16 Ecommerce UX Best Practices to Boost Your Sales – Updated for 2021

Employing eCommerce UX best practices in your online shop prevents customers from leaving your site and convinces them that you’re the brand to buy from.
Neglecting the user experience will mean customers leave with a sour taste and won’t want to use your site ever again.

Ecommerce UX Best Practices to Boost Your Sales

Great eCommerce UX will give you the ultimate advantage over your competition. There are 12-24 million eCommerce stores in the world, meaning competition is growing at a rapid rate.

To provide an amazing user experience by focusing on the following 16 eCommerce UX best practices.

Ecommerce UX Best Practices Content

  1. Consider the need for speed
  2. Understanding the Customer Journey
  3. Appreciate your customer’s time
  4. People want to feel safe
  5. Mobile eCommerce UX is a different thing
  6. Sticky header on mobile
  7. Search, don’t hide it
  8. Breadcrumbs
  9. Use Products Names That Make Sense to Shoppers
  10. Allow Users to Checkout as a Guest
  11. Highlight the Specials Section
  12. Be Available and Ready with Live Chat
  13. Social Proof
  14. Use Urgency to Get More Sales
  15. Use Exit Popups To Offer Deals
  16. Letting Down Your Users, Lets Down Your Business

Consider the need for speed

A fast website is an essential ecommerce UX best practice

The longer your site takes to load, the less likely users will visit it.

Every page on your site should load in under 3 seconds. Google uses an algorithm to determine the position that a website appears, and faster loading sites are a ranking factor.

The longer your site takes to load, the less likely Google will be to direct users to your site.

Furthermore, if the website takes too long to load, more than half of users won’t complete their purchase.

Understanding the Customer Journey

Example of customer buying stages

Your customers experience will change depending on what stage in the buying journey they are at.

Your customer’s experience will differ depending on their buying stage. So, consider the 3 main buying stages when deciding on what to design to improve their experience with you.

Customer Buying Stages

1. Just take a look for future purchasing
Some users are just browsing products, with no intent to buy

2. I need this product, and I’m ready to buy it now
Other users go straight to the product and are ready to purchase

3. I don’t know much, but I know I need a product like this
And the remaining users know absolutely nothing about the product and need to understand the entire product category as a whole.

The different stages in the decision-making process can make it difficult to get the design just right; too much information can be off-putting to the ‘I-want-it-now’ user, but not enough information can send the ‘casual browser’ to a competitors site where they can get more in-depth information.

Therefore, prioritise your content to fulfil immediate needs, and offer more content down the page to give the user more if they need it.

Appreciate your customer’s time

A website user on a mobile device

Get your customers from point A to point B (or Z) as quickly as possible, without distracting them with too much information.

Improving your site’s page load time may load the page faster, but does that mean they get to where they need to be quicker? Only if you use design to guide them.

Imagine driving through central London in a Ferrari, sure you can go as quick as you want, but if your sat nav takes you down the wrong street, you might as well be driving a good ol’ Ford Fiesta.

Vague navigation and too much or too little signposting take your users off in the wrong direction, slowing them down or even taking them to a dead end. Sad times.

So as well as improving site speed, consider how you’re navigating your users. Get them from point A to point B (or Z) as quickly as possible, without distracting them with too much information.

However, also consider that if they do decide to veer off track and look at other products, they always have easy ways of getting back to where they were.

‘Recently Viewed’ products are a great feature to help get your users back on track.

People want to feel safe

Showing site security is an ecommerce UX best practice

It’s highly unlikely that your users know who you are, so employ a number of methods to reassure your customers.

Imagine you’re shopping online and come across a new store that you’ve never heard of.

Unless you’re Amazon, then it’s highly unlikely that your users know who you are. Add to this the number of scams that happen online every day. Online shopping is a security nightmare.

So how can you tell people that you’re trustworthy?

3 simple ways:

1. Easy: SSL – ensure your website protects your customer’s data by installing an SSL on your site.

2. Easy: Add a padlock icon to your checkout button like WayFair

3. A bit harder: Reviews – reviews are one of the best ways to prove to future customers that you’re trustworthy. A review gives your future customers peace of mind that others have successfully purchased from you.

Mobile eCommerce UX is a different thing

ecommerce UX best practices include understanding the difference between a desktop and mobile experience

Customers shopping behaviour on a desktop is very different from on a mobile.

Different environments drive different behaviours.

Desktop environments = slower paced.
Mobile environments = faster paced.

Desktop:

It’s Saturday morning, you’re sitting at your kitchen table shopping for a pair of trainers.
You’re taking your time.

Mobile:

It’s Saturday morning, you’re in a coffee shop. Whilst waiting for your friend to arrive, you remember those trainers you want to buy.

You have a small window of time.

Therefore, when sitting at your desk, your shopping behaviour will be very different to how you behave on your mobile.

So, the mobile experience should be different from the desktop version of your site. Here are 3 ways that you can help your mobile users:

  • Make sure the design of your site is responsive, if the content already looks good on the desktop, ensure that it is optimised to look good on smaller devices too.
  • Add a ‘Save’ feature so users can continue their shopping without needing to find the products all over again each time they return.
  • Provide a straightforward and quick checkout, 35% of carts are abandoned because the user has to register before they complete their purchase

Sticky header on Mobile

An example of a sticky header on mobile - an ecommerce UX best practice

Sticky mobile headers make it easier and quicker for users to find what they’re looking for.

A study by Smashing Magazine found that sticky navigation bars allowed users to find what they were looking for 22% faster.

Navigation is arguably one of the most important parts of a website, yet they aren’t always straightforward to use and find.

Users shouldn’t have to scroll back to the top of the page to access the menu and navigate around the site.

