eCommerce Blog

eCommerce Blog – Opportunities in US and India (by Darpan Munjal)

Archive for the ‘Usability’ Category

35 great eCommerce User Interface Designs

Posted by Darpan Munjal On November - 16 - 2009
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I think most of us would agree that a clean and intuitive user experience goes a long way in maintaining healthy conversion rates for an eCommerce business. Although most online retailers want to build a clean user experience – a lot of times they get influenced by the “complexities” of their business and begin designing the experience for exceptions that only apply to 5-10% of visitors. I think it is extremely important to continue to invest some dollars in the usability testing of the site and keep the experience as simple as possible.

I recently came across a great post that showcases 35 online retailers who have done an outstanding job of keeping the user experience simple and fresh. In the past, I have seen a lot of retailers focusing on adding more and more content to the pages so that they can make use of the very last pixel of white space on their page. Looking at these designs, perhaps the focus should be quite opposite – how to remove all the unnecessary content out of a page and increase the amount of that white space so that the users are presented with crisp and quality content that truly matters.

Here’s the list for your design inspiration:

Google Analytics: Web Intelligence tips for Online Retailers

Posted by Darpan Munjal On November - 10 - 2009
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If you have read my previous posts, I am a huge fan of leveraging web analytics to gain insights about your customers, campaigns and site usability. However, one of the challenges most online retailers face is how to gain actionable  insights from the analytics tool without getting lost in the sea of data that is being collected by the tool.

Google analytics recently rolled out a new “Intelligence” feature which is a great attempt to solve this very problem. Google analytics now keeps track of “expected” data patterns on your site and can notify you via email or online reporting if there are any significant changes on your site activity. For example, intelligence feature could alert you if there was a 200% surge in visits from Twitter referrals during last 24 hours or let you know that bounce rates of visitors from India jumped by 40% last week. Instead of you having to monitor reports and comb through all the data, Analytics Intelligence alerts you to the most significant information to pay attention to, saving you time and surfacing traffic insights that could affect your online business.

Take a look at the video below to learn more about this awesome new feature:

Read the rest of this entry »

15 reasons why I wouldn’t buy from your online store

Posted by Darpan Munjal On November - 1 - 2009
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Dear Online Retailer,

You can make a safe assumption that the reason I am visiting your online store is because I have an intention to buy something from you. All I need from you is to help me find what I am looking for and then take me from point A (Product Page) to point B (checkout). I am ready to fork over my money if you show me a clear path! So it is up to you to decide how easy or difficult you want my journey to be. Need a few tips? Here are few ideas to consider:

  1. Do not force me to register during the checkout process. If I click on checkout, that is usually a safe assumption that I have made a decision to purchase. Please get out of my way so you can take my money as quickly as possible before I change my mind. Don’t present me with unnecessary registration steps or other information that would slow me down. If you want to give me an option to register after the checkout is complete, sure I will consider it.
  2. Remember that Google is not your target customer – I am. Don’t write your product descriptions or other content containing tons of SEO keywords with a sole purpose to please Google. Read the rest of this entry »

Top 10 Low Cost Ways To Improve Site Usability

Posted by Darpan Munjal On October - 22 - 2009
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Very frequently I get called by online retailers who have done significant work in SEO, are driving quite a bit of traffic to their website but seem to have hit a wall in increasing the revenue. They are baffled that despite all the good work in SEO and online marketing, why are they not able to maintain a healthy conversion rate? The one factor that often results in a low conversion rate is site usability. In other words, once the visitors are on your site, are they able to effectively navigate to find what they are looking for and then finally buy the product.

In the offline world, imagine walking into a store and you see clutter everywhere – the only thing that is clearly visible is an exit sign. However good the pricing is, if the store is not organized in a presentable manner, you are likely to walk straight through that exit door. Similarly in the online world, a lot of online retailers do not focus on getting objective feedback from external users on site usability. This is true especially for the small and medium size retailers who feel that things like usability testing are for the big guys who have a lot of money at their disposal. Not any more – there are several cost effective tools available now that would allow you to test and improve the usability of your site in an objective way, without causing a dent in your wallet. Here are 10 low cost ways to understand and improve the usability of your site: Read the rest of this entry »

Where is the differentiation ?

