In June 2022, the average conversion rate for eCommerce sites was 1.72%. That means less than two sales in 100 visits! While this is a massive challenge for the entire industry, there are ways to improve it.
If you look at your favourite online stores (think Amazon, Boohoo, or M&S), you’ll find they have a few things in common – they provide a seamless and exciting shopping experience. There are no queues, everything is super-fast and available non-stop, the prices are reasonable, and everyone is talking about it.
Now let’s try to replicate that.
1. Improve page load time
When Google decided that page load time should be one of the ranking factors back in 2018, a couple of studies were conducted to prove the legitimacy of this decision. In 2019, nearly 70% of online shoppers surveyed by Unbounce admitted that page speed impacts their willingness to buy from an online store.
That same year, Portent found that conversion rates dropped 2.11% with every added second of load time (0–9 seconds in). Portent has looked at this after the pandemic and found that things haven’t changed much – site speed is still impacting our conversion rates.
Post-pandemic, an eCommerce site’s optimal page load time is 1–2 seconds.
How to improve website speed
A host of factors affect a website’s loading speed – page type, user behaviour, file sizes, website hosting, inefficient code, hotlinking, and the number of plugins and widgets are the critical elements.
By tweaking only a couple, you can boost page load time by a second or two.
Here’s what you should try first:
- Pick a fast website hosting option. Cheap alternatives offer busy and slow servers
- Use a CDN to boost your website by distributing it across multiple servers
- Large images are gorgeous but slow. Change file formats and compress file sizes
- Delete unnecessary plugins and redirects to speed up HTTP requests and responses
- Caching stores copies of your site so that the server won’t have to generate it from scratch
2. Bring your product images to perfection
Picture this: It’s your girlfriend’s birthday, and you’re browsing for bags. The site has helped you find just what you think she wants in a matter of seconds. It looks great on a model, but you can’t see the texture clearly. The product description says “twill”, and because nobody knows what that means, you have to Google it.
Since that is a waste of your time, you simply switch to the next retailer.
In eCommerce, it’s up to product images to compensate for the lack of tactile experience. When you’re buying something online, you want to be able to zoom in, see the product from different angles, and get a sneak peek of how you can use it.
Ikea’s site is an excellent example of this – in every category, the brand has a gallery of images showing how the product can be styled in different environments and aesthetics.
Photo credit: Ikea
eCommerce images can be personalised, too. You can sell the same black dress to two different women by showing each of them a personalised image recommendation based on their browsing history – one with sneakers and the other with stilettos. Another idea is to show the same dress on different body types.
3. Offer free shipping (the right way)
There are two magic words in eCommerce: “free shipping”.
Around 80% of consumers expect free shipping for a specific dollar amount, while 66% of us expect the same for any order. Year after year, pricey delivery remains the number one factor for cart abandonment. Be honest – how many times have you purchased the items you don’t need just to unlock free shipping?
In a word, this is a major driver of purchase decisions and conversion rates.
How to turn this in your favour? Here are a few examples:
- Offer free shipping on selected items – primarily ones that cost less to ship
- Find a sweet spot for a free shipping threshold to boost AOV and reduce CPO
- Offer conditional free shipping in return for something. For instance, referrals
- Launch membership-only free shipping to promote your loyalty program
- Create a seasonal, limited-time free shipping exclusive to drive buyer urgency
- Start offering free shipping to zip codes that won’t hurt your profit margins
- Establish a BOPIS system where consumers can buy online and pick up in-store
4. Create a frictionless checkout process
Nobody likes a complicated checkout process. Reducing the number of steps and wait time for buyers is a huge part of an effective customer experience. The gap between add-to-cart and checkout should be so tight that the consumer just slides from one step to another without any time to change their mind.
Before you simplify checkout forms, ensure there are no hidden fees and shipping costs.
In fact, you should always calculate the costs upfront and offer convenient payment methods.
Also, set up a guest checkout as a quick alternative to sign-up purchases. In any case, a checkout process should never be longer than 12–14 elements, according to a Baymard study. Ask visitors only for the basic information you need for payment processing and delivery, and then offer a subscription perk to find out more.
5. Building trust with your customers
A frictionless customer experience is a precursor for trust – according to a recent study by Deloitte Digital and Twilio, 96% of consumers say they trust a brand more when it’s easy to do business with. In another study, around 46% of consumers said that they would pay more to purchase from brands they can trust (Salsify, 2022).
This ease that the Deloitte study hints at has a lot to do with transparency and social proof. The more you know about a business, the easier it is to trust. For a whopping 79% of us, user-generated content is a major driver behind purchase decisions. UGC is like good old word of mouth, only global – and free.
Conscious commerce is another way to increase consumer trust.
According to Edelman, 64% of consumers would buy from a brand or boycott it purely based on which side of the argument they are on regarding certain social or political issues. Brands are expected to voice their values and advocate for a good cause – some of your competitors are going green by using recyclable materials, while others are fighting climate change.
Everyone has their part in making the world a better place, and you need to discover yours.
eCommerce conversion rates are influenced by current trends in customer behaviour. It’s a good thing that 2,14 billion of us are online shoppers. Sure, that makes for a competitive industry, but it also allows us to study customer needs and expectations on a large scale. We also need to consult our own experiences.
The ultimate question is: What makes you convert into a digital buyer?
Darko Dodig is the founder of Wisevu agency and has been specializing in technical SEO since 2008. His expertise includes teaching advanced SEO tactics and creating SEO processes and SOPs that result in consistent SEO success.