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9 Key Components of a Great eCommerce App

By Nick Epson on April 15, 2021

There’s both science and an art to successful eCommerce apps – they have demonstrated over the years that they convert at nearly three times the rate of the mobile web. This means businesses that are heavily reliant on online sales need to not only have an app in place but a good one at that.

Alongside features that make an eCommerce app a functional online marketplace, certain design aspects allow these platforms to perform at optimal efficiency. A great UX that keeps users engaged, especially when they hardly realize it’s there, typically results in positive customer interaction, increased spending, and less time spent handling matters through customer service. Let’s start by quickly taking a look at why a solid design is critical then follow up by discussing elements that make the most impact.

Why design is crucial for a great eCommerce app

There’s a certain kind of feel that engages customers because it’s frictionless. It should be like visiting a well-stocked store at an off time. There’s no one blocking your view or ability to cruise down an aisle. You can use this freedom to either get in and get out or take your time to inspect and compare products then checkout, unobstructed.

Take a look at a few brands that do this well. Perhaps, taken notice of new services from clothes vendors who offer a kind of “style-as-a-service” platform. If you’ve happened to have checked out Trunk Club from Nordstrom, you’d be impressed at the efficiency of the shopping process. When you set up an account, it refines what it shows based on fit, color, and brand preference, as well as other input like general attire style (i.e., casual, professional, etc.), age, body shape, size, price range, and much more. The real magic happens over time as backend machine learning (ML) learns your preferences throughout time as accepting and rejecting recommendations eventually teaches the service to nail down your style.

Perhaps you might be more familiar with the rabbit hole that is the Wish app. Though it has a reputation for serving up the unusual, the app is able to keep users engaged and spending enough so that the company is looking to go public soon. And it’s all thanks to clever design.

While you probably won’t want to emulate exactly what Wish or Trunk Club does, they do set great examples with a decent recommendation engine and providing an effortless user journey, respectively. 9 components of an engaging eCommerce app

Now, let’s looks take a closer look at the details that make these apps effective at getting users to convert.

1. Snappy onboarding

No one likes to be bogged by plugging in all kinds of information to establish an account. It’s important that both your customers who already expect to return and those who are on the fence can quickly plug in a few bits of information, like a phone number with text authentication, or a third-party login like Sign in with Apple to move forward.

2. No login required to browse

Giving viewers the ability to window shop before making an account is a pain-free way that plays on consumer psychology which drives up spending. A good example of this is found in the Costco app – even though the company only serves members, prospective buyers can use the app to scope out products before deciding to purchase a membership.

3. Recommendations powered by ML

If you’re going to incorporate ML-based recommendations into your app, which you certainly should do, at least wait until you enough data that the system can accurately infer products or services based on a user’s behavior. Use everything you can from general browsing and spending habits to display the most appealing items in an obvious but unobstructed format.

4. Easy checkout

The easier it is for a customer to securely complete payment, the more likely they are to make a purchase. This is something we made sure to incorporate in the apps we developed for Cirque Coffee which allows customers to easily save their favorite orders and payment information. You should be using a trusted third-party system like Stripe, for example, to accept card and ACH payments as well as other popular systems like Google Pay, Apple Pay, and PayPal to round things out. Make sure to leave a checkout as a guest option as well – while you lose some intelligence from the buyer not being a registered user, a sale is a sale.

5. Offer incentives that suit your model

Whether it’s promotions, discounts, or customer loyalty rewards, your eCommerce app users will be more likely to return when there’s an offer on the table. There are several ways to go about this but you’re typically best off providing a points system based on activity (i.e. sales) that can be traded for discounts, plus you can entice users who have been inactive for a certain time with points to entice spending. This puts customers in control of their rewards and serves to increase overall spending.

6. Order management and status checking

Customers expect that details from their order are divulged the moment information is available. Clear, mobile-responsive emails prove to be an effective means of giving buyers order details – they should also be able to login to their account to view the most current available information.  You can use systems like push notifications that alert the user to changes which adds visibility. Just make sure that users can fine-tune either aspect as some find it annoying while others it preferable.

7. Content to keep on your customer’s radar

Like a website, you should be circulating content through different channels to get your user’s attention. You can do this in a multitude of ways from sending personalized messages through push notifications as well as through other digital means like an email service that sends blogs to users when there’s a matching interest category. Here, it’s important that users have control over what’s being sent as this makes them more likely to engage. Pushing out and hosting informative or thought-provoking evergreen content through your app is an excellent way to provide value to your users as even it gives them a reason to engage with your brand which improves the likelihood the viewer will make a purchase in the future.

8. Readily available customer service and chatbots

Modern chatbots that run as their own little service while being tethered to business systems can prove to be a highly cost-effective way of handling frontline requests. A bot with the power to answer an ever-growing list of questions, process simple requests like issue refunds, as well as escalate issues only when needed are instrumental to great customer service. Of course, weird things will happen which will require a human hand so make sure reps have just the right amount of control in the system to tend to whatever comes their way.

9. Analytics and solid reporting

This ties in with the product recommendations point above but it goes a bit deeper – product recommendations can serve to increase sales but understanding how a customer moves through your eCommerce app can reveal opportunities to refine the layout. User behavior and even direct feedback can be used to uncover how to best tailor the UI to be as efficient as possible. In addition to systems like Google, Firebase, or other web measurement tools, eCommerce-focused tools like Optimizely or Mixpanel give deeper insights into performance, allowing you to see how content impacts user behavior and the outcome it has on your bottom line.

Blue Label Labs understands how to provide a seamless eCommerce experience

By embracing design sprints, we uncover segmentation and targeting through real-world testing to rapidly prototype a product that’s ideal for its intended audience. We use modern solutions like ML and artificial intelligence in the apps we build to allow our customers to safely learn as much as possible about their users to deliver the best possible experience. Get in touch with us today to learn about how we can design the ideal configuration for your eCommerce platform.