Enhancing the e-commerce user experience in Africa: The proof is in the profit

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Rogan Jansen, Founding Partner and Creative Director, DashDigital unpacks the critical nature of user experience in terms of e-commerce and how a well-thought-out and designed online store drives consumer affinity and business success.

According to Rand Merchant Bank, the value of e-commerce transactions in South Africa alone is projected to experience a staggering 150% surge, reaching R225 billion by 2025. The COVID-19 pandemic propelled the e-commerce industry into overdrive. But more uptake in the e-commerce arena means more competition.

If you are to remain competitive in the booming e-commerce landscape, you should be paying very close attention to the transformative – and convincing – power of seamless user experiences (UX). A well-designed and user-friendly e-commerce platform enhances customer satisfaction, drives customer loyalty and brings users back for more of the same.

The importance of selecting a partner that understands not only the technology of creating an online store but also one that can provide your brand with a site that is easy to use, speaks to the inherent brand values and ultimately helps build and retain trust.

Here are a few illuminating statistics, courtesy of a 2023 UX round-up published by Startup Bonsai:

  • 88% of consumers are less likely to return to a site with bad UX. (HubSpot)
  • 46.7% of consumers that had a negative user experience or customer experience (CX) said they’d tell their friends about their bad shopping experience through email, phone or in person. Only 44% said they’d do the same if they had a great time.

Research also shows that websites that load slowly lose retailers up to $2 billion a year. 53% of mobile users abandon their visit if the site takes more than 3 seconds to load.

A study in UX success

Dash Digital Studio is a studio that specialises in crafting seamless online shopping journeys that keep customers coming back and drive business growth. The agency undertook the challenge of creating a website for Lemkus – a leading urban boutique for premium streetwear and footwear in Southern Africa.

Lemkus understood the value of great UX and recognised the critical role of good e-commerce design in enhancing the customer experience and driving direct-to-consumer revenue. The Dash team was tasked with modernising Lemkus’s online shopping experience, boost direct-to-consumer revenue and reinforce the brand’s connection with modern users.

The primary challenge was creating a seamless shopping journey for customers while providing community engagement. The site needed to reflect the Lemkus culture, creating a comfortable shopping environment that put customers at ease.

The result? The Dash design team created a unique and engaging e-commerce experience for true sneaker enthusiasts, embracing the core of the Lemkus brand personality.

Touches of South African heritage were incorporated into the choice of colours, and the typography reflected Lemkus’s strong local community culture. A responsive design system that works seamlessly across all devices was integrated, ensuring a simple, easy shopping experience for any user interacting with the store.

An advanced filtering system was also included for easy product searches, and engaging content was built in to enhance the customer experience. Lemkus felt the difference in their bottom line.

Topline results following the e-commerce/UX overhaul:

  • 47% Increase in conversion
  • 168% Increase in revenue
  • 382% Increase in marketing-based revenue
  • 142% Increase in orders
  • 57% Increase in return customers

The reinvented UX has positioned Lemkus as the go-to destination for quality footwear brands, thanks to a unified and scalable design system that has set the foundation for a consistent brand experience across products, categories and content.

What makes excellent UX design?

Simplicity rules. The design process on the Lemkus project was backed up by a component-based system that is easy to update because it works like a simple drag-and-drop builder, giving the client the ability to change things on the go and test with live users.

In the Lemkus case, these design elements include countdown timers for upcoming sneaker releases and other new arrivals. Scalable product cards and multiple content components are also built in. These elements however are not restricted to online stores such as that developed for Lemkus.. Any e-commerce site that needs built-in agility can use a similarly functional system. Why be stuck with what you have in a market that is evolving at a rate of knots? Having the freedom to change, update and grow your offering should always be included.

The first step in designing the perfect user journey is to create every component with the end user in mind. This is where best practice e-commerce UX begins across all touch points.

A mobile-first approach was paramount for Lemkus, given that approximately 88% of their users access the site through mobile devices. In Africa, mobile-first is invaluable, as so many African users access the internet through their phones. According to Statista, In South Africa alone, the share of digital buyers using mobile devices is 48% of internet users.

Content and commerce

New customers were drawn in through engaging storytelling and collaborations online and in-store via community-inspired stories, support, podcasts and events, redefining the blend of commerce and content throughout the site. Interesting content wins customers. And if the content is shareable, customers will do some of your marketing for you.

UX – your online point-of-sale drawcard

Efficiency and seamless functionality should always be the guiding principles for an e-commerce site. Users should be able to swiftly locate their desired destinations within seconds – on a phone or a desktop. Advanced filters search and information architecture can help you organise your content so that it’s easily searchable, easy to find and, most importantly, easy to buy.

Applying these principles, the results for Lemkus were undeniable. Through advanced filtering, adaptability and thoughtful design, Dash significantly improved user engagement, conversion rates and overall customer satisfaction. The enhanced e-commerce user experience translated into a stronger brand presence and increased customer loyalty.

So, the question is, have you taken a good look at your e-commerce UX recently? If you haven’t, perhaps it’s time.