3 Ways to Convert Shoppers with Effective Website Navigation

Nextopia's CEO, Sanjay Arora gives you tips to make your customers happy and increase conversions on your ecommerce website with a customer-oriented navigation menu.

When a customer visits your ecommerce store, there's a good chance they already have at least some idea of what they are looking for. In these instances, their attention goes directly to one of two things: your search bar or your site navigation tool. Which one they use depends on how specific their needs are; a shopper with a particular item in mind will gravitate towards the search bar and type in a product, a brand, or maybe even a SKU number. On the other hand, someone who has only a vague idea of what they want (e.g. “I need sunglasses”) might prefer to use the navigation tool, refining product groupings, such as brand and color as they go.

At Nextopia we often publish blogs about the importance of investing in optimized and full-featured site search. As the other primary reference point for your site's most driven and motivated customers, your navigation tool deserves the same level of attention and care. It should be specifically designed with your customers in mind, and tailored to meet their unique and changing needs. Thoughtful and well-implemented site navigation will generate significant ROI for your site. On the other hand, if shoppers are unable to find what they are looking for, you will see a high bounce rate accompanied by low conversions.

With this in mind, Nextopia is pleased to offer you our list of three ways to keep your shoppers happy and boost your conversion through customer-minded navigation.

1. Be consistent

An ideal site navigation tool is completely integrated and intuitive. It is always accessible and yet stays out of the way; it is innovative and yet still predictable. If this sounds challenging, that's because it is. Great navigation has to be developed carefully and deliberately. However, the overarching theme here is a simple one: the navigation experience needs to be consistent, both in user experience (UX) and user interface (UI).

A consistent UX refers equally to consistency throughout your site and consistency with what users are experiencing elsewhere on the internet. The former point is pretty self-evident; no matter where on your site the user is (homepage, product pages, search results), they should be faced with a uniform set of navigation options, generally presented as a bar across the top of the site. If the navigation format is constantly changing, your customers may be confused or even left with the impression that they have been moved to another site.

While you can modify your navigation's UX, there are certain features that shoppers are used to dealing with. Be sure any changes you make to the navigation maintain some standard elements so that it remains familiar—otherwise, you risk ending up with very confused shoppers who are unable to find their products.

The other element of navigation consistency involves your UI design. Specifically, your navigation should look and feel at home within the context of your site. It will likely take some extra time and effort, but is well worth it.

2. Know your customers

Once you have a user-friendly, well-integrated navigation tool in place, the next step will be making modifications to meet the very specific needs of your customers. Navigation is far from a one-size-fits-all operation and the best way to improve your site is to gain an intimate knowledge of your customers' needs, and assess problems and pain points from this perspective.

Understanding your customers begins with understanding the products that they are looking for— the products you are selling. For example, a key aspect of your navigation's functionality involves the refinement options. While a user browsing for shoes may want to filter their options based on color, someone else who is shopping for automotive engine parts won't need this option. Getting these contextual variations right is a step your customers will thank you for.

The only way to really get to know your customers, however, is to be actively and constantly keeping a finger on the pulse of your site. There are several ways to go about doing this, the most fundamental being the use of analytics. Ensuring you've enabled analytics on your site and monitoring these closely can give you detailed information about how your customers are using your navigation tool, which features are used most, and which are not working.

Finally, the most direct way to glean information from your customers is to simply ask. Well-designed feedback campaigns which respectfully ask for participation in a short survey (or even for a response to just a single question) let your customers tell you directly what you're doing well, and what needs to change.

3. Streamline your buying process

After developing and maintaining a visually and experiential consistent navigation solution, that is optimized for the specific needs of your products and customers, the final step to increasing conversions is to focus on the buying process itself.

For the most part, this involves simplification — you want to remove any distractions that might deter your customers from their path to conversion. Such as removing the unnecessary refinement options from your navigation. Other considerations here include maximizing the use of space above the fold, and displaying the right product information on a navigation page.

A more immediate way to shorten the conversion path is to introduce “Add to Cart” or “Buy Now” buttons for each product, allowing customers to skip the product page altogether if they so choose. It may not sound like much, but removing even that one click between your customer and their purchase can make a big difference in your conversion rate.

So there you have it, three ways to approach building a powerful, customer-minded, conversion-boosting navigation tool for your eCommerce store!