How to improve e-commerce conversion rates for your online store

by | Jun 22, 2018

By Rachel Burns, Content Marketing Specialist, ShipBob

Your conversion rate is the percentage of people who visit your online store and complete a purchase. Average e-commerce conversion rates are between 1 and 2%. This may seem low; however, this takes into account all visitors, not just those who add items to their shopping carts. (About 77% of customers who add items to their shopping carts abandon their carts before completing their purchase.)

We recommend working toward a 2% overall conversion rate, especially for newer businesses who are just starting to generate web traffic to their online store. That said, e-commerce conversion rates vary from industry to industry, so it can be helpful to look up industry-specific averages to see how your store compares.

Calculating your conversion rate

You can calculate your current overall conversion rate with the following formula:

E-commerce conversion rate = (Total completed e-commerce transactions / Total visits to the website) * 100

For example, if 1,000 people visit your website each month, and only 10 of these people complete purchases, your store has a 1% conversion rate.

Once you know your current conversion rate and have a benchmark in mind for your ideal conversion rate, you can begin working toward that goal. The key to increasing your business’s conversion rate? Creating the best customer experience possible. In this article, we will cover several strategies for improving the e-commerce shopping experience on your website to increase customer satisfaction and ultimately raise your conversion rate.

Earning customer trust

In order for a customer to buy from you, they first need to trust you. There are several important aspects of earning customer trust, including transparency and security.

Create detailed product descriptions

First and foremost, potential customers need to believe that what they see on your site is what they will get when placing an order. Make sure to use clear, informative product descriptions that balance both quantity and quality of the information you share with shoppers. One of many strategies for creating product descriptions that sell includes using vivid language to communicate the benefits of your products with potential customers.

To do this, identify the benefit that each feature or detail of your product provides to the customer. All key features should have a benefit, such as utility, comfort, aesthetics, or something else. For example, memory foam might be a feature of a bicycle seat cover; the benefit of this feature is a comfort. Next, use vivid, descriptive language to help shoppers imagine what it’s like to experience your product.

In addition, make sure to include high-quality product images and videos. The more valuable and descriptive information you share with your customers, the more likely they are to view you as a trustworthy merchant — and the more likely they are to complete a purchase.

Be transparent

Transparency goes beyond honest and detailed product descriptions. Make sure to be upfront and clear about policies and fees that affect your customers. 23% of abandoned carts are caused by customers being unable to see or calculate total order cost upfront. These costs are too often hidden until the end of the checkout process, which can come as an unpleasant surprise to customers who would otherwise convert.

It’s important to make your shipping and return policies and costs clear and easy to find before checkout; for example, list shipping options and a blurb about your return policy on each product page. This can help reduce shopping cart abandonment and increase e-commerce conversion rates for your online store.

Showcase security

Beyond being honest and upfront about your products, policies, and fees, adding “trust signals” to your e-commerce store is another way to increase customer trust and, in turn, conversions. One example of these signals is security badges, such as from McAfee or GeoTrust. According to a study by CXL Institute, familiar brands like Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Norton, and Google are also the most trusted seals when paying online. Allowing shoppers to pay with PayPal and other customer-trusted payment options means that customers do not have to worry about how their payment details are handled.

The same study found that participants showed no preference between trust seals or SSL certificates. An SSL certificate ensures your website is secure and encrypted and indicates this security to customers.

Meeting customer expectations

Even beyond security and transparency, customers have high expectations when it comes to shopping online. From the devices they use to the speed with which they receive their orders, it’s important to make sure that your e-commerce store meets your customers’ expectations. Here’s how.

Optimize for mobile devices

About 62% of the over 125 million U.S. consumers who own smartphones have made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last 6 months. However, mobile conversion rates are significantly lower than desktop conversions: Desktop users are 164% more likely to convert than those on mobile.

So how can you create the best mobile shopping experience to cater to those who prefer to buy via their smartphones? First, make sure that your website is mobile-responsive, meaning that the web page, images, etc. automatically fit the size of the device and screen they are viewed on. Most e-commerce platforms are mobile-responsive by default.

In addition, navigating an online store via a mobile browser is trickier than on desktop, so make sure that your mobile navigation is easy to use and that your checkout is mobile-friendly. You can do so by breaking forms up into multiple pages or steps, using buttons instead of text links, and creating a faster checkout (more on this below).

Offer fast, affordable shipping

In a study by Usability Sciences, one e-commerce business saw conversions drop from 19% to 7%  based on unacceptable shipping costs and delivery speed options. Customers expect fast and affordable shipping whenever and wherever they shop online. If possible, we recommend offering both free and two-day shipping options to your customers.

Working with a fulfillment provider that allows you to split your inventory across locations can help you offer guaranteed two-day shipping to your customers. Even if you are transparent about shipping options from the outset, customers may not convert if prices are too high or delivery times are too slow.

For example, ShipBob’s network of fulfillment centers can help you offer two-day shipping in the continental U.S. Instead of having to ship all orders from one central location when your customers live in many locations, you can save both your business and your customer time and money by shipping from the fulfillment center closest to your customer.

And as mentioned above, transparency is vital to customer satisfaction; make sure to provide clear tracking information and delivery date estimates to your customers.

Streamline your checkout flow

According to Baymard Institute, a lengthy or complicated checkout process accounts for 28% of abandoned carts. A simplified checkout means more conversions. Reduce the number of steps in your checkout with these tips:

  • Allow guest checkouts rather than requiring customers to create an account.

  • Only include necessary/required information fields.

  • Offer PayPal and other digital wallets as payments options. This can both lessen security concerns and make checkout faster by allowing customers to enter login info rather than payment details. 

  • Add a button that allows customers to use the same address for billing and shipping, without having to type it in twice.

  • Use one “Full Name” field, rather than a “First Name” and “Last Name” field.

By making your checkout easier and quicker to navigate, you are likely to increase conversions for your online store.

Conclusion

Overall, there are a variety of strategies you can leverage to improve your e-commerce conversion rates. It all boils down to creating an experience that builds customer trust and meets customer expectations. We hope that the tips above help you achieve — or even surpass! — a 2% conversion rate for your online store.  


Rachel Burns
Content Marketing Specialist of ShipBob

Rachel is a Content Marketing Specialist at ShipBob, where she creates content that helps e-commerce merchants grow their businesses. ShipBob empowers e-commerce businesses of all sizes to offer two-day shipping and maintain control over inventory, orders, and shipments.
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The SPS Commerce Blog Team is your resource for insider knowledge, news, research reports and best practices that will boost your business.
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