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Why UX and CRO matter in building a great e-commerce experience

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In this article, we’ll dive into the importance of UX and CRO in E-commerce, discover the various malfunctioning UX and CRO strategies, and see how we can rectify them using user-focused approaches to obtain maximum conversions.

What are UX and CRO, and What Makes Them Different?

In non-technical language, UX or User Experience revolves around the experience or perception of a user that takes shape after they interact with a product, device, service, or website.

CRO or Conversion Rate Optimization is the enhancement of a webpage based on the behaviour of the users landing on the page to accomplish their desired goals, thereby increasing its traffic.

Both UX and CRO sound similar in terms of analyzing visitor’s behavior and usability testing. But on further inspection, both use distinct approaches to solve a problem. CRO answers us on “what is happening on the website?” whereas UX comprehends, “why is it happening?”.

For example, if a website is selling T-shirts and the visitors are not buying them as anticipated, leading to poor sales, we can assume the site is not converting and it has a poor CRO. On the other hand, when the site lays out a range of T-shirts in different price ranges, sizes, styles, and colours, how do we know what the visitors might like and how would they like it? You guessed it, that is where UX comes to play.

Why are they important?

Both UX and CRO have been gaining traction in the last few decades, ever since the E-commerce industry started to flourish. The reason — the development of E-commerce platforms being extremely complex requires regular trials and errors and customer engagement. Optimum CRO and UX strategies help to overcome these hurdles.

E-commerce brands having similar products/services in a competitive marketplace often give the wrong impression of copying each other to increase their sales. But that doesn’t always work. It can lead to multiple repercussions sooner or later.

Factors as bad UX, not understanding your users, or not optimizing the site according to their needs, cannot only lead to the loss of visitors or revenue but also to a negative brand perception of any online business. Practices like non-opening product listings in a new tab, poor-quality product images, out-of-stocks listings, no search bar at the top part of the page can annoy the shoppers. Recent data from Baymard Institute suggests that nearly 70% of users leave the site without checking out on popular E-commerce platforms.

Picture by Baymard
Picture by Baymard

In conclusion, if the UX and CRO are rightly optimized then,

  • you will have more sales (okay, we have got your attention now)
  • you will save money (ka-ching)
  • you will learn about your customers (remember, it’s all about the customers)
  • you will legitimize and streamline your business (yup, that’s right)
  • it will boost your site’s Google rankings (no jokes here)
  • make you get ahead of your competitors (be always one step ahead)
  • it will enhance the overall look and feel of your website (et voilà)

Let us look at the effects of bad UX and CRO strategies, and how designers can rectify them for their users, specifically increasing the overall conversion rates.

1. The ‘Hurry up’ Scenario

In a Nutshell: The ideal approach to make use of time-bound offers or limited availability is by providing the user, sufficient time to make an informed decision. You can even give them the exact details of availability.

Creating a state of urgency is an effective strategy while motivating the users to make a purchase, but only when implemented correctly. This tactic fails when some businesses create a compulsion or forcefully persuade their users to buy, instead of letting them decide for themselves.

If there’s a limited sale running for a few days or a week, then the idea of urgency is valid. The short period gives the users enough time to evaluate and decide whether they would want to opt for the deal. It becomes a win-win choice for both sides.

But that’s not the case with every website these days. Numerous sites have their “Hurry Up” deals presented as early-bird-discounts, lasting only a few minutes. Everyone who lands on their site has to view these deals, plus the user only gets a few minutes to make a decision.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash
Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Does it work? — It’s a delusionary approach. After being immensely confused, users decide to leave the offer and the site as well. Many users understand the catch and paint an overall negative picture of the brand. It leads to less sales than predicted.

How to get started with CRO workbook for free!

CRO & UX are a big field, it can be difficult to know where to start 🤔

Most of the guides out there are either too long, too short, or generalize things so much that they do not help you at all.

My free workbook will help you create your own plan for CRO success by showing you how other companies have done it successfully and what went wrong with their strategy to learn from their mistakes. The book is free, as I believe knowledge should be shared! The book has already helped several companies.

How to optimize?

  • The best way to offer a limited-time deal is not by putting a countdown on the site but by inducing something empowering where the users get to make their own choice. Limited stock availability is more suitable approach in this regard.
  • While listing down the availability, you can introduce real-time data of the number of people viewing the services in a day.

2. The Turtle Motion of Site Loading

In a Nutshell: Limit the site loading time to less than a second, or else the user will exit in no time.

The reason why most of the visitors don’t convert is because of the waiting time while loading the website. When we talk about loading time, we talk about seconds. The Nielsen Norman Group has devised three-time limits while optimizing web and application performance:

0.1 second — The webpage is reacting instantly for the user.

