Digital marketers and online retailers have revealed that a number of common mistakes businesses make on their e-commerce sites are having substantial impacts on their ability to convert sales.
In an age where the internet is flooded with competing sites all vying for consumer dollars, a panel of experts told the Online Retailer conference that many businesses are needlessly shooting themselves in the foot through a range of common, and even surprising, features on their websites.
The panel - composed of Booktopia deputy CEO and CTO Wayne Baskin, Costumes.com.au co-founder Nathan Huppatz, Speedmaster CEO Jason Kencevski and Stewart Media owner Jim Stewart – reviewed the websites of a number of delegates to point out common traps that are losing sales:
Checkout page functionality
Mr Baskin noted that the human fight-or-flight instincts are alive and well when consumers progress through to the point of checkout, and tailoring a checkout page with this in mind can drastically reduce the number of lost sales.
“There’s been a lot of research done, which has shown that when people go through to checkout of an e-commerce site they have never been on before, they exhibit those same signs,” he said.
“You hit them with a one-page checkout with all the fields they could ever imagine, they’re going to ‘flight’.”
Conversely, though, Mr Huppatz said that his business enjoyed an impressive 10 per cent rise in conversions specifically by updating the checkout page.
This included changing the navigation, including an “escape” by way of a direct link back to the homepage on the logo so as not to make shoppers feel trapped, and adding trust-inducing messages such as “how many hundred thousand orders we have processed”.
Overlooking how customers find a product
Another common mistake of businesses is to forget how their customers are coming to them.
Mr Kecevski noted that when a customer searches for a product online, they will generally find the link for that product page – meaning they miss the ‘sales pitch’ that a customer sees when navigating through a site from the homepage.
As such, having key messaging on every page is an important addition to ensure that customers are armed with all the information they need to make a purchase then and there, regardless of how they have come across that particular webpage.
Poor search function
Mr Huppatz noted that his own business has seen positive impacts to the bottom line by having a good search function on the site.
He said that while only 15 per cent of his customers actually use the function, these customers account for more than half of all sales.
While most websites have a search function, it can often be difficult to find – obscured in its size and placement on the page, or blending in with the background colour.
Additionally, increase the default number of search results your site displays to around 100. This will remove or reduce the need for customers to scroll through numerous pages, which can lead to them getting distracted or frustrated and abandoning their purchase.
Poor product placement
Another point noted by the panellists is where products are displayed on a site. One business featured high-quality lifestyle images on its homepage, while another featured no imagery or content at all.
In both cases, it was really unclear to anyone visiting the site what the business actually did or the products that it offered.
No sense of urgency
Higher conversions can be achieved from creating a sense of urgency with shoppers, the panellists said.
Displaying messages such as “limited stocks” or “almost sold out” when stock volumes are low can help trigger FOMO (fear of missing out) and push people to make a purchase.
Where goods are in ample supply, a message stating “in stock” or “ship today” can also boost conversions by taking the guesswork out of when the consumer can expect to receive their purchase.
Slow loading times
One of the best ways to lose sales is to have a slow site. Pages that fail to load quickly, or even time out, can drive customers to move on to a competitor’s site.
The panellists noted a number of factors that can impact loading times.
An excess number of images or exceptionally large image sizes chew up bandwidth and slow down loading times.
Similarly, sites that are not mobile-friendly will take longer to load on mobile devices. And when they do, they can have reduced functionality or visual appeal.
Also, the web server and host used can influence loading speeds, so it can be worthwhile to shop around by deliverable speeds rather than simply cost.
Other tips for driving web conversions:
- Remove dead links or internal redirections. All links on the site should be functioning and going directly to the page they are meant to, as this can affect your Google ranking.
- Similarly, avoid duplicating pages or content on the site. This will cause Google to either index multiple pages, diluting the value of each one, or penalise the website for appearing to be spam.
- Register common misspellings of your domain name / business name and have these automatically redirect to your homepage.
- Add a “back to top” link at the bottom of all pages, particularly long pages, to avoid forcing customers to scroll back to the top, which can be particularly cumbersome for mobile users.
- Have an "about us" page, and a phone number (preferably a 1300 number) listed on every page, to instill a sense of trust that you are contactable and relatable.
- Your top banner is “prime real estate” on your website, so use it to maximum effect. Instead of displaying social links here, list your business’ unique selling points, most popular products and special offers.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.