see from the example below, the text on the label “Add to your cart” tells you exactly what the next step is — that you have to add your product to the cart and then go to the next step.

3. Avoiding the surprise factor

One of the things users really dislike is unwanted surprises, especially in the case of unexpected costs. 56% of online shoppers abandon their shopping cart (source) on discovering before validating their cart that they have to pay more than they expected. Be honest with your customers and show them right from the start the total cost of the item they want to purchase. If the price doesn’t include the delivery, it’s better to state it explicitly and give the user the chance to continue or cancel their order. Don’t assume your customers won’t notice, they will, and you will not only lose an order, you will also lose a potential long-term customer.

As you can see in the screenshot of the lecoqsportif.com site, the info related to delivery costs is clearly displayed from the moment the user accesses the website.

4. Using an order progress indicator

Users need to know where they are in the shopping process and how many steps it takes to complete the process. Too many unnecessary or unknown pages can decrease the checkout experience. By showing your customers a clear path, you avoid the user feeling frustrated and not knowing where they are. And the icing on the cake is that you will increase the completion rate.

5. Making user registration optional

Setting clear expectations is one of the first things to do. That’s why a good solution is to provide users two purchasing options — one for registered buyers and one for guests. The main reason for allowing users to choose how to navigate through the shopping process is that you show them that the system works properly. And as a bonus you give them a sense of freedom too. They can see the detailed information about the products, compare them, see if some discounts apply to the products they want to buy, what the eventual shipping costs might be and of course the total amount they have to pay. If they are not ready to place an order, either because they’re still browsing or are undecided at that moment, users have at least experienced how the system works. Asking the user to register should be one of the last steps in the shopping process, as in the example below. Once users have decided what they want to buy,and completed the shipping information and have their credit card details at hand, they are already psychologically prepared to spend a few extra moments registering.