Ecommerce offers what brick and mortar stores cannot: convenience. With online shopping, customers can purchase products from their living room sofas. That’s not something a physical store can allow. With that being said, ecommerce sites also experience their own set of shortcomings when compared to brick and mortar competitors.
Where Ecommerce Shopping Lags Behind
The two biggest shortcoming ecommerce businesses experience are (1) the inability for customers to touch and feel products, and (2) a lack of customer experience.
The first shortcoming matters more to some ecommerce businesses than others. Brands selling clothing and furniture suffer more than brands selling kitchen appliances and pet food. In industries where touching and feeling products is a major part of the shopping process, ecommerce falls short in many regards.
As for the customer experience, there’s less interaction between the customer and the brand online. This automatically creates a divide that doesn’t exist in a physical retail environment. The solution is to begin viewing ecommerce sites as more significant.
“In the current omni-channel retail environment, online storefronts are no longer simply a brand’s digital checkout,” says Tracey White of BigCommerce. “They must be also shopping destinations providing unique online experiences unparalleled by competitors or the industry at large.”
5 UX Tips to Catch Up With Brick and Mortar
While these two primary issues aren’t knockout blows to ecommerce, they do represent shortcomings that should be addressed. Here are a few specific ways you can help your ecommerce site keep up with brick and mortar.
1. Eliminate Obtrusive Elements
A bulky, outdated, inefficient website will not perform well in today’s marketplace. The first thing you should do is eliminate obtrusive elements that are bulky and distracting. If an element doesn’t serve a distinct purpose or play a role in driving conversions, then it needs to go.
2. Speed Up the Checkout Process
The checkout process is supremely important in the context of ecommerce. Just as customers don’t like shopping in stores where they know the checkout line is slow, your online customers won’t do business with you if the process requires multiple steps. Aim for one-page checkout and ask for as little information as possible for the transaction.
3. Offer 24/7 Customer Support
One of the major benefits of going to a store is that you’re able to speak face-to-face with a sales representative, manager, or employee. When shopping online, people assume that it’s more difficult to engage with the company. You can reverse this way of thinking by offering responsive 24/7 customer support via multiple channels. This should include live chat, email, and phone.
4. Use Plenty of Visual Elements
If customers can’t touch and feel products, the next best thing you can do is give them a clear visual representation of the products. While there’s nothing wrong with a standard product image, try to get more interactive. Consider investing in product demonstration videos, multiple angles, and even 360-degree views.
5. Personalize as Much as Possible
Customers want to feel like they’re more than just another visitor. They want to feel important and known. Attempt to incorporate as much personalization into the shopping experience as possible. This may look like saving information from past searches, creating customer profiles, or something else totally unique. The point is, you’re letting customers know that you appreciate their business.
Make UX a Big Priority
Ecommerce UX is a big deal. While you aren’t trying to replicate an in-store shopping experience, it’s in your best interest to address the two major shortcomings highlighted in this article. If you’re able to do that, you’ll find that your website is capable of reaching more customers than ever before.