You have an online store and you want it to grow. You decide to hire an SEO company, run Google Ads campaigns and thoroughly handle your social media. Consequently, your position in the search results and the traffic on the website is growing but despite of all these actions, you still don’t have any tangible benefits. Does it ring a bell? Don’t worry, in this article we’ll explain you why your store doesn’t have the expected conversions and what should be done to increase sales. Enjoy the read!
Contrary to what you may think, the situation described at the beginning of this article isn’t a rarity. It often happens that despite of having high website traffic, the conversion rate of an online store isn’t satisfactory enough.
Let’s start from the very beginning. Conversion – what exactly is it?
Conversion (CR – conversion rate) is in simple words some recipients’ (or potential customers’) interaction with your store. This can be a purchase, subscribing to the newsletter, registering and many more.
In fact, the definition of conversion can’t be completely specified and may slightly differ from one person to another because conversion is simply about the set goals and other details that the store owners pay particular attention to.
Nevertheless, it’s good to know what the conversion rate is because it enables calculating the number of conversions, while taking into consideration all visits on the website. CR can be calculated from the undermentioned formula:
CONVERSION RATE = NUMBER OF CONVERSIONS/NUMBER OF USERS x 100%
What’s interesting, head of online sales of the Esprit group, Jürgen Michelberger asserts that 3% conversion rate for an online store isn’t only a satisfactory but also a good result (Schrei vor Glück: Zalando oder shoppen gehen war gestern, Seidel H., 2013).
Obviously, this rate isn’t entirely calculable, as it doesn’t take into account situations when, for example, customers are looking for some information about a product online, but instead of ordering it, they decide to visit brick-and-mortar shops. In spite of all, CR still remains the most commonly used measure of online sales.
When conversion rate isn’t high enough, the store owners will probably be dissatisfied even though the traffic and visibility of their businesses in Google is good. So what can you do to make your site convert better? How to increase sales or encourage more people to subscribe to the newsletter? Keep reading.
Want to increase sales? Don’t disregard the User Experience
An increasing number of people recognize the importance of the user experience. Nowadays, before creating a new website or launching an app, companies more and more often conduct user researches which involve monitoring potential users and how they handle operating the device. This allows eliminating even those errors that the companies themselves weren’t really aware of. To fully comprehend the essence of the user experience, you need to realize that not every user thinks like you. Something obvious for you doesn’t have to be so obvious for others. If you want your store to have a better CR, then it must be user friendly, not only in terms of graphics but also in terms of being easy to operate.
Here, “don’t make me think”, a motto of functionality by Steve Krug, proves to be 100% applicable. Users don’t like spending too much time thinking while shopping. Online shopping was supposed to be a pleasure, moreover, it should be fast and simple. Therefore, it’s essential to enable customers intuitive shopping without any unnecessary difficulties. Unfortunately, in most cases when users can’t find something in your store, they’ll probably leave your website and choose more approachable one, that’s reality (Don’t make me think, Krug S., 2014).
You need to realize that SEO, social media, Google Ads or other forms of internet marketing are for online stores exactly the same as regular advertisements are for brick-and-mortar shops. They should guarantee that customers will visit the store, but the service and whether they’ll make a purchase is your responsibility.
12 reasons why your e-commerce site isn’t converting
It’s high time for some real examples. These are some of the most common bad activities that may make your store not get the conversions you wish. Most of them, but not all, are caused by UX. We’ll also provide you with suitable examples and tips on how to deal with such challenges. Let’s get it started!
1. The purpose of the website is unclear and its design is unappealing
E-commerce is just like life, although many don’t want to admit it, first impressions count. So it’s more about fine feathers making fine birds than about clothes not making the man (or a store in this case).
Your online store should catch customers’ attention and make them fall in love with it at first sight. If it’s not the case, this may be one of the reasons for a low conversion rate.
The purpose of the website also needs to be clearly indicated. Let’s face it, after spending a few seconds on your site users should be able to tell where they’re. They should know whether it’s an online store with sport equipment, dietary supplements, clothes or anything else. The message must be clear and understandable no matter if the site is visited by a 20 year old who regularly uses technology or by someone who has nothing to do with it.
Obviously, it’s advisable to target the store at a specific group of people and properly communicate with them because if you’re appealing to them, then you can significantly increase sales. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that your website shouldn’t be transparent for everyone.
Let’s suppose that your store is first in the Google search results for a phrase “home decor shop”, but after clicking on the link users see sports equipment. They’ll probably be rather discouraged and either leave your store increasing the bounce rate or visit the competition store which is second on the list.
