As a retailer, you already understand the importance of providing exceptional user experience.

You’ve likely already implemented a whole host of user experience optimization changes to your product, category, and checkout pages.

You might even be running long-term user experience tests. All of this is good practice.

But what about your blind spots? What about the parts of your user experience that you haven’t fixed because you’re not aware they exist.

Sometimes, retailers need a second perspective. And that’s precisely what you’ll get in this article.

We’re going to cover the top seventeen user experience mistakes that online retailers consistently make.

Repairing them will have a definite (and sometimes immediate) impact on your conversions.

What will you find in this article?

Why Is User Experience Important in Ecommerce?
What Are the Best UX Metrics?
17 Disastrous User Experience Mistakes in Ecommerce

Sounds good? Let’s dive in.

Why Is User Experience Important in Ecommerce?

User experience is fundamentally about creating positive feelings when users interact with your store. Good user experience will lead to satisfied, loyal, and happy customers that have been able to complete their tasks successfully.

User experience is fundamentally about creating positive feelings when users interact with your store. Good user experience will lead to satisfied, loyal, and happy customers that have been able to complete their tasks successfully. Click To Tweet

The difference between user experience optimization and conversion optimization largely boils down to metrics.

UX optimization is about boosting satisfaction, usability, and evangelism (willingness to refer).

What UX is about
User experience is fundamentally about creating positive experiences for your users. (Source)
Conversion optimization focuses exclusively on boosting conversions. There is, of course, significant overlap. Boosting customer satisfaction will increase conversions. But the key difference is the focus.

User experience is important because it has a significant impact on revenue-focused metrics, specifically conversions, average order value, retention period, and order frequency. When you improve your UX, all of these metrics will increase.

Providing a positive user experience also gives you a serious advantage over your competition. As global ecommerce continues to grow, and new stores enter the market, this kind of competitive edge is becoming increasingly important.

Growth hack your ecommerce conversion rate, sales and profits with this
115-Point Ecommerce Optimization Checklist

What Are the Best UX Metrics?

What’s the best way to measure the quality of your user experience? User experience testing often proves difficult because hard data isn’t always available, in contrast to sales and revenue data.
customer satisfaction form by Hubspot
Customer satisfaction forms are the best way of gathering UX date. (Source)
That said, it is possible to gauge the quality of your user experience. Here are the three metrics that are most important in ecommerce UX:

  • Customer satisfaction – You can measure customer satisfaction by generating a CSAT score. A CSAT score is a straightforward metric calculated by asking users to rate their level of satisfaction on a scale of one to ten and determining the average (dividing the total score by the number of respondents).
  • Ease of task completion – How many customers successfully achieved their goal? This metric is calculated by asking customers to rate the ease with which they completed a task. Itis called the CES score. It relies on the assumption that an “easier” process is more user-friendly than a “hard” one.
  • Likelihood of referral – This is also known as your “Net Promoter Score” and is based on the number of users that are likely to refer your store to their family, friends, colleagues, etc. To gather data about the likelihood of referral, you should ask your customers, “How likely are you to refer this store to a friend?” The score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of negative respondents from the percentage of positive ones.

It’s important to note that this kind of data induced by referral marketing is collected through user feedback forms, which are the basis of user experience optimization. You should include feedback forms at key stages of the customer journey, especially after checkout.

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    17 Disastrous User Experience Mistakes in Ecommerce

    With the theoretical dimension out of the way, let’s look at the most common real-life examples of UX mistakes that retailers commonly make.

    1. Failure to Collect Customer Feedback

    User experience optimization is fuelled by customer feedback. If you aren’t collecting customer feedback, you don’t have any real idea about how customers feel about your store. At best, you’ll have an impartial and vague understanding.
    Customer feedback form by Hubspot
    Include feedback forms at all major stages of the customer journey. (Source).

    Fundamentally, shipping update emails are about boosting customer satisfaction rather than driving sales. There are promotional opportunities, but it’s essential to prioritize technical details first – the status of delivery, order number, expected arrival time, and shipping address.

    Feedback forms are a tried-and-tested way of gathering user experience information. Position them at all key stages of the customer journey.

