Of all the sectors that have moved online, retail has had the easiest transition. That is because the adoption rates have been very high. Most of us find it easy to browse through the shopping list in our PJs and add things to the cart on the go, don’t we? Digital retail removes all the hassle of going shopping in person and gives you the same product cheaper than you would get it in the market. And who doesn’t love a good discount! It’s no wonder that Indians are increasingly moving all their shopping – from luxury items to everyday groceries, online.
But with so many options comes competition. And the challenge now is how to attract and retain customers. While discounts and exclusive products might get the attention of the shoppers, building loyalty will depend on the experience that the users have while using the platform. This is why the platform has to be designed thoughtfully and intelligently.
Here are some aspects that you, as product managers should consider when designing e-commerce websites or mobile apps:
Operational simplicity: State the obvious
The most important factor to incorporate is simplicity. Users will not stick around to give your platform another try if they have a tough experience the first time. The dashboard design must familiarize the user with the product on sale through photographs, descriptions, specifications, price, variants, etc. Any additional costs like shipping should also be clearly mentioned. Nobody wants to comb the entire site to find out pertinent information about the product. The search bar should understand what the users are trying to find and display relevant products. Delivery dates should also be estimated and displayed. The work to be done to buy what the user wants should be as easy as possible. If a user knows what phone he wants to buy, it should take him 2-3 clicks to reach the product and another 2-3 clicks to complete purchasing the order. Anything more complicated might lose you the customer.
Strong branding: Easy to remember, easy to refer
With countless apps and websites that the customer can turn to, it is important to have strong branding so that there is recall and people can remember and recommend the site later on. UX best practices state that you must ensure strong branding on all pages as well as the follow-up emails and messages. For example, a customer shouldn’t have to think about whether he placed the order on Amazon or on Flipkart. Branding should make this distinction as clear as day!
Data security: Safeguard user information at all times
A big concern of users when doing online shopping is privacy and security. After all, they are entering sensitive information related to their cards or bank accounts. As part of the overall design, you should incorporate elements that make it clear that the site is safe and their data is secure. Wherever possible, use iconography representing security. Display SSL certificates and reduce password visibility on the screen. The privacy agreement of the site should be mentioned clearly and should be easy to find.
Color Theory: Effective use of visual elements
The design of the website sets the style according to the products on offer. As soon as the user reaches the site, they should know what kind of product is being sold – whether it is electronic items, clothing, or groceries. This should be reflected through the colours and photography used throughout the site. You should pick the colours that correspond to the brand image and strengthen the emotional feedback with the customer. The general aesthetic of the site should support a positive user experience through visual cohesion and harmony of perception. The visual hierarchy of the pages should make the core zones of interaction instantly noticeable so that users know where to go and what to do at a glance.
Data presentation: Display vivid menus, catalogues, creatives
The layout of the pages makes a huge difference in the user experience. Data should be presented clearly but the page should not be overloaded with information because there is a risk that it will overwhelm and distract the users. On the other hand, users don’t want to do too much work to find information about one product. Hence, the designer has to maintain a balance between too much information and too little information. This information has to be divided between menus and catalogues clearly. An analysis of the target audience will give clues about what information your target audience is looking for and how to better categorize the products.
Feedback Loop: Enable user reviews on goods and services
More than the website’s internal recommendations and push notifications, the consumer places more trust in other customers’ shopping experiences and wants to read their reviews. That is why you must give users the ability to leave feedback. Honest reviews, both positive and negative, will increase the customer’s trust in the platform. Not letting the users leave reviews might backfire because they might wonder what’s being hidden from them. Platforms like Amazon also let users answer each other’s questions about the products, which reduces the work of moderation. It gives the users an honest picture of what to expect from the product and the issues they can expect once they have made the purchase. It will keep the customer coming back to the platform.
Contact Information: Make getting in touch easy
As a product manager, you must make the business seem approachable and accessible. Customers trust services that they can contact easily in the event of an unfavourable purchase experience. Small details like contact information can also make a great deal of difference to a user when it comes to trust. It puts a real face to the business and makes it seem more real than just an online presence. Customers will feel more confident about your brand if they can read information about it.
Easy Checkout: Facilitate a quick transaction
Counterintuitively, users will come back to a platform again and again if they have to spend very little time on it to complete a successful purchase the first time around. Speed is the name of the game in eCommerce and the faster and smoother you can make the checkout process the better. Using commonly used payment systems is one way to make sure users don’t have to rush around to find their wallet to complete the payment. The goal should be that users spend as little time as possible from going to their cart to checking out.
Complimentary Design: Support the offer, don’t overshadow it
The most important point to keep in mind as you design for retail platforms is that the design should highlight the best aspects of the enterprise, without overshadowing it. The design should be done with the intention of meeting user expectations. That means letting the products talk for themselves. The design around the product should support the product only, and not overshadow it. It must be seamless and invisible but at the same time, it should guide the users, support the interaction and leave them with a positive feeling about the platform.