It can be pretty frustrating when you launch an online store that doesn’t convert. In this article, you’ll see the best practices for launching a conversion-optimized online store.
Trust me, I’ve been there, did everything I had to do, set up my online store, promoted the hell out of it, and excitedly waited for the results.. but nope, the conversions didn’t come in. They didn’t work for quite a while until I realized I hadn’t actually done everything I had to do.
Increasing your conversion rate is a lot more than just having a functional e-commerce website with nice products and pushing fantastic ads or content, although these matter a lot too.
There’s so much competition out there, so you need to be ahead of the curve when it comes to selling to your customers.
The average conversion rate for online stores is 2%. It looks pretty low, right? But yeah, that’s the industry average. Online consumers can be a tough crowd.
This average should give you a baseline of the conversion rates you should be making for your online store, a baseline you can then improve on.
Before I move any further, we need to be sure you truly understand what a conversion rate is. It’s not just the amount of sales you make.
A conversion rate could be any action your customer makes that could be directly or indirectly profitable to your business. It could be actions such as adding an item to their cart or wishlist, signing up for your email newsletter or campaign, and generally any other thing that could be a valuable key performance indicator.
But of course, we’re all here for the sales.
Then, in that case, let’s take a look at the best practices to optimize your online store and increase your conversion rates:
1 Make Your Pricing More Attractive
This might seem to go without saying, but quite a lot of business owners are tempted to price their products just a bit higher than the industry or competitors’ standard.
Never fall into this temptation. Your prospective customers would move over to your competitors without blinking. If possible, make your prices lower than the standards. That would help your conversions. Pricing is the most important factor for consumers when it comes to purchasing decisions.
Apart from tweaking the pricing, it gives customers more motivation to buy the product by adding a unique feature. Think of a unique value proposition, a way to make the product stand out from the competition.
Avoid Overloading Pricing Plans Practices Launching a Conversion-Optimized Online Store
If your product or service has different pricing plans, a lead can choose from, attempt to display these as compact and clear as possible.
The smallest inconveniences can tick a customer off, and feeling overwhelmed as to which choice to make is one of them.
A very strategic move is to recommend and highlight a plan for them to choose, preferably the most opted for the plan. This reduces the stress of choosing and also triggers their FOMO.
Or better still, offer a free demo or trial of the product or service if this is possible. It’s proven that most people who start an action for free wouldn’t mind paying to complete it.
Then, of course, your plans must be detailed with short, clear, and convincing descriptions.
Apply Pricing Psychology
You can appeal to consumers’ instincts for getting things cheap by specifying that you’re offering a discount price with your price label, like this:
It works wonders, and consumers would most likely go for products with labels like this than ordinary price tags.
You can also appeal to buyers’ subconscious by comparing the price of two similar products. Compare the product or service you want to sell with another of a higher price. The price difference looks attractive, and buyers would be compelled to go for the cheaper version.
Another trick is to make your numbers end with .99. It agrees more with consumers and has been proven to increase conversions for online stores.
Offer Free Shipping
This almost seems like an insane request right off the bat, but you should know that free shipping has become vital in today’s e-commerce sphere. If you buy and sell on Amazon, you know this is a main feature of the site.
Customers are always looking out for free shipping, and more often than not, they’ll branch to a competitor that offers one.
Remember the psychology of pricing. If you can’t actually offer free delivery for a product, add the delivery costs to the product’s cost.
2 Give Buyers a Personalized Experience
More people would rather buy from a website that offers a tailor-made experience. Website personalization affects 86% of buyers’ purchasing decisions.
Make your online store feel at home by taking into account your customers’ purchasing history, preferences, and browsing patterns and analyzing these to determine what they see on your site anytime they visit your store. There are great e-commerce tools that can help you do this.
You have a higher chance of boosting sales when your buyers see relevant content and products on your site without having to look for them. This is a good strategy to upsell and cross-sell. You can recommend products that are related and work with each other, and subsequently get more sales.
What about first timers that have never visited your store? How do you give them a personalized experience?
Quizzes are a great way to do this. Not only would you learn more about their preferences, but using an interesting quiz interface to direct first-timers would also guarantee an engaging experience and educate them about your store.
Apart from boosting conversion rates, there’s a higher chance the buyers would come back to your store. This is a thing to say for website personalization in general.
Personalize Your Ads and Retargeting
Some visitors would leave your store without buying anything. In fact, most visitors might leave your store without buying anything. You’ll need to use email marketing to ensure you don’t lose all those leads.
By capturing your website visitors’ emails and building an email list, you can always send retargeting campaigns to remind them of their abandoned purchases.
