Asking the experts: What’s it all about?
UX is all about how well users interact with a product and how easy it is for them to accomplish a task. We’ve spoken with Ranya Amirthamanoharan (UX researcher, right) and Gohar Avagyan (Senior Product Designer, left) at Klarna to find out more.
Ranya explains the basics of UX:
“Imagine you’re 5 years old and want to watch your favorite cartoon on TV. You have a remote control in your hand that’s covered in buttons. Each button allows you to control and interact with the TV in a different way. User Experience is the science behind all the possible touchpoints and interactions on that remote; from thinking ‘I want to watch that cartoon on TV’ to the endpoint of actually enjoying the episode.”
In e-commerce, we tend to speak about conversion (how many visitors make a purchase) and drop-off rate (how many people leave without converting). The goal is to push conversion through the roof, leave drop-off in the basement, and keep customers coming through the front door. UX is the means to achieve this, by designing your website with a smooth experience that encourages customers to make their purchase – and come back again.
Ranya also stresses the importance of brand identity and the holistic experience in achieving this goal.
“You can go to two different companies to get a product that accomplishes the same thing, but your past experiences and loyalty to one particular company may give you a more positive impression of their product.”
“Look at Uber. If the goal for me as a user is to get home at 3 a.m., I have two options. I can call a taxi, hope that it shows up, that the driver is a decent person and that they heard the address correctly… or I can use the Uber app where I can see who is picking me up and when, and the driver knows where I want to go and how to get there. Both options accomplish the same thing but with vastly different experiences. This is why we see Uber taking a larger and larger market share every year.”
Gohar agrees: “This taps into how a customer feels about your company, which is a key part of the brand experience. It’s what makes your business stand out from the competition and have that edge.”
UX basics for online retailers
Before you start, you must get into the right mindset, which means looking at things from the customer’s point of view. Your goal is to reduce friction, remove obstacles and relieve pain points.
“Always have your customer in mind when making active choices about design,” says Gohar. “It’s nothing new, but define your main audience and target group and ask yourself: ‘What are their wants and needs? What are their pain points when using my service?’ And then focus on solving these. Making your service easier to use almost always equals a better cash flow, since customers who have a good experience are more likely to return.”
A simple exercise here is to do guerrilla testing; invite people who aren’t directly involved in your business to make a test purchase, and gather their feedback. This doesn’t have to be paid user groups; the input of friends, family and acquaintances can be just as valuable.
You also need to put aside your gut feelings and rely on data, explains Ranya. “Find hard data on where the bottlenecks are, where people are dropping out of your website and their browsing patterns. Once you have it in black and white it quickly becomes obvious where your service is lacking.”
Data on browsing patterns and customer drop-off is available out-of-the-box in Google Analytics and some e-commerce platforms.
The first step of the customer’s journey is your store’s landing page.
What you want here is to create an itch, an initial buy-in; remove any obvious hurdles and motivate them to continue. They’ve seen an ad or recommendation which has made them curious enough to enter your store. Now you need to keep their attention so they continue browsing.
Make a clear and highly attractive product offering. When someone enters your store for the first time, is it obvious what you’re selling? What are you doing to make them want to know more?
- High-quality, attractive product photos to pique their interest and offer shopping inspiration
- Discounts and campaigns front and center – they might hurt your margins, but they will gain you customers
- Clear menu structure with photos to convey the extent of your product offering. If they’re after a specific product category, don’t make it difficult to find
- Don’t go overboard displaying products or categories here. A landing page is meant to pique interest, not to settle the deal. In a famous study from Columbia University, 30% of customers who were offered a small assortment of products in a supermarket decided to buy, while only 3% of those offered a larger variety made a purchase. The same sentiment applies to e-commerce: having lots of options gets people to browse, but they’re more likely to buy when faced with fewer choices
Next, you have to remove any logical arguments and obvious obstacles that might discourage the customer from shopping at your store.
- “Returns are a hassle” = Offer and clearly promote free returns or a “no-questions-asked” policy
- “They’ll probably add fees for shipping and handling”* = Offer and clearly promote free shipping and handling (with a minimum order value, if necessary for margins)*
- “Can I really afford this?” = Offer financing or installments such as Klarna and utilize on-site messaging (“Pay in 4 payments of $XX.XX”)
- “Will I receive my goods on time?” = Offer priority shipping and clearly state how long shipping takes
*Orders with free shipping have a 30% higher average order value. 93% of customers feel encouraged to buy more with free shipping while 58% add more items to the cart if there’s an offer of free shipping over a certain amount.
You’ve got their attention, now you have to turn it into a decision to buy.
Navigation and findability
“Search and you shall find” – you need to make sure that’s the case. Implement a search engine solution that autocompletes, corrects spelling errors, cross-indexes between relevant terms and, if possible, applies machine learning to adjust itself as it goes along for greater efficiency. This is especially important for the ever-growing share of mobile users who don’t use a keyboard.
It only takes some small improvements here to be above average; 70% of e-commerce stores are unable to return relevant results for product synonyms (the user has to search for the exact term) and 34% don’t deliver the correct results when a word is misspelled by just a single character.
