How Important is Navigation for an eCommerce Store?

Whenever you visit an eCommerce store, it’s usually because just want to browse through or you’re probably looking for something specific. Either way, you will have to navigate your way across the categories, various product pages, multiple pieces of information, blog posts, and more.

Unlike a simple business website or personal blog, navigation is a lot more valuable for online stores. It provides ease and convenience, thus enhancing the user experience. It also helps visitors find what they’re looking for, hence increasing the chances of them staying longer on your site.

Navigation Boosts Product Findability

According to Baymard Institute’s research on product findability, this is “key to any eCommerce business”. After all, if people can’t find the product that they want on your site, then how can they actually buy it?

The study that the institute conducted had users testing different websites such as Amazon, H&M, Macy’s, Pottery Barn, and Best Buy. The focus was placed on the home page, category navigation, subcategories, and product lists.

In the research, many of the users ended up abandoning the sites because they couldn’t locate the product they were searching for. This is why it’s essential to have very good navigation tools on your site which will help with product findability, including a robust search.

Just imagine— the ecommerce stores tested were from multi-billion dollar corporations and yet the users still encountered a lot of problems. Here are some of them:

  • Top Text Labels for Categories are Not Clickable.

Many users actually expect top category labels to be clickable, but often get disappointed because these turn out to be mere text. They sometimes want to see the broader category or view all the products under that parent category rather than be forced to check out the narrower categories one by one.

Hence, this should be given as an option. If not, the site visitors may end up looking somewhere else instead of exploring more on your e-store.

  • Subcategories for Various Parent Categories are Only Placed Under One.

A specific subcategory may actually belong under more than one parent category. Thus, you must make sure to place it under all of them instead of just limiting to one.

What if a user doesn’t look at more than one parent category? There’s a huge tendency for him or her to miss out on that subcategory and end up not finding what he or she wants.

  • Lack of Alternative and Supplementary Suggestions on Product Pages.

Part of making your navigation more useful and convenient is by providing suggestions on product pages for alternatives and supplementary items. This will not only boost the chances of getting a sale in the end, but it can display your other stuff that the user might be interested in.

Furthermore, such suggestions are necessary for upselling and cross-selling, thus increasing your profits in the long run.

  • No Separate Category for New Arrivals or New Releases.

A lot of prospective buyers actually like looking at new stuff, especially for those who have been to your site several times before. There are also those who may want to buy things that are newly released or have just come out in the market. They want the latest version or perhaps they want to have something unique before anyone else.

In this light, you ought to make sure to have this parent category included. Or you could even come up with a specially designed tab or button for it.

In addition, you could include a Best Sellers list too. This can be quite effective in luring customers in.

The Most Essential Factors in Navigation

Navigation is undoubtedly important for every eCommerce store because the first and foremost purpose of navigation is to help a person find a product that you’re carrying and that he or she is interested in.

Without good navigation design and tools, users will likely get frustrated or be led to think that you don’t have what they want or need. They will frequently just leave your website and go somewhere else.

You don’t want that, do you?

So then, you ought to know that navigation can make or break your eCommerce business. It’s a crucial element that could rake in the sales or have you lose tons of dollars every single day.

The design and functionality of your navigation both play a major role here. For instance, it’s good to have clearly labeled tabs in a clean and simple design. You can place the basic categories on top of the home page and just have subcategories in drop-down menus.

It’s also recommendable to have filters. A lot of users have become accustomed to this feature. Those who are searching for more specific things or who have particular features or elements in mind like making use of filters. For example, people can filter by price if this is a huge consideration for them. They may filter by size, color, or style to incorporate all the things they want and see the options available.

Whatever make users avoid wasting more time than necessary could work very well for you. Thus, you also need to make sure that the technical side, particularly the speed or loading time of your site, is on point.

Of course these days, a responsive design is of great value. An eCommerce store design and layout must be compatible with various devices. You never know what device your customer is on. If a person has a hard time viewing your pages because they appear differently on his phone, you might just lose a potential sale or even a potential loyal customer.  

Another important factor of navigation is the images. You ought to utilize clear and beautiful images for your products. At times, photos are even used for navigation tabs or as category labels. These could be more appealing to your audience as long as presented in a clean and clear manner.

Also use meaningful labels that are not too long or vague. They should be easy to understand so as to help users find their way around easily.

Indeed navigation is the holy grail of user experience on eCommerce stores. If you do it well through the right website design and functionality as well as proper tools and features, then you will likely increase product findability, improve user experience, and boost sales and profits.

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