Visitors to an eCommerce website or store are potential customers, but most of them don’t buy anything. The industry’s average conversion rate hovers between one and three percent. Conversion rate optimization aims to narrow the gap by making a store better at convincing visitors to become buyers. CRO is a continual process, shaping the shopping experience through small evidence-based changes. But before you get started with split testing and incremental improvement, the fundamentals must be in place. Here are six ways your eCommerce store may be frustrating your ability to turn visitors into customers.
Product page copy comes in many varieties. Content ranges from utilitarian to flowery and from terse to expansive. Style is dictated by branding and the products themselves: a style that sells boatloads of luxury fashion is out of place on a page that sells office furniture. But, in spite of the diversity of effective product-page copy, there are rules that must be followed:
- The copy must describe the product accurately and with enough detail to provide the shopper with a clear idea of what it is and why it is useful.
- Grammar and punctuation should be impeccable. Shoppers don’t grade copy for grammatical correctness, but sloppy, badly-written copy makes them wonder what else the store is careless about.
If no one who works for you can write clear, concise, and correct copy, hire a writer who can do it for you.
Images are perhaps even more important than copy. They give customers a clear conception of what they are buying and help them to picture the role it will play in their lives. When presented with dimly lit and badly framed images, shoppers assume that the products are similarly slapdash. Stores that decorate product pages with stamp-sized images “curated” from their suppliers are unlikely to flourish.
It is possible to take excellent product shots with the camera on any modern phone. You do not need to invest in an expensive DSLR. Lighting, in contrast, can make a massive difference to the quality of an image. If you take your own product images, invest in a set of studio lights. If you have reached the limit of your photographic ability, there are many inexpensive professional product photographers who have the ability and equipment to take excellent product shots.
There are 57 million disabled people in the US. Approximately 35 million have disabilities that impact their use of the web. They spend over $200 billion each year. But some online retailers make little effort to avoid design decisions that make shopping next-to-impossible for customers with mobility or vision issues. Common problems include:
- Low-contrast copy on pages. Your CTAs will pop if the rest of the page is filled with grey text on a slightly lighter grey background, but millions of people will be excluded because they can’t read your copy.
- The impossibility of navigating pages and carts with the keyboard. Many shoppers don’t use a mouse, and they can’t buy anything if a store’s forms and navigation elements cannot be navigated with a keyboard.
- Product listings that aren’t compatible with screen readers. Many product pages sound like inscrutable gibberish to people who use the web via a screen reader.
Alison Walden wrote an excellent article about why accessibility should matter to eCommerce retailers, and what retailers can do to make their stores more accessible.
Letting Abandoned Carts Go Without A Fight
Of all the people who put items in their carts, three-quarters don’t buy anything. Many of these people will not have planned to buy. They were window shopping. However, some of them intended to buy an item, but for some reason didn’t: they were distracted, the tab with their store session was forgotten and then closed, their phone ran out of power on the commute home. Whatever the reason, some of these abandoned carts can be recovered. How? By sending an email to the shopper to remind them and perhaps to offer a promotion.
All major eCommerce platforms have abandoned cart recovery features, often as an extension. WooCommerce has Yith Woocommerce Recover Abandoned Cart and Magento has Abandoned Cart, among others. Most abandoned carts can’t be recovered, but the few that can make the attempt worthwhile.
Off-Putting Returns Policies
Online shoppers take a risk when they hit the “Buy Now” button. They can’t touch, smell, taste, or otherwise interact with the product. All they have to go on is sales copy, a few pictures, and perhaps a video — that’s not enough to be sure that a product is right for them. So, they need to be reassured that if they find a product is not to their taste, they can return it easily. If they can’t, they may conclude that it isn’t worth the risk.
The most common return-policy mistakes that I see are:
- No return policy.
- A hidden return policy.
- A return policy that puts too much of a burden on the shopper.
Retailers don’t like returns: who wants to lose a sale that has already been made? But a store with a bad return policy will make fewer sales. It’s a balancing act.
A Slow Server
Last month I was on the train returning from a family gathering. I decided to do a little shopping. My partner’s birthday was coming up. She likes clothes from a particular small fashion retailer, so, figuring that was the easy option, I tried to browse their products on my phone. I had a decent 4G connection — YouTube worked fine — but loading pages on the store was like waiting for cold honey to run off a knife. Each page took at least ten seconds to load. I have little patience for clothes shopping anyway, so my partner ended up with flowers. Slow stores lose sales.
There are two main causes of slow stores. Bad hosting and an unoptimized front-end. High-quality web hosting is the foundation on which a store’s performance is built. Lot’s of things can go wrong with hosting to make it slow: the server hardware, poorly optimized software, insufficient resources, inadequate network routing. A good eCommerce hosting provider will take care of all that for you. If yours doesn’t, perhaps it’s time to make a move — migration isn’t as difficult as you might think.
Front-end optimization is a bit more complicated. It’s largely down to the retailer and their ability to make good technical choices. Services like Google PageSpeed Insights and GTMetrix can analyze an eCommerce store’s pages and make optimization suggestions.
We’ve covered six of the most common conversion killers. There are more — great sales copy won’t make up for shoddy customer service — but these are a great place to start. Once you have the basics sorted, you can begin the real work of incremental conversion rate optimization with split testing.
About Graeme Caldwell – Graeme is a writer and content marketer at Nexcess, a global provider of hosting services, who has a knack for making tech-heavy topics interesting and engaging to all readers. His articles have been featured on top publications across the net, TechCrunch to TemplateMonster. For more content, visit the Nexcess blog and give them a follow at @nexcess.
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