CRO Lab - 23 simple ways to increase ecommerce conversions

Monday, 02 July 2018

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.

From looking at their analytics and due to the nature of their business and the fact many purchases are one-off, F.Hinds discovered that only 0.5% of their customers ever logged into their account (and nearly all of those were to track the status of their order) so they decided to remove the my account area of their website saving customers the hassle of filling in unnecessary details when ordering. Since moving to this closed checkout with less form fills, their conversion rate has grown by 54%.

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.

As a starting point, Red Technology build all sites using a responsive design across four breakpoints. However, if a customer requests something different there is the capability to provide it. For example, the consumer products company, JML owns and runs three shopping channels alongside an ecommerce division (JML Direct). As much of their business is conducted via these TV channels, they wanted their website to be optimised for large screen devices so an additional breakpoint of 1710px wide was added to cater for this potential market.

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 Loqate 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.

Red Technology integrate with Loqate (formerly PCA Predict) across all of our projects to help ensure accurate and speedy address 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.

In line with removing unnecessary form fills, saved addresses avoid customers having to manually fill in more information.

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.

tradeit's standard ecommerce accelerators feature both registered and guest checkout giving customers a choice when placing orders.

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.

tradeit supports multiple image views with zoom functionality on each, as well as product videos. The product title, details and descriptions are completely customisable using tradeit's built-in PIM meaning non-technical staff can easily edit them as they see fit.

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.

tradeit has been integrated with several online chat providers including Live Chat, LivePerson, and Who's On.

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.

Other things to try or look for that can help improve your site performance include:

  • Defer all images on the site - they are loaded via JavaScript so it does not block the loading of other resources
  • Add a deferred JavaScript file to defer any JavaScript files that are not needed right at the start of the page load.
  • Review any third party script and remove any that are no longer needed.
  • Introduce unmanaged applications pools for images - this has a beneficial effect on the loading of images by running all the requests through an unmanaged AppPool.

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.

tradeit features the ability to run abandoned basket campaigns using the triggered email functionality within the platform. Merchants can set up campaigns to trigger when a user adds items to their basket but doesn't check out. Rules can be applied by the merchant to determine when to send it, who to send it to, which products it applies to, which channels to send it on and much more.

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 although the number of steps may depend on the complexity of what you are selling and the simplicity of each of those steps.

The tradeit Accelerators feature a maximum of six stages (less for B2B) from the initial sign-in/registration to the final order confirmation/receipt and include the delivery address (with address book functionality), delivery options, gift options (wrapping and messaging) and payment.

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 you 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.

tradeit has been integrated with multiple payment providers and enables the ability to pay via many different methods including credit/debit cards, PayPal, on account, via pre-paid credit, via subscription, via invoice, using 'buy now pay later' services such as Klarna, gift cards and loyalty points. It can also support payment by multiple methods on the same order, such as credit card and gift cards.

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.

tradeit features completely customisable facets and facet groups giving merchants control over their filtering capabilities.

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. Learn more about why an online loyalty scheme MUST be part of your ecommerce armoury.

Europe's leading sports nutrition brand, Maximuscle, use tradeit's built-in loyalty scheme to run their loyalty program, MaxiRewards. Rather than rely on an expensive, convoluted and complicated third party system, they use the flexible, points-based scheme within tradeit to automatically manage this for them.

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.

tradeit features a built-in product ratings & reviews engine meaning merchants can begin to gather that all important user-generated content. Some merchants may prefer to use an independent service such as Trustpilot, Feefo or Bazaarvoice which have all been previously integrated with tradeit. Some merchants request a mixture of both so use tradeit for product reviews and a third-party for general service reviews. tradeit's triggered email functionality also enables merchants to set up product review request email campaigns to help generate those reviews, helping SEO and building consumer trust.

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.

Morphy Richards are one of the UK's leading electrical manufacturers and a long-time customer of Red Technology's. When they recently launched a new product innovation arm of their business called Glasshouse they used crowd funding and pre-orders to determine whether it was worthwhile bringing products to market, and if so in what quantity. By enabling their users to submit pre-orders for those products they could accurately manage their manufacturing output & reduce waste, storage and logistics costs.

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.

With the exception of a few of their products which are sold in John Lewis stores, Hotel Chocolat products are almost exclusively sold in their own stores and on their own website. This has been key to not only the positioning of their brand in the luxury space, but also in the continued success of their business.

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.

Tropicana Wholesale have a dedicated 'Clearance' section on their site. Using tradeit's simple administration tools they can easily edit their navigation and manage the price discounts on the relevant products. By supporting flexible taxonomies, product pages will automatically appear in multiple categories without the fear of duplicate content being punished by search engines.

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.

Westcoast are the UK's biggest, independent IT distributor and stock hundreds of thousands of products for sale on their ecommerce site. As many of the products are IT based they feature a number of configurable options enabling customers to personalise their equipment with different features and specifications. In order to enable these types of options their ecommerce platform, tradeit, has 8 flat file integrations, 21 API integrations, 4 specialist configurators & pricing tool integrations, and 6 external system integrations. Finding a company and ecommerce platform that can handle these types of heavyweight B2B systems  integrations is not easy but Red Technology specialise in complex, non-standard ecommerce projects that other companies can't manage.

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.

Red Technology provide secure, PCI-compliant managed hosting services to all of our customers meaning that they have a single company responsible for their entire ecommerce operation.

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.

Scribbler allow their customers to split single orders to multiple delivery destinations including both domestic and international addresses, as well as for in-store collection at any of their retail outlets. Whilst that sounds fairly simple, tradeit is able to manage the items separately meaning integration into an ERP or stock management system is much easier to handle. Not only that, it can take account of any differing tax rates, gifting requirements, promotional offers and returns for each and every line item of an order that is split.

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.