What makes a good online customer experience (CX)? Some digital stores stand out from the rest, and consumers return to them over and over. What is the factor making one place stand out and speak to shoppers on an emotional level?

Online shopping grows in popularity each year. According to Statista, experts predict around 230.5 million digital shoppers in the United States by 2021. While the competition for those buyers is fierce, there is still from for growth in the industry. 

Business owners can learn a lot by studying successful online merchants such as Amazon, Walmart and Target. How do these brands make themselves memorable? 

A customer-centered approach is the best place to start. Here are some do’s and don’ts of creating an exception online shopping experience for your customers. 

Do: Create a Mobile Shopping App

The cost to acquire new buyers via mobile apps dropped 50.6% in the last year. Factors for this decrease include lowered costs per install and more people shopping online to avoid going out in public during a global pandemic. 

Make sure your app has an interface easy for customers to use. Make the design as intuitive as possible and checkout a one-step process.

Don’t: Require Lengthy Forms

About three-quarters of people will go online exclusively via their smartphones by 2025. Long order forms with multiple fields aren’t easy to fill out on a smaller screen. Instead, offer quick autofill options. 

One idea is linking up to social media or Google to gather details. You could also accept payment via PayPal, which will autofill shipping and other info. Look for ways to keep form fields short and to the point. 

Do: Use Big Data to Grow Sales

Big data takes input from past purchases, outside information and internal notes and combines it into a report. You can use it to meet customer needs and grow sales. 

For example, you might run a program on how often people reorder and send a quick note when the time nears. This type of personalized experience speaks to your regulars and shows them you pay attention to their needs. 

Don’t: Rely on Old Methods

The internet changes and grows every single day. Don’t rely on tried-and-true methods because they worked in the past. Instead, look for new ways to reach customers and meet their needs.

What are some of the latest trends in customer experience? Personalization is a big component of online shopping. Offer ideas for products based on past browsing history or purchases. Keep in mind new technology, such as smart speakers. Offer voice search to take advantage of the trend to ask for a solution via a smartphone or Alexa. 

Do: Connect on an Emotional Level

Dig into the details of what makes your typical customer tick. Gather not only demographic information but also personal insights via surveys and by paying attention to questions and complaints. 

Once you understand the pain points driving your clients to turn to you for a solution, you also know what drives them. An example is a company selling burglar alarms. Perhaps the most common question is how fast the police respond when someone trips the wire. 

You dig a bit deeper and discover most people asking the question are worried about the safety of their family if a break-in occurs. You now know what drives them on an emotional level is concern over their spouse and children’s safety. You can then address the worry on your landing page and explain how your product helps solve it. 

Don’t: Bury Your Shopping Button

When people land on any area of your website, they should immediately know where to buy. Don’t make the shopping area challenging to find. Include a link in the main navigation bar. You should also add a CTA button in a highly visible area, such as the header or a sidebar. 

Do: Write Detailed Product Pages

Online shopping is a different animal than in-person shopping. Your product pages must meet many requirements. The user must see the product from all angles, just as they would in real life. You also must write a complete list of attributes such as size, color choices and features essential to its use. 

The more detailed your photos and text, the easier it is for the customer to decide whether they wish to buy. Be upfront about pricing and include info on any shipping costs. If you offer it for free with a certain purchase amount, indicate the range at the top of each product page.

Don’t: Ignore Peer Influence

Statista reports 36% of millennials expect online reviews to help them research products and brands. Don’t ignore this. Add a section on your product pages for people to discuss their experiences as well as view the thoughts of others. 

One of the reasons sites such as Amazon.com have found such success is due to the ability to ask questions or read reviews and get immediate answers. Offer something similar, complete with a rating system.

Analyze Your Customer Experience

Once you’ve made your site the best it can be, measure the CX. The best way to figure out if your visitors appreciate your design and content is by asking. Survey your regular customers and ask what they like and don’t like. 

Make the study anonymous for honest answers. You could also offer a discount code for completing the survey, increasing the number of responses and giving you additional information. With a bit of ongoing work, your online store will hit all the points of excellent UX and stand out above the competition. 

Lexie Lu is a freelance designer and writer. She enjoys researching the latest design trends and always has a cup of coffee nearby. She manages Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.