Online shopping has become the preferred shopping method for an increasing number of merchants. According to Forrester Research, total U.S. online retail sales will grow to $327 billion by 2016. That’s a small portion of forecasted total retail sales of $1.8 trillion in 2016. But, 44 percent of offline retail sales will be influenced by online shopping. That’s another $1.6 trillion worth of sales influenced by shoppers online, with most of them using a mobile device.
Online shoppers are more conscious of their online experiences. Things that would have gone unnoticed before, are being scrutinized. As UX professionals it’s our responsibility to identify and address those issues. Here are three trends we should focus on to improve the user experience of online shopping.
1. Be consistent. Online merchants want a seamless shopping experience regardless of how or where they interact with companies. Omnichannel commerce responds to customers who want the same products online that they see in the physical store at the same – or discounted – price. UX designers have the responsibility to curate a consistent experience.
2. Provide good online experiences. How quickly does your website load? That may not be fast enough for today’s online merchants. For most of us, fast isn’t fast enough. Customers want online stores to be optimized for their device. They also want access to all the content. Once they are in the store, they want good search and navigation. What are you doing to provide a good online experiences?
3. Create seamless experiences. When merchants add items to their online shopping cart via their mobile device, they want access to the same cart on another device. If they decide to make purchases at later time, then we should provide opportunities to make that happen for them. Are you thoughtfully giving customers omnipresence to your products and services?
As an addendum, retailers have discovered a plethora of information about merchant buying habits. As information is consolidated from online and physical stores, companies can leverage big data solutions to effectively target consumers with more appealing offers.
In conclusion, UX designers should focus on creating a smarter curated experience for online merchants. Companies should take a customer centric approach to providing better experiences. In doing so, highly personalized experiences will show customers that they are valuable. Emphasis on open communication through user testing, phone calls, surveys, and emails will also reinforce this value. We, UX professionals, should champion these efforts.