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Mobile e-commerce user experience best practices for app developers

As an increasing number of users opt to make purchases on smartphones, providing a high-quality mobile e-commerce user experience (UX) is more important to businesses than ever. In the U.S., mobile e-commerce sales are projected to increase to $728.28 billion by 2025. Impressively, nearly 66% of all online commerce was generated via mobile in 2022–a 25% increase since 2016.

However, that growth is predicted to slow over the coming years. And in fact, e-commerce app installs and sessions have been decelerating over recent years. That’s why it’s more important than ever to optimize your app’s (UX) in order to continue to thrive in this current market. After all, well-designed and intuitive e-commerce UX can make it easier for customers to navigate your app, find what they are looking for, and make purchases.

Start with e-commerce UX groundwork

Before you start strategically designing your app’s interface, you’ll need to walk through the initial steps to create a strong foundation for your UX efforts.

Define your goals

Whether your goal is to convert more customers or to increase the average revenue per user (ARPU), you should set KPIs to align with your overall targets. This critical step will allow you to track valuable performance metrics and make changes to your app that help you achieve your goals. This process will vary depending on the products you sell and whether the app is a B2C or B2B e-commerce app.

Identify your target audience

Knowing who you expect to install and use your app will inform every step of development. You can create user personas to ensure that your app is suitable for several different types of key users. Doing so requires you to map out the different paths to purchase that various segments may take according to shared needs and preferences.

Key features to consider in e-commerce UX

While the nature of your products and offering will determine which features you prioritize, there are several elements all mobile e-commerce app developers should consider.

E-commerce onboarding UX

This is your app’s introduction to new (and returning) users. The aim should be to provide information necessary for users to benefit from your app’s functionality. The key at this stage is to allow users to get started without having to sign in or create an account. However, the option should still be available to sign in, as it will unlock further beneficial UX features thereafter.

When a user creates an account, collect only information that is absolutely necessary to set up the account, reducing friction. Gamify the remaining information you would like to receive for their user profile. You can also simplify the registration process by allowing users to sign up via a social media account.

Consider an optional, quick questionnaire that will help you customize the app user’s landing page UX with personalized products based on their interests and preferences. This is a great time to launch the opt-in prompt for app tracking on iOS as the user has already expressed interest in a custom experience.

Benefit to you: Higher retention rate, lower churn, and improved opt-in rates.

Shopping UX

Now is when you really start setting shoppers up for success. Your app needs an intuitive and user-friendly interface that enables users to quickly and easily find and purchase the products they are looking for.

E-commerce navigation UX

Good navigation UX will use clear and consistent labeling, intuitive hierarchy and categorization, and optimization for various devices.

E-commerce search UX

The search functionality is a crucial aspect of any e-commerce app's UX, as it allows customers to quickly find the products they are looking for.

Carefully consider each of these mobile search UX elements:

  1. Search bar UX: The search bar should be prominent and easily accessible, preferably at the top of the screen, with auto-suggestions that appear as a user types, as well as auto-correction of typos. The search UX should be consistent across all pages of the app.
  2. Search filter UX: Advanced search UX, also known as faceted search UX, is the addition of filters to allow for the option of an advanced search. This is essential for customers who have specific product requirements. It should include various search criteria such as category, theme, color, size, price range, and brand (if applicable), and allow customers to combine multiple criteria to find the exact product they are looking for.
  3. Search results UX: Search results should provide customers with relevant and accurate products, even when they use different search terms or misspellings. Product listings should provide clear and concise product information, and include images and reviews to help customers make an informed decision. Check out the section below in visual commerce for more info. As you gather more data about a user’s interests you can incorporate features such as personalized recommendations into the search results.

Benefit to you: Improved loyalty, higher conversion rate, and data on what users are searching to help you optimize your SEO, ASO, product pages, and product offerings.

Visual commerce

Many customers may be hesitant to make big purchases online when they can’t test a product in person. This is why mobile e-commerce apps need to give users as many ways to experience products as possible. There are several ways to provide a clear impression of your products using visual commerce:

Multiple images: Include several images of each product, covering every aspect of what users may want to know before purchasing. For example, include close-up images that display a garment’s material to give a better idea of how it may feel to wear.

Rich media: You should think about where video and other types of rich media are necessary to display your products accurately. This may be important for merchandise that may be difficult to use or require further explanation.

Image zooming: It is important for mobile commerce apps to support image zooming so that users can take a closer look at your goods. This is also an engaging tool that encourages users to interact with your app and products.

Augmented reality (AR): AR is a powerful tool that marketers can use to engage customers and increase sales for e-commerce apps. For example, e-commerce app Jazeera Paints allows users to see how a paint color would look directly in their home and recommends relevant products.

User-generated content (UGC): Allowing users to upload pictures using the product, and displaying those UGC images on the relevant product page, can help provide a more accurate view of how your products look in the real world.

Benefit to you: Increased engagement and higher conversion rates.

Customer wishlist UX

A wishlist feature allows customers to save products they are interested in and revisit them later, without having to search for them again or complicating the contents of their basket. This is a smart way to keep users returning to your app to purchase items they may have otherwise forgotten.