For more about search, which is an entire topic in itself, check out Shopify’s excellent and extensive article on how to choose an e-commerce search engine. Speaking of Shopify, this platform comes with Klarna’s installment and financing options out-of-the-box; all you’ve got to do is activate them. It’s a shortcut to boosting your UX – and conversion along with it. Get started here.
Aside from improving your search tool:
- Label your site clearly for customers. They should know what to expect when hovering or clicking a menu choice
- Use the three-tap rule: everything on your site should be accessible through three clicks maximum. Anything more than that and you risk losing people in the funnel
- Think about where people position their thumbs (yes, seriously). Anything important should be within reach of a mobile user’s thumb
- Less is more, so don’t distract. Also, rely heavily on product images if possible
This is where the buy-in happens and “I’m interested” turns into “I want it”. Key pointers here:
- Visual trumps text. Researchers at MIT have found that the human brain can process entire images in as little as 13 milliseconds. Present large, clear, high-resolution product images and make them relatable (“I can see myself using that”). Make sure you show different angles, especially if you’re in the fashion and accessories segment. An in-depth case study from Klarna affiliated retailer ASOS.com explains the importance of product images
- Describe products in detail, clearly showing the title, price, features, specifications and customization options. Utilize keyword strategy here if possible – match the description with search phrases on google to attract organic traffic
- Kill those obstacles. Keep previous hurdles in mind and clearly highlight returns policies, shipping costs, shipping times, discounts and deals. Don’t forget to utilize on-site messaging for Klarna installments and financing to boost average order value and retain customers who might not have the funds to pay in full up front.
- Upsell or cross-sell. Show related products or ask if they’d also like to add another item to their cart
- Reviews matter. 90% of consumers rely on online reviews for purchasing decisions. While these can often be from third-party review sites, it brings clout when a customer who’s already bought a product from you gives it the thumbs up
- Most important of all: CTA (call to action). The eye should be immediately drawn to that buy button, no matter what. There is conflicting research on the most effective colors and designs to use here, but a good strategy is to make sure it is in clear contrast to the rest of the page and uses a unique color. As eyes are drawn to images and people read the product description before deciding, the general consensus is to place it close to the product image, right by the product description
Now it’s time to get down to business on the checkout page. The key here is simplicity and speed; 87% of online shoppers say that they abandon their shopping carts if the process is too complicated. You’ve got the customer past the obstacle of needing, finding and wanting a product. All you have to do now is nudge them in the right direction, remove any remaining hurdles, and keep them focused until the end.
- Make it a one-page, one-click experience as far as possible
- No hurdles or hidden fees (as mentioned before). As many as 56% of shoppers will abandon their carts if hidden costs appear at checkout
- Upsell. Either by promoting related products or by offering free shipping over a certain amount. More reading on 9 Upselling Hacks to Maximize Your Sales
- Provide the option of priority shipping and a separate shipping address
- Have as few fields to fill out as possible and never ask for information that isn’t needed
- Include images to clearly show the products in the basket, and give the option to increase quantity
- Offer versatile and alternative payment options in a one-click experience without login. Klarna has the full package, including financing and installment options that boost your sales. Read more and get started
When it comes to creating a great customer experience, generating returning customers and creating brand loyalty, what happens after the purchase is just as important as getting that purchase in the first place. Here are some key takeaways:
- Keep your promises. If a product says it does something, it had better deliver. If you promise delivery within 3 days, you’re in trouble if it arrives in hour 73
- Creative packaging. It’s not just the product that can make your customers go ‘wow’. What about the box? It can arrive in a brown cardboard box stuffed with bubble wrap that could be from anywhere, or it can look and feel like your brand and create a lasting impression
- Easy returns process. One of the largest hurdles for customers shopping in e-commerce vs. brick-and-mortar is the hassle of returns. If your process can handle this without headaches, you’re bound to boost customer loyalty and secure some returning customers
- Accessible support. Be there for your customers in as many channels and during as many hours of the day as possible. It creates a feeling of trust and safety and puts a face to your webshop
- Email campaigns and newsletters. Keep up the dialogue with your customers, in terms of both inspirational and engaging content and also upselling / cross-selling. This can be as simple or as advanced as your budget and time allow – anything from a one-off email to a full-blown nurturing campaign
- Payment overview on an app. If you want to up your game, offer Klarna on your webstore. Your customers get access to the top-rated Klarna App where they can view their purchases, manage payment options and more. Read more here
5. Profit and repeat
Congratulations! If you’ve succeeded in points 1-4 then you’ve arrived at the promised land of high conversion rates, solid cash flow and repeat customers.
For customers, shopping online is a fight between emotional desires and rational obstacles; between wanting a product and getting distracted by something else. UX in e-commerce is largely about smoothing out those rational obstacles and making the distance between wanting and buying as short and painless as humanly possible.
The easiest way to boost your UX and conversions is to apply Klarna’s shopping and payment solutions in your webshop. This lets you offer all major payment options including financing and installments, along with a one-click purchase experience and a customer app. Get started today.