1 second — The slight delay is noticeable to the user, so they’ll experience a little discomfort.

10 seconds– The user tends to abandon the page.

Making the user wait for 10 seconds or more is bound to annoy them and lessen the conversion rate. So the goal here is to keep the loading time less than a second if possible.

Causes for the Turtle Motion of Site Loading include:

  • Un-optimized images (images having high-resolutions)
  • JavaScript issues
  • too much flash content
  • too many ads

How to optimize?

3. The Sign Up to Continue Request

In a Nutshell: Sign up requests are tedious and annoying to users. Use better visible options like one-time guest checkout.

A few websites request their users to create an account or sign up to their website to continue viewing their services/products or buy something. “Sign Up to Continue” is one of the most prominent reasons why users put a halt on their shopping spree even after adding it to the cart. According to 2020 data published by Baymard Institute, a whopping 18% of websites still had ‘create an account to continue’ request while scrolling through their products.

The daunting task of creating a profile and entering the phone number, address, email ID, creating a password, passing the security test, and verifying the email is not of the majority’s interest (especially if it’s a one-time purchase). Moreover, sharing personal data is a big turn off for some users.

Picture by Baymard
Picture by Baymard

How to optimize?

  • Opt for quick and convenient guest checkouts. Make sure the option for guest checkout is clearly visible and easy to access. Research on usability depicts that nearly 60% of users have difficulty finding the guest checkout option.
  • Make sure to place it on the top of the screen to decrease the bounce rates.
  • Guest checkout enables the users to access your site without the tedious task of having to recover the forgotten password.

4. The Manipulation of Pricing Layouts

In a Nutshell: Manipulating your users to choose the most over-priced plans are just quick fixes and don’t always work. It creates a bitter experience for them. Hence, deliver them exactly what they want, and upsell based on that in the future.

Your users should know the price of your products. There is a multitude of pricing options to display them to increase conversion rates. But some are only conversion-focused rather than user-focused.

According to a psychological study, the users tend to select the first option listed on the pricing page available to them, irrespective of the prices. The theory suggests that one should put forward their most expensive offer first because there is a high chance for the visitor to go with that option itself. That means more revenue for your E-commerce business.

Does it work?

If the most heavily priced subscription layouts of your site don’t fit well with the user’s needs, then the user is likely to leave the site. As explained by HubSpot, when the users buy expensive services from a site opposing to their actual needs, it creates a slight bitterness towards the brand. Poor market-fit influences the user-churn-out-rates.

How to optimize?

  • Be honest while making claims about the pricing.
  • List out the reasons why the product or plan is expensive or popular than the others. The users will return to buy more if the package justifies their demands.
  • Highlight the medium price-ranged subscription plan and downplay the free plans.
  • Include an FAQ section at the bottom.

5. The Lead Generation using Pop-Ups

In a Nutshell: When using pop-ups, make sure they are functional, relevant, timely, and have a ‘close pop-up’ option visible to the users.

Nowadays, pop-ups are present on every site you visit. Unfortunately, the marketing team focuses on getting more leads than finding out how many of these leads turn into actual customers.

Photo by Adam Solomon on Unsplash
Photo by Adam Solomon on Unsplash

Does it work?

Yes, it does, but only when the pop-ups are useful, relevant, and timely. Generally, businesses use this strategy for personal gains only. But sometimes, it can be disruptive and hamper the conversion and consumption flow of the user. Moreover, if there’s no option available on the site for closing an irrelevant pop-up, then the design looks substandard and annoying.

The same can also apply for exit-intent popups — content has to be useful, relevant, and timely. Exit-intent popups having no closing options are a disaster.

How to optimize?

  • Make sure that the popups are functional/useful, relevant, and timely in terms of the content. A popup that’s irrelevant and doesn’t have the right approach can irritate the user. Newsletter subscription popups work best in this regard. They don’t have unnecessary and irritating CTAs.
  • Allow a visible close option for popups. Remember, don’t push the users to make a decision. But let them make the decisions themselves.

The Final Word

Both UX and CRO strategies make a significant positive impact on the E-commerce channels, as long as they are more user-focused than being conversion focused. Many of the above-discussed tactics automatically improve the conversions only when they make their users the main priority first. If you only aim for conversions, then you’re only opting for quick fixes. But if you want to make a long-lasting impact with your brand in the market, you should primarily focus on what the users need or demand and then improve the usability of your site. Therefore we can say, both CRO and UX go hand-in-hand while creating a long-lasting brand impact.


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