Do customers leave your store without exploring your products?
If yes, then there’s a good chance you will lose a lot of sales this year…
And this might be because your store lacks an efficient navigation system.
READ AGAIN: Efficient. Navigation. System.
Whoa! Too many hard-to-read words in one sentence.
But what I am trying to explain won't be too difficult to understand. PROMISE.
If you have a 5-page website, you want your users to navigate from one page to the other with no friction. The process should be so smooth that it should lead a visitor to the checkout process, not off the store.
That's what eCommerce website navigation is all about.
Many small and mid-scale businesses keep their focus on choosing the right product. They throw their cash into paid marketing to bring tons of traffic. But what they totally ignore is their website structure and navigation.
They receive traffic only to lose at the last step of their sales funnel.
You don’t want that, right?
So what’s the solution?
Provide your visitors a reason to stay.
And one of those reasons is your website navigation.
In this post, we’ll talk about what successful e-commerce navigation is. As well as how brands improve and optimize it.
So, let’s get down to business.
Website Navigation Explained
The name says it all...
With navigation, your customers can move from one web page to another web page.
Just like you need a map when you visit any unfamiliar country...
Your customers also need a roadmap to navigate your site.
If it is not clear, your customers will never find their destination.
Dior's official website is quite the website navigation example. Their site is all about vibrant colors and breathtaking styles.
There is a search box at the top. You can spot customer support and boutique information right next to the international version tab.
They have used mega drop-down menus for easy product navigation. Scroll down and you will see delivery and returns information, legal T&Cs, and FAQs at the bottom of the page.
Now, compare it with Craigslist.
Well, I know thousands of people visit this site every day. But, the navigation on their site is not too impressive.
The website doesn’t have any logos or pictures. It only includes links visitors can use to check the details.
Some people say the link-based structure is the secret recipe for the success of a brand.
But it’s a big NO for me. 😐
The Keys to Successful Ecommerce Navigation
Site navigation is just like navigating at sea. You can’t nail it without the right tools.
Here's your cheat sheet for the best ecommerce site navigation practices.
1. Refine Your Homepage Design
Thanks to technology, the human attention span is at its lowest ever - 8-seconds.
Yes, you read that right.
It takes your visitors only 8-seconds to decide whether they should spend time on your site or leave.
So you have a very narrow window to build your first impression.
To build your first impression, it's important that you make clear what your business is all about.
Your visitors can get this info from your homepage. But sadly, 42% of businesses do not have a homepage that converts.
So first things first, create a homepage that leaves very little room for confusion.
I loved the way ASOS has created its homepage.
The name says nothing about what the brand offers. But if you check out their homepage, even a kid can tell it's a fashion brand for men's and women's apparel.
So, the first tip is...
Keep your homepage simple and logical.
Aside from that, you can also...
2. Include a Visible Search Box
Buyers will not check your website page by page to find what they need.
That's why a customer should be able to spot your search box to find what they are looking for.
Not sure what I'm talking about?
Check this website out:
You can’t go wrong with your search on this website.
Bonus Tip: You can also use your search box to collect valuable customer data.
Read this article if you want more ideas about e-commerce product search.
Let’s find out how you can make your search feature even better.
Here's our next tip...
3. Add Filters
You can also use filters to improve the user experience on your site.
Let’s suppose you have thousands of products in your store.
Even if you have the visible search box, users will have difficulty finding the right product.
For example, what if I get 800+ results when I type ‘Red cardigan’ in your search box?
Hmm... I’d leave!
But if you have filters available on your site, people can use them to narrow down the list of options.
This way you get to keep customers.
Simply because you're allowing them to search and filter products based on colors, sizes, prices, brands, and more.
That's a reason I always head to Macy’s for all my needs.
Let’s have a quick overview of what Macy’s search/filter feature has in store for its users.
- Category-specific filters
- It promotes important filters on top of the list
- Allows users to apply multiple filtering values
At Macy's, users can combine multiple filtering values within the same category.
Not only this, but they can also weed out unwanted products by specifying opposite filtering values.
That's how functional and user-friendly their search feature is:
What else can you try? Let’s find out...
4. Go Descriptive
Do you have a 'What We Do' section on your website?
Do you actually do whatever you have written there?
If you answered no, you're not alone...
Gone are the days when having conventional key terms was enough to create an impact.
Today, it's all about descriptive navigation.
What is Descriptive Navigation?
Let's suppose you need to buy a new dishwasher.
What would you type in the search box?
No. You'll probably type 'affordable dishwashers' or 'latest dishwashers.'
Navigations with generic terms like 'products' or 'services' won't help you rank. Why? Because nobody searches for these terms.
So, instead of targeting generic terms, research keywords/keyphrases using any keyword research tool. Now, target them in your navigation to make your website shine in SERPs.
For instance, you can replace:
Services >> Digital Marketing Services/Graphic Design Services
Products >> Fitness Pills/ Digital Cameras/BBQ Grills
Resources >> Blogs/Ebook/Webinar
This gives customers navigating your site a better idea of where they might find products they're searching for.
Pro Tip: Never create one listing for all your services. Because search engines look for specific pages.
Up next is…
5. Include a Quantity Box
Having a quantity box on your product pages is a good idea too.
