Ecommerce is increasing at an aggressive pace and many entrepreneurs who are in this niche are looking at ways to innovate in order to generate more conversions. The customer experience is paramount to ensure successful ecommerce performance and of course, conversions.
As an online store, there are several things that you can do to improve your conversions and increase profits. In this post I’ve discussed 11 essential areas you need to concentrate on, to ensure a better customer shopping experience and guarantee higher conversions.
On-Site Search is a powerful site feature critical to the shopper’s experience. It enables quick product discovery and helps customers find the right products in no time.
Around 30% of the visitors on your site use the search box to find products, which makes search a huge priority for ecommerce sites. A clear and well-positioned search box improves findability and dramatically increases overall conversions.
All the major ecommerce sites invest in site search and make use of essential site search features like autocomplete, synonym detection, context awareness etc. All of these features improve the search experience of the user and ensure that visitors see relevant results. In one of my previous posts, I’ve covered a detailed study of 10 essential site search features to help customers find relevant products faster leading to more conversions and improved sales.
An important by-product of site search is the search data which can be captured. Site search data can help you target marketing campaigns better. For instance, it helps you choose the right keywords (identifies popular keywords used by your customers) for paid search campaigns. Want to know how? Read How to Use Site Search Data Effectively.
Navigation is an essential interface element on an ecommerce website. A clean, consistent navigation helps a new customer understand your site almost instantly. It’s important that you keep the site navigation simple and use a standard style that enables easy browsing and quick product discovery.
There are dozens of techniques and best practices that you can try and experiment with your site’s navigation to see what works best for you.
Some of the best practices are – use common symbols/icons for a drop down menus, use familiar names for links, keep the primary navigation menu horizontal for a comfortable visual experience etc.
Here it is important to note that, while a horizontal menu structure offers convenient navigation, a vertical menu becomes relevant when a merchandiser has to show a wide range of categories and subcategories. Both the navigation techniques have it’s pros and cons. To this end, the choice of navigation depends on the size of store and can be A/B tested to understand what works best for a particular site.
While we’re talking about navigation, I came across a fantastic example of faceted navigation by Indian retailer Myntra. On the category page, it shows facets and filters on the top and left column making it simple for users to refine results.
You can learn more about such navigation techniques in one of our earlier blog posts.
Call to Action
Call to action buttons must catch the customer’s attention so that he is prompted to click.
A well designed call to action button (such as buy now and add to cart) should stand out and have clear, compelling text. Parameters like size, color, font, wording and positioning should be taken care of to ensure that the user understands the next step. High converting CTA’s require extensive testing and different options should be A/B tested to find the best combination of factors.
Jabong is an Indian fashion and lifestyle e-commerce portal which shows clear call to action. It follows some best practices such as clear and bold CTA (here Add to Cart) which is placed in centre that cannot go unnoticed by a visitor.
Another example is of Headline Shirts, an online T-shirt company specialising in humorous graphic themes, which has a creative checkout page. There is an animated character guiding you to the checkout button to make the payment. The character is ready to take off and evokes a sense of urgency which brilliantly stimulates the customer to make a payment.
Offering discounts has been a successful tactic to sell products which works well even for the online stores. Customers browse different sites in order to find the best price for their purchase. Discounts entice customers to buy and hence increase conversions.
These days various online stores use their sites creatively to show the discounts they offer. They usually add attractive banners on the homepage while some stores even have a dedicated offers page.
For instance, eBay, an American multinational Internet consumer-to-consumer corporation, does this particularly well with a dedicated page to ‘Daily Deals’. Here, it points visitors to attractive deals through banners and also displays a timer to indicate the remaining time left to avail the deal. Again, it effectively creates an urgency to buy. Also, the left column of page shows deals under interesting categories thus leading visitors to check out even more deals.
The impact of discounts on your customers must be understood well, before applying them to your site. It is highly commendable to run an A/B test to see which pricing policy or discounts work best in your case. The Psychology of Pricing and Discounts for E-commerce is a useful post that gives tips on how to price and discount your products to encourage customers to spend more.
You are looking to purchase a shirt from an online store and you keep looking until you get to a store which has bold graphics – you instantly feel welcomed!
“92.6% of people feel that the visuals are the top influential factor affecting a purchase decision.”
A well-structured website with a clean layout indicates quality and builds trust. It gives a solid first impression and instant credibility to your site.
Along with a vibrant web design, it’s important to have a simple navigation, captive and relevant banners, an unambiguous search box etc, to give customers a great on site experience.
Nautica, a US-based apparel brand, is an amazing example of a rich visual design with a clear action call in the search box and a simple navigation.
With the incredible rise in mobile shopping, it is important that your website be compatible with all devices. A website should be responsive and should have a similar user experience on different platforms. Nautica does this pretty efficiently with a clean mobile site.
Custom landing pages are a highly focused way to promote products, brands or trends. They are specifically designed to urge a visitor to take an action and hence increase the conversion rate greatly.
