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Conversion Optimization

20 UX principles for higher conversions (Updated 2023)

The best way to nail your UX? Get people excited! Give them a reason to explore your complete eCommerce website. Here’s how you can do that.

20 UX principles for higher conversions (Updated 2023)

Your website’s on-site customer experience is judged in two dimensions:

  1. How easy it is for your customers to find and buy from you
  2. How well you present yourself as a company

Having these two dimensions secure will encourage a visitor to stick around and move beyond your landing page.

When it comes to getting people to convert, your website (and its customer experience) is your number one product. It’s where you’ll capture leads, build trust, and nurture your audience.

It’s important to do it right. Luckily for you, figuring out what works isn’t hard!

From benchmarks on what consumers value and an in-depth look at consumer psychology, you can craft an on-site experience that shoppers would want to continuously come back to. 

Don’t worry, we’ve done the research for you. As you read further, you’ll discover 20 ways to improve the customer experience on your site to grow your checkout rates. 

20 ways to elevate your On-Site customer experience

Functional Design

1. Make search seamless

Up to 30% of eCommerce visitors use internal site search.

So, as an eCommerce store, an unoptimized search experience can cause you to lose shoppers.

By testing your search experience and enabling better site search technology, you can drastically improve your revenue.

Here’s a quick eCommerce checklist you can implement to improve your on-site search:

  • Add the search bar at the top of your website for easy access
  • Enable autocomplete so that shoppers don’t have to type in the entire keyword
  • Autocorrect typos to avoid returning empty search results, removing this friction from the shopping experience entirely
  • Add synonyms for uncommon keywords to show relevant results and sell more
  • Avoid showing “No results” to your shoppers. To do this, you can add customized recommendations and content suggestions on your empty search results page

See how Amazon has optimized their search results to show all relevant results, and hence a wider collection of their catalog?

Nail That UX: Make search seamless
Pro Tip: No results? No problem! You can still use the page as an opportunity to showcase product recommendations that are similar or would be of interest to the visitor.

2. Aim for speed

When a shopper lands on a website with great load speed, they don’t even notice it. But when the site takes time to load, it’s the only thing that matters, causing the shopper to leave as soon as they land.

57% of consumers will abandon a site that doesn’t load within three seconds. And 80% of those people will never come back.

If you haven’t optimized your site speed and kept your eCommerce functionality breezy, it’s crucial to make it your top priority. Without a fast-loading site, the rest of your on-site optimizations won’t even matter. 

Here are a few tips to keep your site fast: 

  • Reduce your image sizes
  • Remove redundant and additional code
  • Avoid sliders on your homepage and stick to banners instead
  • Keep your pop-ups to a minimum
  • Remove broken links

Faster pages mean a better user experience, which means people will be more likely to purchase from you. One way to make sure your product page load speed is up to par is by using Google PageSpeed Insights test.

Google PageSpeed Insights
Pro Tip: Try and ensure all your web pages load within 4 seconds. Otherwise, you risk losing up to 40% of visitors. 

3. Check on your 404’s

What’s the one thing you want to avoid at all costs when developing a complete eCommerce website? A 404 page.

These are notorious for leaving users in frustration and confusion, and will often damage trust with your user in creating a positive experience.

A 404 error page comes up when a user tries to access a page that is no longer available. This occurs when:

  • The URL (or the content on the page) was deleted or moved to another page
  • The URL was coded incorrectly, linked wrongly, or filled in incorrectly
  • The connection is broken and the server is unable to meet the request
  • The domain name no longer exists or cannot be read by the Domain Name System

However, fixing — or even avoiding — a 404 need not be difficult. You can sign up with Google Webmasters and check if there are any crawler issues on your UX site.

Most importantly, remember this. While it is important to avoid their occurrence, it is best to prepare for them. Create a useful 404 page that is customized, basic, and offers direction to the index page and 2 - 3 other pages that will be of value to the customer.

Here’s a cool example from Blue Nile:

Nail That UX: Check on your 404's
Pro Tip: Use a free tool such as BrokenLinkCheck to check internal and external links, find unsuccessful HTTP response codes, and locate 404s in your HTML. 