Although it may seem absurd for you, very often online store owners find it problematic to identify the purpose of the website. They also don’t tempt with its design and broadly understood user experience connected with majority of the points on our list.
2. Poor menu navigation
Menu is a starting point for people searching for desirable products in your store. Obviously, they can use the “search” option at the very beginning but many of them will look at the menu first.
That’s why menu navigation is so important. First of all, menu should be in a visible and easily accessible place, very often the top of the site is used for that purpose. Moreover, you have to adjust the strategy of your store to users because, depending on the website, too complex menu can either scare away or facilitate searching. Most importantly, the menu should work efficiently, clearly and intuitively.
A good example: menu of Zalando, one of the largest online stores with clothing, footwear and accessories.
Theoretically this menu is very complex but at the same time turns out to be minimalistic and easy to navigate. Without any difficulties you can spot division into “women-men-children” and other categories. You can also conveniently go back to the previous page from every menu item. A drop-down-menu is fully operational but still doesn’t cover any important content on the page.
3. Shopping cart not working properly
A properly working shopping cart is essential for an online store. You should do your best to not increase cart abandonment, meaning simply a situation when a customer adds a few products to the shopping cart in your store but for some reason resigns and leaves the website.
A few useful solutions would be:
- The option of continuing shopping. Most of online stores don’t take customers directly to their shopping cart after adding a product to it, which is good, because this way people can freely continue shopping. However, even if customers in your store are directed to the cart after selecting a product, then it would be advisable to create a “continue shopping” button, that would allow going back to the last visited page, as returning to the beginning of the list after browsing over several product pages could be annoying.
A good example: the www.bookdepository.com bookstore – here, after adding a book to the shopping cart we’re given two options: “continue shopping” or “Basket/Checkout”.
- The option of previewing and editing the shopping cart on the home page, without the need to enter it. It’s particularly useful when a customer selected some product accidentally. Moreover, it makes it easier to control the shopping. If you’ve a certain sum of money to spend and after adding a few products to your cart you realize that you’ve already exceeded the limit but you still want to buy something different, then the previewing and editing option can be a real life-saver.
A good example: Zalando, again. After hovering the mouse over the cart on the home page, its content unfolds. You can remove things from your cart, move them to the wish list, go to the checkout, preview the amount due or double-check the size.
- The option of changing the variant of the product in the cart. Let’s imagine that you decided to buy a dress but at the checkout you realize that the chosen size won’t fit you. If you’re allowed to change the size in the cart, without going back to the home page and searching for the dress again, then it’s much more likely that you won’t abandon the cart.
- Appropriate buttons with well-chosen content, color and writing. The next steps after entering the shopping cart should be also clearly named so that customers don’t feel unsure or misled.
- Removing all unnecessary items that aren’t related to the purchase process – they may distract or discourage customers from buying. Nevertheless, you can consider putting some tempting information about free delivery or fast shipment.
So if you’re wondering how to increase sales in your online store, remember to take care of your shopping cart.
4. Problems with registration or logging
Non-intuitive or inaccessible registration or login is also the enemy of conversion in e-commerce. It’s important to place the options to “create an account” or “sign in” in a visible part of the website, the top right corner next to the shopping cart is frequently used for this.
A good example: reliable Zalando
Subsequent registration steps also have to be clear and easy, that’s why you should remember about:
- Avoiding misunderstandings. If a user has to complete the “address” field, then it’s better to precise it’s about “delivery address” at the beginning. In some shops for practical reasons there’s also a separate option with “invoicing/billing address”.
- Indicating errors. If the field is incorrectly completed, it should be signaled in some way, so that it can be immediately noticed and corrected. There’s nothing more annoying than filling out the entire long form and then losing the data because of one error and yet it still happens on some pages.
An example concerning this issue: buying a PKP train ticket via the Internet. After choosing a specific train (date and time), you choose a class, a seat and truck, for instance: second class, truck with compartments and a seat next to the window.
After clicking “continue”, you’re taken to a new window, where you enter the traveler’s name and confirm the choice. Then, options for creating an account, signing in or buying a ticket as a guest appear. Until recently, information about the lack of seats according to your preferences was displayed right here, just before making the payment and if you still wanted to buy the ticket, you had to repeat the whole process from scratch. Undoubtedly, it was driving most customers crazy. And putting the information about a lack of seats just after choosing them was all that had to be done to solve the problem. Fortunately, PKP finally noticed its mistake and now it simply offers another place instead of the occupied one.