Any retargeting emails you send to them should contain recommendations and fascinating content about products they put on their cart, wishlist, or visited. The landing pages should be optimized to be relevant and convincing.
Apply this same strategy to Facebook remarketing campaigns and even through mobile channels with push notifications.
3 Make Your E-commerce Site Easy to Navigate
You probably know how frustrating it is when you can’t seem to find what you’re looking for in a store or mall. Let your website generate the opposite of that feeling.
There are several ways to make your site navigation easy peasy. You might want to start with using a good e-commerce platform that can provide all the necessary features.
You can use breadcrumbs and hierarchy bars to let customers know where they are and where they’ve been in your store. Here’s an example:
They generate a feeling of convenience and security. It’s hard to feel lost with these.
Your product menu. Make sure it’s as simple and comprehensive as possible. You want to avoid clumsy, confusing, and frustrating navigation pages.
So, you don’t have to squeeze and list all your products into one page or drop-down menu. You don’t have to span them across too many pages either. Your product menu would depend on the size of your inventory and the nature of your products. You might need some consumer research to figure out how your customers like to sort or view information.
If that seems excessive, then you probably forget that customer satisfaction is the most important thing. Simplicity, clarity, and ease are your mantra for building your product menu.
Improve Your Search Features Practices Launching a Conversion-Optimized Online Store
Your product menu is not the only way for buyers to find what they want on your online store.
Your search bar has to be easily seen, easily accessible, and appear on every page apart from the check-out page. The reason for leaving it out of the checkout is so that buyers don’t have anywhere else to go apart from to proceed with the purchase.
Now about your search features. The last thing you want is a plain, unintelligent search bar. Your search bar should be able to predict buyers’ words and intents with autocomplete technology.
Your customers should reach their products by searching for the exact name or model, instead of just the category.
Even if they don’t enter the correct product and description, the search should recognize this and generate the intended results.
Its magic powers should also include correct typos with autocorrect and generating results for words that have symbols and abbreviations.
Now, these features are more likely to win your customer over and really boost conversion, but there is still more. Your search looks much more attractive and convenient when it displays pictures of the products as it lists them.
You can also help your sales by prioritizing the most relevant or popular products on the list if the product model or brand wasn’t totally specified. This helps mostly if you have a large inventory with several item varieties.
Use Filters Practices Launching a Conversion-Optimized Online Store
Again, if you’re a large online store with a substantial number of products, you want to make sure customers find it easy to get what they want, even if they’re not exactly sure what they want.
This is where the filter comes in. The filter function helps them to select their preferences of the varieties (brand, price, color, etc., and other possible variants) you have so they can narrow down their choices easily.
The function should be available on your product description page, search results page, and product menu. These are the places customers are most likely to make desired tweaks.
4 Ease Your Conversion and Checkout Process
It would be sad if a prospective buyer were mentally ready to buy a chosen product only to be discouraged by an unsatisfactory journey map or checkout process.
The first thing is to make sure nothing inconveniences their ability to select a product they want. So, just like in physical stores, where consumers will be with a cart at every point till they pay, ensure your online cart icon is always available and visible on every single page till they check out.
Adding a product to their carts anytime your customers want is a convenience that boosts your conversion rate and reduces how often visitors leave your site.
Make Guest Checkout Possible
69% of consumers abandon their carts before completing check out, and a percentage of that would say they did so because the checkout process seemed tiring and long. 37% of buyers don’t want to register and fill a form to buy a product.
That’s why you need to allow people to buy without having to create an account. You can then offer them the chance to create one after the purchase.
Avoid Shipping Fee Surprises Practices Launching a Conversion-Optimized Online Store
Ah, the annoyance of anticipating the purchase of an exciting product only to visit the checkout page and discover a shipping fee you totally weren’t expecting. You don’t want your visitors to experience this.
50% of serious buyers will abandon their carts because of extra costs like shipping fees.
If you’re going to add a shipping fee at all, make it at once visible on the product description page along with your return and refund policies.
Consumers want you to be transparent with this information.
Add Multiple Payment Options
Your payment options should be more diverse than credit or debit cards.
There are several ways consumers might like to pay, and you need to make sure to account for all these preferences.
At the very least, you should have digital payment options like Paypal available.
Use a Progress Bar
A project bar will predict the checkout process buyers will take from product selection to submitting details to possible offers to checkout.
A progress bar reduces feelings of inconvenience and impatience a buyer might have. They will come to anticipate an easy and fast checkout process. That, of course, should be a reality.
Make the bar visible, clearly labeled, and easy to follow.
