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What Restaurants and Bars Can Teach Us about Commerce User Experience Resizeimage

There are many important aspects to consider when looking at re-platforming or re-vamping your commerce storefront. One of these aspects that almost always comes into play is user experience, and for good reason. At a high level, we ecommerce professionals know the importance of keeping the look and feel of a site fresh – but what’s the real reason behind this intuition? The answer to this question can actually be found by looking deeper at the restaurant and bar industry. Let me explain.

With the arrival of COVID-19, most people have been forced to eat and drink at home as opposed to going to their favorite restaurant or bar. Which begs the question, why did we ever eat or drink out in the first place? Think about it– the price of a drink at a bar or restaurant is almost double or triple what you’d pay if you made it yourself, and a single meal at a restaurant is more than if you decided to buy all the ingredients and make the entire recipe with multiple portions yourself. With society being so conscious about spending money, it seems odd that we would spend much more to eat and drink at our favorite local spot, right? Wrong. Here’s why:


The reason we are okay with spending more on food and drink is because of the experience we get. Being at a restaurant with a loved one or sitting at a bar and having an interesting conversation with a stranger is more important than the product itself. We flock to bars and restaurants for the experience it provides. Take this as an example – let’s say you have an anniversary coming up. Sure, you could buy a bottle of wine for $15 and stay in with a home-cooked meal, but instead, many would choose to buy that same bottle of wine for $45 at a restaurant and spend more on food, all for the experience of having an anniversary dinner.

It’s been shown that customers will pay more for a quality experience, and this mindset also applies to ecommerce and the user experience you are presenting to your customer base. A perfect example of this can be seen by what Roche Diagnostics has built as the first touchpoint once a user lands on their site. Before you can view the site content, they ask you what persona group you fall into. Once you select which user group you are, the site will remember your preferences and tailor the experience and content to your needs and expectations.  By building a superior customer experience like Roche does, you’ll not only keep your customers coming back, but you’ll also drive more revenue.

Now that we know how important user experience is, you might be asking:

“How do I know what type of experience my customers might be looking for when shopping on my storefront?” Here are some ways to get started:

Voice of the Customer (VOC)

There is no other voice more important than that of your customer. Start with conducting some VOC workshops. Pick a few key customers on both ends of the spectrum and ask them questions about what they like and don’t like. Look at integrating customer touchpoints for feedback at various sections throughout the site, such as a post-order survey, follow up emails, etc.

Data Analytics

Do a deep dive into your site traffic and analytics. Focus on things like bounce and exit rates, site searches, site speed, conversion rates, re-order rates, abandoned cart percentages, lifetime value (LTV), etc. For example, if you notice a large number of abandoned carts, that might be an area to focus on improving the experience.

Site Click Tracking and Heatmaps

There are quite a few third-party software companies that have site click tracking and heatmaps that will help visualize where users might be getting stuck or having trouble navigating your site. These can be integrated within your commerce platform to provide detailed results based on customer behaviors.

By looking at the areas as a way to get started, you’ll be able to develop some baselines around what your customers are looking for, what data you have that will help you determine gaps, and how you can look at creating a path forward.

Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creating a superior customer experience on your site, and just like ecommerce, customer experience is a never-ending, constantly evolving process.

If you’re not yet convinced of the importance of a good customer experience in ecommerce, then consider this: The bar and restaurant industry is a $24 Billion dollar business– a business that is built on experiences, not food and drink.

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Justin Racine

Justin Racine is a Director and Lead Strategist with Perficient, and he works with clients to build and achieve their business goals through commerce-enabled technologies. Justin has over 12 years of experience within the ecommerce space, working with companies such as Cardinal Health, Johnson & Johnson, and Olam International, and has spoken at over 20 global conferences on ecommerce and branding strategy. Additionally, Justin has been published twice for his thought leadership on branding and marketing in the Henry Stewart Journal of Brand Strategy, is a contributing writer for, and a frequent contributor for many leading industry publications.

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