Optimising the customer experience

Posted on the 4th November 2011

There was a time when businesses had one shot at getting the design of a website right. Once the site was launched businesses hardly ever reviewed its success. Today, smart retailers are optimising the customer experience by constantly testing, learning and improving the sites processes. Numerous retail web designers now incorporate multiple versions of the same page into the production stage, experimenting with diverse placements, copy and size to offer an analysis of the best conversion rate.

Retail businesses could do with stopping the way they think of their e-commerce site as a project with distinct deliverables. The obsolete concept of a single release should be consigned to history, to make way for constant improvements. For example – Every week the photo sharing website Flickr continue to improve their site. They publish this data; in just one week they made 622 changes to their live site. They did this through 63 releases. Most companies are pleased to get just one release done.

You see – that is the best thing about ecommerce…the ability to change things relatively quickly and at a comparatively low cost (especially when compared to changing the layout and structure of a bricks and mortar store). Retailers often feel that a virtual shopping assistant will help customers select the product but the thing is, once the user has reached the checkout, poor usability, inconsistency and bad design frequently results in the customer just giving up.

Online shopping has developed into a most important part of the retail experience for customers, bringing in a considerable turnover for many retail businesses. Although running an online store has develop into a natural part of selling, retailers still need to appreciate that e-commerce isn’t just about getting people to shop more. It also needs to be about learning how to develop the user experience and to convince them to shop better.