This will help your buyers increase quantity on the spot. And they don't have to navigate back and forth to add the same product thrice into their carts.
Every brand has this option, so do that, and you should be in good shape.
Once you're done adding a quantity box, make sure you also take advantage of cooking targeting.
6. Leverage Cookie Re-targeting
Okay, so this one’s not your conventional ‘add this and remove that’ kinda tip.
You’re probably aware of the importance of ecommerce personalization.
Did you know that 79% of customers only like to buy from a brand that offers personalized solutions?
Now, what does that mean?
That means your goal is not only to sell your products but also to know your customers.
But how can you use this with your site navigation? Cookie retargeting is your answer.
Here's how it works:
Now, let’s get back to the ASOS website. I checked in their Women’s apparels page and clicked on a few products.
When I revisited their site, they took me straight to their women’s clothing section instead of their homepage.
Now, that's a pretty smart move. The brand saved me a step on my next visit, allowing me to resume my purchase from the point I left.
If you want to streamline your buyer's journey, facilitate them as much as possible. Make them feel valuable even if they revisit your site after a week or even a month.
Here’s one more thing you can do to streamline your buyer's journey...
7. Include a Mega Menu
Did you know what sets successful ecommerce businesses apart from average ones?
It’s their product categorization.
You're probably wondering, how can you do that?
The answer is through mega menus...
Mega menus let your visitors find the relationship between different product categories.
But there's a catch...
If done wrong, mega menus can look more like a mess on your site.
So make sure you know these terms before you create mega menus:
- Parent categories: It is an entity used to group a set of products in subcategories and hierarchies
- Subcategories: The categories you find under the parent category tab are called subcategories
In this example, Best-Sellers is a parent category, while all the options included in the drop-down menu are subcategories.
You can even add images and icons to your mega menus to make them look more functional and stylish.
Want to see them in action?
Here you go…
I love how they’ve created different categories to make the selection easier for users. The addition of the colored circles and icons spruced up its entire look.
Do you want to create a mega menu at your Shopify store? No problem! Debutify can simplify this task for you.
Our Mega Menu Add-On allows you to categorize your products for faster navigation.
Here’s a glimpse of how Debutify’s mega menu add-on will look at your store:
Start your 14-Day FREE trial today to test the mega menu and many other conversion-boosting add-ons.
But, if you are not a big fan of the mega menu, no problem. You can keep a simple and sleek menu.
Wondering how? Let’s find out...
8. Streamline Your Navigation Bar
You want your customers to perform certain actions on your site.
So let me share a little secret with you...
In eCommerce, it’s always about them, not you.
So, don’t waste your energy thinking too much about what you want.
Instead, pay attention to what your customers want.
For example, you want more sales. But what if your customers want to know more about your brand and your offers?
So, don’t clutter your header by adding too many links to promote sales.
Give your customers a chance to know about you first. Let them come gradually down the funnel to conversion tabs.
Here’s an example:
Zara.com doesn’t have any navigation menu at the top. It has a search option and three vertical lines on the left side of the screen.
When you click the menu, you can see the links to the web pages.
So, don’t bombard your header with loads of links. Go easy, let the visitor get familiar with your website, and then present them with your menu.
If you don’t like the navigation that Zara has used, no problem. You can stick to the conventional navigation menu, which is a horizontal bar with links.
Keep the links to your main pages and ones that can earn you some good bucks.
See how Bath & Body Works have done it on their website.
The ‘Top Offers’ link on their navigation bar entices visitors to click it and checkout the offers.
And did you notice something else?
The website also added a headline to attract people. The words ‘Limited time only’ and ‘Free Shipping’ on the headline work like a magnet to draw visitors’ attention to it.
Next up we have...
9. Add CTAs
CTAs are powerful. They tell your visitors where they should go next to proceed with their purchase.
Include action-driven CTAs after every fold to provide direction to your visitors.
Hootsuite nailed it with their brief and targeted CTAs.
10. Don’t Forget the Footer!
The footer is another essential ingredient of your navigation menu you can't miss.
You can display your most important page links in this area. Customers always scroll down the page to see:
- Returns and refunds policy
- Terms and conditions
- Contact details
- Site map
- Social media links
- Shipping and payment options
That's how Zappos has created its footer. You can try something else too.
Go as creative as you want. Sky's the limit… 😊
We’re down to our last and most important option...
11 Simplify Your Checkout Process
You can't encourage your customers to go down the last stage of your funnel if your ecommerce checkout process is poor.
I have always been told to go with a one-page checkout process. Because apparently, it saves user's time and is also easier to design.
But it's not always about a one-page checkout. Some sites are doing great with multiple checkout pages as well.
What’s more important is that your customers should not feel friction at any point while completing their transactions.
Read this article if you want to know more about the dos and don'ts of the eCommerce checkout process.
Nail Your Navigation…
Nothing is more important for an online buyer than usability. People want to buy the best products, and that too without wasting their time.
Here’s a recap of what we discussed so far...
- Start by refining your homepage design.
- Include a search box to help your customers find what they want.
- Add advanced filtering options to refine their search.
- Use cookie re-targeting and product categorization to streamline your buyer’s journey.
- Simplify your checkout process, as it is a gateway to conversions.
Apply these strategies and see a remarkable difference in your conversions. All the best!
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