Ecommerce Conversion Rate Optimization

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If you build it, they will shop… that is if you build it well. The best digital marketing ever conceived won’t make up for a website that hinders shoppers instead of drawing them in to complete the checkout process. While there’s always more that you can do to optimize your online store, there are basics that you want to make sure to pay attention to. We’ve put together some of the most common issues and solutions that we’ve come across:

1) Slow Loading Speeds

According to Google, 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than three seconds to load. In other words, a huge percentage of your site visitors could simply be leaving because your website is too slow.

Solution: Loading Speed Optimization

There is no one thing that will make all websites load quickly. However, by using the right mix of website hosting, web development, and content best-practices, you can speed up your website significantly. Start by running an eCommerce website speed test, and then work with your developers and host on an action plan. It might include tasks like optimizing images, using caching systems and deploying a CDN like Cloudflare.

2) Checkout & Payment Friction

You want shoppers to be able to purchase quickly and easily, while simultaneously cutting down on any objections or points of friction that they may encounter.

Solution: Checkout Optimization

It's important to offer solutions that will drive revenue for you. To achieve this, customers should be able to checkout with any payment method easily. One great solution to this need is the Bolt platform which helps holistically optimize your check out.

3) Mobile-friendliness

It’s not just speed that impacts your conversion rates on mobile, but your actual website design and interface. If your site is hard to navigate on a mobile device, your bottom line will suffer.

Solution: Mobile Optimization

While some web developers are now building websites “mobile-first,” a term to suggest that they first focus on the mobile experience, before addressing the look and feel of the site on desktop devices, there’s a lot that you can do.

Most eCommerce sites are currently “responsive” meaning that they resize for cell phones and small devices. This includes menus and other features that are easy to use on a touchscreen without zooming in and out.

There are various strategies to successfully achieve mobile accessibility such as creating an app for your shoppers or using the latest Progressive Web Apps (PWA) technology. Before adopting any mobile development strategy, it is important to test the solution on a variety of mobile devices to ensure that the site is easy to read and navigate.

4) Bad Site-Search Results

One of the main navigational tools that shoppers prefer to use is your search bar. Even on Amazon, a shopper is more apt to use the search bar over navigating categories to find a product. If your site doesn’t return helpful and accurate search results, it could easily be costing you sales.

Solution: Site-Search Optimization

First, see if your eCommerce platform provides reports on what people searched the most, and test the results for yourself. You should also be collecting this data in Google Analytics, which will let you compare the conversion rates of people that used search vs. people that didn’t. Usually, people that searched were looking for something specific and should be converting at a higher rate than those that did not search within your site.

In some cases, you may be able to train the search feature by suggesting synonyms. A good example of this is showing results for "grey" when a shopper enters "gray" in the search bar. In other cases, you may be able to direct some searches to automatically load a category or product page.

Beyond adjusting native search settings, you can also leverage a SaaS solution to improve the results shoppers get from your search box. It’s best to see which connect best with your eCommerce platform.

5) Not interacting with Shoppers before they leave your site

Not everyone wants to call or email you to get a question answered. In a retail store, a sales clerk may come by offering to assist, but on a website, it’s a bit different.

Solution: Live Chat

Offering some form of live chat can help you to capture more sales in real time. With some chat platforms, you can even choose when to proactively offer to chat with a shopper, such as if a shopper is looking at an expensive item, or has a large order in their shopping cart that they haven’t checked out with yet.

If your sales force is stretched thin, you might consider a platform like Proonto which can pair you up with live chat agents that you can train on your products and store, and that can act as an extension of your sales force round-the-clock.

6) Poor review or not enough reviews

There are two kinds of reviews that merchants should be paying attention to, namely Product reviews and Store reviews. Store reviews are a form of feedback on you as a merchant and help shoppers determine if you’re a reputable company. Product reviews help consumers find items that others have suggested are good. You can expect sales to suffer if you’re not collecting enough reviews or you aren’t legitimately addressing bad reviews.

Solution: Review Management Platform

You should be emailing your customers well-timed friendly reminders to leave you a review after they’ve received their order. You may even entice them by offering a discount code toward their next order, or some other perk.

Platforms like TrustPilot and ShopperApproved can help to send out such messages. They can also help to make sure that these messages are well leveraged within your website, Google search results, and for Google Shopping ad campaigns. Additionally, if you’re getting bad reviews, they may offer some suggestions for how to remediate issues and protect your brand.

