COVID-related happenings in 2020 significantly accelerated online activity. Both consumers and retailers flocked to the digital realm to buy and sell goods.
As a result, the focus on user experiences was heightened to a new degree as new groups of consumers were forced to interact with online merchants, possibly for the first time in their lives. Then, in May of 2020, Google announced that come the following year (May of 2021, to be exact), it would roll out its Core Web Vitals algorithm update, a shift that places more weight and importance on premier user experiences. Because of these dynamics, ecommerce retailers are looking to put more of their development budgets toward UX design over the course of 2021.
Given how vital user experience has become to online success in just the past year, now seems like the ideal time to explore six user experience trends that retailers should implement in the near future. That said, let’s dive in.
1. Deploy Chatbots to Enhance Customer Support
When it comes to enhancing the user experience and increasing sales, chatbots can be a powerful tool. The fact of the matter is that most brands can’t afford to have customer service reps on standby all day, every day. However, by implementing a chatbot, sellers can service customers around the clock. While most chatbots tend to cater to answering simple customer questions, more sophisticated ones can be employed to handle more complex tasks.
No matter which route a merchant opts to go, chatbots are a fantastic addition to a seller’s user experience as they ensure that users can get help on a variety of issues, no matter the time of day or night. Moreover, chatbots are an effective tool for increasing sales as well. For example, the power of Facebook Messenger as a marketing tool: “Facebook IQ performed a study on the use of mobile messaging with 12,500 users across the globe and found [that] over 50 percent of users are more likely to make online purchases from brands they can easily communicate with by message.”
Given that chatbots can be easily integrated with websites and Facebook Messenger, this is an ideal way to enhance the overall ecommerce experience.
2. Embrace Minimalist Design
One of the most important user experience trends that retailers should implement on their site in 2021 is the usage of minimalist design principles.
As mentioned in the introduction to this piece, scores of consumers were forced into the online space in 2020. Many of these individuals came from older, non-tech-savvy generations. However, what some may find surprising is that a considerable number of these older shoppers will continue to shop online, even after stores have reopened. For instance, as Internet Retailing details:
“Before the crisis, 45 percent of respondents said they shopped online occasionally or rarely - this rose to 70 percent among shoppers aged 56 years or older. Yet nearly a third (31 percent) of this older group now predict that after lockdown they will shop online more frequently than they did before March 2020 - just 6 percent said they would likely shop in-store more frequently after lockdown ends.”
This means that merchants will now be catering to a new group of consumers who are less likely to be computer savvy. Therefore, implementing a minimalist design across a retailer's site–particularly on checkout pages–is of paramount importance to convert these older site visitors to loyal new customers.
To achieve this, sellers should minimize all potential site clutter, cut down on form fields, allow for guest checkout, implement a good amount of white space and use high-contrast color schemes, among other tactics.
3. Offer Customizable Products
One of the more enjoyable ecommerce trends sweeping the industry is the implementation of “product constructors.” Through this feature, if an item has different variations from which consumers can choose, the constructor provides shoppers with the freedom to modify a product and personalize it to their liking.
In fact, this feature has become so popular that even the likes of Amazon are offering customizable product options for retailers to leverage through the company’s marketplace. The reality of the situation is that, much like with personalized shopping experiences, consumers are looking for products that fit their unique style, needs, and personality. Therefore, they are going to naturally gravitate toward companies that enable them to alter products to perfectly suit them instead of selecting an item that scores of others have already purchased.
4. Product Page Reconfigurations
Product pages are the core of a merchant’s website. Therefore, the way that sellers present their products will undoubtedly have an impact on the user experience.
Over the years, product pages have become somewhat standardized. When landing on a page, most folks are likely to expect to see the product title up top, an image on the left side of the screen, a bulleted description on the right with an “Add to Cart” button nearby, and product reviews somewhere below the fold.
While the homogeneity of product pages has been done well by many retailers and consumers, many retail sites have come to resemble one another in the process. Therefore, retailers might want to consider reimagining their product page layouts. The fact of the matter is that by shaking things up in this department, merchants can take consumers by surprise (in a good way).
In fact, some retailers are already beginning to move in this direction. For instance, taking a moment to explore Gucci’s website reveals that the company's product pages are quite unique, with picture galleries laid out in a highly innovative way.
However, what does (and should) remain the same is that the company continues to use high-quality images that clearly highlight a product’s colors, textures, and other details that give consumers a “feel” for the item.
That said, when undertaking a project such as this, it is wise for sellers to employ an affordable PIM tool such as Plytix. Utilizing a platform such as this, teams can easily collaborate, manage, update and maintain product information such as descriptions, new images, branded content, and other critical assets in a centralized location that significantly increases organizational efficiency.
When considering user experience enhancements in 2021, reconfiguring product pages to stand out from the competition is likely a worthy tactic to explore.
5. Implement Dynamic Product Images
As mentioned, utilizing beautiful product photography is a necessity in ecommerce. However, there are scores of sites that have great product images.
Therefore, when considering how to elevate user experience, it is wise to implement imagery that will help to set the company apart from its competitors. This means that dynamic product images like GIFs or animations can be an excellent tool for portraying a product "in the wild" or from a multitude of angles.
This isn’t to say that sellers should do away with standard high-quality images. Instead, merchants should seek to augment the product page experience by featuring dynamic product photos that help to capture a consumer’s imagination.
6. Use Voice-Enabled Interfaces
For those who are seeking to take their on-site user experience to a new level, implementing a voice-enabled search interface might be the perfect solution.
The fact of the matter is that consumers have become increasingly comfortable with voice search functionality. This is displayed by the fact that back in 2019, 48 percent of consumers used voice assistants for general web searches.
Because of the trend toward voice searches and shopping, ecommerce merchants like Amazon have opted to integrate such features into their apps. Given that the trend of voice search shows no signs of abating, retailers should strongly consider incorporating this type of technology into their ecommerce platforms.
Moreover, voice search is not just an excellent tool for elevating a site's user experience, but it can also help to better a store's SEO performance.
When sellers implement voice features on their site, they suddenly gain access to tons of new keyword data that can be used to optimize their landing pages, blogs, product pages, and other vital ecommerce destinations.
At the same time, voice-enabled interfaces provide an additional layer of simplicity for older generations who are not incredibly computer savvy. By delivering voice search to these kinds of consumers, retailers can potentially increase their customer base and online sales.
It is critical to understand that there is a growing focus on user experience optimization from both online shoppers and search engines like Google. Therefore, it is essential for brands to be on the cutting-edge of providing the highest quality user experience possible.
The trends outlined above will give sellers a good start on improving their on-site experiences for a new era of ecommerce. However, if sellers want to produce a remarkable user experience that stuns shoppers and stands out from competitors, then reach out to design and conversion optimization specialists. Visture, for example, has an award-winning team of experienced professionals who can help conceptualize, craft, and launch a user experience that captivates consumers and increases ecommerce revenue. A good user experience paired with rich, detailed product information that is consistent is a recipe for success in ecommerce!