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Ecommerce Conversion Rate Optimisation: Tips to Improve Sales


There are an estimated 2.14 billion1 online shoppers worldwide, with 17.90 million2 in Australia. As the popularity of online shopping and the number of online shoppers continue to grow, correspondingly there has been a massive spurt in the number of eCommerce sites.  Revenue from the eCommerce market in Australia is projected to reach US $29,700 million3 in 2021, indicating potential for considerable profits for eCommerce sites.

Launching an eCommerce site is easier than ever, with the presence of powerful eCommerce platforms such as Magento and BigCommerce. However, once you have an eCommerce site, how do you know if its performing to its full potential? Even as you increase your sale, with a few changes your eCommerce site might be able to support even greater revenue.  

In any business, you need a reliable way of measuring your performance so that you can plan accordingly and adapt your business for greater success. It may seem straightforward to simply measure your overall sales and compare them against your expenses, but for better accuracy, you should consider your eCommerce conversion rate.

What is eCommerce Conversion Rate?

One of the most prominent metrics to measure the success of an eCommerce site is to consider the eCommerce conversion rate. An eCommerce conversion refers to a completion of a specific call to action (CTA). Depending upon the site, the CTA can be anything such as signing up for a programme or purchasing a product or service. In eCommerce, a conversion typically refers to a completed transaction with a purchase, but can also include customers adding to their cart, email signups, and social media shares.

The eCommerce conversion rate is the percentage of visitors to your eCommerce site who completed a purchase or transaction. Average eCommerce conversion rates range between 1% to 2%, with 3% indicating good performance. Keep in mind, the average eCommerce conversion rate will vary depending upon your niche and products sold. In general, gifts, health & pharmacy goods, apparel, and footwear have relatively higher conversion rates, ranging above 4%. Consumer electronics, DIY, tools, automotive, and home furnishings tend to have lower conversion rates with consumer electronics having an average of 1.4%.

Even if you are witnessing high website traffic, if you have low conversion rates, it indicates customers are not entirely happy or confident with your eCommerce site. It is entirely possible to still be earning profits while you have a low eCommerce conversion rate, especially if you have less expenses and your catalogue offering has high prices. If you have a high eCommerce conversion rate, it indicates that a reasonable percentage of visitors to your site are happy and completing purchases.

A low eCommerce conversion rate reflects that you may need to put more efforts in your eCommerce site, to encourage visitors to complete purchases. If you have a high eCommerce conversion rate, you can consider investing in marketing, to increase the number of new customers to your site. Regardless of your current conversion rate, it is always helpful to regularly analyse your eCommerce site for ways to improve.

Ecommerce Conversion Funnel

Funnels are a great way of simplifying the steps that lead to a conversion, helping you identify exactly where change is required. The traditional sales funnel is different when it comes to eCommerce conversions. With the flexibility of online shopping, customers tend to spend more time browsing, and can often add products to carts without finally purchasing their items, resulting in abandoned carts. Large numbers of abandoned carts can skew your eCommerce conversion rate, as despite many visitors, there would be fewer conversions.

In an eCommerce conversion funnel, there are 4 broad stages. The first stage refers to the total number of customers visiting your site, or 100% of the customers. After that comes stage 2, where the customers move on to the specific product pages for shopping. Anywhere from 45% to 70% percent of customers might move on to specific category pages.

Next is stage 3, where customers add desired products to their carts. Depending on your niche and target customer demographic, 14.5% to 35% of customers might be adding products to their cart. Finally, at stage 4 is purchasing products, completing the conversion. The percentage of customers completing the conversion can be anywhere from 2% to 5%, and is your overall eCommerce conversion rate.

How to Calculate Your Ecommerce Conversion Rate?

The process of calculating your eCommerce conversion rate is simple. All you need to do, is divide the number of transactions taking place to your site by the total number of visitors, typically in 24 hours, and multiply by 100. For any other conversion metric or for the conversion rate over a longer period of time, the same process can be followed. To study the sales performance of specific products, categories, or promotions, you can again divide the total number of conversions by the number of transactions.