4. Keep security top-notch

When buying online, one of the biggest stumbling blocks is a website’s security. If your one page shopping website does not look secure enough, customers will not buy from you.

Think about it this way. You spend a lot of time and energy building your brand as trustworthy, but what’s the point if your customers can’t see it? 

Do you know what would happen if your customers saw trust badges on your homepage, a green padlock next to your website address, or an HTTPS connection? They'll have full confidence in your website and what it has to offer.

Here’s an eCommerce checklist you can adopt to improve your website security today:

  • Update your software and plug-ins, and do it regularly
  • Add HTTPS and SSL certificates
  • Get a Web Application Firewall
  • Understand your Web Server Configuration files
  • Change the default settings on your CMS and make them more secure

And if you need any more reason, check out this example from eBay. See how you immediately feel secure looking at their security measures?

Nail That UX: Keep security top-notch
Pro Tip: Use a tool like Sucuri SiteCheck that will check your entire website for any form of security threats and offer insight into your current status. So, you know where you stand and where to go from there.

5. Ensure your website looks legit

While online shoppers are growing in number, they still hold a great deal of skepticism when it comes to purchasing from an eCommerce store. This is particularly true for first-time buyers who are still unsure whether your business is genuine.

Unlike retail stores, eCommerce stores need to work harder to come across as credible and trustworthy.

However, through a few trust-building features on your store, you can make visitors feel safe about purchasing from your brand:

  • Use a reputable domain that is unique to your brand and uses a high-quality extension such as .com or .io
  • Prioritize content. Ensure that your images, grammar, graphics are all in high definition and original
  • Build a community and showcase testimonials, user generated content, social media, etc. every chance you get

When you look at a brand like The Ordinary, you know they’re legit. Why? Because they encourage their customers to speak for them. 

Nail That UX: Ensure your website looks legit
Pro Tip: Use a tool like URLVoid to check if any page on your website may fall under malicious intent.

Interaction Design

1. Keep visitors engaged

Here’s a fun fact: 38% of respondents like it when companies include games or interactive features along with the shopping experience. 

By adding immersive experiences, you can connect with different kinds of customers.

  • For new visitors, you can form a great first impression and make them eager to stay on and subscribe to your email list
  • Shoppers unsure of which product to buy will be able to find the right product, increasing your revenue
  • You can also get shoppers to stay on your eCommerce store for longer, increasing engagement

One of the best ways to make your on-site experience engaging is by setting up interactive quizzes.

Such features serve two purposes:

  • They help shoppers find the right product
  • They make the session more memorable for the shopper

Such quizzes can also be used as an entertainment element, like Fabletics has done here. Here, they give the shoppers an opportunity to find leggings that will perfectly match their style and preference.

Nail That UX: Keep visitors engaged
Pro Tip: Three things make a great eCommerce quiz: a snappy title that immediately converts, an easy-to-follow format, and options that actually show customers your range of products.

2. Simplify navigation

Your website has a mission: nurturing leads and turning them into customers.

However, for your sales funnel to work perfectly, people have to understand how it works, and some sort of direction is needed. This is where your UX site navigation comes in.

No one likes getting lost on a website, and creating intuitive and seamless navigation goes a long way in leading your shoppers towards conversions.

Here’s an eCommerce checklist that will simplify your website navigation:

  • Use plenty of categories that are organized well and clearly visible
  • Prominently feature products that are bestsellers or on sale
  • Have autocomplete suggestions on your search results
  • Pair search results with quick yet detailed hover-through options for each product
  • Avoid ‘no results’ and instead show results for related terms, synonyms, and spelling errors

Need some visual cues? Check out this example from Chewy and draw inspiration for your own website.

Nail That UX: Simplify navigation
Pro Tip: Dive into your Google Analytics insights to view your customers’ navigation flow and display relevant suggestions and personalized recommendations at each checkpoint.

3. Offer on-site support

From sizing queries to refund doubts, shoppers online have a lot of questions before they purchase. If you don’t provide ways to answer their questions, they’re sure to opt for your competitor instead. 

