The average online conversion rate for an e commerce site is approximately 2%. That leaves us with a massive 98% of traffic to a website who are exiting without buying anything. There are a several reasons for this, including a large number of users who are simply browsing and will never have had the intention to make an online purchase. But many of the factors that can influence whether or not a visitor converts are within our control, and there are some easily avoidable yet common mistakes that can have a hugely detrimental effect on a site’s conversion rate.
1. Not understanding the difference between offline and online shoppers
Traditional retailers employ several techniques, such as hiding best selling products at the rear of a store to ensure shoppers see everything else first in the hope of selling additional items, which simply do not work online. An online shopper wants a convenient, easy and stress free experience and will not spend hours browsing in the same way as someone making their way up the high street. And if online shoppers do get frustrated it is a lot easier for them to simply close their browser and abandon their basket than it is for someone to walk out of a shop with a half full trolley.
2. Having a confusing navigation
The navigation on a website needs to be logical, intuitive and designed to allow users to locate what they are looking for with as little effort as possible. Menus that keep products hidden in unobvious categories or use industry specific terms that shoppers will not understand are a huge conversion barrier. People can’t buy things they can’t find!
3. Presenting a lack of clear product information
Many online retailers seem to forget that unlike in a traditional retail outlet, online shoppers have no access to the actual product. Visitors to a website can not touch and feel products, which makes selling products like apparel particularly challenging. For this reason it is critical to give users as much information as possible, both in terms of product information and imagery.
4. Having poor availability
Once you have managed to get a user to the website and they have navigated to the product they want to buy, it isn’t a great experience to find out at this point that they can’t make a purchase as the item is out of stock, especially if they struggled to find the product in the first place. Due to the time it takes a website to update it is sometimes not possible to have stock of absolutely everything featured, but there are tactics that can be employed to minimize frustration from a lack of fulfillment, including giving minimal prominence across the site to products with low stock levels and allowing users to request back in stock emails.
5. Unclear delivery and returns policies
Unclear or hard to find delivery and returns policies are one of the biggest barriers preventing people from shopping online. Not only should this information be easy to locate, but it should be actively promoted at key points across the website, especially if either or both are free. If a user reaches a product detail page the information needs to be presented to them here to prevent them searching for it and leaving the purchase path.
6. Not having a guest checkout
According to Forrester Research more than 23% of online shoppers will immediately abandon their basket if they have to register on a website to buy. When you calculate the impact a 23% increase in conversion rate could have to a business’ bottom line, and consider that most of the data capture obtained through a registration is gathered using a guest checkout anyway, it is quite hard to think of a reason not to include one.
7. Having a poor checkout process
Industry standard basket abandonments range from 40-60%, making it even more important to keep those users who actually want to buy in the purchase funnel until they do so. Long complicated processes and confusing forms asking for unnecessary information and with unclear error messaging can drive shoppers who were fully intent on buying to abandon ship, not only from the transaction but from returning to the website for any future purchases.
8. Ignoring online trust issues
There will always be a doubt in the back of some online shoppers mind that buying online isn’t safe. For this reason it is crucial to ensure that visitors to an e commerce site are reassured of the site’s integrity and are made to feel that their transaction will be secure. Unprofessional looking design, poor forms and a lack of secure server logos are guaranteed to bring that niggling doubt from the back of a users mind to the forefront.
9. Poor multichannel integration
Many consumers research products on e commerce sites, with no intent to ever purchase online, then make their way to the high street when they are ready to buy. For some retailers this can more than 90% of customers, with only an average of 2-3% actually completing an online transaction. For this reason multichannel, or ‘click and mortar’ stores, need to ensure users online have a positive and consistent user experience that will encourage them to shop in store; a bad or frustrating experience online can prevent in-store sales.
10. Not getting the best use out of analytics
User behaviour varies greatly from site to site and across different industries and sectors. For that reason it is absolutely crucial to have a firm grasp on a site’s analytics to gain a thorough understanding of how users shop on a particular website and to identify the conversion barriers that are in their way. This data needs to inform the key business decisions that will optimize the website for conversion and ultimately drive the bottom line.