What is E-Commerce?As it's mentioned in our free ebook "Design for Business", in general terms, e-commerce (Electronic Commerce) is the direction of business activity when the process of providing customers with goods or services is done by means of electronic devices and the Internet. This sort of communication and finalization of sales adds some new aspects to data management, sales channels, advertising, presenting goods and services and moreover — enabling the full cycle of commercial operations, including payments, delivery and refunds. The last decade witnessed booming e-commerce development. Today it provides the opportunities for not only e-trade both from businesses to buyers but also online auctions and user-to-user sales platforms. E-commerce systems and activities today include presenting and booking a wide range of services, e-banking, commercial operations with e-money and e-wallets, diverse forms of e-marketing and many other things which customers are using more and more often on the everyday basis. Travel Gear Landing Page
The role of design for e-commerce«If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful» says CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos, and it's hard to argue. Obviously, the success of e-commerce activity depends on several factors among which: — the quality of the product or service offered — the quality of the content presenting the offer to customers — the quality of design for the electronic platform — website and/or mobile application — via which the sales are going to be delivered. So, it’s easy to see that UI/UX design part plays the vital role. Thoroughly thought-out logic and transitions, simple and clear microinteractions, fast feedback from the system, attractive product presentation, easy payment flow and plenty of other details and features can directly influence increasing profits for the business involved in such a popular e-commerce game. This is the field where designers and business experts can work as one team for good of everyone, first of all of the target user. Designing e-commerce website or mobile app, designers should definitely consider the following aspects:
- operational simplicity
- strong branding
- security of users’ data
- effective use of visual elements
- clear data presentation via menus, catalogs etc.
- user’s ability to leave feedback about goods and services
- easily available general and contact information about the business providing goods or services
- design that supports the offer not overshadowing it.
Business Perspective: Branding and PromotionWebsites and mobile applications for e-commerce are (well, should be) always the products created within a particular business scheme. It means they are the part of a certain business plan with the specific goals in mind and the planned ways to achieve them. Therefore, design for this sort of products definitely starts much before the first real line appears on the paper or screen. There are several important issues which should be considered and agreed upon before actual design starts. Among them we would mention the following: - USP of the product. It's essential to set which benefit (or set of benefits) will differ this website or application from the others and make it the core value presented via design. - defined target audience. In e-commerce, it's important to set who your buyers are from the initial stage of the project. Knowing their age and culture, potential problems and wishes, the level of tech literacy and trust to the idea of online shopping, the social circles influencing them and aspects forming their habits, designers can be more precise searching for the shortest way to successful purchase. - positioning, tone and voice of the brand. How would you describe your brand? Is it friendly? Fun or serious? Mass or luxury? Easily available or exclusive? Does it communicate to potential buyers in formal, informal or semi-formal style? Does it open much or mostly keeps reserved silence creating the mystery around the offered goods? These questions may seem far from business which has to be all about finance, profits, points of sales and other stuff of that kind. Still, these issues present the number of features which will set the future brand image. And design is somehow going to be its face, outfit and make-up. - marketing and sales channels. No doubt, it's hard to immediately set all the channels for selling and promoting the future product; however, effective business planning means thinking over the core of them from the start. It will enable design team track and support the consistent experience of both getting to product and actually interacting with it. Even more, designers take an active part in setting and strengthening marketing and sales via variety of means from branded items, landing pages and product videos to exclusive photos, posters and banners attracting customers to the platform where they actually can buy. - type of business relations. Type of business relations based on target customers deeply influences the core aspects of UX design. Set from the start whether it's B2C, B2B or B2C to create proper layout and predict possible user behavior. - typical environment of use. Designers need to know when, where and in which conditions users will typically use the website or app: these factors have a considerable impact on the decisions about layout, color scheme, typography, transitions and interactions, which all need to have the global objective to make the process of shopping easy, quick and enjoyable. Gym Landing Page It's easy to see that all the mentioned points directly influence design solutions as well as techniques and approaches for their realization. It means that the best way to go is to involve designers into the discussion together with stakeholders and marketing specialists at early ideation stage if it's possible; if not, then specification and tasks provided to designer afterward have to include maximum information about those aspects. In case you work in outsource design team, make sure you get this information to be more concentrated on the key aspects of the task, and if not, communicate with the clients as long as it's needed to get all those points clear. This communication will save many hours of iterations, which happens in cases when design is started out of the thin air without the basis of information and goals.
UX perspectiveTalking about e-commerce, it's vital to understand that selling the goods once via the website or mobile application is the minimal program of actions. What stakeholders of the business really aim at is having this user buying via their website or app again and again. User retention is the direct condition of growing profits. And we have to admit that this aspect makes e-commerce sphere highly attractive for designers. The objective which should be achieved is clear and simple: people have to reach the e-commerce platform and buy items offered on it. Make no mistake, positive user experience is the key thing for user retention. In the case of e-commerce, the four key aspects of UX are quite clear:
- utility lies in the nature of the product: it helps users to choose and buy things and services they need.
- usability has to make the customer journey clear and easy, without unnecessary clicks, time lost on loading overloaded pages or inconvenient menu, frustration of not getting feedback from the system etc.
- accessibility has to bring up design which can be used by different categories of users, for example, people with disabilities (dyslexic, color-blind etc.) or low level of tech literacy.
- desirability means that the app will get the look and feel which will make the experience enjoyable and users will wish to get back again.
Intuitive navigationYou can have an amazing website with stylish and trendy design and breathtaking images, but the success of it will be measured not by the number of "wows" it will bring out. The efficiency is measured simply: by the number of complete purchases. If users don't buy, design means nothing while stakeholders lose their money. Clear intuitive navigation plays the premier violin here. At every step of interaction, users need to understand clearly plenty of simple things, like:
- what company or brand they are dealing with
- what page they are at
- where the menu is
- how they can get back to home page or catalog
- where the search and filters are
- how long the page-loading process is going to take
- how they can see the detailed information about the item
- how they can choose between the option for the same item (color, size etc.)
- how they can pay for the item
- how they can save the items they would like to get back to later
- how they can contact the seller
- how they can see the rating and reviews of previous buyers etc.
Sales funnelSales funnel (in other words — purchase funnel) is a technique that moves the customer through several stages of involvement providing him/her with necessary information about the product and benefits persuading to make a purchase. As we described before in the book, basic sales funnel includes the following stages:
- Introduction (Awareness). User gets the initial information about the product, its brand name and nature. In other words, user learns that the product or service exists on the market.
- Education (Interest). User is provided with more detailed information about the features and benefits of the product or service that can potentially interest them and solve their problems.
- Evaluation (Analysis). User gets the chance to compare the offer with its competitors and obtain the information about USPs (Unique Selling Points) of the offered product or service.
- Decision (Engagement). User gets final vital arguments engaging him/her to make a decision; it can be short summing-up about core benefits of the offer, data about additional bonuses or special offers, engaging call to actions and explanation of purchase process.
- Purchase. User makes a decision and takes the ability to make a purchase. The sale is done.
- Retaining (Repeating the experience). User gets the opportunity to leave feedback, obtain additional contacts supporting the offer, subscribes to updates, gets the chance to repeat the purchase easily if desired.