Live chat is one of the best to connect with your shoppers and help them with their queries. Due to their instant response rates, live chats have a 92% satisfaction rate, helping brands convert 30% more shoppers than they usually would.

You can set up live chats and assign agents to respond to queries in real-time. Live chat tools also have in-built autoresponders to solve queries instantly with pre-written messages. Your shoppers can solve their queries and start checking out products more confidently.

Brands like Sweaty Betty use live chat to let their customers know that they are there in case they run into any issues.

Nail That UX: Offer on-site support
Pro Tip: Use a smart AI tool to set up Instant Answers and solve quick queries without even needing to bring in a customer service representative.

4. Prioritize responsive design

A responsive eCommerce functionality is the most effective way to address cross platform compatibility and make sure your website will work properly on any device.

Making your eCommerce site responsive puts your customers at ease because they don't have to resize their browser windows to purchase from you.

It helps cater to all users and maintains a positive user experience, no matter the device they use.

Plus, bringing in responsive design is not hard work. All you have to do is:

  • Test your current responsiveness with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Tool
  • Understand which elements aren’t working and find a solution
  • Check your site speed on different devices
  • Determine whether your navigation needs to be improved
  • Ensure your website looks good across all devices

Here’s a quick example from SkinnyTies of a website that looks good (and works well) across several devices.

Nail That UX: Prioritize responsive design
Pro Tip: Remember, different devices are used differently. Check for finger taps! Ensure your navigation, menus, and bars are all accessible for both fingers and styluses.

5. Keep forms to the point

When building forms for your website, you want to make them as easy to fill out as possible. This means removing all obstacles for the user and getting straight to the point without any confusion.

That’ll help in two ways:

  • It’ll really help people who are interested but short on time (like most people are)
  • It’ll also help you connect with the floaters — those who are curious but not yet invested enough to make a sale

In fact, most brands these days only ask for two things when signing users up: name and email. If they need more information, they then follow that up with a more detailed form request — and usually customers are happy to oblige. That’s where your foot-in-the-door technique comes into play.

See this example from Zara? They’ve only asked for the email and — guess what — it works.

Nail That UX: Keep forms to the point
Pro Tip: When it comes to email capture, have no more than three fields: name, email, and phone number or demographic detail (such as date of birth, location, etc).

Content Design

1. Show off UGC

When looking for information about a product, 51% of US consumers trust user-generated content more than other information on a company website.

User-generated content, or UGC, is an excellent way to make your site seem genuine and for new visitors to understand how regulars feel about your products.

If you collect photo reviews or ask customers to share photos of them using your products, you can use these images on your storefront and even your social media.

Online consumers who are discovering your brand will see these user images and be able to get a more authentic look at your products.

With campaigns such as #CampVibes, outdoor clothing retailer Poler is one of the best examples of how you can involve your customers in your marketing efforts without having to spend loads of money on advertising.

Nail That UX: Show off UGC
Pro Tip: Conduct hashtag contests and social media giveaways to encourage your audience to create content and share it with their friends. Use the UGC collected on your social media and link it with your website so it is consistently updated with fresh, personal content. 

2. Build a brand & stay consistent with it

Customers are put off by online stores that have inconsistent messaging on different pages. For instance, a brand might use a gentle tone on one page and an excited salesy tone on another. This only confuses your visitor and tarnishes the connection they would have with your brand.

How you present your brand matters. For this, you need to understand your customers, define your brand voice, and based on that, craft your design and copy. Through this process, you'll be able to appeal to your customers better and stay consistent across your site.

Many eCommerce stores also define their personality to make their brand more relatable. Innocent Drinks, for instance, has mastered its brand personality. This UK-based brand has a fun and witty personality, which is clearly displayed through its copy, design, and social media pages.

Nail That UX: Build a brand & stay consistent with it
Pro Tip: Ensure you have the four essential brand components: a characteristic brand identity, strong brand image, inspiring brand culture, and a relatable brand personality.

3. Play with consumer psychology

Consumers love rewards! 48% of consumers like when sites or apps allow shoppers to earn points by making purchases. 

With a loyalty program, you can make shoppers buy frequently, turning one-time customers into loyal shoppers. When planning your loyalty program, set rewards for different activities taken by the shopper, from signing up to making their first purchase to referring someone new.

