“Building an e-commerce site that customers love largely comes down to two things: sweating (and testing) the small stuff, and understanding human psychology.” - Gregory Ciotti
Innovation knows no bounds.
The business field has competently adapted to the progressive times by making transactions possible via the internet. With the birth of e-commerce, consumers and producers are no longer constrained by factors such as time and distance.
Unfortunately, e-commerce sites still remain held back in fully developing at its utmost potential because they lack essential features that are needed to avoid compromising customer satisfaction. They often gain a negative reputation because of their inability to guarantee customer trust and convenience.
In fact, it was even quoted in a study that:
"Almost 95% of Web users have declined to provide personal information to Web sites at one time or another when asked." - Hoffman et.al (1999)
In addition to that, the compelling statistics gathered from the GVU 7th WWW User Survey reveal to us that 87 percent of the customers demand full discretion over the information that are asked from them when purchasing online, and 71 percent suggested that online security should be improved.
What does this suggest?
In spite of this innovative model of transaction, there are still major drawbacks within the system that makes it challenging for eCommerce sites to establish customer loyalty.
Considering how there are pitfalls in almost every turn that online sellers make, it would be safe to say that we must be educated and be aware of these mistakes so we can equip ourselves in taking corrective action.
Given this, what exactly are the gaps e-commerce sites are struggling with and how do you reconcile this?
These are some of the most critical mistakes that e-commerce website owners are making:
1. Using an Unreasonably Long Check Out Process
Convenience. That is one of the many reasons why customers tend to buy online, and the same reason why the e-commerce market has become a multi-billion dollar industry.
While most e-commerce website owners are aware of how convenience is important to their prospective customers, some aren’t as keen in optimizing their sales process to make sure that the whole experience becomes convenient to their customers.
"67.89% of shoppers abandon shopping carts (avg)" - Mary Weinstein of CPCctrategy.com
These are some of the most common things that attribute to a long check out process:
- A long checkout form.
- Businesses requiring their customers to register first before they can buy.
- Pitching several add-on products before the customer can checkout.
- Among others.
If you are guilty of committing any of these mistakes, I urge you to shorten your process now, to make the buying process as convenient as possible for your audience.
While the steps may vary depending on what your product is and how your website is created, in general, your checkout process should at least have these four steps:
Of course, the shorter your checkout process is, the better.
Important Tip: Using indicators that would show your customers where they are in the checkout process (as shown below) is also a good element to add in your website.
This gives your customers a clear idea of what is happening, making the process more transparent for them.
2. Requiring Their Prospective Customers to Register Before Buying
The lesser friction the checkout process has, the better it is for you and your customers.
When you hassle your customers with things like forced registration, there is a good chance that they might end up abandoning their shopping cart.
Jared Spool from UIE.com shared how they have helped one of their clients (a major e-commerce website) increase their annual revenue by $300 million. They did this by allowing their customers the option of making purchases on their client’s website without creating an account.
Important Tip: Be sure to add the guest checkout option on your checkout process. What Apple did on their checkout page is a good example.
If you’ll ever feel like forcing your prospect customers to register, just remember what one of Jared Spools’ client’s customer said...
“I’m not here to enter into a relationship. I just want to buy something.”
Related Article: The Minimalist Guide to Evolving E-Commerce Checkout
3. Not Optimizing Their Pages for Conversion
Making sure that your e-commerce site looks professional and visually appealing is one thing, optimizing it for conversion (sales) is another.
The fact is, there is more to optimizing your website for sales than just making sure that it looks good. With how cutthroat the competition is nowadays, having a good-looking website isn’t going to cut it anymore.
So how exactly do you optimize your e-commerce site for conversion? These are some of the best practices that seasoned marketers use:
a. Make it easier for your prospect customers to find what they are looking for.
When you visit the landing page of Swap.com, you will easily be drawn to the image of a child and a woman, and the colorful buttons on the left side of the images.
This makes it easier for the users to go to the exact page that they want to. No need to use drop-down options or hard to find clickable links. The buttons are clear as day and the texts in the buttons are very easy to read.