For the most accurate results, consistently measure your eCommerce conversion rate and compare on a weekly or monthly basis. There might be unexpected fluctuations that need to be factored in for the most accurate results. A slow and steady rise in eCommerce conversion rates has the best chance of providing sustainable results.

Although you can directly use the analytics of your eCommerce platform, another great option is to use Google Analytics. It is a free tool and can provide you with a vast amount of data to analyse and increase your conversion rate. Through Google Analytics, you can view the location of visitors, the device they used, time spent on different pages, whether they are new or repeat visitors, and more.

Types of Conversion Rate

Most commonly eCommerce conversion rate is measured on the basis of number of conversions divided by the overall visitors, multiplied by 100. However, for greater accuracy, you can analyse conversion rates based on additional parameters. Most popular conversion rate metrics analysed by markets include:

1. Conversion Rate based on Traffic Source

Examining eCommerce conversion rates on the basis of traffic sources is a great way to identify reliable sources of traffic. Common traffic sources are organic searches, direct, email, referral, paid searches, social media, and display. Compare the total number of conversions from a particular traffic source with the amount of traffic coming from that specific source. The resulting conversion rate can help you track your success with each individual traffic source. For example, maybe you have a larger number of conversions from social media sources as compared to organic searches.

Based on the conversion rate per traffic source, you can allocate further resources, time, and effort in developing each traffic source. If you have a low conversion rate for organic searches, you can  re-examine the keyphrases and products you are targeting organically or re-consider audience demographics you are targeting withsocial media marketing to improve conversion rates for that source. By identifying your key sources of conversions, you can intensify your marketing efforts for greater success. Knowing your top performing traffic sources can be valuable during sales campaigns and targeted promotions, yielding more powerful results.  

2. Conversion Rate based on User

The long-term success of any business is influenced by returning customers and the frequency of purchases made by existing customers. While gaining new customers is always a priority of businesses, building long lasting relationships is the secret to steady performance. The eCommerce conversion rate based on user analyses the number of conversions by a particular user divided by the number of visits. This helps identify how frequently customers browse your site and how often they purchase.

Trends in conversion rates based on users can help you gain valuable feedback on how your customers perceive your brand. When you analyse data on conversion rates based on users, keep in mind your niche and the average cost of products. Typically, customers will take more time before conversion on high value items as compared to low value products. Multiple user visits before a conversion can indicate they are not receiving full product information before a purchase. Limited user visits with high conversions can show that customers are mostly happy with your eCommerce site. If customers are not returning for further purchases, there may be a problem with quality.

3. Conversion Rate based on Device (If Applicable)

Mobile commerce is growing in leaps and bounds, supported by advancing technologies of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Leading eCommerce platforms, including Magento and BigCommerce, offer mobile commerce functionalities with dedicated features and responsive themes. When you have an eCommerce site, utilising the potential of mobile commerce can be vastly beneficial. If you support mobile commerce, the conversion rate based on device can help you track its success.

The conversion rate based on device considers the numbers of conversions divided by the number of visitors on desktop/laptops and mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. You can even examine the conversion rate for different operating systems such as iOS and Android. What works on a desktop may not work on a mobile device with limited screen space, examining the conversion rate based on device can help you improve your mobile commerce offering for supplemental sales.

4. Conversion Rate based on Region (If Applicable)

With the ease of eCommerce, you are no longer restricted by regional borders, and global carriers help enable international sales. Popular eCommerce platforms also support multiple languages for the interface and international payment modes. If you offer sales to multiple regions, then analysing the conversion rate by region can be helpful. Measure the total number of conversions from a particular region against the number of visits from that area and you get the conversion rate based on region.

Consumer patterns and brand image can vary across large regions, especially if you are expanding internationally and there is a different local language. Even if you have a successful eCommerce site, and a high overall conversion rate, your site’s performance regionally can vary. By examining the conversion rate based on region, you can identify if there are any specific regions where you have a low conversion rate and target those areas.

Why Should You Optimise Ecommerce Conversion Rate?

