eCommerce Best Practices Online Merchandising Blog 3 Upgrades to Improve eCommerce Website Navigation Sarah Hillel July 4, 2020 5 Min Read Succeeding in eCommerce is a combination of many factors. You can ace the design, speed, content, and images. But when customers have a hard time finding products on your website, they’re bound to have a negative experience. eCommerce website navigation is often overlooked. But from product search to customer support, your shoppers rely on it to find the information they need. In fact, a usability report by KoMarketing found that after reaching a website, 50% of visitors use the navigation menu to orient themselves. Unfortunately, 37% said that poor website navigation can make them want to leave completely. Thus, it makes sense to give navigation extra attention. In this post, we’re sharing three innovative upgrades so you can provide the best eCommerce navigation experience for your customers. Boosting eCommerce navigation with a better search experience Before diving into the first upgrade, let’s check if you have the basics in place. Are your labels recognizable? Are the products arranged in categories and sub-categories? Is your top-level navigation clickable? If so, then it’s time to take your search bar to the next level. Website navigation isn’t complete without search. In most cases, high-intent customers already have a product in mind, and they want to speed up the purchase process. How? They use search instead of going through the menu. Search is also useful for when your shoppers get lost. So, it should be accessible all the time, wherever they are on your website. There are two key ways to improve the standard search experience. The first is adding a visual search functionality. The second is using the next-generation textual search. Visual search As the name suggests, visual search allows your shoppers to search your website using an image. This tool instantly detects all shoppable items in a photo, so your customers only have to choose which item they want to find. Once they make a selection, they are presented with visually similar results. Considering how much visual information we consume today (think YouTube videos, infographics, Instagram posts), visual search is an intuitive tool that your customers will instinctively find useful. Your shoppers can search your website using the screenshots of style inspiration they found online—from fashion influencers to interior designs. Next-generation text search A better text search experience deeply understands your customers and your products. When shoppers search on a website and you present zero results, you lose an opportunity that could’ve encouraged them to continue their shopping journey. Next-generation text search addresses the common barriers of typical search bars. It auto-completes and auto-suggests queries. It also corrects spelling mistakes. And the icing on the cake? It enables you to show the most accurate products or suggest similar ones when the searched item is not available. As a result, potential sales are not lost. Innovating website navigation with icon-based menus and filters Convention says to follow standard eCommerce website navigation practices that customers easily recognize. However, it’s also great to introduce features that will help improve the shopping experience. Quick question: Do you know what a cabriole leg is? How about décolleté? Exactly. Not many shoppers are familiar with the right terminology for the style or design that they want. But when they see it, they’ll know. For difficult-to-describe fashion, home décor, and even jewelry designs, the visual element that icons provide can be a boost to the customer experience. Icon-based eCommerce website navigation and filtering systems that clearly symbolize styles, patterns, and cuts enable shoppers to visualize every step of their search process—all the way to purchase. Discovery icon To step it up a notch, you can even put a discovery icon on product images that allows your customers to view similar items and shop the look—in one click. With this ‘Pinterest-style’ navigation, your customers can visually refine their search even without using the menu or filters. Enhancing navigation with personalization Like everything else in retail, personalization can provide the best eCommerce navigation experience. There are many ways to do this. If there’s a wide enough space on the website navigation menu on hover, you can include content such as blog posts or eye-catching promotions that directly align with your shoppers’ individual interests and purchase habits. When your customers do click, make sure that the images you feature on the page are shoppable. You should also ensure that recommendation engines don’t just use demographic data to suggest products, They should go the extra mile to ensure all suggestions fit in with shoppers’ specific aesthetic and visual tastes. Combine these features with cookie retargeting so your eCommerce website navigation will update and present relevant products to your shoppers based on their previous browsing history. This way, you can jumpstart the shopping journey in an engaging way, speed it up, and earn more sales. eCommerce navigation plays a key role in a website’s usability, product discovery, and overall online brand user experience. With these website navigation upgrades, shoppers can filter through your online catalog with ease, providing a shopping experience that delights customers and encourages them to come back for more.