5 User Needs You Can’t Forget When Designing Your E-Commerce Store

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Your website is where your needs as an e-commerce store owner meet the needs of your user. In this article, we look at some of the key needs of e-commerce consumers while shopping online. This information is essential for optimizing conversions once users make it to our stores. 

Your User’s Needs

  1. Find what they’re looking for
  2. Get a real feel for the product 
  3. Feel secure in their purchase
  4. A simple transaction process
  5. To be mobile first

User Need #1: Find What They’re Looking For 

Your user is on your store and might be interested in what you have to offer, great! Now let’s help them out by making your product selection as easy to navigate as possible. To do this, consider having the following things:

Search bar: Including a prominent search bar at the top of every page.

Meaningful labels: For example, a sports e-commerce website might first use the sport to categorize the products and then break it down further to Men, Women and Kids. Even further would be, Tops, Coats, Trainers, etc.

List and relist categories: Show categories in the navigational menus and at the bottom of your product pages. 

Drop down categories with linked top level headings.  A survey by Baymard Institute found that users expected the top level heading of a navigation to be active links, as well as the items listed. 

Source: REI

User Need #2: To Get A Real Feel for Your Product

This is one of the top fears consumers have when shopping online, so it is vital that we get this right. There are three main elements we can take into account when ensuring our customers can experience our product before buying it.

The visuals

Image with zoom AND video work best here. Another form of on-site visual advertising and which is becoming more popular in the fashion e-commerce world are lookbooks. These are a great way for your customer to get ideas on how to use or wear your product in their current lives. TwoThirds does this well, and while still using categories! The images below link, on their site, directly to their purchase pages with the lookbook images underneath. 

Source: TwoThirds

The Colours

Everybody has a different perception of colors. Additionally cameras, photo editing software, and screens will manipulate colors a lot. Always edit your images with a calibrated monitor.

For some products, colors are crucial. Therefore, giving information about the color correctness (e.g. providing color codes like RAL, CMYK, etc.) may make sense. Also showing a product in different lighting would be helpful for your user.

The Description

You have ten seconds to tell me everything I need to know about this product. All I know about the product are the categories I found it in, you need to tell me everything else. 10 seconds. Go.

What do you say? 

This is the challenge of the text product description; giving the information needed but in a concise and attractive way. If you have more information you just have to share, avoid cluttering your page with blocks of text by listing your key points. 


This is the third way your users can really get a feel for your product and become confident enough in it to purchase. Through the comments of past and, hopefully, satisfied customers, new users can get a more complete picture of what your product has to offer. A study by Bright Local found that the average customer spends 13 minutes and 45 seconds reading reviews before making a decision, and that 84% of people trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation. For an easy way to integrate Google reviews into your store, you can find the snippet here

User Need #3: To Feel Secure In Their Purchase

Consumers have real fear when shopping online on an unfamiliar site. In order to optimize our conversion rates we need to make sure that they feel like there is a real company behind the screen. According to buySAFE, 81% of online shoppers feel concerned when shopping on a site they are not familiar with. 

These trust signals are crucial in building the confidence your user has in your business. 

Clear rules for returns and refunds are crucial as well for that feeling of security. Some countries even require this by law. Offering something like a 30 day return policy will also help the customer feel assured that they will not be forced to keep something they do not like.

User Need #4: A Simple Transaction Process

Cart abandonment in e-commerce is as common as window shopping in real life. According to a study carried out by Baymard Institute on 4,560 US adults in 2020, the most common reasons for cart abandonment are unexpected costs and having to create a user account before purchasing. 

See full Insight: E-commerce Cart Abandonment

To combat these reasons for cart abandonment and to drive your conversion rates up, try posting your shipping prices on the home or product page. If you do this, your users can factor those costs into the price. A lot of stores, including ebay, now have the option to continue shopping without having to create an account. 

Source: ebay

User Need #5: To Be Mobile First

Even though we design our precious e-commerce stores via desktop, we must always keep the mobile view at the forefront of our minds. According to Shopify, 66% of all Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in 2018 occurred on mobile. 

Things to consider when optimizing your store for mobile conversions are:

Elegant and minimal design: less space calls for simplicity

Minimal friction: friction points include form-filling and search bars

Cross-platform conversion: consider adding options to save and share items

Try the Google Mobile-Friendly Test: you can test how mobile-friendly any page on your website is

Learn more about #ProTips

In Conclusion

A customer-centric approach is essential when designing your e-commerce store. Understanding the needs of your users and keeping them at the forefront of your mind will ensure you make the most of the time they spend on your site. It is important to note that these are just some of the user needs we should be aware of. There is a whole other world to consider before we manage to get visitors to our site, and even after the purchase. However, keeping the needs we’ve listed above will guarantee an improved experience for your users.  

We’d love to hear from you. Do the users in your e-commerce industry have more particular needs than the ones we’ve mentioned above? Let us know in the comments section. 

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