8) Shoppers aren’t loyal

If you’re finding that shoppers aren’t returning as often as you’d expect them to, it’s not just you. Getting a shopper to purchase from you consistently can be a serious challenge.

Solution: Reward Point Program

Deploying a loyalty program, such as from Smile.io or Loyalty Lion can add gamification to your site. Just like airline and credit card points programs, you can have a reward program that keeps shoppers engaged. Some programs can allow shoppers to earn points for liking you on social media, joining your e-mail newsletter, or referring a friend that makes a purchase.

Since they have points accruing, customers have incentives to shop from you - whether to build up their points balance or because they can use points to their next order. Even when MAP pricing is an issue, reward programs may be possible, and they’re a great additional way to stay in touch with shoppers, such as when you give them free points for their birthday.

9) You lose them at Shipping

It’s common for shoppers to add items to their cart, check the shipping costs, and leave, never to be seen or heard from again. Depending on your products, there are ways to improve your shipping offerings though.

Solution: Deploy advanced shipping systems

There are myriad ways that you can improve your shipping fees. Below are some examples:

Still struggling to offer good shipping options for international orders? For international shoppers, there are freight forwarding systems that offer international shipping discounts such as EasyShip, FlavorCloud, GlobalShopex, and SkyboxCheckout.

Need more complex shipping than standard USPS, UPS, or FedEx? For items that you can offer freight quotes, store pickup, or other unique shipping options, there are systems like ShipperHQ and ReTrans Freight that can help you to customize shipping options.

Are you overpaying for shipping? If you’re using major carriers like USPS, you may be able to get discounted rates by using a shipping software like Shippo, ShipStation, or ShippingEasy.

Is shipping from one warehouse making it difficult to compete with Amazon Prime? Consider warehousing goods with a fulfillment team that has facilities across the USA or across the globe. Companies like EasyShip, RubyHas and ShipBob help you to more consistently offer 2-day shipping at favorable rates.

Want to really stand out with the information shoppers want? Consider adding a system like FenixCommerce that will estimate the delivery times of the products in your site if shoppers “order now.”

Need a solution to improve margins and your bottom line? There are vendors like 71lbs that can help you to recoup shipping charges, such as for packages that were delivered late.

10) Shoppers are leaving your store without purchasing

At a retail store, leaving a physical cart full of items as you walk away might be considered rude. In eCommerce, it’s par for the course.

Solution: Leverage Abandoned Cart & Browse Emails

Teams like Boundless Labs can help you to craft messages to shoppers that don’t complete their orders, enticing them to come back and pick back up where they left off. In some cases, you can offer coupons or discounts as part of your efforts to entice shoppers to complete their order.

You can also look at ReMarketing ads with a platform like Google Ads to help get shoppers to return. This is especially helpful for shoppers that you don’t have an email address for yet.

***BONUS***) Your Website doesn’t consistently load properly

Sometimes your website loads fine. Other times, users hit 5xx server errors or their browsers timeout trying to load your website.

Solution: Tune up your hosting

Whether you realize it or not, you may be losing customers to a poor website experience. If your site isn’t loading when it should be, it could be impacting not only immediate sales but the long-term perception of and loyalty to your brand. Whether traffic spikes take down your website or poor server configuration, the net result is the same.

For similar reasons, you may also want to review your site for security vulnerabilities, which could also lead to website outages and failures. Your web developers and web host can conduct an eCommerce security audit to make sure that your site is following security best-practices.

While this list has probably given you some important factors to look at, you should, of course, pay attention to your general site design, content, and navigation, along with features and functionalities that may more specifically help with your audience, and your product line(s). You can also engage in other conversion rate optimization best-practices, like A/B testing that can help you to find out which adjustments lead to the best outcomes for your website.

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  • About the author (pictured above): Robert Rand

  • Director of Partnerships & Alliances, JetRails

Robert has over a decade of experience in helping merchants benefit from sound E-commerce and Digital Marketing strategies. He’s highly experienced at harnessing the power of E-commerce technologies and solutions to help businesses of all types and sizes grow and succeed and has earned numerous distinctions and accolades from his work with merchants and partner organizations. Robert is the head of partnerships for JetRails, a fully-managed white-glove eCommerce hosting service.



Chase Dimond