eCommerce User Experience Research: Improving UX for Online Shoppers

E-commerce concept, Shopping online advertisement on social

We've all gotten frustrated while trying to navigate an outdated, clunky website or app. Finally, we end up angrily exiting the page and finding another website that offers similar products or services. 

These shared experiences are why an eCommerce website and app user experience (UX) strategy is imperative for online businesses and stores.

In fact, a recent study by Amazon Web Services shows that eCommerce businesses lose out on 35% of sales due to bad user experience. For context, this equates to roughly $1.4 trillion worth of sales worldwide.

While there are multiple ways to improve the user experience for your website or app, there may be no better solution than market research. 

In the following article, I'll share more about eCommerce user experience market research and how to conduct it. I'll also share additional strategies for improving the UX of online stores based on the opinions of leading industry experts.


What is eCommerce UX Market Research?

User experience is a form of qualitative research where a focus is placed on a website, platform, software, or application.

Furthermore, it is a deeper look into why customers interact with your company in specific ways. 

The importance of eCommerce user experience research is simple. It can show you where a slight mistake on your website could lead a current customer to miss out on product benefits. 

This eventually leads to them looking towards your competitors’ online shopping sites instead. 

Example of an eCommerce UX Market Research Study

One way brands can improve user experience is to measure the navigation and load time of their digital platform.

Many site users will bounce off your website and go to a competitor if these conditions are not met. 

For example, in a study conducted by Drive Research, the research highlighted barriers existing for users on an eCommerce website.

The objectives of the UX design study included:  

  1. Confirming product fit
  2. Determining aspects of the technology users need the most
  3. Assessing how users will use the product

Based on the data, our team provided recommendations on how to improve the UX of the website on desktop and mobile devices.  

After the recommended changes were implemented, our client's website increased conversion rates and credit card sales by 65%.

Learn more about the eCommerce UX market research study.

ROI Summer for eCommerce UX Market Research

Benefits of eCommerce UX Market Research

Of all the benefits that can come with eCommerce UX market research, the most important is increasing customer loyalty and recognition of your business.

The stronger your connection is with your customers, the less likely they are to leave and hop over to the competitor. 

Another huge benefit is, of course, increased return on investment.

According to the FAHM Technology partners, tweaking how intuitive the experience is, planning interactions, and improving calls to action leads to revenue growth.

In short, the benefits of a good user experience are many, including: 

  • Heightened brand loyalty
  • More repeat customers
  • Profit increases
  • Increased website traffic
  • Less potential for negative reviews

Types of UX Market Research for Online Stores

1. Moderated Interviews

Our UX market research company often recommends conducting moderated website interviews with eCommerce brands.

We recruit participants that match your ideal buyer to participate in a remote screen share, as a moderator asks them to complete different tasks on your website.

For instance, participants might be tasked with looking for a red shirt, selecting their favorite option, and checking out.

In doing so, you can learn about various aspects of the user’s journey such as…

  • Their path to finding a red shirt
  • Why they chose the shirt they did (price, reviews, style, etc.)
  • Their experience checking out
  • Any barriers to purchase
  • What they liked most and least about their experience

Additionally, the moderator can ask secondary questions about how your website compares to others, the likelihood the participant would visit the website again, and more.

2. Unmoderated Surveys

The main contrast between moderated UX interviews and unmoderated website surveys is that there is no moderator guiding participants.

Instead, respondents are given tasks to complete and asked to record their screens. After their tasks are complete, respondents must answer a short survey to provide additional feedback.

Unmoderated research is a great option to collect measurable data from a large sample of people. Whereas moderated interviews provide more exploratory information with 5-15 participants depending on budget and timeline.

3. Web Intercept Surveys

You’ve likely been on a website where a pop-up notification takes over the screen. Perhaps it is a call to action for an online sale or discount on your first purchase from the store. This feature can also be utilized for surveys.

The pop-up can appear based on different criteria such as someone is exiting a page, after someone checks out, after someone has been on the website for more than 2 minutes, etc.

The call to action asks website users to take a short survey about their experience. It is a great option for collecting feedback from people you know who are actively and recently on your website.

Recommended Reading: Website Intercept Surveys: 5 Benefits of Collecting User Feedback

Strategies to Improve eCommerce User Experience

1. Make Small Changes

A great UX will not only delight and assist your customers to find what they are looking for quickly but done correctly should ensure that the business running the site will be profitable as well. 

“We were able to increase a website's user engagement by 4x by making simple UX changes to the homepage. UX doesn't have to be expensive but can make huge bottom-line differences. A common one that is usually done poorly is a good search bar. Predictive, AI-driven search is the ultimate method–many sites have basic search features that lead to poor UX experiences.”

Quote provided by Irwin Hau, Founder of Chromatix Digital Agency

2. Communication is Critical 

What does a good user experience look like? Making sure the overall theme of your site isn't lost. 