Even without an optimised eCommerce conversion rate, it is possible to have reasonable success and profits from your eCommerce site. With low costs and expenses, if you have a massive volume of visitors, and only a few purchase products, you will still generate revenue. This may make the extra effort to optimise your eCommerce conversion rate seem unnecessary. However, for long-term and sustainable success, having a good eCommerce conversion rate is important.

While it may take effort, an optimised eCommerce conversion rate can bring your business significant advantages. Conversion rate optimisation helps you make the most out of site visitors that have already reached your site.

Here are the top reasons why you should optimise your eCommerce conversion rate:

1. Sustained Growth

Online shopping is a trend that is here to stay, and is expected to steadily grow in the coming years. If you are here for the long haul, and want sustained growth for your eCommerce site, an optimised conversion rate is vital. A low eCommerce conversion rate indicates that you are primarily dependent on large volumes of visitors. If the amount of traffic coming to your website goes down and you do not have an adequate conversion rate, your business could face losses.

By improving your eCommerce site and providing customers with a better user experience, you are building trust with customers, encouraging a long-term relationship. A high eCommerce conversion rate indicates that you have frequent purchases from your site even when there are less visitors. Such habits provide you with long-term sustainable growth. An improved and efficient eCommerce site is a great asset, whether it is for new customers, new regions, or existing customers.

2. Better ROI

Any business venture involves investment before it can turn profitable. With new eCommerce platforms, launching an eCommerce site has become easier than ever and affordable as well. A reasonably high eCommerce conversion rate can provide you with a better return on investment or ROI, than a site with a low conversion rate. Apart from initial eCommerce site investments, high conversion rates also support better ROI for marketing and expansion.

Analysis of various types of conversion rates can help you identify weak spots of your eCommerce site so you can focus your attention on improving them. Marketing to existing customers through remarketing also yields greater success when you have a reasonably high conversion rate. If you plan on expanding to other product categories or regions, a high eCommerce conversion rate will boost your success.

3. Higher Revenue

Revenue and profits are a fundamental goal of any business. One of the most efficient and long-term ways of achieving higher revenue from an eCommerce site is by improving the eCommerce conversion rate. The connection between conversion rates and revenue is simple; the higher the conversion rate, the more sales taking place, the greater the revenue.

With a higher eCommerce conversion rate, you are earning more with a smaller number of visitors. When the number of visitors increase, your conversions will proportionally grow as well. As a higher conversion rate supports a better ROI in marketing, with limited expenses in marketing you can increase your revenue.

4. Branding

In nearly every field, industry, and niche, the degree of competition is growing, resulting in a rise in the importance of branding. Similarly, in eCommerce, establishing your brand and differentiating it from the competition is imperative for long term success. As all eCommerce sites use a common interface – the internet, it can be challenging to make a name for your brand.

A high eCommerce conversion rate indicates that you have happy customers, and that fewer site visits are needed for conversion. A regular customer base, positive user experience, and frequent purchases all contribute to better overall branding for your eCommerce site. When you have a steady online following and loyal customers, you can take more risks and experiment with your brand for further growth and diversification.  

Top Tips for Ecommerce Conversion Rate Optimisation

There is an abundance of tips that claim to be able to help you optimise your eCommerce conversion rate. Keep in mind, that for the best results, you need to adapt the tips and strategies to fit your eCommerce site. Improving and optimising your eCommerce conversion rate can take time. A slow and steady conversion rate growth is more stable and offers better long-term success than rapid bursts in conversions that may subsequently fall.

Here are some of the of the top tips for eCommerce conversion rate optimisation:

  1. Find Your Weak Points

The first and foremost tip for improving your eCommerce conversion rate is to understand what the customers are not saying. Carefully examine the eCommerce sales funnel and try to understand where you are losing out on customers. Are they leaving your site after browsing? Maybe the product offerings can be further improved. Are customers leaving after adding items to their cart? It could be that the transaction process is lengthy or that they are finding better prices elsewhere. Experience your eCommerce site from the perspective of a customer, and see what can be further improved.

