By Neil Patel
Ecommerce platforms rely on sales to survive. If you operate one of these websites, you know how important sales are for your business.
Whether you sell products exclusively online or have an ecommerce site in addition to your brick and mortar store, you need high conversion rates to be successful.
What do you do when your sales plateau and your conversions drop?
You need to analyze your website. What you’ve been doing in the past may have worked, but it’s imperative for you to constantly optimize and improve your ecommerce store.
After reviewing your site, you might realize certain elements are killing your conversions.
Fortunately, you’re in luck. If you want to improve your conversion rates and generate more sales, all you need to do is make some changes.
Through research and my personal experience consulting businesses, I’ve identified and outlined the top ways to increase ecommerce conversions.
Here’s what you need to do.
1. Simplify your website
Websites with simple designs have higher conversion rates.
Depending on your company, you might have hundreds or even thousands of products for sale on your website. But trying to cram all of those products onto one page is ineffective, and it’s crushing your conversions.
Clutter overwhelms the customers. Instead, focus on your top selling products or items with the highest profit margins.
Let’s look at a globally recognized brand as an example. Here’s Apple’s homepage:
When in doubt, it’s always a great idea to look at successful companies as examples. Apple is an industry leader, and their website is about as simple as it gets.
Think about the number of different products they offer. They have all kinds of different desktop computers, laptops, phones, and other electric accessories, not to mention the digital products like software and music.
If they tried to fit everything they sell on their homepage, it would be an absolute mess.
Instead, they promote one product and have a navigation bar at the top of the screen that lists different categories.
This makes it really easy for shoppers to find exactly what they’re looking for.
In the fourth quarter of 2017, Apple reported $52.6 billion in revenue— a 12% increase compared to the fourth quarter of 2016. It’s safe to say they don’t have a problem with conversion rates.
2. Use high quality images
One of the most difficult parts of online shopping is the lack of direct access to the products shoppers consider buying. They rely on photos to get an accurate idea of their options.
It’s up to you to make sure you have lots of high quality pictures for every product.
You should have a photograph from every angle. Zoom in on features. Have pictures of models using or wearing what you’re selling.
This will make it much easier for shoppers to make a decision.
Here’s a great example of what I’m talking about from the Nike website:
They’ve got six different pictures of just one white hoodie. If you click on the other colors for this product, you’ll see even more photos.
I realize this takes time. It’s not necessarily the easiest process to take half a dozen photos of everything you’re selling.
But in the long run, it’s well worth it. Now shoppers know exactly what this product looks like from every angle. They’re more likely to buy it if it fits their needs.
3. Include a detailed product description
In addition to photos, you’ll want to thoroughly describe what you’re selling. With items like clothing, it’s usually self-explanatory.
However, if you’re selling electronics or something that has a bit of a learning curve, an accurate and detailed product description could help you close the sale.
Think of it like this. If a customer were to walk into a physical store, there would be employees to answer questions and help explain how different products work.
Shoppers don’t have that luxury when they browse online. It’s your job to make sure they aren’t confused about a product.
Even if you’re selling something simple, such as a t-shirt, point out how it differs from others. Does it keep you cool when it’s hot? Does it keep you warm when it’s cold?
These are things that can’t be determined from a photo alone.
Check out how Amazon accomplishes this with one of their TV wall mounts:
Just like companies in our previous two examples, Amazon is another industry leader across the globe. They know how to sell products online.
While the photos are helpful, the description really helps the consumers.
It explains which kinds of TVs this mount is compatible with as far as size and weight are concerned. The description also covers the various mounting patterns based on what kind of TV you have.
Without the description, you wouldn’t know how far off the wall the mount comes or how close to the wall you can push it.
Not everyone is an expert in mounting televisions. The majority of people probably never have to do this. And unless you install home theater equipment for a living, it’s probably not something you’ll do more than a few times in your life.
For a unique and somewhat niche product like this, accurate descriptions can really help drive the sale.
4. Show video demonstrations
This element takes our last point a step further. Instead of telling the consumer what your product does and how it works, show them.
If you haven’t been using video content to increase sales, you need to start right away.
Well, for starters, 64% of people are more likely to complete an online purchase after watching a video about a product. Furthermore, 90% of consumers say that videos help them make a buying decision.
Consumers want videos, so give them what they want. Thule recognizes this. That’s why they include videos with all their products on their website.
The video is super helpful. It gives the consumer way more information than they could get from just a photo and a description.
In this example, the customers learn how to properly fold and assemble the stroller for transportation and easy storage. The video also shows how to safely secure a child in the seat.
It’s an effective way to give your website visitors a more accurate description of the product. They can see it being used instead of just reading about it and looking at pictures.
5. Offer easily accessible customer service
As I briefly mentioned earlier, there’s nobody there to assist the consumer when they’re shopping online, unlike in a physical store.
Do your best to replicate that customer service experience. You may have photos, videos, and a great description, but customers will still have questions.
Make sure you give them several options to reach a customer service representative:
- live chat
Offer as many options as possible so each customer can contact your company based on their personal preference.
