Entering 2021, the top e-commerce players in Southeast Asia are now: Shopee, Lazada, Tokopedia and The Gioi Di Dong. Not only do we now get to experience better product offerings and logistics (fast delivery), the user experience of e-commerce has improved tremendously.
It took these players years of time to learn and iterate to come out with the excellent e-commerce experience that we enjoy today. Do you know how the e-commerce landscape and user experience have involved over the past decade? We are going to share some interesting development, past case studies and some updated tips here.
Here’s what we will cover in this article. You may continue to read on or skip to specific sections by clicking links below:
- Brief Background: ASEAN
- Case Studies:
- Ecommerce UX Tips
- UX Tips Comparison (2014 vs 2021)
In year 2015, Techcrunch published an article about e-commerce gold rush in Southeast Asia and described that this region as ‘the next gold rush’.
Indeed, 2012-2013 was the year of ‘e-commerce war’ in Southeast Asia. It marked the entrance of various regional technology players venturing into Southeast Asia to capture e-commerce market share, from Japan’s Rakuten to Rocket Internet’s Lazada.
Techrunch (2015): Southeast Asian e-commerce landscape
See any familiar name in the image above? Wait, Shopee wasn’t even there! Yes, Shopee started in Year 2015, and emerged as one of the top players within a rather short period than its competitors.
Fast forward to today, we’re left with just few major players in the region.
If you’re wondering how the e-commerce experience was around 10 years ago, here’s a video released by Google (in 2011) that humorously described the common issues faced by users when performing e-commerce checkout.
Have you used any of the sites listed above and did you notice any improvement over the years?
Since 2011, our team have been conducting user research and testing with e-commerce sites. Below we will share some user testing videos that uncover usability issues of the sites
Note: we worked with some of the companies above, the published learnings here are not part of our work engagement with them.
The Body Shop – Insecure website – Learn More
Lack of seller information – Learn More
Confusing product thumbnail – Learn More
In 2014, we shared some tips for optimizing e-commerce website for higher sales conversion. These tips are backed by our findings from user testing and research on various e-commerce sites, included some of those mentioned above.
After witnessing the growth of e-commerce sites over the years, our team thinks that it’s time for us the update the tips in 2021. Below are some quick tips that we think are crucial for e-commerce players, especially those that do not have huge brand recognition like the top marketplace players.
A website’s homepage is the most crucial part in attracting and encouraging users to continue browsing your website as it is the first thing your targeted users will find. Therefore, a neat and attractive homepage is the key in making a solid first impression and to further engage users to know more about the website or even become a frequent user. So, what does it take to make a good home page?
Firstly, your homepage should include your company’s values and unique selling point. It should be straightforward, and the information provided should be short and sweet. Never overwhelm users with too much detailed information as it might bore them and cause them to leave.
Users visit your website with a purpose. If there are too many things and too much information on the homepage that confuses them, it is very likely that they will just leave the website as they do not want to spend time reading everything and would give up looking for what they came for.
Always make sure that your home page looks clean and easy to navigate. Some e-commerce websites dump everything into their homepage including all the products with different categorizations. This causes their homepage to be messy and confusing.
One of the biggest turn-off that causes users to leave the website halfway is long page loading time. People want to achieve their goal or purpose as quickly as possible. If your page takes forever to load, users tend to give up on your website and go to other alternatives.
Do make sure you take into consideration your site loading duration when designing your website? One effective way in achieving fast page loading time would be making your website a single-page application as it only rewrites the content of the current page instead of loading an entirely new page from the server.
A quick way to check your page speed is by using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. Simply insert your domain URL and Google will give you a score and list down the issues that cause your site to load slow.
Note: It is common for a website to receive low score on Google’s PageSpeed Insights even if the site loads fast. Just take a look at the PageSpeed test result, see if there’s any thing that you should take note or fix. You’re encouraged to try out with different page load test tools.
If you are selling a variety of products or services, do make sure that users can easily find what they are looking for. If your marketed products are grouped, always ensure that their categorization is understandable and straight-forward.
Avoid using unorthodox category names that will make product-browsing hard for your users. Search filters and search function especially smart search are highly recommended as they help users pinpoint a specific product that they are looking for. Smart search allows users to find what they are looking for right away, preventing users from being frustrated by inaccurate or bad search results.
