Let’s talk e-commerce conversion rate. Conversion rate is one of the critical data points any e-commerce merchant should be keeping an eye on, and working hard to increate – hence, conversion rate optimization (CRO). It’s easy to focus solely on getting traffic to your e-commerce website, using SEO, advertising campaigns, etc. But if you have a high traffic/low conversion rate situation, it’s likely that you won’t be very happy with your sales volumes. Ideally, though some relatively easy to implement CRO techniques, you’ll find yourself with a high traffic/high conversion e-commerce business.

First, it’s vital to understand how to calculate your conversion rate:

Take the number of conversions divided by the number of unique visitor sessions – usually expressed as a percentage.

Chances are it’s one of many metrics you are tracking as an e-commerce merchant. It’s a website-centric metric and depending upon how your business is structured it can be used across other channels as well. CRO is the practice of improving your conversion rate by ensuring that any and all impediments to purchase are removed or minimized. The challenge is this list of impediments can be very long and merchants don’t always have control over all of them. The purpose of this article is to provide a list of what we believe are the top 5 data-driven CRO techniques that are not very difficult to implement and typically have significant and immediate improvement in conversion if they are implemented properly.

1. Shopping Cart Items Should Always Be Visible

…(or very easily accessible)

Just like in the physical retail world, in the e-commerce world buyers want to know what’s in their cart at all times. Ideally these items are visible or very easily accessible. Consumers in particular tend to keep a mental note of what they’ve added to their cart so continuous confirmation of it leads a consumer towards completing the purchase.

There are obviously a number of ways to do this depending upon the platform, the theme, and the design of the experience. It can’t be a mystery to find cart contents no matter how rich the UX is and ideally it’s visible. At a minimum make sure you indicate to the user a cart icon with the number of items in it. Like a shopper wandering around a grocery store without a cart – online shoppers are much more likely to abandon their cart if they have to find what they’ve already selected by clicking around.

2. Abandoned Cart Messages Must Contain Cart Items

Many merchants have learned to send messages to users that have abandoned carts during checkout (we discussed this as part of a recent blog post), however it’s surprising how many merchants don’t bother to include the items that were in the cart in the message. Once again the data isn’t always that easy to convert into the message but platforms like BigCommerce/Shopify and ESPs like Klaviyo make it easy – in the case of each it’s a matter of inserting a simple line of code (provided by the platform) then formatting and testing the message in order to get that data in the messages. The performance of your abandoned cart messages is going to improve dramatically if you include items that were in the user’s cart rather than just shooting off a casual message like “Hey you forgot something!”

3. Simplify the Checkout Process

If your conversion rate is less than 1.5%, try purchasing something from your website to truly experience what a customer feels in that checkout process. Is it cumbersome? Is it unintuitive? Is it painful on a mobile device? Is there a “guest checkout” option for those that just want to get in and out? Is it a multiple “page” process?

These are important questions to ask in analyzing the checkout in an effort to simplify it. Many times simplification can be achieved with layout changes and using the shoppers data to pre-fill parts of the necessary forms. Ensuring that users who have an account stay logged in means the session can capture account data and move a shopper along the checkout process with much of it being automated. Remember, most merchants (even B2B) are seeing mobile traffic on the order of 60% so the simpler the better – especially for repeat customers who should be able to complete a transaction with just a few taps.

4. Checkout Page Speed

Depending upon the platform, sometimes checkout page speed can be the slowest of the site because of a combination of page weight and amount of processing that happens there. But checkout is obviously a popular spot for customers to abandon because it’s where they need to commit to spending. So, it’s important to identify if speed is a factor in abandonment. How does a merchant best test for speed of checkout? There are a number tools you can use but starting with Google page speed tester is a good place to understand impediments to page loading speed that can be quickly eradicated: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/?url=[YOUR SITE DOMAIN HERE]

5. Make Sure to Include Trust Signals

This is key for startups and new lines of business (even B2B). Include as many trust signals as possible. Make sure privacy policy is easily available. Obviously use SSL but beyond that use trusted images of credit cards and other security-related images and badges that you can as a part of making customers feel safe. There are the obvious financial “trust” signals you can provide to your customers to make them feel like their transaction is secure – like the Verified by VISA and Verisign secured programs but then there are other qualitative trust signals like having a clear “About Us” page with contact information that works, including an actual snail mail address. Clear and accessible shipping return policy is another strong trust signal; don’t hide it because you don’t want your customers to use it – make it clear and obvious because you are so confident in your transactions that you are willing to accept returns if there is a problem. That is the attitude that will emote trust and increasing conversions.
Testimonials are another important trust signal – we have found customers that see a slow and steady increase in conversion rate on the product pages where they include testimonials.

The Bottom Line

Conversion rate optimization is an important, ongoing part of running an e-commerce business. There are many, many ways that every business can continue to work on their conversion rates. However, these 5 are a great place to start implementing changes to help your e-commerce efforts to convert site visitors to buyers.

If you would like a complimentary audit of your conversion experience don’t hesitate to to contact us: [email protected]