2. Adequate Site Performance

The need for speed and adequate site performance is essential when it comes to online shopping. Customers have been found to leave eCommerce sites if it takes more than 3 seconds for a page to load, with 53% customers losing interest after waiting 2 seconds. A single second can trigger a 7% loss in conversion. Accordingly, make sure that you offer fast loading pages and have sufficient hosting to handle fluctuations in traffic and rapid spikes. You can use CDN provider like Fastly and Cloudflare to improve your website speed. Unexpected downtime of your eCommerce site should be avoided at all costs. If a customer attempts to open your site but is faced with an error, it can discourage the customer from visiting your site again, lowering your conversion rate. A fast performing and reliable site supports conversions, improving your overall conversion rate.  

3. Complete Security

In online shopping, customers share a great deal of personal details, including payment processing details such as credit/debit card numbers and bank account details. Addresses and shipping information is also shared, and purchasing history is also stored. Any kind of security breach can be detrimental for your eCommerce site. Encourage conversions by having a fully secure eCommerce site and clear indications and certifications confirming its security and that industry-standard security measures are followed. SSL certificates and other seals from reputable security providers can help customers feel more confident about shopping with your eCommerce site, increasing your conversion rate.  

4. Responsive Themes

The technology of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets has been continuously evolving with greater capabilities. Online shopping is no longer restricted to laptops and desktops, and customers often browse on eCommerce sites using mobile devices. It is not necessary to have a dedicated mobile app available, particularly in the beginning, as it can involve an investment. However, a responsive website is expected by most customers. A responsive website automatically adapts to the size of the display screen used by the device accessing the site. With a responsive theme, you can offer customers greater flexibility in terms of devices they can use, encouraging their time spent and conversions.

5. Simple Navigation

Once a customer has reached your eCommerce site, the navigation needs to be simple and straightforward. Customers should be able to search for a desired project as well as generally browse, as both can lead to conversions. The availability of easy to manage eCommerce platforms makes it possible to offer a wide range of products, but with a vast catalogue, site navigation is more important than ever. Carefully setup a hierarchal website navigation system where no page is more than 3 clicks from the homepage. Include products in multiple relevant categories, so that customers can find desired items as per their preference. When customers are able to easily find the items they are looking for, the visit is more likely to turn into a conversion.

6. Effective On-Site Search

Once visitors have reached your eCommerce site, they should be able to easily and effectively search for desired products. Nearly 30% of site visitors are likely to use the search bar of your eCommerce site. Offering a clearly visible and competent search bar helps in enabling customers to quickly search and find desired products without spending too much time in browsing and searching manually. When a customer uses the search bar, it indicates a clear intent for purchasing, moving customers further along the eCommerce conversion funnel. To make it easier for customers to use the on-site search bar, consider supporting predictive searches and advanced search options. Customise the ‘no results’ page with adequate alternatives to help customers have a positive experience on your eCommerce site. The search bar also helps you learn more about products that customers are looking for, and you can accordingly adapt your product catalogue.    

7. Visual Appeal

The human brain processes visual stimuli faster than written text and the visual impact of a website forms the beginning of the user experience. For an eCommerce site, it is important to present a layout and design that looks good and is easily differentiated. The overall eCommerce site style should be cohesive, and have a similar pattern throughout the pages, including home page and product page. Always use good quality, high resolution images and videos. There are plenty of image optimisation tools available that can retain the image quality while reducing the file size so that your site performance is not negatively affected. Good quality and fast loading images make a bigger impact on customers, encouraging them to spend more time, return and purchase again.

8. Highlight Differentiating Characteristics

A key component of any business plan is the USP, or unique selling proposition that differentiates a business from its competitors. In eCommerce, the level of competition across product niches is growing. To create an impact on the customers, it is necessary to highlight your USP and what differentiates you from competitors. This will make them remember your brand and encourage them to purchase from you and not a competitor. Maybe you offer a wide selection of items, or have unique products not available elsewhere. Perhaps, you offer fast shipping, or competitive prices, or have a value-added offering. Whatever your USP is it is equally important to highlight that for customers, rather than simply mentioning it on an ‘About Us’ or generic page.   

