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  • Writer's pictureSonia Preta

A Key E-commerce Function That Even Some Big Players Miss

Shopping online for fashion can be a fun and convenient experience, but it can sometimes be work. When shopping is too much work, it often means there’s a better way.


I was recently on a shopping mission — to find the perfect white tank top to layer under a jacket...so I went to a site that carries a lot of brands that I love. I selected women/clothing/tops/tank tops, and I filtered on the color white.


Then the work started. I scrolled through all the rows of the product listing page, then onto the next page, and more scrolling. I finally saw a top that looked just right, and clicked onto the product detail page. I didn’t love the fabric, so I clicked the back button. Horrors! It took me back to the top of the page!


I had the same experience recently, on that site, when looking for a dress to wear to an event. After three or four times of being taken back to the top of a listing page, I gave up. Just as I did in the example before.


When a shopping experience starts to feel like work, and is not intuitive, it can easily cause the shopper to become frustrated, end the session, and shop elsewhere. It doesn’t take a UX designer to see that “best practice” for the “back” function is to take the user back to where they were. Online shopping has existed for over twenty years, and surprisingly, other sites have yet to correct this simple function, which can have a huge impact on revenue.


I will not name names, but I did an experiment on some major sites, and here’s what I found. For omni-channel department stores, I followed the same navigation path at @SaksFifthAvenue, @NeimanMarcus, @Nordstrom, and @Bloomingdales. Three out of four took me back to the right spot, while one of these retailers took me briefly back to the right place, but a second later, jumped back up to the top of the page. For digitally native stores, I checked @Farfetch, @ModaOperandi, @Ssense, and @Net-a-Porter. Three out of those four did the right thing, and one did not. Even major players don’t always provide the best user experience.


Of course, sometimes these are temporary glitches. But the important lesson here for online retailers and brands is that it pays to be regularly shopping on one's own site and feeling the user experience.


I find that when I work with brands and retail clients, it is quite common that the team will be focused on new initiatives, and a simple function like this one is missed because everyone has gotten used to it. Just imagine the incremental revenue that could be realized, as in the example above, with regular self-checking of the shopping journey.

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