Since launching Microsoft Store US last November, our team has been hard at work bringing new products to the site, updating the content and planning what our next release would cover. After a mere 7 weeks of development, the team has done an incredible job at updating some fundamental parts of the site, both customer facing as well as on our back-end for tools and optimizations.
In terms of customer facing features, we’ve done a considerable amount of work to re-design our checkout flow based on usability studies, customer feedback and instrumentation data.
I wanted to take this opportunity to share 3 of the many changes we’ve made in this release, which helps make the shopping experience easier for our customers.
Easier shipping cost and tax calculation
Our first change was enabling customers to calculate shipping costs and tax from the summary page, after a customer added a product to the shopping cart. Previously, customers only saw tax and shipping costs on our “confirmation” page, right before they agreed to commit the purchase.
Customers now have the option of calculating shipping costs and tax without leaving the page, and before continuing down the checkout path. If a customer is buying an ESD product, they will only have the option to calculate tax since shipping charges don’t apply.
Simplifying Windows Live ID
Another big change we made is how we handle Windows Live ID during checkout. Despite having a Windows Live ID from another Microsoft online service (e.g. Messenger, Xbox Live, Hotmail), many of our customers don’t realize they have one. When asked to either “Sign in” or “Sign up” with Windows Live ID, many of our customers were left scratching their heads.
To help this, we try to do a better job steering customers in the right direction from the start of the checkout process.
If customers think they need to sign up for a new account, we just ask them to provide their email address. If it is not an existing Windows Live ID, we proceed to the next step of checkout, and allow them to create an account by providing a password alongside their address and payment information.
If, however, a customer tries to sign up for a Windows Live ID with an email adddress that is already registered, we do the best job we can to steer them to sign in instead.
Here is a screenshot of our sign in page:
If a user enters a email address that is already a Windows Live ID, we show them this:
Easier media type selection
When we shipped our initial release, we didn’t anticipate that customers would want to change the media type (download vs. shipping it) within the shopping cart and checkout process. Since it turns out that many customers want to do this, we now enable easier switching, and avoid the step of removing the product from the cart, and re-adding the alternative media.
Let us know what you think!
On top of all these changes, we also had significant work on our back-end infrastructure as well as our tools we use for content and product management in our catalog. However, those are much less glamorous and broadly interesting, so I’ll spare you the details 🙂
If you have any feedback on any of the changes from this new release, please feel free to hit me up in comments, in email or on Twitter.