At the heart of the web lies one important thing that it couldn’t run without: the user. After all, what is all this infrastructure and information for, if not for the user? As intuitive as it may seem, it hasn’t always been that way.
Over recent years, a new wave of thinking has emerged to create a more user-centric experience in digital technologies.
Many companies have worked hard to create tools to measure user-friendliness, and UX designers are leveraging these tools — along with a myriad of others — to make decisions based on real-world user data.
One of the most interesting areas where we can see this user-centric revolution taking place is in ecommerce. While user-centric thinking in ecommerce looks about the same as it does in other industries, it does have its own unique set of challenges and solutions.
The Wharton Business Journal estimates that a 10% decrease in site speed can reduce sales by 4.2%. That means from the very beginning of a shopper’s first interaction with your site, your site needs to load quickly and provide a positive experience.
You can improve site speed in many ways, but one of the easiest (and most effective) is by optimizing image sizes.
On a large ecommerce site with thousands of products, unoptimized images can create excess bloat. This can slow download times and might make customers reconsider buying from your store.
Figuring out how users navigate websites is easy and there are a host of tools that can help you understand your users’ journeys.
Once you understand the journey and its shortcomings, you can work on improving it. One of the easiest things you can do is analyze navigation menus. Take a look at your main navigation and ask yourself these questions:
Is my menu easy to read?
Is my menu easy to find?
Are my menu options easy to understand?
Does my navigation stand out from the rest of the page?
This brings up another important part of user-centric design: UX writing. Using jargon or industry terminology can scare away potential customers who may be unfamiliar with your products. Simple and clear-cut communication can help alleviate pain points and improve your user journey.
There’s one other distinction between UX research for ecommerce and other industries, and it’s a relatively easy benchmark for success: Did the shopper make a purchase?
If yes, congratulate yourself on a job well done. If not, you may want to reevaluate your site. The navigation menus? Of course. Product listings and catalogs? Yes. But one area is absolutely vital: the checkout process.
Let’s explore what a user-centric checkout process looks like and the tools you can use to help improve yours.
There is no Platonic ideal of a checkout process. It varies industry to industry, from customer to customer, and even from device to device. Yet, several factors transcend these variables and can help you create a user-centric checkout experience.
These are its core characteristics:
According to eMarketer, mobile commerce sales alone accounted for $360 billion in 2021. By 2025, that number is expected to almost double to $710 billion. This means that your site and your checkout experience have to be optimized for mobile. Otherwise, you could be losing out on potential sales.
Does this sound familiar? After hunting for the ‘checkout’ button on a site, you finally make your way to your cart page only to be forced to ‘sign in’ or ‘create an account,’ handing over your personal information in the process.
Some shoppers prefer to check out as a guest. The Baymard Institute found that 24% of customers abandon a site because they’re asked to create an account. That’s why a guest checkout option is a must.
Shoppers don’t want to be surprised by hidden fees, expensive shipping options, or forced into creating an account. They want a seamless, frictionless checkout experience that allows them to get in, find what they want and get out.
This one speaks for itself. Keep it simple, so shoppers don’t get distracted halfway through checkout. Keep it lean so your customers know exactly what information they need to provide and which buttons they need to click. And keep it clean so users feel comfortable checking out in your shop.
As an ecommerce business, you’re not just selling a product or service. You’re asking your customers to share their information, like credit card numbers, street addresses and birth dates. This is especially so if you’re storing their information by asking them to create an account.
Using encryption tools like SSL certificates can help put users’ minds at ease. Most large platforms will provide you with an SSL certificate for your site free of charge. All BigCommerce stores with a custom domain (like mybcstore.com) are automatically outfitted with a free, dedicated SSL certificate called Encryption Everywhere.
You can also partner with trusted payment partners that can add another layer of security to the payment process. This leads us to the fifth characteristic of a user-centric checkout process.
A straightforward and secure payment process is imperative for your checkout. The faster someone can click that checkout button, the faster you will make the sale.
There are now more ways to pay online than ever before. Your customers can pay with practically any debit or credit card. They can also sign up for payment services that store their card and account information, making payment easy with a few simple clicks.
Consider one such trusted quick-pay option for Amazon customers — Amazon Pay.
Chances are you’ve heard of Amazon before, but what about Amazon Pay? Amazon Pay is more than just a payment button. For shoppers, Amazon Pay is a fast and simple way to check out at their favorite online stores in just a few steps without having to create a new account, username, or password.
For merchants, Amazon Pay integrates the fast, secure, and familiar Amazon.com payment experience right on your site. That means you can give hundreds of millions of Amazon customers a checkout that’s convenient and familiar, with a brand they already know and trust.
You can enable voice shopping with Alexa, increase your brand reach with Amazon co-marketing programs and placements across Amazon Pay and Amazon.com domains, and offer a secure, trusted payment option with advanced fraud protection backed by the same technology used on Amazon.com.
Amazon Pay offers easy integration and support as needed. As a site owner, you can minimize development efforts and costs through a single administrative interface and omnichannel APIs that easily fit into your existing checkout experience. This gives developers more flexibility when integrating Amazon Pay.
Merchants can also benefit from smooth front-end design with a hosted checkout flow that helps extend the trusted Amazon experience to your shoppers. Amazon’s ongoing innovation in the ecommerce space enables your checkout to leverage such features as recurring payments and many more.
With Amazon Pay, there’s no need for shoppers to create a new account or enter new billing or shipping information on your site. They can use their existing Amazon account and information to check out with ease for a faster, easier, secure checkout that they know they can trust.
According to ProfitWell, the cost of acquiring new customers has increased by more than 50% over the past five years. With Amazon Pay co-marketing programs, customers get a checkout option they’re familiar with and trust. That’s hundreds of millions global Prime customers who can check out on any site where Amazon Pay is enabled, with just one simple click.
User centricity is the future of the web: companies are developing new tools to measure it, researchers are looking for novel ways to improve it and companies like Amazon are creating solutions to enable businesses, big and small, to embrace and support a user-centric experience.
In ecommerce, the checkout experience is one of the most important places to put the user first. As you’re building your checkout experience, remember to keep it fast, simple and easy to navigate. Even the slightest bit of friction during the checkout process can cause a customer to rethink their purchasing decision.
With Amazon Pay, your customers can quickly and easily check out from your store using their Amazon account. It’s fast, it’s secure and it’s reliable. In other words, Amazon Pay is one sure — and easy-to-implement — path for you to build a seamless, user-centric checkout experience on your site.
Reed Hartman is a Content Marketing Manager at BigCommerce, where he uses his years of research, writing and marketing experience to help inform and educate business owners on all things ecommerce.