By Smith Willas
The explosive growth of the e-commerce industry in recent years confirms the fact that people have overwhelmingly embraced online shopping. More and more businesses are making their forays into this sector, and competition is getting fiercer by the day. And all the while, e-commerce entrepreneurs are looking for new and innovative ways to drive traffic and sales to their stores.
In light of this, selling products online is only likely to be profitable if you do it the right way. You need to plan, strategize, and take various measures to achieve business growth. There are certain inherent challenges in the e-commerce sector, including converting prospects into loyal customers, making their purchase journey easy, and providing them a great experience throughout.
To achieve all of this in a single stroke, a smart site design strategy can be one of the most effective growth tools for your e-commerce business. From an engaging website to a well-calibrated user experience to even diverse product options, smart designing is a profound boon for your online storefront.
Here are some important smart design strategies for your e-commerce store:
1. Optimize your website’s load speed
The speed of your website is among the first impressions about your business. Fast loading speed is critical in providing a great user experience. Today, people are very busy, and every second is precious for them, so you just can’t afford a slow loading time. In fact, minimizing the time it takes for pages to render is one of the top criteria for selecting a good e-commerce WordPress theme.
If your customers start experiencing a sluggish speed, within no time you will witness rising bounce rates, decreased conversions, and poor engagement. A high performing website, on the other hand, results in low bounce rates, high conversions, and higher ranks in organic search.
Before optimizing your existing website for speed, though, you need to figure out what causing it to slow down. The most likely reasons behind slow loading speed is a poorly coded website and a poor hosting environment. You need to select a quality web host for your site, or you can choose a dedicated hosting reseller plan that will ensure a better downtime for your e-commerce website.
Another common reason for having a slow website is when it can’t handle too much traffic. Again, managed hosting will make sure your site is fast, responsive, and reliable.
Furthermore, sometimes websites are burdened with data-intensive graphics and photos. In that case, you need to use design elements smartly, so that you achieve quality with quick load speeds.
2. Make it mobile responsive
A responsive web design is at the core of great customer experience. Visits to your online store are likely to take place on various devices – be a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone.
The point is, each of these devices comes with different screen sizes and resolutions. So if your website is adjustable to all of these different sizes, it adds user-friendly appeal. A responsive design allows you to display website features and elements in a more presentable way.
For example, a wide screen will receive multiple columns of product features, while a small screen can have the same product in a single column with an appropriate size. Also, according to one recent report, 57% of traffic now comes from smartphones and tablets. Thus it is all the more important that your website is designed to visually adjust to the size/shape of the screen on which it appears. As a matter of fact, search engines also favour responsive online stores.
3. Use intuitive, accessible navigation
Easy, intuitive navigation of e-commerce websites is the need of the hour. There are so many players coming up in the market, and marketers are leaving no stone unturned to provide a better user experience.
You need to incorporate design elements that can easily distinguish your online store from your competitors. So a great design is all about delightful navigation, which your visitors can enjoy while sifting through the pages effortlessly.
Great navigation will help shoppers find their desired products quickly and easily. A smart approach will express your store’s personality and values. At the same time, it should provide a familiar and intuitive journey that shoppers recognize.
Disorganized navigation is like driving somewhere with hazy directions. As a result, your prospects will more likely to move away from your site.
4. Provide an easy checkout process
The checkout process is the final and probably the most important part of your shopping experience design. So without a shred of doubt, it should be fast, smooth, and easy.
Optimizing your website for an easy checkout flow can help you achieve higher sales, because you are not allowing your customers a second guess as far as the purchase decision is concerned. Plus, in many instances, a complicated checkout system results in shopping cart abandonment.
Smooth checkout essentially means users can easily enter their addresses and billing details if in case they don’t have an account. For that, you can add shortcuts and CTAs where they will help.
The point is, you need to avoid anything that creates extra friction. You need to reduce unnecessary form fields in order to cut too many steps. Allowing a guest checkout option can also be highly beneficial. A progress indicator is also a good idea for smooth checkout.
5. Deliver an omnichannel shopping experience
Omnichannel is all about providing true continuity of user experience to your customers. This fully integrated approach provides shoppers with a unified experience across online and offline channels. It factors in all the touchpoints that are intrinsic in the consumer purchase journey.
Today, shoppers have many ways to interact with brands, and more and more of these touchpoints can also be used as direct sales channels. People are highly informed in terms of checking prices, comparing products, researching reviews, and consulting social media before buying. Thus, if you are not available everywhere, your user experience will be badly hit and bottom line will suffer.
You need to invest not just on a website, but blog, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and any number of shopping marketplaces like Jet and Ebay. You need all these platforms to engage and connect with customers. The sales will skyrocket if you make sure your products are available and your brand experience is consistent across all channels.
Being smart is the central element of today’s e-commerce game. In the age of intense e-commerce competition, customers gravitate toward a great user experience. A fast website with responsive design will put your business in high gear, while easy navigation, a friction-less checkout process, and omnichannel experience will give your business a strategic advantage.
Smith Willas is a freelance writer, blogger, and digital media journalist. He has a management degree in Supply Chain & Operations Management and Marketing and boasts a wide-ranging background in digital media. You can follow him on Twitter.