With the New Year upon us, many of you are regrouping from the holiday season and ready to optimize your site and sales process for the year ahead.
I’m guessing a few of you reading this had record-breaking sales. That’s awesome.
I’d also guess that there are a bunch of you, who fall into one of the two remaining categories.
- Your holiday sales were “just okay,” meaning you didn’t lose money, but you faced more fierce competition than last year and you didn’t quite hit either your revenue and profit goals that you wanted to hit for the year. You are looking to rebound in Q1.
- Or, your sales were lower than expected. Now, you are stressed out knowing that you are going into the new year with declining sales and excess inventory that you have to get rid of.
Many ecommerce shops think the answer to get more sales is to simply get more people coming to the site. That’s not always the best solution and it is certainly not the most cost or time effective. Once you have a steady amount of visitors (i.e. It could be as little as 1,000/per month), a much more effective use of your limited time and budget is to optimize your site and your sales funnel (ex email marketing, sales letters, etc) to get the maximum amount of sales.
According to a survey conducted by Baymard Institute, the average online shopping cart abandonment is a staggering 68%.
In this post, I’m going to show you 16 things you can implement this week to help you convert more of your visitors into buyers.
(Note: We have carefully curated every example in this post to be small to mid-sized businesses – just like you. If you are thinking, 16 things sounds totally overwhelming right now. Don’t panic. Just start with 2 things, you can gradually scale up).
1. Make sure the site branding and navigation are consistent across the entire site but especially on the checkout and add to cart pages.
Good, consistent branding builds trust, familiarity and an added layer of security. As you can see in this example from A Grain of Sand, their branding and navigation is consistent across the entire site. They also include their customer service details and a free shipping offer right in the header, which adds more trust and takes away two of the biggest reasons people abandon their cart.
2. Display your customer service – including your phone number – prominently on the checkout and cart pages.
One ecommerce brand that does a great job of this is – Cast Coverz. They not only have their logo and navigation consistently displayed at the top of the site (like I talked about in the previous tip), but they also show their full contact info. You might think that sharing your phone number and email address so prominently would increase customer service volume, but the reality is very few people are going to call you. But, having that number displayed shows that you are human, care about your customers and are willing to answer their questions.
3. Reduce friction in the checkout process by eliminating extraneous form fields.
Less is more! When a visitor adds an item to their cart, they are signaling to you that they are no longer browsing and ready to buy. So, why make the process more complicated for them? That’s exactly what many ecommerce shops do unintentionally by asking them to fill out extra questions / forms that may be helpful for you (i.e. think “how did you hear about us sort of questions?) but just create friction for the customer. In fact according to Baynard Institute, 69% of customers abandon their cart when you ask people to fill out a bunch of extraneous form fields in the checkout process.
If there is additional items you need from a customer or just want to know, you can build that into your customer service and email marketing processes. For example, you can customize your order confirmation email to ask a follow-up question about how you heard about us? Or, on the order confirmation page, you can ask them to share their purchase on Facebook or Instagram. These are ways to get the information you want without adding extra steps to the checkout experience.
4. Enable autocomplete for the billing and shipping addresses on the checkout page.
Besides removing extra questions from your checkout page, another way to go above and beyond is to enable autocomplete for common fields like, “billing and shipping addresses.” If you use Bigcommerce, we found this custom script that any store can implement on their community forum.
If you use another hosted platform, like Shopify or Volusion, any ecommerce developer can set this up for you within a few hours. Don’t know any developers, we can help you find a great one. Just drop us an email here.
5. Show all shipping costs and delivery charges upfront.
One of the biggest reasons why people abandon their shopping cart is high shipping and delivery costs. In this survey from Econsultancy, 74% of people who abandoned their cart did so because of high delivery costs.
Big brands – like Amazon Prime- set customer expectations for fast and free shipping. While you don’t have to like or agree with these new expectations, you do need to acknowledge they exist. In an ideal world, you should find some way to offer free shipping, and either set up your P&L in a way that you can eat the costs or find a creative way to recoup the cost including possibly making the base price of the product a little higher to offset the higher shipping costs.
If you absolutely can’t offer free shipping, then it is extremely important to be honest about it and surface that information upfront on your site. One brand that does a great job of this is Tortoise Supply. In their case, they sell live baby tortoises. This requires special packaging and costlier overnight shipping options in order to ensure that the tortoises arrive alive. What did they do? They have an entire page on their site devoted to explaining their shipping policies and also go out of their way to surface shipping details throughout the site. While this might be an extreme example, they took a limitation and turned it into a competitive advantage by acknowledging the constraints and being open about how these policies help them to deliver the highest qualities items to their customers.
6. Make guest checkout the default buying choice.
According to this ConversionXL article, 25% of people abandon a purchase if they are forced to create an account. Buying a product online isn’t the same as registering for a social network. You don’t need to create an account to buy clothes, shoes, electronics or most consumer goods. When you require a visitor to create an account, you have just created more friction to buy a product.
