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Do You Have a User Friendly E-commerce Website?

It is true that online shopping has a very bright future however the market in Australia is reaching a level of maturity and the competition in the space is intensifying.  In order to stand out online retailers need a whole lot more than a shopping cart with a bit of ecommerce functionality.  Successful online retailing is becoming a science and for far too long many online retailers have failed to properly consider the ‘Usability’ of their sites from a consumer’s perspective.  Those online retailers who are investing time and money into understanding the research findings in this space are the ones who are setting themselves up for reaping the rewards.  Successful online retailers also understand that they need to continue investing in their ecommerce platforms and ensure they are presenting their products across the mediums where users are shopping.  Our experience is that the cheapest online ecommerce solution rarely yields the best results. 
 
So how user friendly is your ecommerce platform?  As a leading ecommerce provider in Australia, Neto E-commerce Solutions has complied a checklist of the key aspects of usability that we believe all online retailers should consider.
 
  1.  Every consumer is self centred – when users come to your site they need to see themselves in order to feel comfortable.
     
  2.  We all process things best in black and white.  Our brains are designed for efficiency so keep things simple.  Even though users hate ‘Pop up’s’ they are an important way of getting a users attention because they have been found to be very effect in interrupting a users usual pattern of behaviour. Instead of traditional pop up's though look to use light boxes (a type of javascript pop up that does not get blocked by browsers).
     
  3. People look for people – so make sure you have included appropriate images of people throughout your site to make users feel comfortable and safe.
     
  4. We look for patterns.  Patterns are considered safe by users and easy navigation is very important.  Users generally do not like search functions on sites.  While they are often necessary try to present your products easily.
     
  5. Users like things they can touch and don’t like things they can’t.  So be careful with how you describe your products on your site.  Many online retailers use words that simply do not resinate or connect with the user.
     
  6. We all like beginnings and ends.  The important takeout from this finding is that the brain loves deadlines because deadlines create a sense of urgency and they cause us to focus.  3-5 minutes is about the maximum that someone will concentrate on a site for, make sure you are making it very easy and compelling for your users to ‘Checkout’ and actually buy from your site.
     
  7. Users love short cuts and we all try to take them.  Are your users smart enough to figure out your pricing structure?  Can they easily calculate the discounts you are offering?  If you make it too difficult they will not bother and will just click to a competitors website that makes it easy for them.
     
  8. People like to connect the cause with the effect.  Users like to be in control, so make sure you locate ‘Action’ buttons on every page and make it very easy for users to feel like they are in control.  The psychology of online shopping has many similarities to successful in store retailing but at the same time many of the rules are also being re-written.
     
  9. Who doesn’t like presents – we all have a level of ‘present bias’, which means we are always looking for a good deal and if we are offered something extra the chances are we will take up the offer.
     
  10.  We have a fear of the unknown – Make sure you are always thinking of how the user will feel as they are shopping with you.  Do they need more information?  How can they get this information easily?  What is stopping them from checking out or adding more items to their shopping cart?
 
There is a world of opportunity for successful online retailers in Australia.  There is no doubt that consumers are moving online at an alarming rate.  When we will reach the tipping point no one knows but those online retailers that are in tune with the usability side of their online ecommerce platforms are the retailers that are going to reap the rewards as this space explodes in the coming years.
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