In today’s market, e-commerce websites are growing at a very fast pace, helping online consumers to shop at ease and achieve their goals in their everyday lives. Most of these websites are designed to provide the basis of business services such as online business transactions but do not make purchasing easy for customers.

Generally, an ecommerce website should be user-friendly so that customers can find it useful, interactive and be able to make purchase easily. Such websites should always catch the attention of customers and keep hold of them. Nowadays, many e-commerce websites are failing to keep hold of customers. Why? Just because your website is aesthetically pleasing and operational doesn’t mean you will sell like hotcakes. You need to dwell more on e-commerce usability, make your website more usable.

Want to have a successful e-commerce business? Here are essential usability guidelines in making online shopping easy for your customers.

1. Effective e-commerce search engine

Many customers prefer to search for products rather than browsing through the categories. Unfortunately, e-commerce search engine doesn’t work well on some websites. You need to make sure that search engine works well and preferably has filters to allow customers refine their results. Product search-ability is a key factor of success in e-commerce and brings in much revenue. Make sure your search engine recognizes popular queries. Allow your search engine to do spell check and auto suggestion, it really helps users to remember or type correctly a product name. If they misspell a product, they may not find what they want and they will think the product is not available on the website. Spell check and auto-suggestions really enhance the search experience

I typed “lappy” which is a slang name for laptop on Jumia and I got the wrong results. If the website had suggested laptops for me at the beginning of my search, I would have gotten the best results and go ahead with my purchase.

You may think no one can search for the word “lappy” since it is colloquial. But, you’ll be shocked that some customers search by ‘jargon’ for the products.

2. User-centric product pages

Your product pages should recreate the traditional shopping experience.  When you are in a retail shop, you get the opportunity to see and examine the product you want to buy. If it’s a shoe or a dress, you can wear it to know if it fits well. But for online shopping, you need to provide striking and clear product photos – let customer lust for the product, the photos are the only thing they interact with. Make sure you provide detailed information about the products too – this is very essential. Product pages are strong link in any conversion, this is where your customer makes the best decision – whether to buy or not buy. Provide as much information you can provide, from colours to sizes. Provide your customers with what they need in the right form. However, do not clutter your product pages with content; make it simple, consistent and informative in a good layout.

Don’t forget to localize the content too.

3. Navigation Architecture

Sometimes, e-commerce navigation structure can be comprehensive and complicated with series of labels and clicks.  However, a neat navigation will allow shopping enthusiastic to browse effortlessly without getting frustrated. The navigation structure of an e-commerce website should be easy and orderly arranged. Your site’s information architecture needs to be in place for this to work out well. You don’t need to bombard your homepage with menu labels that links to different product pages. You can place the parent category on the homepage and work on your inter-linking process or site architecture.

4. Easy Checkout Process

Easy checkout process makes it easy for customers to complete their purchase online. Long check out process can be a put-off. Some websites require customers to fill out the story of their lives – since their birth date. An ideal check out process should be a single page with just billing and shipping information and a confirmation page that shows that their order has been completed.

‘Sign up’ before checkout should be optional. Even though this helps the website to capture customer information. it is advisable to give users the option of checking out without signing up on the website.

5. Mobile Usability

According to hubspot, “Mobile commerce is the current darling of the e-commerce world.” Every e-commerce website should be mobile-friendly. Customers should be able to view your website – mobile version on their devices. Customers can shop online anytime and anywhere, so let them have an easy access to your website whenever they want to actually purchase a product.

“Shoppers’ mobile use in research and buying is exploding. Currently, eight in 10 smartphone owners are smartphone shoppers,” according to Google/Bazaarvoice as at March 2014.

The success of e-commerce websites lies on your website usability, which helps to improve user experience and helps to increase your site revenue.

What do you think of e-commerce websites in Nigeria? Do you think they are usable? Discuss this post on Radar:

Editor’s note:  Kemi Ojo is a digital marketing expert and graphic designer. She is the Content Manager for online travel booking company, Travelstart. You can follow her on Twitter @keemite and connect with her on linkedin.

Photo Credit: StockMonkeys.com via Compfight cc

The Cabal Author

Get the best African tech newsletters in your inbox