Have an Abandonment Strategy Practices Launching a Conversion-Optimized Online Store
Some people will inevitably leave your online store without checking out. What’s not inevitable is if they would come back to complete their purchases or not.
You can control that possibility with an abandonment strategy.
You can send them emails within a few hours and subsequently, days after they’ve abandoned the cart to remind them of their purchase in a polite, engaging manner.
To make this email effective, display the product they abandoned, ask if they had issues with the product and even offer discounts to make it more appealing.
You could always try to prevent buyers from leaving the site in the first place by another great abandonment strategy. Some tools can detect if a buyer is about to leave the website without completing a key action. With these, you can pop up an interesting offer just as a buyer is about to click the exit button.
This maneuver can work wonders and really improve your conversion rates.
5 Build Consumers’ Trust
An e-commerce site that seems trustworthy is an e-commerce site that sells. You want certain things about your online store to immediately communicate that you can be trusted just from a glance.
For this, you can display trust signals on your checkout page that indicate your system is well protected. These could be the icons of security brands in your site’s employ. This makes your customers feel confident about submitting their details to your site.
An SSL certificate that is updated and functional should be indicated by an icon in the web address bar, so it’s obvious that your website is secure.
Use Reviews and Testimonials Practices Launching a Conversion-Optimized Online Store
User reviews are second to none in convincing consumers of a product’s viability.
Consumers want to trust and give it to them by letting them know others have used it and considered it reliable.
Make the reviews visible on the product description page. Display star ratings for immediate assurance.
Nicely invite buyers to submit product reviews, too, by asking them how they felt about a product. This has the added advantage of using whatever information they submitted to determine their market personalization.
Testimonials from big brands and critics are a great quality assurance too. Display those on the site if you have any.
6 Deliver Great Customer Service
If you’re not new to buying and selling, you know that your actual interaction with a buyer can make or break a sale even if you get everything else right. The same applies to e-commerce.
Having an up and running customer support that’s ready to respond to buyers’ complaints and requests is only the bare minimum. There are several ways you can be more effective in this area.
Update All Relevant Contact Channels
Your contact options should be varied, so consumers of different demographics can reach you through their preferred channel. To this effect, you should have social media as well as email and phone.
A button that immediately calls you on one tap is a pretty convenient option for consumers you should consider. They would love that you’re easily and readily accessible. You should consider setting up a call center software to streamline this communication channel and make things easier.
A live chat is also a great option you should implement. Most people would rather buy from an online store to easily reach customer service as a live chat. It’s effective for conversion because they wouldn’t have to leave your store while fielding any questions or complaints. It’s easier to forget about the product once they’ve left.
You can consider using automated chatbots if you think you might not have the time to respond to customers constantly.
You should also make your physical store’s location available if you have one. Some consumers might want to complete their check out in your physical store. They should be able to locate you.
Apply Customer Self-Service Practices Launching a Conversion-Optimized Online Store
Consumers love the idea of being able to solve problems on their own. Appeal to this nature by offering self-service channels like FAQ pages and support forums to look for answers themselves.
Apart from the feeling of independence, it would seem like a faster channel because they wouldn’t have to wait for the response of a customer service representative.
7 Use Better Visuals and Design
An ugly, clumsy website would lead to high bounce rates. For starters, make sure your e-commerce site design is simple, classy, unique to your brand, and, most of all, understandable. E-commerce platforms like Shopify are perfect for the design. Although there are Shopify alternatives, you might want to consider broadening your options.
A good trick to keep the site uncluttered is packing all secondarily necessary details in one big footer at the end of the page.
Then, your images. Product images have to be crystal clear. Clear enough for buyers to zoom in on a product’s features and still not see any scratchy pixels.
Videos are a very effective way for businesses to boost sales because of their engaging nature. Consumers would rather buy from a product that has an exciting, appealing video to describe its features. So, use videos.
Videos are best placed on the product description page to showcase the product fully. You can also use a video for advertising your main offer or product on your online store’s homepage.
8 Optimize for Mobile
You will be losing many customers if you don’t have a version of your online store available for mobile devices. A huge number of your site’s visitors and buyers are from mobile devices.
You want the speed optimized, so users don’t have to wait too long. Your site rendering time should be as fast as possible.
You can use Google’s website checker to determine if your site meets a well mobile-optimized website’s requirements.
Your store’s design should not be left out. Of course, the graphics from your desktop wouldn’t align nicely on mobile. You want to rectify or prevent that, so it won’t negatively affect your conversion rate.
Optimizing an online store to improve conversions is a quite engaging process. Spending the time and having the patience to continually test these tweaks or research to find out what works for you is something you must-do if you’re trying to improve your numbers.