A well-designed wishlist UX involves making it easy for customers to create multiple wishlists, view and manage their wishlists, and receive notifications when there are updates or price drops. It should also allow customers to share their wishlists with friends and family, making it a valuable tool for gift-giving occasions.

Benefit to you: Gather data on which products are being saved, and at which price point consumers convert. Analyzing this data for opted-in users will also allow you to personalize product recommendations, push notifications, and marketing efforts by customer or segment.

Shopping cart UX

A well-designed mobile shopping cart should be easy to access (and consistent across all pages) and simple to use. It should allow customers to easily add, remove, or edit items in their cart, as well as view their subtotal, taxes, and shipping fees. Additionally, it should provide customers with prominent and clear calls to action, such as the option to continue shopping or proceed to checkout.

Checkout UX

By the time a user is ready to complete a purchase, all of their hard work has been done and you should make this final step as simple as possible for the user. Display an option to return to the checkout page while navigating anywhere within your app. Consider which payment options to offer (including gift cards) and how users can complete a purchase with minimal clicks.

Before completing checkout, provide an opportunity for users to review their order details before it’s submitted. You can use this as a last opportunity to upsell customers with related products.  Encourage users to sign up for newsletters or loyalty programs at this point, if applicable. Finally, make sure to include options for gift-givers including wrapping, personalized messages, and a gift receipt.

Confirmation page UX

After checking out, provide customers with a final summary of their purchase with active links to each product. A well-designed confirmation page should also give shipping information, estimated delivery dates, and tracking information.

Order tracking UX

Order tracking should allow customers to easily track orders in real-time, with updates provided at every stage of the shipping process via the user’s choice of push notifications, texts, and/or emails. The best order tracking UX allows customers to amend delivery details, such as if they need a package delivered to a neighbor when they are not home.

Retention UX

The importance of retention UX lies in its ability to build trust, loyalty, and satisfaction among customers. Consider these core elements in your retention UX strategy.

Customer service UX

A well-designed customer service UX should be easy to access, provide timely and relevant information, and offer multiple channels to address customer queries and concerns, such as:

  • FAQs: Frequently asked questions should be easy to find, and should follow the same principles of the app’s primary search UX.
  • Chatbots: Automated responses can help filter out more common queries to give your live customer service agents the bandwidth to take on more complicated scenarios.
  • Live chat: Good chat UX is user-friendly, with clear and concise prompts and easy navigation.

User reviews

Users should be able to post reviews for products they have purchased. This is a win-win scenario for you and your users. You benefit from customer feedback and positive reviews, while potential customers get the value of past-purchasers’ wisdom.

Good review UX should have features such as star ratings, review sorting options, a search function, and the ability to leave both text and visual reviews to increase the authenticity and credibility of the reviews. Additionally, it should allow businesses to respond to reviews, addressing any concerns or issues raised by customers and showcasing their commitment to customer satisfaction.

E-commerce user experience best practices

Ready to get started? Let’s explore some best practices.

  1. Simplify your user interface (UI)

As mobile users browse your products on a small screen, it is critical that your UI is user-friendly and intuitive for customers. Only include text, images, and icons necessary for the user to navigate through your app. Avoid distractions that ruin the user experience. Performing essential actions—like making a purchase—must be pain-free and easy to complete.

  1. Use in-app A/B testing

It is crucial to optimize your mobile app’s UX with extensive A/B testing. A/B testing works by segmenting audience groups to identify which variant is more successful at achieving your goal. Developers can see how changes impact metrics such as session length, engagements, retention rate, stickiness, and lifetime value (LTV).

When A/B testing UX and UI elements, developers should create a research-based hypothesis. They will need to know what they want to test, who their target audience is, and what changes should be made based on different outcomes. It is essential to analyze how changes affect different metrics, enabling developers to learn several lessons from a single test.

  1. Analyze in-app behavior

App analytics provide opportunities to ensure your app succeeds in a competitive market. Keeping an eye on your analytics allows you to identify trends in user behavior that result in the best user experience as a result of user-driven insights. Developers can focus on the following metrics to ensure their UX is optimized.

Events: Track events to learn how to optimize every step in the user funnel. Essential event tracking for e-commerce includes purchases, page views, and when products are added to a user’s cart or wishlist

Sessions: A session is any time a user engages with your app after install. This essential metric reveals how users are navigating their way through your user funnel. Tracking sessions can therefore reveal issues with the user journey and onboarding. You will also learn how many sessions it usually takes the average user to make a purchase–a metric that can then be optimized to increase revenue.

Retention: This is how many users return to your app after a specified timeframe. Retention rates are useful for identifying when a user should be re-engaged, but they can also indicate whether customers have a positive user experience. If your retention rates are lower than expected, your app’s UX may be an issue.

Churn: This metric shows how many users leave your app. If you have a high churn rate after one session, this is another indicator that there may be issues with your UX. For example, your onboarding may be frustrating users and causing them to churn without making a purchase.

  1. Optimize your Call to Action (CTA)

Your CTAs are critical in moving users through the funnel. You should A/B test your CTAs for the best results, including variants of copy, design, and placement. Elements such as size and color can affect performance and should be optimized.

If you found this guide useful, you may also be interested in how to analyze all of your UX efforts. Learn how Adjust helps app developers and marketers analyze in-app events and marketing efforts in one streamlined dashboard.

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