You can craft fun, automated messages to inform customers about the rewards they’ve earned and remind them when their points are about to expire. 

Evy's Tree is a fashion brand that has been able to increase its customer retention rate by 58% with a loyalty program.

Nail That UX: Play with consumer psychology
Pro Tip: Most loyalty programs fail due to a lack of flexibility, value to customer, and multi-channel experience. Find these faults in your program and fix them by prioritizing the customer experience.

4. Use clever visual hierarchy

Why is it that when you visit a UX site you’re drawn to certain areas of the page? It’s because the site uses a visual hierarchy. 

Visual hierarchy can be achieved by structuring information in a certain order, which will make it possible for users to scan the page and notice what’s important.

The main reason you should use a visual hierarchy is to make it easy for your visitors to read and understand your web pages.

In fact, improving your website’s visual hierarchy is one of the best ways to increase your conversion rate.

See what Poo-Pourri does here? They grab your attention with a clever visual hierarchy that directs how you view the overall page.

Nail That UX: Use clever visual hierarchy
Pro Tip: The most important thing in setting a visual hierarchy is defining and highlighting your purpose. Use contrasting colors, varied fonts and sizes, and symmetry to reflect your purpose, set a rhythm and give direction to the viewers.

5. Always be original

Customers want a unique experience when they visit your site. From their initial landing page to any call to action, customers want an original experience that reflects your brand and products.

Trust us when we say this: Your customers will enjoy your website more with easy navigation, clear photos, and easy-to-read stories on your website.

Plus, it is not hard to source this either. Here are a few things you can try:

  • Create original content with photographers, stylists, etc. Look into a collaboration, if you need to
  • Run UGC (user generated content) campaigns and source content from customers
  • Ask employees to share their own thoughts on your products
  • Ask partners to vet your products and write something that reflects your brand

Pattern Beauty, for instance, understands its customers well. They speak for their community and have even developed content that resonates with them — from the colors to the copy, everything conveys boldness, happiness, and power. These are values that its customers aspire to embody. 

Nail That UX: Always be original
Pro Tip: Include UGC as a regular part of your content strategy. That way, you will have organic, authentic content that you can repurpose across several channels of your content marketing strategy.
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eCommerce Design

1. Nail the catalog

Ever landed on an eCommerce store and weren’t sure where to find the product of your choice?

An unorganized product catalog makes it harder for your store visitors to find what they are looking for, frustrating them, and causing them to drop off your store.

Planning your product catalog better improves your engagement, getting shoppers to check out faster.

Here are a few tips to consider when structuring your catalog:

  • Plan out your broader collections and catalog structure from scratch. You can take inspiration from leading brands and how they’ve structured their catalog. 
  • Add popular collections to the navigation menu for easy access. You can also look at your analytics to understand which collection pages have the most views and plan your menu items accordingly. 
  • Structure all your product titles in a templatized manner, including the keyword to describe the product. This satisfies your customers and helps you rank on search.

See how easy it is for a visitor to find exactly what they are looking for, in this catalog from Cookbook Village? They can also easily explore the collection and find other things that interest them.

Nail That UX: Nail the catalog
Pro Tip: Make it easy for visitors to find and filter through your catalog. Have clearly defined categories and options to Filter and Sort based on preferences such as price, ratings, popularity, etc.

2. Use eCommerce personalization like a pro

Did you know? 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a business that offers a personalized shopping experience.

By providing a personalized on-site experience, you can deliver exclusivity and make your brand more relatable.

Shoppers would then be more likely to spend time on your store since your recommendations are tailored to them, helping you sell more.

Leading eCommerce brands, like ThriveMarket, display recommendations that are tailored to their customers at pivotal touchpoints on their website.

This helps their customer find the items they would want to buy, bring them back into the buying funnel, and prevents abandonment.

Nail That UX: Use eCommerce personalization like a pro
Pro Tip: Use quizzes, track cookies, and use tools like Web Engage to develop user personas, and then target consumers when they are most likely to convert: right before checkout (upselling), during checkout (cross-selling), and after checkout (down-selling). 

