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23 simple ways to increase ecommerce conversions

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Increasing your conversion rate is obviously a great way to improve the performance of your ecommerce site but it’s really difficult to determine exactly what is a good conversion rate as there are lots of different factors at play that will affect them. Different industry sectors, product types, business models and devices will see wildly different rates classed as ‘average’ so it is quite difficult to determine exactly how good your conversion rate really is. Many experts will cite rates of 1-2% but a better thing for most businesses to focus on than ‘averages’ should be improving what you already have and continually striving to get better. Let’s looks at some things that might help.

1. Reducing form fills

Reducing the amount of information that people have to key-in helps increase conversions so auto-complete on any form fills is a great tool, and particularly effective for existing customers. One of the reasons why Amazon are so successful is how easy they make it for existing users to buy. This is achieved through reducing the amount of information people need to fill in before they’re able to purchase. Another thing to remember on forms is to make any mandatory fields clear so users do not leave them blank then have to go back and fill them in. Immediate validation (like a check) is also useful for shoppers and a nice piece of UX.

2. Responsive design/UX

As the number and popularity of different device types for browsing the internet grows, it’s vital to ensure that your site functions equally well across all of them, particularly as users are even more likely to abandon on mobile devices. With this in mind a responsive design is important to ensure your site renders perfectly across all device types but it’s also important to consider the UX. For example, try and offer the same functionality and useful tools on desktop, tablet and mobile breakpoints. Ensure the experience is consistent across all devices with particular focus on data entry. For instance, some sites still serve a QWERTY keyboard on mobile view for a numeric form field, which is really poor from the customer’s point of view.

3. International address look-up

As mentioned above, nobody likes filling out forms, so any tools that help people avoid the lengthy and annoying process of keying in their data, particularly on smaller devices like smart phones, are to be encouraged. International address look-up software such as PCA Predict is a great tool for not only reducing the amount of time it takes a user to checkout but also improving accuracy of the information that is input.

4. Address book/Saved addresses

So simple but so effective. Pretty much standard to most ecommerce sites today but the ability to select a previously used address is a great way of reducing hassle for users and therefore increasing conversions.

5. Guest checkout

Whilst in reality a guest checkout requires almost exactly the same amount of information to be entered as if registering for an account (when a user places their first order), the perception is that it’s quicker, and less hassle, In fact with over 58% of cart abandonment happening at this stage of the checkout, it’s crucial to offer it to your users as it will definitely increase conversions as a result.

6. Shipping costs/FREE shipping!

Approximately half of online retailers offer free shipping (often with conditions such as minimum spend) and the main reason is that those four letters ‘F R E E’ have a magical effect on increasing conversions. If you can make it fit your online model then it’s definitely worth it but failing that a very clear and transparent approach to shipping costs (preferably with a flat fee for everything) is the next best approach. Hidden or surprise shipping costs (or any hidden fees for that matter) are the biggest barrier to conversions with 61% of users citing this as the main reason for abandoning a purchase.

7. Good images/videos/descriptions/product detail

People want to know what they are buying so the more images and information you can provide the more likely people are to find out what they want to know (without leaving your site and visiting a competitor’s site to get it), and more likely they are to convert. If you are selling 3rd party products add your own description/recommendation/advice rather than just copying the manufacturer’s text like most of your competitors will.

8. Returns/contact/Q&As/Live chat/Help (prominent)

Unclear or missing information is often a barrier to purchase and can often lead to a lack of consumer trust. Users may seek last minute clarity on delivery, returns, payment options, terms & conditions, contact or other questions, so providing quick and simple access to that information is vital to increasing conversions and avoiding bounces. Many companies provide a live chat service meaning that user’s questions can be answered straight away, stopping any potential lost sales. These services can also help offer peace of mind to buyers.

9. Site speed

Site speed is crucial to conversions. Nobody wants to wait ages for pages to load, so ensuring that the performance of your site is optimised is vital. Saving images at the right size, minimising them for web and selecting the right file type can help reduce page loading times. The use of a CDN (Content Delivery Network) can also help with the fast loading of images and other media. Other things to consider would be limiting the number of redirects you have and paying attention to your hosting environment.

