The Power of Infallible Navigation – Guiding Conversion: Part One

By Mark Brixton | 01 Oct 2012

In this two-part series, Mark Brixton from SLI Systems outlines how infallible navigation can lead to increased conversion for online retailers.

One of the major challenges of optimising an e-commerce site is that every visitor is different. Even if the retailer has a firm idea of who their customer is, that single perspective can never hope to realise the full scope of individuals that arrive on the website.

Some of these visitors may be familiar with your site and your brand and know exactly what they’re looking for; others may only have a general idea of what they need and rely on your site to show them products that may appeal. For instance, “I’m interested in boardshorts, show me what you have”. No matter who they are or where they come from, their reliance on site navigation provides you with an opportunity to engage them, thus increasing the potential for conversion.

To succeed in this area, retailers must strive to provide the right set of products on their navigation pages and make it easier for as many different visitors as possible to find the right product, quickly.

Site Search Inspired Navigation

Many e-commerce websites have found that using popularity-based relevance to rank products on a search results page increases conversions and average order value. These retail sites have applied the same rules and principles to their navigation pages, also resulting in higher conversions. This is based on sound reasoning: offering the same user experience across search and navigation, and providing the most popular products above the fold whether the visitors navigate or search improves the user experience and thus, conversions.

Consistency is Key

Successful online retailers have found that paying extra attention to ensure that their site navigation experience is consistent with their search user experience actually pays off. Starting with popularity-based ranking is good, but if you offer viewing and ranking alternatives on your search results pages, why not offer them on your navigation pages as well?

For example, if these features are present in your site search, then they should be included in your navigation pages:

  • Sort order – Allows users to sort by price, ratings, Facebook ‘likes’ in addition to relevance
  • Limit results numbers – How many items show up on your navigation pages? Allow your users to customise this
  • Facets – Do you give users refinement options on navigation pages?
  • Pagination – Are your navigation pages numbered according to the depth of results?
  • View and layout options – Can users choose grid view over list view?
  • Breadcrumbs – Are users able to easily see where they are in the site’s content hierarchy?
  • User reviews – Do navigation pages include user-generated reviews wherever relevant?
  • Non-product content – Do you provide easy access to videos, blog posts, tweets and Facebook posts about your products from your navigation pages?

SLI client, Adore Beauty provides a comprehensive navigation bar on the left hand side, with sort options available on every category page.

By including all of these viewing options in your navigation pages, as well as search result pages, online retailers can deliver a consistent level of service on par with that of most bricks-and-mortar operations. Combined with other customer service tools, as well as great content and merchandising practices, online retailers can dramatically increase their conversions and average order values.

Next week, I’ll bring you Part Two of The Power of Infallible Navigation – Guiding Conversion, discussing content and layout refinement, sort and facet order, view and layout options, and I’ll also provide an advanced checklist for a complete navigation offering.

To access more of these tips and see other examples of best practice techniques on site navigation, see SLI Systems’ Big Book of Navigation Tips.

2 Comments

2 thoughts on “The Power of Infallible Navigation – Guiding Conversion: Part One”

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