When you are running a big, multi-million dollar e-commerce store it is very easy to allocate huge chunks of the budget into studying ways to increase conversions however, whether your business is big or small, you don’t have to sacrifice the same type of investment. There are ways to learn what the others spend millions to discover, and it is through watching the subtle trends and processes of the biggest e-commerce stores in the world. Here are 11 conversion secrets taken from the biggest online retailers:
1. Customer Confidence
Customers who are not confident about your brand, service or product do not typically complete a purchase. The most common fears from customers are:
- Not receiving what they are promised
- Being ripped off
- Having their personal information compromised
Kogan, an online retailer that generates 250 million plus in online sales discovered that they could appease customers concerns by displaying their terms of service very clearly during the shopping process.
They found that by highlighting their satisfaction and return policy, privacy act, security information and highlighting that they were a “Google trusted store” they were able to increase conversions and sales. Especially in the early stages of brand establishment, you want to make your customers feel secure about their purchase and that they are not going to have a hard time communicating with you or getting what they paid for.
2. Cart Visibility
Large ecommerce players have been known to be able to boost conversion rates by 8 percent simply by making the items in the shopping cart viewable on every page. Allowing your customers to see the items in their cart, reminds them of their purchase and makes them more likely to follow through with the checkout process. The Iconic, another online retailer that does hundreds of millions in sales has obviously been testing conversions when they made their shopping cart visible through a drop down menu that appears when you hover over the cart button. This conversion tactic is especially important if your e-commerce store offers a variety of products and services as it allows customers to browse through your store without forgetting what they initially came there to purchase.
3. Simplify the Checkout Process
When it comes to the checkout process, keeping it quick and simple is crucial when it comes to boosting conversions. One of the biggest online retailers in the world, Amazon knows the power of a fast checkout process and even offers one click purchasing. One click purchasing works well for Amazon as they are a highly trusted retailer and turn around millions of sales. If your site is not as established, you may want to consider having a checkout process that is limited to around 3 steps for maximum results.
4. Free Shipping
Did you know that nearly 50 percent of all customers abandon their shopping cart due to shipping costs? Consumers have come to expect that online shopping should be faster and cheaper than shopping in a regular brick and mortar store, therefore charging for shipping can sometimes be a huge turn off. REI, a popular retail store in the US achieves 318 million a year in sales and part of their success is attributed to the fact that they offer free shipping. They also make it known to their customers that there is no minimum to purchase in order to receive free shipping. If you have to charge for shipping in order to recover expenses, the next best solution is a flat rate shipping cost for all purchases. Alternatively, you may also want to consider offering free shipping when customers order over a certain amount, this not only helps with conversion rates but could also drive up the average spend per customer.
5. Transparent Add on Fees
Shying away from fees may seem like it will help motivate customers to purchase, but studies prove otherwise. If you have to charge for shipping or some other fees, make sure you let your consumers know very early on in the checkout process as this has been shown to reduce cart abandonment rate and increase conversions. In fact, one study found that nearly 50 percent of customers abandon their shopping cart due to hidden fees that were only revealed once they were ready to checkout. Multi-billion dollar retailer, NewEgg has the perfect example of this. They allow customers to know their shipping and handling costs as soon as they select an item to purchase. When you make your fees transparent, you give your customers peace of mind that they are not going to get ripped off and that your store can be trusted.
6. Gifting Options
Have you ever considered offering your product or service as a gift? Ancenstry.com does over 300 million in online sales every year and part of their success is attributed to the fact that they offer a gifting option for their services. In fact, on their homepage, the “Give a Gift” call to action seems to be their primary focal point as it stands out from the rest of the page and is marked with a red ribbon. When you allow your services or products to be given as gifts it gives you plenty of new opportunities in terms of promotion and marketing and helps to increase sales. Customers are also more willing to pay a little extra to have their gift wrapped which opens up a whole new revenue stream for your company.
7. Diversify Your Payment Options
Walmart might be one of the only e-commerce stores that accepts cash and cheques while shopping online. It seems bizarre, but the billion dollar retail giant claims that it has increased their reach to a whole new demographic of customers. Accepting cash and cheques may not be possible for your business, however you should give your customers a variety of ways to checkout. For example, offer Paypal, credit card options or even Apple Pay. In fact, one of the top secrets of huge online retailers is that giving your customers more payment options equals more sales and higher conversions.
8. Checkout Timeline
Showing your customers where they are in the checkout process by using a timeline can help to boost conversions and reduce cart abandonment. Just look at the timeline that appears on Ancestry.com – all the way through the checkout process, customers know exactly how far they have to go and what details are required of them. When you show your customers what needs to be done in order to complete a purchase, it not only gives them peace of mind but it also helps them to feel less insecure or doubtful about their purchase. Everyone knows that a doubtful customer will most likely abandon their shopping cart, but keeping them informed and in-the-loop can prevent this from happening.
9. Make A Wish List
Not everyone that comes to your website will necessarily be ready to purchase- how can your site cater to them? As many as 41 percent of customers that visit your online store are not prepared to purchase, therefore offering a Wish List will help them navigate through the different options on your site and compare services. The successful online retailer, B&H Photo found that offering a Wish List to their customers was able to boost conversions and allowed customers to feel more confident about their decisions. Wish Lists also open the door for you to do additional marketing such as emailing your customers to remind them of their Wish List, or updating them when one of their items is on sale. Wish Lists can also help your company to have a better understanding of what products are peaking your customers curiosity and how you can take further action to make your customers feel more confident about purchasing them.
10. Guest Checkout Option
One poll found that 29 percent of online shoppers did not like creating an account in order to complete a purchase. This is why many successful e-commerce stores allow customers to checkout as guests or use an express checkout option. TinyMe, a successful homegrown Australian online retailer for example, offers customers the opportunity to make an account or sign with with a social network login or checkout as a guest if they don’t want to go through the account-making process. Crate and Barrel also offers the same option- they have an account making option but then also allows consumers to use an Express Checkout. One clever thing that Crate and Barrel do here too is that they notify customers what is involved in the Express checkout option, which allows them to know instantly if it is a good option for their needs or not. Most of the time, customers will gravitate towards the ‘Guest Checkout’ option, especially if it is the first time they are purchasing anything on your site.
11. Detailed Product Photos
You don’t need to spend hundreds of thousands like some other big e-commerce retailers did to discover that having many images that are interactive can help reduce cart abandonment rates and increase conversions. Product images, not the description is what drives sales and customers love to see many images that include the option to zoom, rotate and see the product in different sizes and colours. Take a look at B&H Photo again, they offer a variety of image options for their camera bags including an option to zoom, rotate and see the bag from numerous angles. When you offer numerous images, it helps to increase customer confidence and helps to drive sales. Just make sure that your images are accurate, true to size and showcase your products in the best light. Boosting the conversion rate of your website can take some trial and error, but why not follow in the footsteps of these billion dollar retail giants and see if you can mimic their results.