- Keep it simple. Based on the previous point you can conclude that it’s better to divide the registration into a few steps than to leave it long in one window. This way, it’ll seem more user friendly, besides people are explorers so they’ll probably be more willing to go through the next, short stages of registration. A long and tedious form often resembles a school exam.
It’s also important to notice that there’s no need to force users to create accounts or log in. Although it’s beneficial for shop owners as it enables creating a customer database, users very often don’t want to or don’t have time to create the account and therefore decide to abandon the cart. Here, “buy as a guest” is a desirable option worth considering.
5. Problems with shipping options and online payments
We can surely say that shipping costs kill the conversion. Think how many times you gave up buying something only because of the expensive delivery. Generally it’s applicable to cheaper purchases. For instance, if you want to get a phone case which costs USD 15 but then you realize you’d have to pay additional USD 10 for the delivery, it’s almost certain that you’ll resign.
Here, again, Zalando is a great example. It doesn’t charge you for the delivery, even if you choose a courier option, it’s free, there’s no small print saying “free delivery from USD 100”. Moreover, returns are also very simple and free so probably most people who have ever ordered something there wondered how on earth it can be profitable. It turns out that indeed, it’s very profitable. The store’s gaining recognition in many countries around the world despite the fact that according to Rubin Ritter, one of Zalando’s board members, and his interview for “Die Welt”, in January 2013 the return rate in their store came to 50%. It seems to be involved with huge costs which somehow fit into the nature of e-commerce. When it comes to brick-and-mortar shops, you pay for renting premises and in online stores you have to pay for deliveries or returns.
Of course, not every online store is as prosperous as Zalando and can afford free deliveries but it’s essential to price it out reasonably and adjust it to the industry. It’s also important to provide several shipping options, let’s leave the courier option for USD 15, but then think about offering also a parcel locker or a cheaper mailing option. This way, the user is more likely to choose a satisfying option and your conversion rate will increase – a real win-win situation.
The same applies to the payment options. Unsurprisingly, with the development of the entire e-commerce, the “cash on arrival” option is consigned to oblivion. Nowadays online transfers, PayPal or Blik rules. However, each of this option has its allies and the target group worth taking care of. Therefore, if it’s only possible you should do your best to provide the customers with a wide range of payment options.
6. Low trust level
Trust for products, brands or even suppliers is crucial in sales, no matter whether we consider online or offline stores. So one of the factors that decreases your conversion rate may be low customer trust to your e-business.
How to solve the problem? Well, try to:
- Avoid spam – reminding users about the abandoned shopping cart (for example, sending emails like “products in your shopping cart are still waiting for you”) or using remarketing are good ideas, but remember not to overdo it because you can easily deter customers.
- Use social proof – introduce such options as adding reviews (which can influence customers purchasing choices), real-time statistics (informing, for example, how many people are interested in a given product), cooperation with famous people, badges or quality certifications.
- Make use of publicity – very often media, even those local, mention online stores. Try to provide links to the sources and quotes concerning your store on the website.
- Provide links to your social media profiles – apart from building the domain trust level they also increase the customer trust. In modern world stores need to have at least a Facebook account to communicate with current and potential customers or to inform about sales.
- Pay attention to advertising links or your partners – these factors can noticeably strengthen your authority and trust level, especially when we’re talking about recognizable and appreciated brands.
7. Poorly designed or unclear CTA
Another hindrance to a satisfying conversion rate is poorly designed CTA. Call to action is simply a method by which you can easily instruct users what they should do on your website, in the newsletter and so on. Often it’s a link in a form of a button, graphics, text or a slogan which encourages users to click on it. It should lead to subscribing to the mailing list, creating an account, writing opinions or adding products to the cart. Seems simple, however designing a proper CTA gives many UX designers or web developers sleepless nights. Believe us, this small button can make a significant difference.
To increase your CTA effectiveness you can:
- Make sure it’s visible at first glance (color, font and shape);
- Make it immediately obvious that it’s “clickable”;
- Use first person singular as often as possible – the research carried out on Unbounce users indicated that swapping the word “your” into “mine” was enough to increase their conversion even by 90%;
- Be precise. Try to communicate clearly the intended use of every button. “Download free PDF version” will work better than the button with the book title or the mysterious “click here” link. Don’t forget about mobile versions, the button should look equally efficient on all devices.
Call to action doesn’t have to be very serious, it can be funny or even cute, depending on your target group. If you can afford it, sometimes it’s worth giving a try.
8. Unclear or not working filters
One of the well-known conversion killers can also be filters, not only these poorly designed which are unclear but also these not working properly. If users can’t easily sort products on your store’s website by size or producer, then they often consider it problematic to find something suitable for themselves. Online shopping is mostly about saving time – that’s why not everyone wants to spend hours on browsing the entire collection, in fact most people prefer to find particular products straightaway.