    Ask for feedback when a customer first views a product page, after they check out, and after they’ve used a product for the first time.

    Exit popups are also a great way of targeting customers that might otherwise leave your store without returning in the future.

    2. Use of the Wrong UX Metrics

    Metrics are the other side of the user experience coin. Along with direct customer feedback, metrics that track on-site behavior are essential for gauging the quality of your current customer experience.

    Metrics are a little tricky because, unlike direct customer feedback, they rely on interpretation.

    Here are three key metrics to track:

    • Checkout abandonment rate – Customers that reach checkout have usually already decided to buy. A high checkout abandonment rate often indicates problems with your checkout process.
    • Retention rate – How many customers are returning to your store to make a second or third purchase? Returning customers are a sure sign of a positive user experience.
    • Referral rate – A high referral rate indicates that customers are satisfied enough to refer your store to friends and family.

    “Hard” metrics like those described above work best when supplemented with data from customer feedback and opinion forms.

    3. Vague On-Site Messaging and Value Proposition

    When customers land on your site, it’s your job to reassure them they’re in the right place. See customers as having a set of questions that need answering before they can proceed.

    First, confirm that customers will find what they’re looking for. Be clear about what your store sells by showcasing images, taglines, site copy, etc.
    Etsy clearly displays its value proposition
    Etsy clearly displays its value proposition on its homepage. All sellers are independent and everything is unique. Many items also have free shipping.
    Second, reaffirm your value proposition, the unique blend of benefits that your store offers, to answer the question, “Why should I shop here instead of somewhere else?”

    Finally, answer the question, “What’s the next step?” Do you want visitors to use the navigation, click on a Call-To-Action, or sign up for an account?

    For more information about building an excellent value proposition, check out our in depth article on the topic: How to Create a Killer Value Proposition in Ecommerce.

    4. Slow Site Speed

    Slow sites are a big hangup for the majority of online users. Use Google PageSpeed Insights to see how you can improve your site’s speed.

    Here’s a quick rundown of the most important points:

    • Compress images – Improperly formatted images usually slow sites down by several seconds. Make sure that all images are compressed.
    • Use a CDN – A content delivery network is a worldwide network of servers that stores a cached version of your site. Whenever somebody requests your site via their browser, the nearest server is contacted, which reduces load time. Using a CDN will also automatically minify your site files, essentially converting code into shorthand that browsers can understand and deleting unnecessary comments and notes.
    • Use a dedicated ecommerce hosting package – Dedicated ecommerce hosting servers are set up to handle the unique requirements of ecommerce sites, and this can have a significant effect on load times.

    Boosting site speed is one of the quickest, most effective ways of improving your user experience.

    Learn more about boosting your site speed with our article: How to Measure Ecommerce Site Speed and Why It’s Crucial for Conversion Rate Optimization.

    5. Ignoring Wireframes and Prototypes

    Wireframes and prototypes are one of the most underused of all ecommerce tools. They play an essential part in ecommerce usability testing and optimization.

    Wireframes are crude, semi-developed outlines of proposed changes to the user experience.
    Wireframes used for visualizing user experience
    Wireframes are indispensable tools for visualizing your user experience. (Source)
    Prototypes are more sophisticated, near-complete presentations of what your site will look like once changes are implemented.

    Use wireframes and prototypes to visualize the customer journey during development, do some preliminary A/B testing, brainstorm with other team members, and gather feedback from focus groups.

    Check out our in-depth article on the topic: Prototyping and Wireframing in Ecommerce Usability Testing.

    6. Not Promoting Free Shipping, Offers and Discounts

    Online shoppers love promotions and discounts. Customers that feel they’ve got a bargain are more likely to be more satisfied with their experience of your store.

    Be vocal about offers on your site. If you’re running a sale or site-wide promotion, include a notice in your header (especially for buying holidays like Black Friday and Mother’s Day)

    For discounted items, clearly show the original price in red (and crossed out) next to the new price.

    Also, remember to tell visitors about free shipping right across your site. Free shipping is a big selling point. It’s so common for retailers to offer free shipping nowadays that buyers have come to expect it as a matter of course.

