As we've entered a new decade, user experience (UX) continues to be of critical importance for ecommerce retailers. Customer expectations are rising from customers demanding a more personalized, refined, and satisfying experience.
We sat down with Helle Jensen, Customer Experience Director at Ucommerce (a featured partner ecommerce integration for Sitefinity) to discuss some of the key takeaways from the previous year and her predictions of the biggest ecommerce UX trends for 2020.
This blog post will guide you through the following:
2019: What did we learn?
2020: What are the emerging user experience (UX) trends?
One of the big changes in 2019 was the business mindset; the thought of UX moving from something that is “nice-to-have” to something that is “need-to-have.” Retailers began to understand the importance of applying UX in ecommerce due to the rising expectations of customers.
2019 also showed a more holistic approach to the ecommerce experience. Earlier, there was a great focus on conversion optimization through, for instance, button colors, button sizes, etc.
In 2019, we instead viewed the transaction more like an experience for the customer where we as shop owners needed to make our store more attractive, approachable, niche-oriented or whatever would emphasize our unique selling proposition. This requires that recognition of UX as not a nice-to-have, but rather a need-to-have and a deep-rooted part of running a digital business. The visuals have to go hand in hand with the business strategy and vision, as users are more demanding and need to see a business they can trust and understand.
According to Helle, another major mentality change is the move away from focusing on responsive websites where the website needs to be compatible with every screen size and format. Today, there is much more to it than designing for three different views – it’s about considering when and where the interactions happen on which screen. Retailers are beginning to realize that dual-screen shopping behavior is very common for customers so it’s a different kind of responsiveness that is needed today. It needs to be more fluid and collaborative.
Lastly, 2019 was a year of collecting more data than ever before. Companies continued to collect large amounts of data, across many different systems. The data-driven approach to ecommerce evolved to make the ecommerce experience extremely personal for the customer—delivering unique messages to customers across every customer interaction. Now, companies are challenged to automate data collection across applications, quickly draw actionable insights and optimize content that creates value for their business.
With the takeaways from 2019 in mind, what does 2020 have coming for us? Helle has shared eight trends in UX that create new opportunities for retailers working with ecommerce.
Information architecture (IA) is defined as the practice of “... helping people understand their surroundings and find what they’re looking form in the real world as well as online.” (Information Architecture Institute). This entails delivering the right information to your customers at the right places so that it’s both friendly to the user but also optimized for SEO. Going forward, content is to play a much larger role in this field as content will partly replace pre-defined grids. Good information architecture is a crucial factor in determining your online store’s success. If the customers can’t find the product or the information they need, they simply won’t buy anything.
In short, content is key for you to be able to sell products online. The customer expects you to guide them through the whole purchase, from consideration and decision to buying and using the product.
In 2020, there will be a great emphasis on humanity. What that entails is that businesses need to realize that they are dealing with real people with real emotions—no matter if you are working with B2B or B2C. A focus on humanity entails communicating feelings and ensuring that what the customer is looking at has a purpose.
The purpose is very different from one business to the next; it’s more difficult to communicate humanity in an Amazon-like shop than a shop where you sell subscriptions for healthy foods for example. However, it is definitely one of the areas where you can differentiate your digital customer experience. Deliver a personalized shopping experience to customers—where they are a part of something bigger than just making a purchase online.
Ensuring a great user experience is not the responsibility of a one-man army and an isolated business activity. Rather, it requires effort from all business departments from marketing to developers to customer service.
User experience is everyone’s responsibility, so it requires a shift in the business mindset. Everyone must relate to UX and design, and the other way around; everyone must relate to which business we’re running. Customers today expect that you know what they like, what they have previously bought, what they reacted to in the newsletter, and so on. You need to know everything (with their permission of course) and be able to make useful predictions. Similarly, you need to be able to fulfill the promises that you make on your website. UX and design can help you create the right balance to set the right expectations. This process requires blurring the lines between business departments which we will see more of in 2020.
Digital accessibility refers to the practice of making content and applications accessible for a wide range of people, including people with motor, auditory, visual, speech, or cognitive disabilities. Dealing with accessibility in ecommerce and web design will change what is possible and dictate what must be included in the web structure. Adhere to web accessibility requirements so that you can deliver all visitors a personalized, streamlined buyer journey.
Mobile commerce has been continuously growing. From a UX perspective, there is an increasing demand to enable the customer to make complex actions on smaller screens and be able to seamlessly change between screen sizes. Based on years of experience working with B2B, mobile commerce is not only reserved for B2C anymore. It might be surprising that this is news in 2020, however, a lot of businesses don't realize that their customers don’t need to work from a laptop anymore. This year, responsive websites need to be more fluid in order to make it easier for customers to use their mobile devices as an ecommerce experience.
Animations, or delighters as designers tend to call them, are on the rise. Animations are valuable for many purposes whether it’s a button form, an image, or anything really. The imagination determines what we can use animations for, which is why we expect to see more animations in entirely new and innovative ways. Animations, or delighters, are excellent for adding personality and that little extra to the commerce experience. It's not just about making something shake or jump up and down but putting some feeling into it and showing the customer the way. For instance, in a web shop, when adding a product to the cart, smaller animations, such as moving the product from the product line into the cart, are able to take the customer by the hand throughout the customer experience.
In 2019, we talked a lot about how to collect a great amount of data. In 2020, we will talk a lot about how to use this data. Data has been a buzzword for several years but many businesses are currently looking into a giant pile of data that they now need to figure how to benefit from; how do we use the data to drive business, how do we use data to inform and make decisions, and how do we use data to design and to meet the customers’ needs and expectations?
Combining web, mobile, social, and in-person data brings retailers much closer to a 360-degree customer experience. This offers a great opportunity to build relationships with the customers and create unique shopping experiences by visualizing the data gathered from the customer. A great example is Spotify’s popular “Wrapped” campaign that gave each user a detailed report of their music from the last decade visualized in a fluid, creative, and easily understandable user interface. However, data usage is not solely for B2C. For B2B, it’s likewise a big trend to gather clients’ data and sell it as a package in the shape of dashboards, personalized services, forecasting, or something else.
It may not come as a surprise, but user experience has come to stay in the digital commerce space. It has become a crucial driver of ecommerce success. Sitefinity’s partner ecommerce integration, Ucommerce, enables organizations to create and manage a user experience that drives revenue, easily and cost effectively.
Learn More About Ucommerce for Sitefinity
Helle Jensen is the Director of Customer Experience at Ucommerce, Sitefinity’s partner ecommerce integration. She has over 10 years of experience working in user experience and ecommerce—in both B2B and B2C markets.
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