Whether you’ve just started or you’re well established – one thing for sure, the common goal of a business – increasing sales.
The average eCommerce store will typically see its conversion rate hover around the 2-3% mark. Your goal shouldn’t to be average, right? In this article I will show you some easy and practical ways your sales can rise above average.
For starters your e-commerce site is just one in a sea of 47 billion websites currently swimming around the Internet. This includes roughly 1.3 million e-commerce sites. And that’s just in the United States. Sites like yours that are trying to get product and content in front of the right people, to get people to opt-in, engage, or buy.
Somehow you need to get noticed by your target audience and appeal to them to want to make a purchase from you. For that, I created a list of seven steps you will need to look at:
- Functional Design & Simple Navigation
- Improve Copy
- Use Scarcity, Urgency and Exclusivity
- Product Depiction
- Improve Checkout Experience
Functional Design and Simple Navigation
First let’s begin by discussing the topic of site design in general. We can write entire books on design so this will be just to get the general idea.
If your site isn’t designed in a manner that keeps your visitors on the page
and moving forward with their transaction none of the other tactics we’re about to discuss are going to make much of a difference.
That said, your site needs to be:
- Visually appealing
- Visually persuasive
- The “appealing” part is pretty straightforward.
Take a look at the examples below:
Needless to say, the modern consumer is more likely to engage further with the site on the left versus the other.
While we could certainly take a deeper dive into why the first example is just that much more appealing, the aesthetics leads the eye into the direction of making a purchase while on the other there is no sense of hierarchy.
Essentially, the goal is to pull your visitors’ eyes to a certain part of the page — typically the part which will allow them to move a step closer toward converting.
Keep in mind we read left to right top to bottom. On the above example, your eye is directed to follow the following steps: see the large image right after the Free Shipping leading your eye to the right with the clever text “So Sweet” that leads to click for more info below the text.
In this step if you are not using a prove template to get you results, it highly recommended you hire a graphic designer with experience in eCommerce.
Continuing in the design of your site, do not take your navigation for granted as it will be one of the most important parts of having a successful ecommerce store. Think about If you walked into a brick-and-mortar retail store that had its products all over the place, you almost certainly would turn right around and walk out. The same goes for your eCommerce store. If your visitors aren’t able to find what they’re looking for quite literally at the click of a button, they’re going to navigate away to a competitor’s site almost immediately.
Take a look at this example from IKEA:
Using the navigation bar at the top of the screen, visitors are easily able to venture to the intermediary product category page they’re looking for. From there, they are able to dig deeper into the specific products offered within each individual category.
Now, this is all well and good for those who are merely browsing your site for products they may like. For those who know exactly what they’re looking for, you need to provide a robust search option. While there are a number of factors to consider when optimizing your site’s search functionality, your main concern is ensuring your visitors are presented with the most relevant products relating to their search term.
There shouldn’t be a single place to find a product that can fit into multiple subcategories.
If a visitor is looking for an Office Table in “furniture,” but you only have it listed in “Home office” then the visitor may assume that you don’t carry the product.
Always check your site’s internal search data as this can provide invaluable information about what visitors are searching for and how they’re navigating your site.
The Need for Speed
If your site takes longer than two seconds to load, 53% of your customers lose interest. Even a delay of a single second can result in a reduction in conversions. For an e-commerce site making $5,000 per day, a 1-second delay could potentially cost you $125,000 in lost revenue per year.
Here are a few things you can do to make sure that you’re not leaving money on the table because of your site’s performance.
- Test your speed. Use Google PageSpeed or even something like Pingdom to figure out your site’s baseline speed.
- Check your hosting plan. If your site host offers different hosting levels, make sure that you’re using a higher performing version. The extra money it may cost will be worth it if you drop the load time and increase conversions, right?
- Optimize images. There are so many tools out there – both free and paid – that can be used to optimize your images for web and mobile. Kraken has plans that start at $5/month. TinyPNG is free. If you’re not into online tools, you can download RIOT for a free desktop option. No excuses. You have to make sure that your images aren’t killing your site’s performance.
The Internet is a visual place.
But you still need to create some stellar copy.
Copy tackles three of the biggest challenges faced by an e-commerce site:
- Inform Visitors
- Drive Action
- Foster Relationships
Of course, you need people to actually read your copy, which is apparently no small feat.
Based on an eye-tracking study by Neilsen Norman Group, it’s likely that the vast majority of your visitors will scan your site, and not actually read it. The typical scanning pattern is an ‘F’ shape.
Your copy should be engaging and formatted in a way that will capture the scanners.
Keep pertinent information towards the top of your piece and use subheadings that allow your scanners to easily identify the sections that are important to them.
Another easy way to improve your copy is to write with your target customer in mind. And if you haven’t created customer personas, you need to do that before anything else!
You can also make some updates to your word choices for a quick copy improvement.Use words that evoke a strong response and invite action from your visitors.
Words like “stunning” or “mind-blowing” are much stronger than using a word like “cool.”
That said, there are two overarching ways to personalize your visitor’s experience:
- Providing dynamic content
- Providing pathways for your visitors to take
Essentially, tools for creating and delivering dynamic content allow you to present tailored content, offers, and product recommendations to your visitors based on factors such as their demographic and geographic data, their on-site behavior, and their history with your brand.
Amazon is – still – the king of eCommerce personalization. Also Netflix how it recommends shows and movies you might like based on your previous viewing.
In terms of providing pathways for your visitor to choose from, you’ll want to consider the “types” of consumers you typically attract. Essentially, you’ll be pointing them to “collections” of products that relate to each other — but aren’t necessarily in the same product category.