“Online advertising that uses landing pages typically sees a conversion rate improvement of at least 25% .
Testing can double this number.”
– Omniture (via Unbounce)
Though every page on your site is a landing page, but in terms of marketing, landing pages are specifically built to promote certain products. In this case, it makes sense to create a landing page based on popular searches on your online store where customers can find the products that they were looking for in one single page.
For an ecommerce retailer, a typical example could be to create a landing page to highlight the Spring Summer Collection, something that Asos has done very well.
Benefits of using landing pages
Provides a superb shopping experience to the customers as they get exactly what they’re looking for in fewer number of clicks and minimum search, saving them a lot of time.
Higher conversion rates as you’re giving visitors tailored pages based precisely on what they had searched for.
Effective customer support is vital in the ecommerce space to assist customers in real time. While shopping online, customers look for help with sizing, shipping information, return policy etc. An immediate response from the support team would help customers take a quick decision and make the purchase.
This can be done by providing live chat support which proactively engages with the customer in real time and gives a personal touch to their shopping experience.
According to a report by Forrester Research
“44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a Web site can offer.”
There are two main reasons why live chat can improve your business –
1. Convenience– It is convenient for the customers to interact with live support without having to dial a number or write an email.
2. Increases sales– A live chat support gives prompt assistance to the customer leading to a quick decision and quick purchase. It also reduces the bounce rate of the page.
Here are some third party live chat packages that you can implement on your site for minimum customer response time and quick conversions.
Livezilla – Provides Richtext Chats, Global Canned Messages, File Transfer, E-Mail Transcripts, (Automated) Proactive Chat Invites, Operator to Operator Chats and more.
Live Person – Creates meaningful, real time customer connections that help businesses
With a huge catalog menu, it becomes a lot easier for merchandisers to depend upon a recommendations tool for product discovery. It personalises the customer’s shopping experience by giving them highly relevant options and shows faster conversions. For merchandisers, it is an extremely important tool to increase the average order value and conversion rates.
According to Forrester research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru, product recommendations are responsible for an average of 10-30% of eCommerce site revenues.’
Product recommendations has now become a necessity to increase online sales. Merchandisers who don’t have a recommendation tool must soon implement it with the help of a vendor and get started (Recommendation tool involves complex algorithms that requires huge investment of time and manpower). If you’re looking for a great product recommendations tool, there are 6 crucial questions you should ask before buying a recommendation tool.
Flipkart, an Indian ecommerce giant, shows highly relevant product recommendations. For a search query of ‘Iphone 5s’, it shows recommendations of other similar Apple mobile phones with better features and it shows complementary items such as screen guards.
Ecommerce sites with a blog have higher chances of getting ranked by the search engines than those that don’t have one. Why? Because original and regularly updated content is preferred by search engines and tends to rank higher.
Blogging has amazing benefits in helping a business grow. It’s an effective tactic for inbound marketing, building relationships with visitors, establishing your brand as an authority, attaining targeted traffic and increasing engagement on social media.
Etsy is an ecommerce website focused on handmade or vintage item, that has a vibrant and interesting blog. It uses fresh ideas to engage with their customers. For instance, this year on Mother’s Day, it’s encouraging visitors to share photos with their mother and also share interesting instances of what their mom had taught them. They could either post it in the comments or on social media with the hashtag of #momtaughtme. Definitely, a very interesting way to engage with the customers at a personal level and build lasting relationships.
A new visitor on your site would look for testimonials and FAQ’s before making a purchase. He would want to know the brand better, learn more about its policies etc. It could be a crucial deciding factor to make a purchase.
FAQ section is a guide that you provide to your customers, to save them time on frequent questions. This can result in a quick decision and faster conversions.
Zappos has a page dedicated to FAQ’s, with a thoughtful list of questions and answers informing customers about common doubts related to their site or service. It’s one of the best ways to build credibility and trust in your product and brand.
As for testimonials, they are a great way to showcase successful customer stories and use the power of social proof to improve conversions and build trust.
Product descriptions should be concise and clear so that the visitors can learn all about the product before they make a purchase decision. It should contain relevant information such as the benefits of the product, make use of sensory words (such as smooth, crisp, velvety) and provide social proof through product reviews. This will help the customer make a decision instantly.
Descriptions can be put across in the form of text, image or even video. While describing through image and text, the image should be of high quality and resolution. With a video description you can show a 360 degree view of the product which can give visitors a sense of what the product actually looks like. A particularly nice example of this is Koovs – an online fashion store which has all the three modes of a product description.
While these tactics can definitely help increase conversions, it is very important to A/B test each of these before implementation, to understand the true impact. With testing, you’ll gain invaluable customer insights which will help you zero in on the best tactic that works for your site.
I’d love to hear if you have any more tactics that can help ecommerce sites increase conversions so do share it with me in the comments below!