    7. Cluttered and Confusing Site Design

    As a general rule, less is more in ecommerce. The most successful sites, like Amazon, ASOS, Zappos, and many others, opt for a pared-down, simple design.
    Clean design on Amazon's early pages
    Even in the early days, Amazon’s site design was clean and simple.
    There are many reasons that minimal site designs are preferable over cluttered ones from a UX perspective.

    Simpler designs allow users to consume relevant content, whether images, reviews, product descriptions, specs, and so on, without unnecessary distractions.

    Furthermore, minimalist designs allow CTAs and navigation elements to stand out, so customers don’t have any trouble moving around your website.

    8. No Match-Up Between Ads and Landing Pages

    When a customer clicks on an ad and is taken to a landing page, they must think they’re in the right place. This is especially true if you have offered a discount or promotion.

    It’s incredibly frustrating to click on an ad, expecting to land on a product page or promotional landing page, only to be taken somewhere entirely unrelated.

    But this point goes beyond content. Customers need to feel like they’re in the right place straight away. How? A consistent look-and-feel between ads and landing pages will put visitors at ease.

    Along with the content of the page, ensure that colors, branding, and messaging match up with your ad. Also, include a clear CTA on landing pages so that users know exactly where to click.

    9. Lack of Personalization

    Retail customers now expect personalization. Failure to offer personalized experiences can put you at a significant competitive disadvantage as a retailer.

    Retail customers now expect personalization. Failure to offer personalized experiences can put you at a significant competitive disadvantage as a retailer. Click To Tweet

    Here are some of the main areas to consider:

    • Geo-targeting – Are customers given a choice to redirect to a country-specific store when they land on your site? If you have an international site, do you offer language and currency options?
    • Recommendations – Are you pitching relevant deals to customers based on their past behavior and saved preferences? Remember, emails aren’t the only place to make product recommendations. Product pages, home pages, and even after checkout, all offer prime opportunities.

    eBay makes targeted offers to its users
    eBay makes targeted offers to users on its homepage.

    • Exclusive deals – When’s the last time you pitched exclusive deals to segments of your customer-base? Use behavioral and previous purchase data to craft tailored offers.
    • Birthday deals – If you have information about customers’ birthdays, send them emails (preferably with a discount code) on their birthday. This is an easy way to build trust.

    Lots of small personalization changes add up to have a big impact on your overall user experience. Implement personalization wherever it’s feasible to do so.

    Check out our in-depth guide on ecommerce personalization for more tips and tactics: 27 Great Ecommerce Personalization Examples to Boost Conversions.

    10. Not Enough Reviews

    Research shows that most online consumers want to read reviews prior to making a purchase.

    Include product reviews on all product pages, showcasing the most useful and in-depth examples first.

    It’s also essential to allow users to sort reviews according to different criteria, such as good-to-bad (and vice versa), most recent, and most helpful. Many potential customers will want to check negative reviews, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    If you don’t have many product reviews at the moment, it’s always possible to collect more.

    Often, all that’s needed is a straightforward transactional email sent after a customer has had a chance to use a product. Adding incentives, like entry into a prize draw, can dramatically increase your response rate.

    For tips about how to do this, check out our guide: 7 Tips to Build Trust and Boost Conversions With Customer Reviews.

    11. Bad Technical Processes

    Virtually every user will need to undertake several “technical” tasks over the course of their “customer lifetime”.

    If you’re making it difficult for users to recover their password, check the status of delivery, return items, and so on, then you’re likely causing needless frustration.

    Ensure you cover all the following bases:

    • Account creation – Let customers create accounts easily. Keep forms simple and don’t ask for unnecessary information.
    • Password recovery – Include a password recovery link underneath login forms and don’t add any extraneous information (especially not ads) in reset emails.
    • Delivery status – Keep customers informed about the status of their delivery. There’s no need to overload them with information, and just one or two emails will do. Include a link to a more detailed tracking page.

    Airbnb keeps their 404 pages to-the-point
    Keep 404 pages to-the-point, like Airbnb.

    • Returns and refunds – Include a visible link for returns and refunds in each customer’s account area and keep the returns process simple. Create a dedicated page for information about how to return items.
    • Confirmation, 404, and error pages – Keep these pages informative and straightforward.

