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11 ways to optimize your online store for conversions

11 ways to optimize your online store for conversions

Editor’s note: With the spread of COVID-19, you may not see in-store visitors for some time. During this period of uncertainty, the health and safety of you, your employees and your loved ones should be your top priority. That said, there are things you can do to make the best of the inevitable downtime and keep your business running—many of which are time-consuming and that you may not normally have time to tackle. In this post, we’ll explore how to optimize your online store for conversion. 

Getting traffic to your website is the first step in owning an eCommerce business. But how do you make sure your customers are converting once they land on your site? By optimizing your eCommerce store. 

If you want to get more conversions, you first need to understand your conversion rate. Your conversion rate tells the story of how well you perform. It’s calculated by the percentage of visitors that visit your website and complete an action, such as making a purchase. The average conversion rate for eCommerce stores is about 2.5%. That means you’ve got to drive about 40 people to your store to secure just one sale.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to increase your conversion rate. Here are 11 eCommerce conversion optimization techniques you can use that can help you make more sales. 

How to increase your eCommerce conversion rate 

  1. Upload great product photos and videos
  2. Write detailed product descriptions
  3. Offer free shipping and returns
  4. Give discount codes
  5. Let shoppers review products
  6. Streamline the checkout process
  7. Personalize the shopping experience
  8. Add a live chat option
  9. Try A/B testing
  10. Send abandoned cart emails
  11. Leverage retargeting ads

1. Upload great product photos and videos 

When customers shop your website, they can’t touch or feel the product—they rely on your product photography. A picture is worth a thousand words, especially in eCommerce. 

Show products from all angles

With your product images, you need to bridge the divide between the physical and the digital world. This means adding features that improve their viewing experience. Features like a zoom view and a 360 view of your product will help visitors take a closer look at the product from all angles. This also means you need to make sure you’re using high quality pictures that allow viewers to zoom in without the image looking grainy or pixelated. 

Show products in context

Lifestyle photos help your customers envision themselves using your products, and it can boost your conversion rate. For example, Brompton Bikes shows their products in use.

Brompton Bikes eCommerce conversion optimization

Video is also becoming increasingly popular for eCommerce businesses and helps show your product in action. If your products are better understood when demonstrated, upload a video to answer questions a shopper may have about its use. If they can’t immediately understand a product’s value, they’ll likely click away. It also provides a more dynamic way of showcasing your product. 

allbirds ecommerce product image

For example, shoe retailer, Allbirds, uses simple videos in their product pages to show their shoes being modeled, giving the customer a more realistic view of the product.

 

2. Write detailed product descriptions

Having great photos is the first step to creating product pages that convert, but don’t skimp on the product descriptions

Make an audit of your website copy. Is it giving customers the details they need? Since shoppers can’t touch the product and photos may not be able to convey details (like materials, for instance), make sure you have adequate descriptions. 

Product descriptions should also have the buyer in mind, appealing to their needs and pain points. Similar to your product value proposition, product descriptions need to quickly convey the benefits of your product, as if the shopper is asking, “Why should I buy this?”.  

Write product descriptions that are thorough but not too wordy. It helps to break down information into bullet points that are easy to read. And be sure to use keywords that shoppers might put into search engines when looking to buy your product. 

Ultimately, don’t forget to keep your brand in mind. Make sure your voice and tone are consistent in your product descriptions. 

marine layer ecommerce product image

marine layer ecommerce product description

Clothing retailer, Marine Layer uses their humorous tone and voice to provide information on their product description. The description above successfully provides customers with the features (type of fabric used and fit) and the benefit (comfort), while still staying true to their brand voice.

 

3. Offer free shipping and returns 

According to Walker Sands, free shipping is the number one online purchase driver, with 77% of respondents choosing it as the most important option. Not only that, but free delivery has become so commonplace that shoppers now expect it, and don’t see it as an added perk, making it an almost necessary part of your offering. 

It can also have a positive effect on your bottom line. Orders that come with free shipping average around 30% higher in value, according to Invespcro

ecommerce conversion optimization personalization

If you opt to offer free delivery to your customers, make sure that it’s stated prominently on your website. For example, The Daily Edited advertises its free shipping policy on a banner at the top of its site.

Free returns and exchanges

The second online purchase driver is free returns and exchanges. There are many reasons why a customer might want to return or exchange their product, and while this might be costly for retailers, having a proper returns and exchange policy says a lot about your customer relationship management. 

Not offering this type of policy can also result in unnecessary expenses and extra time wasted managing client emails and complaints. This is why having a clear and easy to understand returns policy is key in establishing a seamless customer experience. 

Your returns and exchange policy also plays a part in helping you improve your conversion rate. 

According to Jeff Moriarty, Marketing Manager at Moriarty’s Gem Art, offering free returns and delivery helped their conversion rate, “our conversion rate went from 1.1% to 1.9% once we started offering free insured delivery and free returns with no penalties”, says Jeff.

 

4. Give discount codes

Everybody loves getting a good deal, and offering discounts can help you boost your conversion rate. 57% of shoppers who use discount codes say they wouldn’t have bought the item if they didn’t receive a discount.  

In fact, searching for discounts has become a regular part of the shopping process for the majority of customers. According to a study by RetailMeNot, 62% of shoppers don’t complete a purchase without searching for a code. 

Whenever possible, create and share discount codes. An easy way to do it is to capture emails on your site and email special discounts to subscribers or to customers on your loyalty program. You can also post offers for your social media followers and then help drive urgency by putting an expiration date on the discount. Use it or lose it can be an effective way to convert a customer.