10. Abandoned basket campaigns

Shopping cart abandonment is a common problem. Whilst many of the tools outlined here will help to reduce it, they will never eliminate it, so it’s important to have an abandoned cart email campaign process in place in order to target those users who do not convert first time. There’s no doubt they are effective with some merchants claiming that almost a third of email recipients went on to make a purchase. Those purchases were also at almost 60% over their AOV too. It’s commonly agreed they should be sent promptly following the abandonment (within an hour at most) to have the maximum effect.

11. Persistent shopping basket/saved basket

Another tool that can help to increase conversions is a persistent and/or saved basket meaning that users who have added items to their cart but aren’t yet ready to check out can come back at a later date and complete their order without going through the hassle of having to add the items back to their basket.

12. Progress indicators

Giving people an idea of how far, or not, they are through the checkout can help avoid unnecessary bounces. Be wary though, list too many steps and it might have the opposite effect so think about condensing the steps in your checkout into a maximum of three.

13. Multiple payment methods

Quite simple, but the more ways you allow people to pay for goods, the more likely they are to convert. Some people don’t like credit cards so they might prefer to pay via PayPal, some markets like Germany and Scandinavia are more geared up for buy now pay later services like Klarna so if you intend to trade in those regions who should cater to local preferences. Consumers are more savvy and demanding than ever so catering for the different requirements of as many as possible will help increase conversions.

14. On-site Search/Facets

On-site search is crucial to conversions. Needless to say, the easier it is for people to find what they’re looking for on your site, the more likely they are to convert. Spending time to optimise your search will avoid 0 results, or irrelevant matches, and definitely increase conversions. Facets/filtering are another great tool for helping people refine what they are looking for particularly if you have a large product range. Ensuring they are also optimised will further increase your chances of conversions. Also, be careful to make sure your facets are tailored and relevant to the specific products/product groups you are selling rather than a generic group that covers your entire site. For instance, if you sell toasters and kettles, a facet of ‘number of slices’ will be relevant to the toasters but not the kettles so should only show accordingly.

15. Stored payment details (tokenised) for returning customers

Securely storing previous payment information is another way to avoid yet more form filling, and make checking out easier. This will improve conversions for previous customers.

16. A loyalty programme

Forrester Research indicates that people who are members of a loyalty scheme are far more likely to convert, as well as spend more when they visit your site. However, any scheme needs to be optional rather than mandatory as we’ve already established that people don’t like filling in more details than is necessary, or being forced into things they don’t want. If done properly a loyalty scheme can have a significant effect on conversions.

17. Product reviews

Product reviews are one of the most important pieces of information in helping users to convert. In fact, statistics say that approximately 60% of all visitors are likely to read reviews before making a purchase online so they’re crucial in improving conversions.

18. Back orders/pre-orders

If an item is coming soon, out of stock but will be replenished, or can be custom made, making sure it can still be ordered and displaying the next available date, and or quantity, can help secure a sale that might otherwise be lost.

19. Sell stuff you make/Exclusivity

Exclusivity will improve conversions. If you’re the only people selling something, then you’re the only place to buy it from which puts you in a huge position of strength. Whilst this might mean you can get away with being quite lazy in your overall approach, it will enable you to increase conversions as a consequence.

20. Discounts

Ecommerce has bought with it a band of perpetual bargain hunters and experienced online shoppers who research, compare and only buy products when they are reduced or available as part of an offer, squeezing every last drop from their money. Having a dedicated SALE section that’s simple to find will help increase conversions to these types of users. Other targeted promotions and offers will also increase conversions, particularly if they are delivered to the right users at the right time.

21. Personalisation

Being able to customise products will help you convert. People like to personalise things and take ownership of them. An online product configurator for customisation of products will allow them to do that and the effort they spend doing it will mean they are more likely to convert when they do.

22. Security

Trust is obviously important to users so displaying your site’s security credentials such as your SSL certificate is important, particularly if you are a small and relatively unknown brand. Choosing a provider who can enable https, provide encryption and vulnerability scanning and communicating that to your customers is essential to reassuring them. People know brands and websites like John Lewis or Amazon so they trust them, chances are you don’t have that clout so make people aware.

23. Split orders

You wouldn't expect people to queue up twice in a store to buy things for different people, so why expect them to do it online? Giving users the ability to split a single order to multiple delivery destinations, each with separate gift wrapping, messaging, and fulfilment types will help increase conversions.

If you're looking for help driving up your ecommerce conversion rate, or need an ecommerce platform that can support your requirements then please get in touch.

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