Behind every great UX design is continuous and quality communication with real users. This communication often involves a lot of guesswork, yet the key to success is to keep listening – that is, never stop tracking, observing, and analyzing all types of user input. 

Whether you’re running a new A/B test, conducting a user survey, or observing user interaction in a session recording tool, there is always a new user insight hidden in the data and waiting to be deciphered.

Quote provided by Anastasia Yaskevich, Senior Content Marketing and Growth Specialist at ScienceSoft

3. Use Simple Navigation

A huge part of the performance of a website is its accessibility. 

And how do you manage that? There's no singular way to do this, but website intercept surveys aren't a bad place to start. This method catches in-the-moment feedback from users to see how your site is performing. 

As for what actually creates good aesthetics and smooth navigation, check out our expert quotes below. 

I think the #1 UX strategy is following the user path throughout the funnel, and asking questions all the way.

Let's take the obvious path of the homepage, to product download, to product use. 

  • Does the hero heading in the homepage explain clearly what the product does?
  • How does the hero heading compare with others on the homepages of competitors?
  • The same goes for the sub-heading. Is it specific enough?

Then, you continue to the CTA and other elements of the homepage.

So many brands continue to use highly advanced marketing efforts, without nailing the initial messaging of the homepage.”

Quote provided by Ben Pines, Head of Content at AI21 Labs

Your website is your 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week representative for your potential and existing customers.

It is imperative that your site is built in a way that delivers your message with brand consistency and clear paths for them to take action (click to call, send a message, find store hours, etc).

Quote provided by Jeff Knauss, Entrepreneur and Co-Founder of Profound

Including the user experience process when developing software allows the team to develop a more aligned, effective, and intuitive product solution for its users and stakeholders.

Quote provided by Luke Williams, User Experience Designer at SRC

4. Users = Actual People

Yes, there are humans behind the screen! 

Companies that offer an unsatisfying UX via their digital channels simply don't recognize the ‘U’ in ‘UX’ stands for ‘users.’

They create sites and apps with their company and their needs in mind instead of focusing on the user. An effective UX enables the user to find the information they want and learn what they need. 

Before you write, create a layout, a navigation structure, and so forth, you need to document what the user's top questions are. The questions provide the answers to the design of the digital experience. Get out of your head and into the user's, and then, present your content accordingly.

Quote provided by Barry Feldman, Founder of Feldman Creative

5. Understand What Makes the User Happy

We all have those websites where we think "wow, that's smooth." Bam--there's the perfect example of a good user experience for you. 

As we covered previously, user communication on a website is key to its success. But so is user happiness. 

As a UX designer, I usually ask these 4 questions myself to achieve the best user experience:

  • 1. Is the product easy to use?
  • 2. Is the product equitable?
  • 3. Does the product delight the user?
  • 4. Does the product solve the user's problem?

Answering ‘yes’ to all these questions is a sign of a good user experience.

Quote provided by Prayag Gangadharan, Senior UX Designer at Code Craft Technologies

Don't just consider user happiness as an afterthought, though--keep that in mind from the very beginning of the design process. 

Following the basic tenets of user experience, the goal should be to design a product that is: effective (meaning that your users can achieve a goal), efficient (can get things done quickly), intuitive (easy to learn and use), and is responsive and interactive (engages and gives feedback to users). 

Bonus points if it looks good and surprises and delights users by exceeding their expectations! You get there by doing research to understand your target audience and for the context of use.

Quote provided by Adam Peruta, Director of the New Media Management Graduate Program at Syracuse University 

6. Build Users' Trust

For a user to return to a website, it can't only look nice. 

Websites that are built to serve the needs of users are, by definition, more useful and therefore more likely to see higher levels of engagement than sites that are solely focused on business needs.

Doing the work to determine real user pain points, assisting them in solving those, and providing an easy path to take the next steps builds trust far better than brand messaging can on its own.

Quote provided by Krispin Dolbear, Director of UX, Design + Web Development at Terakeet

7. Consider the Big Picture

Understanding what a user’s end goals are will aid in website creation. 

When creating a website, I always consider what the end user wants to achieve. When I begin by building empathy with people and acknowledging their goals, I can create great websites that are valuable solutions for users.

Quote provided by Richard Bolden, Associate UX Designer at IBM

Contact Our eCommerce UX Market Research Company

Looking for an experienced partner for retail market research? Drive Research has you covered. Our full-service market research company specializes in online surveys, phone surveys, focus groups, and much more.

Drive Research is a national user experience (UX) research company in Upstate New York. We work with companies across the country to assist with UX and market research needs.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040


Lark Allen

As a Content Marketing Specialist, Lark has a strong background and passion for creative, professional, and journalistic writing. She is also a self-proclaimed music freak and 90s enthusiast.

Learn more about Lark, here.

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