 

5. Let shoppers review products

One of the most powerful ways to convert visitors to customers is to enable product reviews. Nearly 95% of online shoppers read reviews before making a purchase, according to Spiegel Research Center

What’s more, 91% of shoppers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Reviews serve as social proof that your products are good, and since shoppers can’t touch or experience them, they need to take another customer’s word for it. 

allbirds ecommerce reviews

For example, Allbirds makes it easy to review and view product reviews with their star-ranking, comments and a sliding scale that shows how shoe sizes run based on reviews. 

While enabling product reviews does open the door for bad reviews, it also gives you an opportunity to address any issues and make things right. 89% of consumers read a business’s response to a review. Tap into this conversion optimizer by following up with your customers after a sale to encourage them to review the products they purchased.

 

6. Streamline the checkout process

When customers make a purchase, they don’t want a long, drawn-out process. In fact, if your check out process takes too much time, you increase your risk of abandoned carts and lower conversion rates. 

Approximately 26% of shoppers abandoned their eCommerce order because the checkout process took too long or was too complicated, 31% abandoned their cart because they had to create an account and 53% abandoned it because of hidden costs or delivery fees presented at the checkout process.  

People are pressed for time and they want the purchase process to be quick and easy. Enable guest check out, so customers don’t have to create a login to buy. 

The bottom line is, make the process quick, simple and transparent. 

 

7. Personalize the shopping experience

Creating personalized experiences for customers is another way to increase your conversion rates. A study by Epsilon found that 90% of shoppers like it when companies provide personalization, and 80% are more likely to do business with companies that offer it.

Offer product recommendations to individual customers based on their purchasing behaviors and interest, and upsell relevant products with popups when customers add a recommended item to cart. Marine Layer displays complementary items on product pages. This helps customers stay on their website, increases their average order size and, when done correctly, provides a great customer experience. 

ecommerce conversion optimization personalization

Product recommendations also boost sales; a study by Salesforce found that when product recommendations are clicked, they comprise 24% of orders and 26% of revenue. Also, shoppers that clicked a recommendation were nearly twice as likely to be a repeat visitor to your site. So not only is it increasing customer order size, but it’s also helping you create repeat customers. 

You can also take advantage of personalization with your loyalty programs and email marketing by sending special offers based on past purchases or customer preferences. This is easy to execute and has a strong conversion rate. 

 

8. Add a live chat option 

When shopping in a brick and mortar setting, it’s easy for customers to ask questions and get answers immediately, but when it comes to online shopping, it’s harder to get timely customer service. This gap in service could result in a lost sale. 

While email and phone are still viable, tried and true options, having a live chat option is becoming almost necessary in the world of eCommerce. 44% of customers say that talking to an actual person during their online purchase is one of the most valuable features a store can offer.  

One of the main benefits of live chat,  is that it offers minimal disruption to consumer habits. 42% of customers prefer live chat because they don’t have to wait on hold, meaning that they can chat with a store representative and continue shopping or browsing the web while they’re at it, providing a more seamless experience. Customer representatives also have the opportunity to cater to more customers at once, making sure that people get service faster. 

warby parker ecommerce live chat

Companies like Warby Parker offer a live chat option for anything from orders and prescriptions to returns and exchanges. 

Ultimately, offering live chat helps stores improve customer satisfaction levels. Approximately 92% of customers feel satisfied when they use the live chat feature. With customers becoming more and more accustomed to instant customer service it’s time to start chatting!

 

9. Try A/B testing

Another way to improve your conversion rate is to test your ideas to determine what resonates with your customers. Use A/B testing on your website and emails. For example, test checkout configurations to determine which performs better. Or use A/B testing on landing pages to measure conversion rates.

You can also use A/B testing with your marketing efforts. A few of the things to test include: 

  • Subject lines
  • Send time
  • Email copy
  • Design
  • Banners
  • Personalization
  • Photos or images
  • Offers
  • Calls to action

 

10. Send abandoned cart emails

If a shopper abandons their cart, all doesn’t have to be lost. You can send emails to entice them to come back and complete their purchase. This approach is called remarketing, and it can be very effective. Abandoned cart emails have a 42.7% click-to-open rate and a 20% conversion rate. 

Personalize the email by including images and links to the products they left behind, helping them to pick up where they left off. 

ecommerce conversion optimization abandoned cart emails

You can also re-engage these shoppers by including a coupon code or low-inventory alert in your remarketing effort like Doggyloot Pet Supply did in this eye-catching email. Adding a sense of urgency and can motivate customers to complete the purchase.  

 

11. Leverage retargeting ads

Another way to entice a visitor to come back is with retargeting ads that work when a customer abandons a cart or just browses your site. Display ads populate on other sites they visit, such as Facebook or Google, remind them of their interest in your products. 

To do this effectively, you’ll need a Facebook Pixel. It’s relatively simple to set up and lets you retarget your site visitors on Facebook with ads that feature products they interacted with on your site. 

Approximately 26% of customers will return to a site through retargeting. The ad might be just the push someone needs to return to your site and complete the purchase. 

 

Converting visitors to customers

Your conversion rate is one of your most important metrics, and this eCommerce conversion optimization checklist can help you improve your score. 

By taking time to set the stage on your website and through your marketing efforts, you can engage with customers, showcase your products in the best light and create a website that’s designed to convert.

Good luck!