E-commerce now makes up 10 percent of the overall retail market. While Amazon takes 49 cents out of every dollar spent online, e-commerce’s steady growth means there’s still plenty of revenue up for grabs. However, success is unlikely for stores that can’t offer pleasant shopping experiences.

Here are four things online shoppers hate, and one that’s debatable.

Cluttered Site Navigation

What is an e-commerce website without a convenient shopping experience? In a word, faltering. That’s what will happen when a store’s navigation contains too many options in a poorly designed format. It might be tempting to get real fancy on your store layout or list everything your store offers, but your homepage navigation is not the place for such business. Only top-level pages and categories should be visible, and they should be in an order that makes sense. For example, if your site sells boat accessories and pool cleaning supplies, they shouldn’t be listed anywhere near each other in the navigation. Be sure to implement breadcrumbs on your site to keep the shopper clear on your store structure and how they’ve browsed.

Poor Search Filtering

Every website needs a search bar, but only if it actually aids the user’s experience. Unfortunately, many search bars don’t pass this simple test, either because they don’t work at all, or because they don’t provide any suggested pages if a user’s query doesn’t generate a match. An e-commerce site with a search bar that doesn’t work is trying to give away their traffic. Don’t be one of them.

Clunky Checkout Process

Online sales reached $2.29 trillion in 2017, but had three in four carts not been abandoned, that number would have been around $9 trillion. Per Statista, Q1 2018 saw steady abandonment rates. To some extent, cart abandonment is inevitable in e-commerce; the ease at which items can be added to a cart means a certain amount will ultimately be left.

However, e-retailers can insulate themselves from exorbitant abandonment rates by ensuring their checkout process is as smooth as possible. Does your autofill work correctly? Do you offer guest checkout, or require customers to make an account? Are their errors in the checkout process that could hurt your store’s credibility? Do you offer flexible payment methods? Are your fraud filters set appropriately to avoid unnecessary chargebacks? Finally, if you don’t offer free shipping, make that transparent before the customer gets to the end of checkout. Or just offer free shipping. Everybody else is.

Stingy Return Policy  

You might be worried that having a flexible return policy will lead to higher reverse logistics costs, and you wouldn’t be wrong. E-commerce return rates can exceed 30 percent. However, today’s consumers expect a no-hassle, free returns process, and they’re better customers when they get it.

According to one study, stores that offered free shipping saw a 475 percent increase in the amount customers spent versus before they initiated the return. You can also bolster your reverse logistics defenses by encouraging customers to leave detailed product reviews, listing all relevant product info, fixing errors made in your fulfillment process, offering at least a 30-day return window, and keeping your return policy accessible to make customers aware of any exempt items or specific guidelines.

Site Pop-Ups

Let’s be clear, pop-ups can be effective. However, it’s debatable how helpful they can be because of the ways a store could use them varies. For example, one store could have a pop-up trigger when a visitor goes to exit the screen, or they could set the pop-up to appear after 10 seconds of inaction.

You’ll inevitably annoy a portion of your customer base by implementing pop-ups, even if it generates business that otherwise may have been bounced traffic. You can limit the adverse effect of your pop-ups by making sure what you’re offering is really worthwhile. Offering “five percent off your first purchase” is likely to incite eye rolls, whereas a more substantial “15 percent off and free shipping on orders over $50” carries more value to persuade shoppers who may not have been looking to purchase.

Overlook these four things online shoppers hate and you’re sure to lose purchases and diminish your loyal customer base. When in doubt on how to please shoppers, turn to KISS: Keep It Simple & Sweet. Ensure your site navigation is clean, your search functionality is operating, and your checkout process is fluid.

And please, for all that is holy, get with the times and offer a generous return policy.

By Erica Buteau

Change Agent. Daydream Believer. Maker. Creative. Likes love, peace and Jeeping. Dislikes winter, paper cuts and war. She/Her/Hers.

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