One silver lining of the current pandemic is the push it has given many retailers to take their brick & mortar business online for the first time, as well as prompt current online sellers to begin thinking more critically about their ecommerce operations.
And while launching your online store is a great accomplishment in itself, its success should be measured by not only gross sales, but conversion: the percentage of site visitors who make a purchase within a set time. A highly-trafficked website is nothing if that traffic isn't converting into sales (think about it: the same goes for brick & mortar shoppers as well!).
While it differs slightly by industry, the average ecommerce conversion rate is 2%. Here are six ways to boost ecommerce conversion and place your store above that average.
1. Polish your product pages
Your ecommerce store should be an extension of your brick and mortar; when customers reach your homepage, you should give them the same impression as when they walk through your physical store doors, with enticing and organized product displays. The difference? Shoppers have no way of touching and feeling the items as they would in person, so you must create highly descriptive product pages with engaging and informative copy.
Consider the details one would be able to see in person but not through the screen, like fabrication and care instructions for apparel, scent for wellness and beauty products, sizing guidelines for shoes: whatever attributes are applicable to your merchandise. Product descriptions should also be unique; duplicating a vendor's may hurt your SEO.
Note for Springboard Retail users: The descriptions on your product pages will sync to the web descriptions of your BigCommerce or Shopify v2 stores, so it's best practice to have that filled out on the Springboard side first!
High-quality photos, care instructions, customer reviews, and keywords that will increase visibility in search results are also essential pieces of high-converting product pages.
2. Optimize your website
If your site takes longer than two seconds to load, 53% of your customers lose interest: more than half of your potential sales! To provide a highly converting and positive customer experience, regularly test the site speed, review your hosting plan, and optimize all visual elements.
You can also make your website more user-friendly by adopting an appealing interface, a simple navigation system, and a logical product structure: it should be easy for customers to find exactly what they're looking for, as well as have an enjoyable browsing experience if they didn't land here with something already in mind.
And of paramount importance: your site must be optimized for mobile, as 62% say they are less likely to purchase from you in the future if they've had a poor mobile experience.
3. Reduce cart abandonment
- They are data- or time-sensitive and didn't want to make an account: Offer the option of checking out as a guest.
- There weren't enough payment options: In addition to accepting major credit cards, consider offering PayPal, or even integrating with buy now, pay later solutions like Afterpay and Sezzle.
- They don't want to pay for shipping: Unfortunately, while 75% of consumers expect shipping to be free these days, shipping is never free to the retailer. If it does not make financial sense for you to offer free shipping on all orders, at least offer multiple options, ie. Priority vs. less expensive (but slower) First Class Mail. Additionally, you can advertise free shipping on orders over a certain amount (this will also encourage upselling!).
- They realized they weren't going to get their item in time: Customer in need of their purchase sooner than any of your shipping options allow? Give them the option to buy online, pick up in store.
- They were turned off by hidden costs: Any extra fees or service costs must be obvious from the start of the sale.
- They couldn't find or understand your return policy: Make sure your extremely clear and detailed return policy is displayed on its own webpage (or at the very least, an FAQ page), as well as your checkout screen.
Provide incentives for visitors to complete the purchase. These include exit-intent popups or abandoned cart emails (included with platforms like BigCommerce and Shopify) that may include a discount code.
4. Report and adapt
The fact that you may be selling online only at the moment shouldn't change how much you're paying attention to your business performance; savvy retailers are running the same POS reports as they would in store. In addition to foot traffic/site visit conversion, those include sales by margin, category, and vendor, sales vs. plan, sell-through, and more. Then, put those findings to use. Consider these reports and actions they should prompt to boost future site conversion:
- Product Returns: If a certain item has a high return rate, customers may have not found it to be representative of the product they saw on your website. This is another reason it's so critical to have super detailed product descriptions and images. If it's an apparel item that runs large, note that. If it's a brighter color in person than the camera has been able to capture, note that. Include a reason section on return forms to collect additional customer feedback.
- Sell-Through: If you're seeing an item with a low sell-through, it may not necessarily be a flop, but rather too hard to find on your site (confirm this by looking at your page views by product). Make sure the description includes appropriate keywords and is placed in a product category that will make sense to viewers.
Remember: For any of these reports to work, you must use an ecommerce platform that integrates with your point of sale.
5. Highlight timely merchandise
As you merchandise and market your ecommerce store, look at the inventory you already have on hand and think critically about what sort of items are currently in demand. Highlight those products and categories on the main page of your website—as well as email campaigns and social media posts—and make them easily visible in your navigation menu.
Luggage and travel goods? Unlikely, as many people's travel plans have been halted. Athleisure and other loungewear? Much more likely. Consumers are also looking for anything to keep themselves and their families busy: crafts, art supplies, puzzles, board games, and home office/school supplies, to name a few.
If you're limiting the days you work in your actual storefront(s), an inventory on hand POS report is an easy way to get a bird's eye view of all merchandise you have to work with.
6. Helpful, available, on-brand customer service
Even if you have the most detailed product descriptions possible, a clear and visible return policy and shipping information, and stacked FAQ page, there will still be instances in which your customers need additional assistance, and it's important you make that easy for them.
Include your contact information in multiple locations (footer, About and FAQ pages), and offer a live chat option. If 24/7 customer support is not an option, look into providing a chatbot for off hours.
It's important to note that your customer service representatives are the face of your brand, and this must be taken into account during hiring and training. Here's some additional information on fostering on-brand customer service.
If you are a current Springboard Retail customer not yet selling online, we can get you set up to do so quickly and easily.