9. Comprehensive Product Pages

For an eCommerce site, the product pages play a prominent role as a sales representative of sorts, and can significantly influence the purchasing decision of the customer. To effectively convince customers to buy the product, the product pages need to be excellent. An average product page is forgettable, with minimal one-liners and a few stock images, whereas a well-made product page is memorable and can increase sales. A comprehensive product page includes adequate keywords for SEO purposes, good quality content to explain and convince customers, multiple images so that customers can visualise the item, and review capabilities. Although it may take more time and effort to create a comprehensive product page, it will have a greater impact on page visitors and also encourage impulse buys.

10. Offering Competitive Prices

Even the most excellently designed and fast performing eCommerce site will have difficulty in achieving a good conversion rate if the prices are not competitive. When online shopping, customers can instantly check prices for any product on other sites. If you have unreasonably high prices, customers will likely turn away, further lowering your conversion rate. If you are new to eCommerce or have a low conversion rate, it is even more important to offer competitive prices or have a strong distinguishing factor for expensive items. Carefully study the market and the prices offered by your competitors. Adjust your prices as required to catch the interest of customers and to boost your conversion rate and make a place for your brand in the market. After establishing your brand, you will have flexibility to increase prices without significantly damaging your conversion rate.  

11. Fast Checkouts

Lengthy and cumbersome checkout processes are amongst the leading causes for abandoned carts. Offer a simplified checkout process with clearly visible details and complete transparency on all costs involved for a positive checkout experience. Consider supporting a guest checkout process where customers are not required to register. It is beneficial to have customers register, as you get details and data on the customers. However, registrations can at times deter customers from purchasing if all they want to do is quickly buy a particular item. Guest checkouts and instant purchasing options can increase your eCommerce conversion rate. Happy customers will more likely return and register at some point in the future if they are satisfied. To encourage registering, consider offering incentives such as loyalty programme points, while still offering the option for checking out without registration.

12. Multiple Payment Options

The popularity of online shopping has been supported by the availability of multiple payment options, so that customers have the choice to pay through the method they most prefer. The payment preferences of customers tend to vary, especially based on region. Common payment methods include credit card, debit cards, bank transfer, mobile wallets, and more. If a customer cannot find a preferred payment mode, they may leave your site entirely for a different eCommerce site, reducing your conversion rate. Offer multiple payment options, including the most popular payment modes in the regions you are catering to. Supporting multiple payment options is a great way to cater to individual customer preferences, while facilitating safe and secure payment methods. Leading eCommerce platforms have the capability to support multiple safe and secure payment modes, either directly or through integrations. Enable customers to save their favourite payment mode for quicker repeat purchases.

13. Target Abandoned Carts

Frequent abandoned carts are a common problem faced by eCommerce sites, and lowers your conversion rate. The average cart abandonment rate can vary between 60% and 80%/ The good news is, that as customers already added products to their cart, they are ahead in the eCommerce sales funnel. As a result, abandoned carts are a great opportunity to increase conversion, with 35% of abandoned carts being potentially recoverable. There can be multiple reasons for abandoned carts, such as hidden costs, forced registration, lengthy checkouts, security concerns, slow shipping, and website performance issues. Check and make sure you offer speedy checkouts, full transparency on costs, good website performance and fast shipping. Follow up on abandoned carts by sending reminders, emails and offering discounts. Dedicated abandoned cart reminder software is available that can be integrated with your eCommerce site for automated reminders, encouraging conversion completion.

14. Promote Sales and Offers

Everyone loves sales, discounts, promotions, and offers, and a good deal is an excellent way to encourage conversions and impulse buying. There are a wide range of discounts that you can offer, from percentage and cash value discounts to buy one get one deals, free shipping and more. Even if a customer does not require an item, they will likely purchase if it is on sale, increasing your conversion rate. Although promotions can reduce your profit margin on applicable products, they generate a positive user experience and encourage loyalty amongst customers. Happy customers are more likely to return and pay full price on future items. To boost your conversion rate through sales and offers, regularly offer discounts and prominently display current and future deals. Highlight the benefit of the deal for customers, and make it eye-catching and interesting. If you are open to consistently offering discounts and promotions, consider setting up a separate ‘sales’ category on your eCommerce site.