7. Create a seamless checkout experience for returning customers.
While guest checkout should be the default option, it is important to have a faster option for returning customers, especially if you sell subscription-based goods or products that lend themselves to reordering.
In this example from Lizzy Jays Juice, they implemented a custom script on their checkout page to make it easier for their returning customers to re-order their favorite juices.
8. Your checkout page should be optimized for mobile browsing and checkout.
More than 50% of browsing on ecommerce sites is now on a smartphone or tablet. It is no longer okay to just optimize your site for laptops and desktops. If there is any friction on tablets or smartphones, people will just buy elsewhere. One shop that does a great job of optimizing for mobile experiences is Simple Squares. This organic nutrition bar company worked with their Web development agency, oBundle, to create an optimized mobile checkout experience including increased CTA buttons
9. Make the full checkout experience fit on one page.
According to a study by Baymard Institute, 25% of people have abandoned their cart because the checkout page was too long. We already mentioned getting rid of any extra form fields that aren’t necessary. However, there are some standard things you can’t get rid of, this is where clever design kicks in to make sure everything is simple, streamlined and fits on one page. One brand that has a simple, elegant and branded one page checkout is Tucker Blair.
The great thing these days is that pretty much every hosted ecommerce platform – from Bigcommerce to Shopify and Volusion offer built-in themes with one page checkouts. If you don’t have a one page checkout, the solution is usually as simple as switching themes. Just make sure to test your new theme first before switching and back up your data!
10. Allow people to write custom messages – including gift messages- right on the cart page.
The best example I’ve seen is Man Crates. Their entire business model is based around gift giving. So, it makes sense to prominently display the ability to write custom gift messages. Writing a gift message can create some friction since you have to come up with what to write. They found a way to eliminate that friction while still encouraging custom messages by adding a clever (and some downright funny) canned responses that people can choose from.
11. Use your add to cart page to upsell your customers on related products.
One tip to increase the average order value is to upsell customers on related products. Man Crates from the tip above does a great job of this, as does Grove. Not only is their add to cart experience a seamless pop-up but they also include 2 related products.
12. Make it easy for customers to buy in bulk straight on the cart page.
Another tip to increase the average order value is to encourage people to buy in bulk. You can even incent this by showing a discount or coupon code only on a specific product page or when they get to the cart page.
One brand that does a great job of this is Happy Socks. It is pretty common to allow someone to buy in bulk on the product or cart pages, but they even have it set up to up the quantity on the checkout page.
13. Treat customer service as a major competitive advantage because it is!
So many ecommerce shops get this wrong and treat customer service/support as a cost center. When you treat customer service like this, you are robbing yourself of your biggest marketing opportunities – i.e your current customers. If you are still stuck on customer service as a cost center, please bookmark and read this post from Derek Sivers, who founded CD Baby that eventually sold for millions to Amazon.
When you make every customer feel special, heard and valued, they are going to want to buy from you again and are going to share the experience with at least a few people. This can all start by paying attention and following through with any messages that they leave on the checkout page.
14. Apply for Google Trusted Stores (if you qualify) and display trust marks prominently on your site.
You hopefully already know the value of SSLs and HTTPs. Anything you can do to establish more trust and credibility with visitors goes a long way. This includes adding security trust marks on your cart and checkout pages, along with trusted shopping certificates like Google Trusted Stores if your shop meets the minimum requirements.
15. Have your returning info displayed prominently on the checkout and cart pages
According to this Econsultancy article, 53% of visitors need to see your return policy prominently displayed before they feel comfortable buying anything. This number is even higher if you sell items like consumer apparel and accessories where free returns are the norm.
One brand that does a great job of eliminating potential concerns related to returns is Store Your Board. In addition to showing their 90 day no hassle return policy right within their site header, they also surface it on the cart page next to their trust marks.
16. Know your numbers!
When it comes to optimizing your cart and checkout page, data is your best friend. When you have a functional P&L and site analytics set up properly, it allows you to be in control of your business.
I’m assuming if you have been in business for more than a couple of months, you know to set up and read a P&L, if you don’t. Please stop reading this article and go learn how to do this like now.
As for site analytics, here’s a few things you should set up (if you haven’t already).
- Set up a Google Analytics account.
- Make sure you have ecommerce tracking enabled. Here’s a great guide from the folks over at Duct Tape Marketing for how to set this up.
- If you use Facebook ads and Adwords, make sure you have the appropriate tracking pixels installed and they are measuring your data correctly.
When a visitor adds an item to their cart, it signals they are no longer browsing and have an intent to make a purchase. These 16 tips are meant to help you eliminate buyers’ doubts and reduce friction in the buying process.
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