How to Increase Sales to Your Ecommerce Site
Remove obstacles by simplifying the decision making and check out process for your customer.
Simply put, successful ecommerce outcomes are built by understanding what your customers want and how they want it. The basis of a frictionless shopping experience is to make it easy for your customers to make a decision and check out.
Here’s How You Do It:
The concept here is about making this process easy to do. Frictionless online experiences apply to all websites, but are particularly critical for eCommerce. Obviously, a frictionless experience means less hassle but it also means greater speed and personalization by anticipating – not just meeting – your customer’s needs.
Navigation refers to the menu used to help customers find and buy the products they want. The job of the menu is to help users go to the most popular sections of a website. The best approach here is to make as much of the content available by linking to the top-level categories from the menu. It is important to focus on getting users to the most popular top-level categories and give them the opportunity to make one more click to get to their desired destination. For an especially large ecommerce site, this may mean linking to top-level categories that are several layers deep in the hierarchical structure.
EXAMPLE: Home > Category A > Subcategory B > Subcategory C
If a category isn’t particularly popular then it’s okay to only link to the parent category. If Subcategory C isn’t especially popular then it’s okay to link to Subcategory B and let people drill down. The goal is to make it easy for the most people to find and buy the product they want, not to funnel PageRank deep into the website.
Ultimately, every category or page on a website stands or falls by how many links point to those inner pages. That’s often the key in getting those pages to rank. Which means the focus of what a user sees (the menu) should be on making it easy (frictionless) for them.
Always list products by popularity. This makes it easy for the most users to find and purchase what they want. Rarely is it a good idea to list products by price. Listing products on category pages by order of popularity ensures that buying products on the site is easy for the most amount of people.
Google’s quality raters guidelines define a high quality ecommerce page as one that allows users to browse AND compare. Although the quality raters guide is not a guarantee of what’s inside Google’s algorithm, it does give an idea of what kinds of sites Google prefers to rank and provides an idea of what they considers a useful webpage. Whether this is something built into their algorithm directly or indirectly is unknown but we do know that Google views your site as more desirable to rank if you make it easy to compare products.
Here’s what the Google Quality Raters Guidelines say:
“Keep in mind that many users enjoy browsing and visually exploring products online, similar to window shopping in real life.
Give high Needs Met ratings to results that allow users to research, browse, and decide what to purchase.”
Customers like to know the features and specs of the products being considered, both online and offline. Accommodating them by helping to research and compare products fits into the concept of creating a frictionless shopping experience.
Reviews can boost sales by helping to make the customer’s decision making process easy. Always encourage users to return and leave reviews. Whatever you can do to encourage a review will result in a win for you and for your shoppers. Showing reviews can boost your conversion rate by up to 270%, according to a research study by the Spiegel Research Center at Northwestern University.
- Displaying reviews can increase conversion by 270%
- Reviews have more impact on sales for higher-priced items
- For higher-consideration items 5 stars is “too good to be true”
- Initial reviews have the greatest impact
This research also discovered that the impact of reviews were influenced by the following:
This research uncovered that online reviews were most important for high priced purchases. The more expensive the product, the riskier the choice is perceived to be by the customer. They want to make the best choice, so online reviews go a long way to increasing conversion rates for higher priced products. A five star perfect rating tends to generate skepticism while reviews that scored less than five stars are perceived to be more trustworthy. Also, badges that indicate a reviewer is a “verified buyer” tended to increase trust in the review and increase conversion.
Sounds exciting right? Researchers at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania published research that investigated how offline interactions drove sales and conversions. Among many things, they discovered that a personal type of presence tended to cultivate better customers. They referred to this as the turbocharging the customer. They discovered that offline businesses that also delivered a personal interaction with a consumer tended to cultivate better customers who purchased more often, returned to the store more often and returned less merchandise.
Here’s what the researchers observe:
“This is the notion of customer turbocharging. If you and I had never met before, and we exchange an email, that’s an electronic interaction. It’s a very low-energy thing, right?
If I call you on the phone, and we heard each other’s voice, then the energy of our relationship would increase. Now, we’re meeting each other face-to-face, and we’re having a discussion. Our intimacy has increased a great deal.
The next time I receive an e-mail from you, the energy never drops way back to where it started, with the electronic.
That’s a nice metaphor that now our relationship has been somewhat turbocharged. So even if we continue our interaction online, we’ve got this great offline experience that anchors it.”
Customer turbocharging may be something to explore, particularly for high dollar purchases. The personal touch may be what can help a site convert more visitors and kickstart positive word of mouth referrals.
It can be easy to focus on the desktop version of your user experience and overlook the fact that many customers now shop on mobile devices. However, this is something that can not be overlooked and all devices should be considered when creating the user experience.
Cindy Krum, founder of MobileMoxie, gives some valuable insight about what things an ecommerce site should focus on for a great mobile user experience.
Here’s what she reccomends:
“What you are looking for is clear, unambiguous descriptions or keywords in your mobile navigation – nothing too creative or witty.
Remember that in some cases, using meaningful icons on your pages, that are out of the navigation, much like many top social networks do, can save space, and convey the meaning of your key points of navigation, without having to crowd a hamburger menu.
FYI – these icons are also great if you are running an international website, because they don’t have to be translated. Just make sure that you are using somewhat standard icons, that are universally or near-universally understood. Keep in mind that hover effects will not work on mobile, so you can’t use those to explain the meaning of your icons.
Within the hamburger navigation, try to avoid scrolling and drill-downs, especially if they go more than one level down.
If you have more than one level of drill-down menus, make it clear what heading of the drop down the user has open, and how to get to the primary elements in the dropdowns; also make it very clear how people can close the navigation, even if they don’t click on anything from it.
If there is room, it can also be good to include the search, log-in and log-out functions of your website in the hamburger navigation, though you might also need an account button to easily get people to the login too. Lots of banks and financial institutions do a great job with this.”
Increasing Conversions is your Ultimate Goal
The goal of frictionless shopping and a positive user experience is sales and removing the obstacles that hinder conversions is a way to increase sales. Every discussion you have about how to structure your site navigation, how to create the best mobile shopping experience, or how to increase trust is a conversation about conversions. When considering what should be done about a particular website issue, look at it from the perspective of, how can it be done in a way that increases conversions. This will result in the most useful answers for your ecommerce business.
Original article posted by Roger Montti at SEJ