Filters are extremely important for the user experience, especially because when customers visit an online store, they already, more or less, know what they’re looking for. If you make it easier for them to find necessary products, the likelihood that they’ll buy it in your store increases.
Some tips regarding filters:
- carefully consider their operation;
- think about their placement order, it’s important;
- give users multiple choice, for example, choosing both size and price;
- once again: keep it simple;
- take care of easy filter removal, it’s also important;
- try out different solutions.
9. Challenges with the so-called magnifying glass
Nowadays clear and easy searching for the products is a key issue in online shopping. This point relates to the previous one concerning filters – today, customers don’t browse the online store to find any shoes, they’re looking for a specific model, brand, color or size. So if you’re still wondering how to increase sales but the magnifying glass on your site doesn’t work properly, you probably have the answer to many of your problems.
Tips for the search box:
- Put the search box in a visible place, the top of the page is commonly used for that purpose and customers got used to it due to search engines such as Google;
- Mark the search box with the magnifying glass icon – it’s already so popular that giving up on it can cause users many troubles and as it’s universally acknowledged, you shouldn’t make your customers feel confused if you aim to increase the conversion rate;
- Focus on the accuracy of the results. If customers ask for red pots and instead find green plates, they’ll probably go to other stores.
It’s also a good idea to suggest users the search terms, sometimes there are typos or people may know only the title of the book or even its fragment, but not the author. Then, suggesting the search terms turns out to be very useful.
10. Problems with the product page
Obviously, first impressions count and everything discussed above is equally important. But all of these is pointless when the product page doesn’t meet the expectations. It must contain all the necessary data about a given product, moreover, it shouldn’t only present it but also encourage the user to the purchase. So what can help?
- Good quality and aesthetic pictures – very often unattractive photos of clothes on a dummy not showing any details or how the clothing lies on the body deters customers from buying and browsing the store;
- Zoom on products – people like to examine the products they’re about to buy. Details are important;
- Visible and clear prices;
- Proper presentation of all product color or pattern variants;
- Accurate and unique descriptions that will resolve any doubts concerning products;
- Opinions about the products, especially useful in terms of clothing stores. Customers often share valuable information concerning the size or color which can reduce the return rate.
11. Error 404, sold out products and availability notifications
The assortment of online stores, especially these large ones, generally frequently changes. New products are constantly added and the old ones removed, which may lead to confusion. For example, a given product page used to be well positioned but as the product is temporarily or permanently unavailable, the store decided to turn the page off and consequently, when customers try to enter this subpage, they’ll probably see the 404 error. Then, in most cases users will quickly leave your store, unless…
- you’ll offer some alternative – presenting products similar to these unavailable ones can be a great idea. A message saying that you’re sorry but a given product isn’t accessible at the moment and link with photos to its alternative should be enough;
- you provide an availability notification form if you know that the product is unavailable only temporarily. If customers really care, they’ll certainly complete it and appreciate your effort;
- you use links redirecting customers to other sites with similar products and thanks to that you won’t lose the traffic. However, this solution has its drawbacks – users may feel distracted and lost.
The 404 error page itself can also vary. It may be only a simple and official message or a funny picture combined with a catchy text. Such small detail can effectively increase the user experience and make a positive impression. Obviously, it should be consistent with the whole content on the website and the way in which the brand communicates with its customers.
An example of the 404 error page from the soup.io website:
And here, another example from the CSS Tricks website where the message refers to the website theme (as the name suggests it concerns the tricks used in CSS):
12. Low competitive pricing
Let’s be honest – even perfect positioning, UX or website design won’t help if you provide completely uncompetitive prices. You can offer the most beautiful photos and unique product descriptions but if your prices are much higher than the prices of your competition on the market, then you’ll never get safisfactory conversion rate. On the Lemonstand blog you can read that for 60% of people the price is the most important factor affecting decision making. Therefore, you may need to think through your sales strategy carefully because these findings can’t be ignored.
Although you may think that this article is very comprehensive, we still haven’t listed many factors negatively affecting conversion in e-commerce. There are innumerable reasons why despite of great positioning and traffic the conversion rate may still be unsatisfactory. Maybe you’ve forgotten about mobile users or appropriate remarketing strategy. Maybe your products fail to reach the target group, your website content isn’t encouraging enough or maybe something else doesn’t work properly. We can’t tell it right now, but if you’re still wondering how to increase your sales, our today’s article should give you some hints.