e-commerce-mistakes

Pay Attention to your E-Commerce Design

by Allen Burt
January 12, 2015

What I Did Wrong in My E-Commerce User Experience

At what stage in your business development do you sit down and decide that it’s time to really analyze your website transaction performance and determine if it’s worth investing in optimizing its performance. Is it something you’ve determined as a goal since Day 1? Is it something you analyze only if you see revenue loss as proof and motivation?

For me, it took only one quarter’s statistics of my abandoned cart rate from my now dead startup Offmap.com. One look at those numbers opened my eyes to the potential revenue I was missing because of errors during the checkout process.

What I want to discuss in this post is the importance of optimizing, not only online sales, but ANY transaction – from sales to donations to reservations – and give you some actionable advice to begin implementing this awareness in the online transaction process of your business, perhaps opening your eyes to this pain point earlier than I opened mine.

1: What’s A Transaction?

When you read “transaction” most of you are probably thinking e-commerce. You’re right. But, transaction also refers to other types of exchanges.

There are many business models that employ different types of transactions. Crowdfunding platforms (ex.: Kickstarter), SAAS platforms (ex.: Salesforce or Basecamp), peer-to-peer lending platforms, and any ecommerce website all employ a functionality enabling users to make a transaction.

What exactly am I talking about when I say “transaction”?

At Blue Stout, we consider a transaction as a reciprocal exchange between the business and customer.

I want to stress the “reciprocal” idea here. Customer is exchanging X with your business for Y. There’s some type of return expected. And, ideally, we want this return process – this reciprocation – to be the best it can be.

As we’ve highlighted previously in this infographic, word-of-mouth recommendation heavily affects online business in terms of user’s overall experience during the checkout process. So it makes sense that we, as business owners, would want to optimize this.

But, many of us don’t realize the need until we’re pretty far down a road of constant faulty transactions which produce the beginnings of a negative brand image.

The Danger in Avoiding Addressing Your Design

As long as you’re making sales, you’re happy. Everything’s working. (Or so it seems.)

But, what happens when you turn a blind eye to the few customers experiencing problems with their transaction? Or, what happens when you are making so many sales that you want to scale? Your blind eye may turn around and bite you.

With Offmap, I decided to not place much importance on the transaction process after designing the UI of the checkout. I left the payment process integration and follow-up details untouched after their initial design. Optimization didn’t cross my mind until seeing the abandoned cart percentages.

How many sales was I really missing? What happens if I experience the growth I want in the next 6 months? Can my checkout process and payment platform integration handle this surge of users?

Action Items

1. USE YOUR OWN WEBSITE

If you haven’t gone through your own transaction process lately, you should. Try it on mobile. Try it on a different browser. Do a bit of testing. See how happy you are, personally, with the process. Were you able to make your purchase quickly? Were your reservations made and confirmation email automatically sent? Did your donation process and withdraw from your bank account?

Once I tested out my own checkout process with Offmap.com, I realized that we were losing many opportunities at the checkout.

For one, we were selling large dollar products that came with a large sticker shock. We should have integrated an option for payment plans, or upfront deposits as opposed to asking customers to purchase the full amount upfront.

Second, we were using Paypal to process the payments. This was before Stripe and their ability to easily to customize StripeJS. We were taking customers away from our site, redirecting them to Paypal, which increased our abandonment rate.

Finally, we weren’t mobile optimized. This was the beginning of the responsive revolution, but we found that many of our potential customers loved to view our products on tablets, but our checkout process in a tablet layout was not the best designed. This errored our brand equity and trust with potential consumers.

2. CONSIDER THE VALUE OF AN EXPERT

After analyzing their checkout process, a major retailer had a UX designer change the text on a button in their checkout and add an additional message. The result: Sales went up 45%—$15 million in the first month, and $300 million in the first year.

By hiring a UX designer to research and suggest changes to your transaction platform, you are able to test different options and see if these changes will have any immediate return.

Test different text. Test different buttons and colors. The UX expert can help you pinpoint problem areas and suggest tests within your budget.

One button change in your checkout process could mean a $300 million dollar revenue difference. Read the $300 Million Dollar Continue Button story here.

3. STAY CURRENT

“68% of users give up because they think you don’t care about them”

If you haven’t done either of the items above, chances are you’re operating with antiquated methods of transacting on your website.

See what I mean here.

Like What You Read?

For more of my thoughts on UX and its importance to your business, check out this article. You can also keep up to date with our thoughts on business, e-commerce and design via Twitter or LinkedIn.

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Allen Burt Allen Burt is the CEO & Founder of Blue Stout. A design and development agency that builds applications to power commerce and drive user engagement. Follow him on Twitter.