You also need to have support ready at all hours. As an ecommerce platform, I know you’re aware that customers all over the world have access to your website 24 hours a day.
Let’s play out a scenario. A customer is interested in one of your products but has a few simple questions. They try to contact customer support but don’t get an answer.
They won’t complete the purchase process. But if their questions get answered right away, your conversion rates will improve.
6. Don’t surprise your customers with extra fees
Consumers are sensitive to price. You have to be upfront and totally transparent with the prices on your website.
The customer expects to see the same price for the same product on all pages, including in their shopping cart.
Adding hidden charges, taxes, and shipping fees will crush your conversions.
Look at the top reasons for shopping cart abandonment:
Extra costs are the number one reason why consumers abandon their shopping carts.
Look, I realize you’ve got to pay sales tax and shipping isn’t free. But rather than surprising the customer when they check out, include those costs in the original price.
You’ll still get paid enough to make a profit, and the customer won’t be surprised with extra fees. It’s a win-win scenario for everyone.
Plus, it will reduce cart abandonment and improve your conversion rates.
7. Send shopping cart abandonment emails
Let’s continue with our last point. While you can certainly do things to improve your shopping cart abandonment rates, some customers still won’t always complete their purchases.
You can’t ignore this.
Someone was just a click or two away from buying something on your website. They identified what they wanted and added it to their cart.
It’s going to be much easier to try to get this customer to convert than to find a new customer.
This person is already familiar with your brand and obviously interested in at least one of your products. Sometimes they just need a bit of extra motivation to complete the sale.
Send out a shopping cart abandonment email to remind the consumer of your products. Here’s an example from Oakley:
This product will still be fresh in the customer’s mind—they just left it in their shopping cart. They wanted it, but for one reason or another, it just didn’t happen.
Receiving this email could be enough to trigger an impulse buy.
8. Include all your contact information
On top of providing customer service, you should have as much information as possible about your company available on your website.
Clearly display your:
- phone numbers
If this information isn’t on your site, it could appear sketchy. Customers may think you’re not a reputable company.
What if they have a problem with their order? If your contact information isn’t available, how will they get their issue resolved?
That uncertainty could prevent people from buying things on your website.
9. Run promotions
As I said earlier when talking about extra fees and costs, consumers are price-sensitive. It’s important to be aware of this.
One way to get people to convert more on your ecommerce site is by running promotions. Offer sales, discounts, or other special offers that sound enticing.
It just needs to be worth it. For example, if you’re offering a 5% discount on orders over $200, it’s not going to make anybody rush to make a purchase.
But on the other hand, if you’re offering 25% off everything on your website, it will boost your conversions.
Just make sure you have all your numbers worked out. You don’t want to slash prices so low that you’re not turning a profit with each sale.
The best way to go about this is by jacking up your prices initially, then constantly running sales.
Check out all of these different promotions on the Macy’s website:
They have some discounts as high as 50% off. This is a great way to drive sales.
Just make sure you’re careful with this strategy. Once you start offering discounts and promotions, customers may be less likely to buy things at full price. They’ll just wait until the next time you run a sale.
If you’re going to incorporate discounts, markdowns, and other promotional offers into your ecommerce marketing campaign, be prepared to do it often.
10. Accept as many payment options as possible
I realize some credit card companies charge you higher fees than others. But that’s no reason to exclude those payment options from your website.
You can’t assume every customer visiting your website has a Visa card. You need to accept all major credit cards, including Mastercard, Discover, and American Express.
Even if they have a card you accept, it doesn’t mean they want to use it. They might have better benefits or a lower balance on a different card.
You should also take alternative forms of payment, such as PayPal, Venmo, or Apple Pay.
Offering more options increases the chances of the customer being able to pay with their preferred card or method.
It’s also important that the checkout process is completely secure. That way your customers feel safe about entering their credit card information.
11. Recommend products to enhance the shopping experience
If your site is using cookies to track browsing behavior, you can recommend products to your customers based on what they like. Use their previous order history as well to personalize recommendations.
This shows the consumer you care. Their browsing experience is different from everyone else’s.
Here’s an example from Bed Bath & Beyond:
You can also try to upsell to your customers when they add something to their shopping carts. For example, if they buy a pair of headphones, you can recommend a carrying case for them.
Again, it reflects their personal experience. This strategy works.
Research shows that 49% of consumers said they bought something they weren’t initially planning on purchasing after seeing a personalized recommendation.
Whether your business is brand new or has been around for a while, there is always room for improvement.
You can make simple modifications to your ecommerce website to get more conversions.
These 11 tips are the best place for you to start. Refer back to the examples and the data I showed you for guidance.
I’m not saying you need to implement all of these strategies overnight. In fact, you may even have a couple of these in place already.
But over time, you need to optimize your ecommerce website if you want to get as many sales as possible.
Follow these tips, and I’m sure you’ll see an improvement.
What elements of your ecommerce website have you changed to increase your conversion rates?