Use Scarcity, Urgency, Exclusivity
Implementing tactics such as scarcity, urgency, and exclusivity can be great ways to get your potential customers to make a purchasing decision — and do it quickly. While the three terms relate to one another, they differ in how they’re implemented.
With scarcity, you’re communicating to the consumer that there are a finite number of a certain item left in stock — and you aren’t exactly sure when the next shipment will come in.
With urgency, you’re putting a time limit or deadline on your customer’s order, after which point a certain offer — such as a discount or fast shipping — will expire:
This also works around the holiday season, when time is of the essence for gift-givers
With exclusivity, is all about playing to the consumer’s desire to be part of the “in” crowd (in one way or another). Example of Sephora, promising a free exclusive gift to customers, available only during their birthday month.
In each of these cases, the message to the consumer is clear: Act now, or the opportunity will slip away for good.
If you want your prospective customers to feel comfortable doing business with you, you need to keep them “in the know” in many regards. As we said earlier, robust product descriptions are a must. Since your potential customers aren’t able to physically handle your products before they purchase them, it’s your job to use your product descriptions to bring them to life.
Pro tip: You know best what features are most important to your own products. Make sure you communicate this to your customers well.)
Another tactic to consider is providing an in-depth Frequently Asked Questions page, or including answers to FAQ on specific product or category pages as appropriate.
Provide a ton of information about its products based around questions and comments the company has collected from its customers. As mentioned, your customers need to know as much as possible about your products before they consider buying them — so make sure you give it to them.
Upselling and cross-selling are two other ways to both increase your AOV (average order value) and nurture your hesitant customers toward conversion at the same time.
Let’s say you run an eCommerce company that sells clothing and similar fashion items:
A potential customer navigates to your store looking to purchase an entire new outfit. They click over to the section of your site dedicated to jeans, and find a pair they love. However, you don’t include other product recommendations on your product pages, and the customer is running out of time to check out your shirts and hats before their lunch break is over. They’d rather put their order on hold and buy everything all at once, so they navigate away; unfortunately, they forget all about it that night, and don’t return to your site for quite some time.
Now, if you had provided some recommendations for them, and a shirt or two caught their attention, they almost certainly would have quickly added everything to their cart and been able to check out before heading back to work.
The lesson: Sometimes your customers want to spend more money — and they won’t spend any less than they anticipate. On the other hand, sometimes your customers definitely will want to curb their spending, and opt for the less-expensive version of a certain product. So, when providing product suggestions, it can also be prudent to suggest products that cost less than the one they’re currently viewing. While this may decrease the value of their current order, it’s certainly better than seeing them leave without making a purchase at all.
Improve Checkout User Experience
First and foremost, offer a guest checkout option.
I know it’s great to get registered customers on your site, but with more and more people using smartphones to make purchases it sometimes just isn’t feasible to register.
Sometimes all they want is to buy some leggings. Over a third of the people who abandoned carts in 2016 did so because they didn’t want to create an account or had other issues with a complicated checkout process.
Making customers register to buy from you should be avoided.
Sites like Threadless and Macy’s have embraced guest checkout to streamline their checkout process.
If the thought of completely doing away with requiring registration makes you nervous, you can always do some testing to see how guest checkout impacts your bottom line. Research over the past several years consistently shows that guest checkouts could mean the difference between a sale and an abandoned cart.
Highlight your return or guarantee policy
Your return and guarantee policies should be front and center. Many e-commerce stores don’t offer them (but you should). More than 50% of customers will read the return policy before buying, so make sure that yours is clear, concise, and honest.
One of the biggest drawbacks of buying online is losing the ability to touch or try on the item you’re buying.
Your customers want to know that you’ll take care of them if the product isn’t what they were expecting.
When you’re upfront with your return and guarantee policies, customers are more comfortable and confident. And, more likely to complete a purchase.
Show Checkout Progress
The number three reason consumers abandon their virtual shopping carts:
The checkout process took too long, or was too complicated.
Now, we’ll address how to shorten or otherwise streamline the checkout process in a moment. For now, let’s assume your checkout process is quite streamlined — it’s just that your customers perceive that it’s taking too long. This can be alleviated simply by setting your customer’s expectations before they even begin the checkout process. Remember: Being upfront with them is always preferable to hitting them with unpleasant surprises.
The basic premise is this:
If your customers have no frame of reference for how long the checkout process will take, they’ll probably feel like it took “forever.” If you provide a frame of reference from the get-go, they’ll have a decent idea of how long it should take — and will probably be pleasantly surprised with how quickly they went through it.
Provide multiple payment and delivery options
Nowadays — and especially in the world of eCommerce — there are a ton of different ways for consumers to make payments. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to cater to all of them; not only will you spread yourself too thin in doing so, but there’s a good chance that your customers won’t use many — or even most — of these options in the first place.
That said, you definitely want to figure out which methods your target consumers do tend to use, and be sure to offer them with no strings attached.
Not accepting a less-widely used or accepted option might not lead to too many lost sales, but not accepting
PayPal or Apple Pay, by today’s standards, can be an absolute killer.
There are so many things that you can do to improve your conversion rate that you may feel a bit overwhelm and not know where to begin. That’s okay.
If you act on just a few of these e-commerce conversion tips you’ll see a positive ROI (return on investment).
Start with something simple like improving your site’s speed before moving on to revamping your copy and visuals.
Ultimately, making one change every week or every month will make a difference in your e-commerce conversion rates. it’s a more manageable approach to address the areas that need improvement rather than trying to make multiple sweeping changes at once.
You’ll also have a chance to analyze your site data to see what impact your changes have had. Your e-commerce business lives and dies by the effectiveness of your website. Your site’s data will be able to tell you how your site is performing and if it’s meeting the expectations of potential customers. You have the power to raise your site above the 1.3 million other e-commerce sites clamoring for attention. Use it!