Posted by Darpan Munjal On October - 17 - 2007
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My daughter will be turning 5 in a few days and unfortunately I wouldn’t be able to celebrate the birthday with her because she is currently in Chicago with her Mom. So I was talking to her on the phone, and asked her what would she like for her birthday present. She thought for a few seconds and then asked me inquisitively – “Daddy, how are you going to get me a present? You are in India, remember?” Smart question, I thought. But few seconds later, came an even smarter response from her. “I know!” “How about if you order it on your computer and, like before, I will get it in that brown box from Toys’R’Us .com“. I thought to myself – wow my little daughter is growing up. She may not understand what eCommerce is but she does understand that you can do something in the computer, and few days later a brown box is waiting for her in the front of the house! She almost believes that Toys’R’us has deputed little magical Santas inside every computer, and they are able to send exactly the toy children wish for!!

What really impressed me was the fact that she remembered Toys’R’ and could associate it with someone who could help in meeting her birthday wish. This got me thinking about how online retailers in US have been able to create a unique enough differentiation for themselves where customers know exactly what these retailers stand for. There are some retailers in US that are still struggling with this, but at a broad level, most of the retailers (online as well as traditional) have found a unique proposition for the customers. Whether it is the largest assortment ( or value for money ( or discount electronics ( or Jewelry & Gifts ( or upscale household category (William-Sonoma) or a great service experience (, there is a lot of differentiation. If a 5 year old can recall Toys’R’Us when they are thinking of toys, imagine how easy would it be for a grown up to do the same across various categories. Then I thought about the Indian context and I tried really hard to think about all the unique things that the online retailers in India stand for. I thought about product assortment, pricing, categories, service and after trying really hard, I wasn’t able to come up with any meaningful differentiation that really sets one retailer apart from other. True, there are some retailers that offer a bigger assortment than others – but more or less all other dimensions are similar across most of the online retailers.

Then I thought, what is it that Indian customers think about before shopping at one retailer vs. other. I also asked this question to a lot of individuals who I know have been online shoppers for quite some time. The results of this “unscientific” study were very disturbing Read the rest of this entry »

Will they come back?

Posted by Darpan Munjal On August - 2 - 2007
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US based online shoes retailer was mentioned in this story that it has reached 6 million paying customers.  Although this is a major accomplishment, what is even more amazing is the fact that three fourth of shoppers who make purchase on are repeat customers. This got me thinking – how many retailers use “repeat customers” as the metric to measure success. Most of the online retailers that I am aware of think of Revenue or Gross Profit or EBITDA or net-profit as a proxy for measuring success. These metrics are certainly better than the dot com days in 2000 when online businesses were happy with just measuring the online visits – primarily because they didn’t have any real sales to report on anyways. However, are these metrics telling anything about how the customer’s purchase experience has been on the site? I would argue that these metrics are lagging indicators of performance. In other words Read the rest of this entry »

Top 10 Blunders in eCommerce Design

Posted by Darpan Munjal On July - 10 - 2007
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So you have built a decent looking eCommerce website, pumped up the marketing spend and you are getting good amount of visitors on the site. However, you are facing a problem that most of the newer online retailers face initially – your conversion rate is extremely low. You are baffled why majority of the visitors are not purchasing anything on the site and you ask your head of marketing to look for the answers. Although having a good marketing plan and execution is necessary in bringing visitors to your site, a lot of times, the answer lies within how your website is designed. Here are the top 10 blunders in eCommerce design that can cause the conversion rate to go south -


Blunder #10: No “About Us” page or privacy policy


Educated consumers look for certain things on a site they might do business with. Are there privacy polices? Do they have a return or exchange policy? How about shipping costs and timelines, are they posted? Are there any real sounding testimonials and pictures of the warehouse or sellers that let me get an idea that this company is for real, especially when dealing with newer online only retailers? Although it is reasonable to assume that most people don’t read such things as the policies and the like. But the fact that they are there builds confidence in the customer, that yours is a serious business.


Blunder #9: Where is the price?


Nothing irritates a visitor more than to read all the excellent product description and sales copy, only to read it all and still have to ask the most important question… how much is it ? Read the rest of this entry »

What about the customer experience?

Posted by Darpan Munjal On June - 3 - 2007
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I often think about my shopping experience at an online retailer in US – I purchased a shirt from this retailer using their web site. I typically do not purchase apparel online, because of concerns related to fit and quality. However, I liked the shirt and decided to purchase it. Although the purchase experience was great, the story doesn’t end here. One year later, I called them to purchase some additional clothes. At this point, I casually mentioned to the CSR that I wasn’t too happy with the quality of one of the shirts I purchased from them in the past. The CSR first apologized and then offered to send me a replacement for no additional charge. Since this incident, I have probably shopped with Lands’End atleast 8-10 times.

This incident got me thinking Read the rest of this entry »

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