Posted on September 14, 2017 | Written by Jonathan Martin
We are going to kick off a set of tips for optimizing the conversion rate of an eCommerce store. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is not a one size fits all process; what works for one audience may not work for another, so each of these tips should be taken with a grain of salt. Also worth consideration is that each change to a site or added new feature carries some level of technical debt and cost. While there are some best practices that should be included in every site, some of these tips are better held for when your site has enough traffic for the Return On Investment (ROI) to be greater than the cost of the change.
Knowing when to optimize
One of the traps that store owners fall into is chasing site optimizations with all of their energy rather than building a steady traffic flow. If you are just getting started, your energy is best spent marketing your site rather than tinkering with minor optimizations. That being said, if you already have tens or hundreds of thousands of pageviews in a respectable period then you have the ability to significantly increase your revenue by optimizing the conversion rate on your site.
Before starting the tips, we should talk a little about why people choose not to convert during the checkout process. On average most eCommerce checkouts experience 65-75% abandonment. Getting this percentage close to zero is NOT realistic. Even getting below 50% is not always possible. If you have a manager with unrealistic expectations, it would be in your best interest to try to reset expectations or RUN AWAY.
Tip #1: Luring the looky loos
In a survey by the Baymard Institute, it was discovered that 58.6% of online shoppers have abandoned carts within the last three months because “I was just browsing / not ready to buy.” Often people compare the checkout line in a grocery store to the shopping cart in an eCommerce store. This is an incorrect mindset. In a grocery store, the shopper has already decided to purchase the contents of their cart when they get to checkout. Online shoppers use a shopping cart for many things unrelated to checkout.
People will often shop through a store and add items to their cart as a way to keep track of what they like, estimate shipping, compare items in the cart, and see if there are discounts available only in the cart. An online shopping cart is more like a dressing room than a checkout line at the grocery store. People are trying out what the purchase will be like through the cart experience. The best strategy you can use with these looky loos is offering an incentive in the cart. This has to be balanced with making sure you don’t give away too much, but worth a try for a store with a high cart abandonment rate.
Tip #2: When fees make people flee
Besides just looking around, the number one reason people abandon carts is due to extra costs being too high. Shipping, taxes and other fees can chase away customers.
We had a client who sold large industrial plastic tanks that had to be delivered via a special kind of freight. Sometimes the shipping alone would be more than the cost of the item. If you can’t include the shipping or offer free shipping, this is going to be a challenge to overcome. If you do have the ability to compete at the shipping level, it is important to your customers that getting shipping rate estimates is quick and easy, without any surprises. People abandon carts when they are shocked by the price. If they know from the beginning that all shipping is $5, then they understand what the fees will be when they go to the cart. If you can offer free shipping, that is even better (Amazon has spoiled the world for shipping fees).
We also wrote an article about Fine-Tuning Your Checkout to Increase Order Value, with some additional tips for taking advantage of this vital step in the order process.
Tip #3: Be our guest!
Another top reason customers leave is when a site they’re shopping on doesn’t allow guest checkout. Some site owners have blamed customers not wanting to make an account on the extra fields at checkout. But that really isn’t the issue. Shoppers are going to have to fill in all the same information (except the password field) if they checkout as a guest, which means that having an additional field is not the blocker.
What shoppers are actually afraid of is possible violations to their security and privacy. They may not want you to have a record of their purchase because of erroneous privacy concerns. Or they don’t want to use one of their standard passwords for fear that, if your store gets hacked, the hackers will be able to get into every site they have used that password for. And, if they don’t use one of their standard passwords, then they will have another password to memorize (we all know how fun that is). The shoppers who don’t want to make accounts aren’t doing this mental calculus for every site where they make purchases. Instead, they went to a site in the past that gave them concerns and made the decision at that point not to create accounts. It might not mean that they don’t trust you, instead they don’t trust www.sketchysite.com and you get caught up in the process.
However, that doesn’t mean that you should simply ignore security concerns. There are a lot of things you can do right now to make your store more secure and increase trust when customers land on your page. Check out our recommendations for 9 Ways to Make Your WooCommerce Store More Secure. It’s a good place to get started.
These are just 3 of many suggestions for navigating the waters of Conversion Rate Optimization. If there is one phrase to keep in mind, let it be “Can my customers perform this action without thinking about it?”. Basically, are you making navigating and shopping your website as easy as possible? If you are unsure, maybe this is a good time to take advantage of a fresh set of eyes.
Would you like some help lowering the number of abandoned carts on your store? Our marketing team has lots of ideas. Get in touch now at [email protected].