Creating an excellent e-commerce user experience can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. In this article we’ll outline an evaluation and review process that highlights some of the most important and effective ways to create a unique user experience.

These five tips will push you to rethink your site design and navigation with a focus on efficiency and user experience, while also prioritizing merchandising efforts, speed, and customer outreach and support. The end result will be a user experience that places the customer at the center of every aspect of your e-commerce platform. Creating a customized, unique and seamless shopping experience will set you apart from your competition.

Evaluate your site design with fresh eyes

The first step to an excellent user experience is to look at your site through the eyes of your customers. Complete a thorough “walk through” of your site exactly as your customers would. Enter your site, search for products, add them to the cart and complete a transaction.

While doing this, take notes at each stage. You want to create the most seamless and aesthetic design possible.  Once you’re done, have others do the same thing.  Get their feedback on what they did and didn’t like. Customers want a clean, well-designed site that naturally flows throughout the shopping experience. Your design should be clean and uncluttered, and highlight rather than distract from the products.

Streamline navigation

An intuitive and streamlined navigation system is one of the most important aspects of an excellent user experience. Your site navigation should be accessible during all points of the shopping process. Your search engine should be fast and responsive. It should also incorporate autocomplete and accurate product recommendations.

Verify that your product refinements work and makes sense. Your goal is for your customers to successfully complete a transaction with the fewest amount of clicks.

Place value on merchandising

Work with your merchandising team to ensure your product splash pages are unique, engaging and dynamic. Merchandising is often overlooked when tuning your user experience. Make sure your product pages are uncluttered and highlight the key features of your products, while also allowing customers to view product features in greater detail.

Product pages should be aesthetically appealing and intuitively designed. Properly merchandising your products is a critical factor in creating a curated customer experience that feels unique.

Check your speed

Stress test your site to make sure it loads quickly and feels responsive. Speed is king in e-commerce and has a direct impact on sales. Your site should load quickly on different devices and connection types.

This means you’ll need to thoroughly test on desktop, tablet and mobile devices from wired, wireless, and 3G/4G connections. Slow loading speeds or “failure to load” page warnings, particularly on wireless or cellular connections, are a strong indicator that you need to redesign the backbone of your data delivery system. Work toward a fast, seamless shopping experience on as many devices as possible.

Integrate customer outreach during and after checkout

Customer outreach is an excellent way to create a unique shopping experience in which the customer feels prioritized and valued. Outreach should take a number of different forms, including the option to chat with staff on your site, a follow-up email after a transaction and social media outreach.

E-commerce customers today want multiple ways to contact customer service. Meeting this desire is relatively easy, but requires an engaged customer service team with the tools to do the job. Empower your customer service team to be proactive in addressing customers’ questions and complaints. Lastly, incorporate customer feedback into design changes, product descriptions and business practices. This tells your customers you care and value their feedback.