Meanwhile, search filters such as price range works wonders in narrowing search results further and saves users from the trouble of looking through all the search results. Your users will love your website if the product-browsing process is easy and convenient.
Now that your users have found the product they have been looking for, what matters most next to users will be the actual product itself. Therefore, providing detailed product information is vital in increasing the chances of users purchasing the product. When deciding what to include in the individual product page, always place yourself in the users’ shoes. If you were to purchase the product, what would you want to know about?
Many e-commerce websites tend to take this lightly. They do not check if the information given to users is sufficient for them to make a purchase or if it will just disappoint the users and make them leave the website.
A good website is one that empathizes with their users from all aspects. The main thing that drives up sales of an e-commerce website is how the product itself is being presented to potential customers. No matter how good a website or a product is, if users are not given the correct and detailed product information, they will most probably choose not to purchase the product. You should always keep this in mind when you are designing your e-commerce website.
Upon purchasing of a product, some websites have very complicated checkout process that might make users second-guess their choice, questioning the trouble and difficulty they have to endure during the process.
In general, when users finally decide to make a purchase, they have to go through a purchase process. That is the end goal for you as well as your users. The process usually includes adding the product into the shopping cart, selecting their preferred shipping method, payment method, and making their payment. As easy as it sounds and as easy as it should be, do not skimp on what you can offer to your customers. Ensure that the flow is easy to follow, especially for new users.
Users would appreciate it if more payment methods are accepted such as PayPal, credit card, debit card and cash on delivery. You could even consider using digital currencies! Besides that, the convenience and reliability of different shipping methods through air, land, and sea could all be considered based on the nature of your products and where the bulk of your customers resides, the possibilities are endless!
Users always have questions, be it the website, the product they are purchasing or even the payment methods offered. One effective way to engage and communicate with your users as well as helping them is by having a well put-together question-and-answer (Q&A) guide which is also known as the frequently asked questions (FAQ) section.
It is a list of the more common questions that your customers will have or are expected to have along with their respective answers. It helps your customers to get more information and clarification about anything that is related to your company.
Also, it saves you the hassles of receiving endless questions and needing to follow-up tons of e-mails or phone calls that could be repetitive and cumbersome at times, not to mention the costs it could potentially incur to the company!
There are some websites that uses different names other than Q&A or FAQ and it confuses users, so stick to using either Q&A or FAQ to make it easy for your users to find. They are unsure of the page and therefore do not fully utilize the page. As a result, users might have to call in or contact the company to ask questions.
As e-commerce websites serve as a platform for users to purchase products or services online, there is minimal face-to-face interaction or one-to-one assistance given to each user. To build a strong relationship between you and your users, a platform that users can get personal assistance from would give your website extra credits. One of the most common platforms would be a live chat feature.
A good live chat feature is one that responses almost instantaneously to users. Some companies opt to use support request where users are required to file in a request and wait up to 48 hours just to get a single response to what might have been a relatively simple query. You would not want to wait for one or two days just to get a reply too, right?
Responding quickly does not necessarily mean providing an instant answer or solution. It could simply mean acknowledging users’ need of help and telling them that you will come back to them with a solution soon or redirect them to a proper customer service platform that is designed to handle their issues properly.
Users are happy enough to get any reply if they do not have to wait for too long. If your users are able to get assistance or help easily, there is definitely a high chance you can retain these users.
|Year 2014||Year 2021|
|Optimizing For Higher Sales Conversion||Improving the User Experience of E-Commerce Website|
Designs and content management cannot be outsourced
Search function is more important than you think it is
Don’t misuse category navigation
Don’t try to sell everything in one page
Don’t force customer to sign up
Shopping cart needs to be user friendly
Do you think the tips (2014 & 2021) and findings above are still applicable for today’s e-commerce world?
If your e-commerce website has all the 7 tips above checked, your website is good to go! If your website has not fulfilled all the tips given, it is time for you to make some changes to your website.
No doubt that these 7 tips can significantly improve the user experience of your website. Again, always remember to prioritize your users and think from their perspectives when designing or updating your website. Also, always remember to review your website and constantly improve it as users will stay loyal to your website only if it does all things better than other websites.
The only constant is change. With the upcoming trend of 5G technology, we are expecting to experience the next generation of e-commerce experience, such as VR shopping. We are excited and can’t wait to share our review on ‘next-level e-commerce’ soon.