B. Use Giveaways
When you give stuff away for free, it helps build rapport, chatter about your business, and it even gives your users an opportunity to test your product out. Of course, when they start using your product and realize how amazing it is, there’s no reason for them not to get back to your website and start ordering the product.
Adeel Vanthaliwala published an article at Unbounce.com where they shared an experiment that they ran at Incentivibe. Their strategy was to increase their conversion rate (email signups) by using giveaway contests.
They’ve gotten a massive 700 percent increase in their email signups.
C. Write in the Second Person When Writing Your Copy
Let’s face it, people don’t really care about who you are, what you’ve achieved, or how amazing your products are.
All they care about is themselves. All they care about is whether or not your product can solve their problems.
In short—all they’re interested in is how they can benefit from your products.
That being said, when writing the copy for your e-commerce site, you need to write it in such a way that you are addressing them directly. You need to call them out.
You need to use “You."
When you use “you,” it becomes easier for you to talk about their pain points, then position your products as a solution to their problem.
D. Show Your Phone Number
Showing your phone numbers let your visitors know that you are a real company and that there are people whom they can talk to if they need help with anything.
Not only does this help you with reducing your abandoned shopping cart, but you can also address the questions that your prospect buyers might have on the spot.
Of course, this means that you’ll be able to close those prospective customers who didn’t purchase before because they couldn’t talk to anyone from within your business to satisfy their inquiries.
Important Tip: Try to keep your phone numbers visible to your audience all the time. In EB Call Center’s case, they made their upper bar floating, that way, even if their viewers will scroll down, they EB’s phone numbers will still be visible.
E. Keep Your CTAs Above the Fold
When your CTAs are above the fold, it becomes easier for your audience to take action once they decide to purchase your product.
In addition to adding your call-to-action buttons above the fold, you should also add them on the bottom most part of the page, and in places within the page where you’ve provided immense value.
Important Note: I’ve published an article here at Business.com about the anatomy of a high converting landing page. If you’re looking to optimize your e-commerce website for sales, you might want to check it out.
4. Not Showing Your Product’s Number of Reviews, or the Number of Stocks Bought
This bit is all about social proof and the psychology behind it.
According to Robert Cialdini’s 6 Key Principles of Influence, social proof can play a crucial role when it comes to influencing your website visitors to buy your products.
Based on this principle, people will tend to do the things that they see other people are doing.
That being said, if you want to influence others to buy your product, you can add a counter showing the number of stocks sold for that specific product.
The idea is when people see that others are in fact buying the specific product that they were thinking of buying, then they’ll be influenced to buy it.
Important Tip: Adding a counter for the number of times your page/product has been shared in the social media outlets is quite tempting. This is especially true if your product has been shared several times.
However, I urge you not to add the number of social shares just yet. Or you should at least split test whether adding the number of shares is going to be good for your conversion or not.
You need to remember that the action that you want your audience to take is to buy your products—and not to share your page.
Adding the social count can cause your audience to be distracted from buying your products.
Check out how Amazon’s pages do not show the number of social shares and how their sharing buttons aren’t intrusive at all.
Of course, there are times when showing the number of social shares can help since it gives social validation that people liked that specific product. At this point, what you need to do is to split test to find out how your audience will react.
5. Adding Too Many Design Elements in Their Pages
Adding too many design elements in your landing page can cause your audience to be overwhelmed, confused, or outright distracted from doing what they sought out to do when they visit your page—buying.
That said, instead of adding tons of sliders, pop-ups, or blinking texts (among others), I urge you to keep your page’s design simple.
I’m a huge fan of what Gadget Salvation did on their “Sell My iPhone” page.
As you can see, the page looks very minimalistic. There is nothing on the page that’s going to distract their site visitors from doing anything else.
The first thing they’ll see are the iPhone options which they can easily click to so they can find the model that they are looking for.
Now if you’ll compare that design with this…
I’m sure you’ll figure out which design converts better.
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Also, if there are ideas and tips that you’d like to share, please do so in the comments section below. I look forward to reading your comments.