4 ways to optimize UX during COVID-19

Find out what your customers really want from their COVID-19 shopping experiences.

As researchers from the Baymard Institute report, the context of the pandemic has resulted in a rapid acceleration of online shopping — and some very specific requirements that ecommerce sites need to meet in order to keep their customers satisfied.[1] What do customers expect from their COVID-19 shopping experiences?

In a new report commissioned by Amazon Pay, the UX experts at Baymard apply their 11 years’ worth of ecommerce site and user testing to better understand retail’s new normal. Their research shows that many of the challenges that customers are facing right now — informational challenges concerning availability, speed, and transparency — can be easily addressed by optimizing the UX of your site.

Here are four ways that you can ensure that your site meets customers’ changing preferences, yielding big results for your business both during the pandemic and after.

1. Refer to the delivery date instead of the delivery speed

“When will I receive my order?” That’s the question that every shopper wants to know the answer to. And while you might think that you’re doing your customers a service by letting your shoppers know how many business days it’s going to be until they get it — like “Standard: 2 Business Days — $4.95” — as Baymard’s research reveals, that’s not specific enough. Using terms like “business day” or “working” day can raise just as many questions for shoppers as they answer. What’s a business day? Do holidays count?

Instead, you should provide your shoppers with an exact date — or a date range — that they can expect their purchase, and format it like this: “Arrives Wed. May 5 — $4.95.” Providing a specific delivery date is the surest way to relieve your customers of the burden of having to do any guesswork around when to expect an order.

2. Countdown to when the order needs to be placed

For certain ecommerce sites, sharing a delivery date isn’t enough. If your business has a specific cutoff time at the end of each day by which point a purchase needs to be placed so that a certain delivery date can be honored — then that is critical information for you to share with your shoppers.

But don’t just simply include the time, like “Order by 5 p.m. to receive your order by May 23,” because again, that might just raise more questions than answer them. Shoppers in other time zones might be wondering, “5 p.m. their time, or 5 p.m. my time?” Instead, Baymard recommends sharing this cutoff time as a countdown — for example, “Order in the next 43 minutes to receive your order by May 23.” That way your shoppers don’t have to do any extra thinking about whether or not their order will get processed in time.

3. Present Store Pickup in the shipping interface during checkout

During COVID-19, buying online and picking up in store (BOPUS) has become a convenient delivery solution for shoppers. In Baymard’s extensive user testing, they’ve found that shoppers think of store pickup as a direct alternative to home shipping and expect to find it next to the other shipping options presented in the shipping selection step of the checkout.

And yet, according to Baymard, 54% of the 60 top-grossing U.S. and European ecommerce sites don’t include store pickup within the shipping interface, making it needlessly difficult for users to figure out whether or not store pickup is even an available option.[2] Set yourself apart from other ecommerce sites, and make sure your customers know that you offer store pickup by putting it next to your other shipping options.

4. Provide shipping times and costs whenever Store Pickup is presented

As we established above, it’s best to mention store pickup and standard home shipping options at the same time — as shoppers think of them as alternatives to each other. Another thing to keep in mind is that when it comes to store pickup, the earlier you can bring it to your customers’ attention the more likely they will be to use it.

Baymard recommends introducing store pickup and shipping options as early as the cart step in your checkout flow — or even on the product details page. Remember that you want to give your customers as much information as you can in order to help them make the decision that’s right for them: That usually means including any expected shipping times and any estimated costs alongside.

To learn more great tips on optimizing your site’s UX in the age of COVID-19, get the full report.

[1] The Baymard Institute, UX Optimization in the Age of COVID, 2021.
[2] The Baymard Institute, UX Optimization in the Age of COVID, 2021.