Instead, fix the navigation to the top of the viewport so it doesn’t disappear when the user scrolls down the page.

Search, don’t hide it

A clear search bar is an ecommerce UX best practice

Make it easy and clear to users that they can search for products, and improve the overall user experience by including a search bar on your website.

Most ecommerce sites hide their search bar, deeming it an ‘ugly’ feature.

Head to Amazon and check where their search bar is… Front and centre (well… just off to the left on desktop). Why?

Make it easy and clear to users that they can search for products, and improve the overall user experience by including a search bar on your website.

An example of breadcrumbs on an ecommerce website

Include breadcrumbs on your site so users can easily navigate their way around and avoid feeling lost.

Breadcrumbs are beneficial for many reasons. Firstly they show the user where they are in your site, helping to avoid the sense of feeling lost.

Secondly, they allow Google to see the structure of your site and Google may use them within search results, making users more likely to see your site.

Finally, they provide a trail back to the homepage. Many users don’t actually enter your site via the homepage, so a breadcrumb trail provides a guide to help the user navigate their way back to where they want to be, showing the steps they need to take.

Use Products Names That Make Sense to Shoppers

Using obscure language to name your products will likely only confuse shoppers.

You may have a strong, in-depth brand that applies to the products you sell, but where possible, use names that shoppers understand.

John Lewis give their own products not only easy to understand names, but they also include what the product comes with or the size where appropriate.

In contrast, there have been many poorly named products. You can ensure your brand still shines through in other aspects, and you’ll avoid confused shoppers from feeling excluded because they don’t understand what you sell.

Not giving careful consideration when naming your products can give some questionable results. If you don’t know the correct meaning of a word, it could result in offensive, inappropriate or just misleading names.

John Lewis website showing an example of product names

Always check that your product names mean what you think they do to avoid any confusion.

Allow Users to Checkout as a Guest

ecommerce UX best practices include having a guest checkout

Always offer a guest checkout option and remind users they can make an account at a later date.

Once the shopper arrives at your checkout, they’ve made their decision about what they want to buy, and they want to complete the process as quickly and hassle-free as possible.

23% of users will abandon their cart if they have to create an account, so if they haven’t got an account already, don’t get in the way of them completing their transaction.

Offer a guest checkout option and once they’ve made their purchase, remind them they can make an account at a later date.

Sometimes, the user may only want to make a one-off purchase and therefore not want to create an account.

Highlight the Specials Section

Shoppers love to save money and find a good deal. Including an offers section on your site makes it easier for the user to find a great deal and make a purchase.

Make promotional products easy to find, and any offers (such as coupons or vouchers) easy to apply.

Have a section in your navigation for Sales, Offers and/or new products, and add a filter on product pages to allow users to see only the products under a specific offer.

Wayfair website showing a SALE category in their navigation

Wayfair includes a ‘Sale’ item in their navigation

Wayfair website uses product sub categories and filters

Include specials sections within product sub categories and filters.

Be Available and Ready with Live Chat

An example of customer support online chat

Providing a useful live chat service can help improve a customer’s experience on your site.

Generally, there are 2 types of customers who need to use the live chat feature.

The first type is customers who need help with a potential purchase.

They might need advice on choosing the right product, or they may need some more information that you haven’t got on your site.

According to a study by Forrester, 44% of online consumers agree that having questions answered by a real person is one of the most important features whilst making an online purchase.

The second type are existing customers. They may need help with returns, advice on using products, or information about their orders.

Providing a useful live chat service can help improve a customer’s experience on your site.

Social Proof

Customer reviews as social proof is an ecommerce ux best practice

Showing customer reviews is one of the best ways to include social proof in your eCommerce store.

Social proof is the idea that people follow actions that others have taken. When we don’t know what to do, we follow others.

Since so many other people behave in a certain way, it must be the correct behaviour.

Therefore, it’s vital to include social proof within your eCommerce store in order that new customers trust your brand.

Displaying customer reviews is one of the best ways to include social proof in your eCommerce store.

Encourage existing customers to leave honest reviews of your products and services to allow potential customers to make an informed decision before they make a purchase.

Over two-thirds of respondents said they read customer reviews prior to making a purchase, according to a Trustpilot study.

Use Urgency to Get More Sales

An example of an exit intent pop up

Shoppers don’t like the idea of missing out on an offer or product.

A 2018 study showed that when unimportant tasks are given an illusion of expiration, people are more likely to carry them out over more important tasks.

This is called the ‘Mere Urgency effect’ and eCommerce ux best practice is to utilise it to encourage sales, including those which might not have occurred without an illusion of urgency.

Phrases such as “Only 3 left in stock” or “Hurry, only 12 hours left to redeem” invoke a sense of urgency or scarcity, encouraging customers to make the purchase they’d been deliberating over.

Shoppers don’t like the idea of missing out on an offer or product, especially if it is a limited edition or end of the range.

Use Exit Popups To Offer Deals

Example of a popup

Utilise pop-ups as a last chance tactic, with a compelling offer to encourage users to stay.

Catch your users before they leave and claw them back in with an offer. E.g. Buy now and save 10%.

Users often get frustrated when you use too many pop ups on your site, but if you use them correctly, they can be extremely effective.

Including a popup as soon as a user lands on your page gets in their way and may annoy them enough to leave your site.

Instead, you should utilise pop-ups as a last chance tactic, with a compelling offer to encourage users to stay.

Letting Down Your Users, Lets Down Your Business

These Ecommerce UX Best Practices not only help to make the most of your marketing spend, but they also give your customers a good reason to come back.

88% of users are less likely to return to a website after a bad user experience.

So, don’t let your potential customers down, give them what they need to buy now and/or in the future and your business will grow from strength to strength.