15. Support Reviews

A drawback of online shopping is that customers cannot touch, feel, or experience products before purchasing. They rely entirely on product descriptions and reviews. Customer recommendations and reviews have a significantly greater impact on the purchasing journey of other customers. It is automatically expected that brands will give glowing reviews of their own products and can be biased. In comparison, customer reviews are unbiased and inspire greater trust amongst other customers, increasing conversion rate. Enable customers to easily write reviews and rate purchased products so as to encourage other customers to purchase. A common 5-star based rating system is easy to rate and understand. For popular product categories, you can consider offering a template for faster reviewing, or flexible reviewing options, and enable anonymous or named reviews. By slowly building up a repertoire of reliable reviews and ratings, your conversion rate can increase.

16. Straightforward CTAs

A CTA or call to action plays an important role in online websites, indicating what action the website wants visitors to take. It helps visitors gain familiarity and confidence and understand how they can interact with a site. In online shopping, the end goal is that the customer completes a purchase, but there are smaller CTAs as well, such as learn more, add to cart, register, or subscribe. As eCommerce sites are designed to be visually appealing, the CTAs can become lost, confusing, or overwhelming, resulting in customers that are unclear on how to proceed. Based on the type of page, for example, home page, category page, or product page, predefine the core CTAs and how you want to display them. Use a CTA button with a bright colour next to the centre of the page for a greater impact. Consider offering an instant purchase CTA button on product pages to increase the conversion rate. In the long run, gaining confirmed conversions and repeat customers is better rather than striving for large volume orders.

17. Customer Support

A prominent reason why customers leave an eCommerce site without making a purchase is that they have some type of doubt. Rather than searching for help, or going through lengthy FAQs, customers often abandon the site altogether and look elsewhere for their purchase. Offering easily accessible and effective customer support is a great way to clarify any doubts customers may have, encouraging them to complete their purchase. Consider supporting a live chat option, either with automated answers, or live support. Other common customer support options include email and telephone numbers. Choose customer support methods that you can reliably support and can respond to quickly. Delays in responding to customer queries can be discouraging, and can increase the likelihood of your customers going to competing eCommerce sites.  

18. Personalised Experience

At the end of the day, customers will purchase frequently from those eCommerce sites that offer them an overall positive experience. While there are many facets that contribute to a good user experience, offering a personalised experience will make your brand memorable, and increase conversion rates. There are multiple tools available that can be used to personalise eCommerce shopping experiences based on the recent search history, browsing history and preferences of the customer. For registered customers, you can support loyalty programmes with personalised discounts and offers. A personalised shopping experience shortens the eCommerce sales funnel, by simplifying the process of searching and browsing for desired products. Customers are more likely to purchase from and return to an eCommerce site that they feel understands their preferences. Integrating and implementing the right tools can enable you to offer a thoroughly personalised shopping experience to massive numbers of customers with little effort.   

Conclusion

The popularity of online shopping is continuously growing, along with the level of competition amongst eCommerce sites. For long term success, you need a steady growth rate and a positive eCommerce conversion rate. The process of increasing your eCommerce conversion rate can take time and effort, however, it offers immense potential for greater revenue, branding and overall eCommerce success. Analyse the competition and view your eCommerce site from the perspective of customers to find out how you can best improve.

There are multiple steps you can take that will add up for big results and improvements for your eCommerce site. Nevertheless, the first step to a successful eCommerce venture starts with choosing the right eCommerce platform, for example Magento or BigCommerce. A good quality eCommerce site is the perfect foundation to apply eCommerce conversion strategies and gain visible results. The capabilities of the platform and the features it supports will define the functionalities of your eCommerce site, its scalability, uniqueness, and profitability.

Capable developers can help and create an eCommerce site that is efficient, secure and robust. Here at 18th Digitech, our experienced team of certified developers can design and develop a powerful eCommerce site tailor-made to your business needs. Reach out to us to discuss your eCommerce needs.

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