    Because they don’t always have an impact on conversions and revenue, it’s easy to ignore technical tasks. But they’re a vital part of the overall customer experience.

    12. Shoddy “About Us” Page

    Many customers will go to your about us page to validate concerns about your brand. Others will just want to learn more about you.

    Include the following information-points:

    • History and values – Include a little background information and describe what you stand for.
    • Ethical initiatives – Customers are becoming more and more concerned about ethics. Outline any initiatives and projects you’ve undertaken.
    • Value proposition – What’s your value proposition. Condense it into two or three sentences and include it on your About Us page.

    Browsers visit about us pages a lot more often than most retailers think. Don’t overlook yours!

    13. Lack of Focus on Mobile UX Optimization

    53% of shoppers browse on mobile phones rather than on desktop computers. It’s essential to have a dedicated mobile site.

    53% of shoppers browse on mobile phones rather than on desktop computers. It's essential to have a dedicated mobile site. Click To Tweet

    Mobile optimization is a vast topic, and all of the tips in this post are applicable. Don’t apply them exclusively to your desktop site.
    Mobile commerce is growing fast, reports Statista
    Mobile ecommerce is growing fast. (Source)
    You can learn about mobile optimization by checking out the articles below:

    14. Low-Quality Images on Product Pages

    Product images are an essential part of product pages. Low-quality photographs can have a hugely detrimental effect on user experience.

    All images should meet the following criteria:

    • High-resolution and zoomable – High-resolution images clearly show product features and designs and look professional. Allow customers to zoom into pictures to inspect details.
    • Show the most important product features – Include photos dedicated to items’ most important features, like the soles of shoes and control panels on electrical products.
    • “Swipeable” on mobile – Mobile users instinctively swipe photos. Enable this feature.
    • Include model details alongside images – Show models’ measurements so that customers can see if a particular size is suitable for them.

    Always remember to compress images so your site’s speed isn’t impacted.

    15. Common Design Mistakes

    There are a handful of common yet highly detrimental design mistakes that retailers routinely make.

    Here are the main culprits:

    • Long Checkout Forms – Long checkout forms are one of the biggest contributors to customer frustration and, consequently, checkout abandonment.
    • Confusing Navigation – Use a hierarchical structure and use commonly-understood labels.

    Zalando's intuitive navigation
    Zalando’s navigation is intuitive and hierarchical.

    • Non-Grid Layout -There’s a reason that the biggest sites use grid layouts. They’re effective. What’s more, grid layouts are so common that online shoppers intuitively know how to interact with them.
    • Unresponsive Site – A responsive site is one that adapts to different devices and browser sizes. A “fixed” site will only look good on one or a handful of browser types.

    16. Failure to Send Transactional Emails

    Transactional emails are sent in response to specific behaviors. They provide customers with important confirmation details and supplementary information.

    Ensure you’re sending the following transactional emails:

    • Welcome emails – Whenever a customer signs up to your store, send them a welcome email. Even better, include a discount code for their first purchase!
    • Delivery update emails – Let customers know when their item has been dispatched and when it’s out for delivery. Include a link to a more detailed tracking page.
    • Order confirmation emails – When a customer successfully purchases an item, send an order confirmation email. This also acts as a receipt.

    Check out our in-depth article on the topic of transactional emails: The Complete Guide to Ecommerce Transactional Emails: Tips, Templates, and Examples.

    17. Failure to Run Tests

    To round off, we have one simple but essential point.

    User experience optimization is all about testing. If you only take one point from this article, make it this one. You need to run consistent, long-term A/B and multivariate tests with a view to boosting UX ratings.


    Ironing out the mistakes described in this post will have a direct and often immediate impact on your user experience.

    But it’s essential not to underestimate the value of testing. In particular, pay attention to those areas that you wouldn’t normally consider, they’re the places that mistakes are most likely to arise.

    UX optimization will affect all of your key metrics and prep your store for success in a fast-changing retail world.

    Now, time to start implementing some changes!

    More User Experience Articles on Growcode

    Here are some more great articles about ecommerce user experience for you to check out:

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