3. Highlight reviews

Here’s the truth: 85% of consumers read online reviews about a local business before making a buying decision.

So, having good testimonials on your website is important — and they’re not hard to get either. You can always ask past customers to review products they’ve bought and set up automated messages to collect reviews from customers post-purchase. 

This way, when new visitors land on a one page shopping website, they can read customer reviews and be assured that the item is of high-quality.

Many brands, like Shein, even reward customers with a discount or loyalty points when they leave a review on a purchased item, especially if they add pictures of them using the product. 

Nail That UX: Highlight reviews
Pro Tip: Allow customers the chance to filter out reviews through well-rated, poorly rated, those with pictures, etc. This will help them get a full picture of the product they are looking at.

4. Be clever with verification

Verification badges assure customers that your payment gateway is secure. These badges show the logos of the different payment methods available on your site.

Despite being a small visual element, they made a difference! More than 80% of consumers feel more secure making a purchase when trustworthy card logos are displayed on the payment page. 

You can display these trust badges on your footer, cart page, and most importantly, on the payment page. Besides the badges, you can also add information about your refund policy, making your policies more transparent.

Example of trust badges
Pro Tip: Always ensure you have a valid and active SSL certificate. Having one allows browsers to give positive feedback on your website in the form of a green padlock next to your domain, which signals that your website is genuine.

5. Smoothen checkout

Checkout pages are like first dates. If you want to make an impression, you need to keep things smooth sailing. 

A high website checkout rate is essential for eCommerce success. The faster your customers checkout, the higher your conversion rates will be.

Here’s an eCommerce checklist that will help improve checkout: 

  • Offer guest checkout so visitors can make their purchase even without having to sign up
  • Autofill information and validate addresses in order to reduce checkout time
  • Use a progress indicator to show customers where they are and how soon they will finish
  • Make it a priority to show order preview or summary so customers can be certain that they have got the right products and have filled in the correct information

Take a note from Bellroy who have successfully covered all bases with their checkout page.

Nail That UX: Smoothen checkout
Pro Tip: Ensure your checkout process is no more than 4 - 6 steps. The quicker, the better. If you can keep it all on the same page, even better.

3 Steps to Create a Customer-First Website Experience

Just optimizing your on-site isn’t enough. You also need to use data, understand how shoppers are responding to your website, and use these insights to improve your site. By continuously optimizing your customer experience, you can increase engagement, increase conversions, and boost repeat purchases. 

Here are 3 steps you can follow to measure, understand, and optimize your customer experience.

Step 1: Tap into analytics to understand areas of improvement

Your analytics has a lot of information about your site. Use it to identify areas of improvement, from drop-off touchpoints to low-selling products. You can also use your heatmaps along with your analytics to track the different metrics important to you. 

Our suite of tools includes click tracking, funnel analytics, and heatmaps, built to help merchants make data-driven decisions easily.

Step 2: Collect feedback from customers post-purchase

You can also understand how customers perceive your e-commerce store by asking them about it. 

Conduct surveys after a customer shops from you to get feedback from them. This feedback will help you understand what works within your site, what's causing frustration for them, and whether they'd recommend your store to others. The purchasing experience will be fresh in your customers' minds and they'd be more honest with their responses. 

You can then collate this feedback and use it to optimize your on-site experience, meeting your customers' needs and expectations better. 

Step 3: Use these insights to optimize your strategy

Use the insights from your analytics and the feedback you've collected to make changes to your site. These insights will be backed by data so the optimizations you make will have a better impact.  You'll be able to see better engagement and conversions through them. 

You can repeat this process every few months to maximize your growth.

Optimize your on-site experience to increase e-commerce sales

With a better on-site experience, you can engage your store visitors better, build trust, and increase checkout rates. When done right, your e-commerce site experience can increase your revenue. We hope this list helps you find opportunities to improve your e-commerce store and set up a delightful on-site experience.

Not sure where to start in improving your on-site experience? We recommend running a free audit of your site to identify areas of improvement. An audit can help you plan and prioritize the first steps you need to take to optimize your e-commerce website. Get a free audit now!

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