A continual feature in usability testing is the comment from users that they only log in to a site upfront if they feel there is a tangible benefit to so doing. In the vast majority of cases though the user hasn’t actually logged in at all, they have simply been captured and automatically logged in by the ‘remember me’ function used by major sites like Amazon and ebay.
There are two types of cookies used by websites; session cookies and persistent cookies. Session cookies only remain on your computer for the duration of your current session and are automatically erased when you close your browser. Persistent cookies, on the other hand, embed themselves in your computer’s subfolders and will remain there unless you actually delete them or your browser does it for you if they have a time-limited duration. These cookies in effect learn what your preferences and interests are and use this to improve the user experience and identify areas of the site that will be of interest and use to you.
In the increasingly competitive world of online retailing sites need to use all the tools at their disposal to retain and convert visitors to customers. Users can quit a retailing site for any number of reasons; it isn’t offering them anything they find useful or interesting; it isn’t helping them with options or choices; it isn’t providing the right sort of product information; it isn’t helping them around the site to find the sorts of products on offer. And these are only the general inhibitors; when you move into specifics issues like payment options, delivery, price, range of products, ease of checkout, transparency of options and many other possible factors can cause the potential customer to feel they have had enough or just can’t be bothered to continue.
While using persistent cookies cannot address and solve all of these problems it can at least ensure that visitors are taken to parts of the site that are relevant and offer them products/services and other options that they are likely to want or at least find of interest. Cookies can also give indications of how the visitors are using the website, the areas they visit and where they quit; so they might be able to supply information about the user experience on exactly what it is about your website that turns them on – or off. If you find significant numbers of potential buyers quitting at checkout, or delivery options then you know that you need to do something about either the quality of interfaces at those points, or what you are actually offering.
Making the customer journey as simple and transparent as possible and gathering as much information about customer wants and behaviours are two of the most important objectives an online retailer can aim for with their website. Using persistent cookies can at least help in achieving a measure of success in both these areas.
If you would like more information or advice on this or any other areas of website usability, why not tap into our extensive knowledge by giving us a call free on 0800 0246 247 or dropping us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.