[Guest post by Paul Gosset]
Unlike brick-and-mortar retail stores, E-Commerce websites do not offer the tangible experience that customers experience from retails stores. Hence, they pose additional barriers to conversion including lack of sales representatives (the human touch), trust and authority (customers cannot see the real store), and fraud and online transactions, to name a few.
Hence, when a customer visits your E-Commerce website, they look for the following eight things:
#1 Fast Loading Time
Nobody likes to wait in line for a sales person to welcome them to their store and address their queries. The loading time of your E-Commerce website and all of its pages are a reflection of your commitment to customer care and service. Slow loading times (anything more than a second) equal slow customer service, and it puts potential customers off. The slower each page refreshes or loads, the more friction it adds to the user’s research and more so when it comes to making transactions.
When it comes to loading time, every second counts. Research by KISSmetrics shows that slower loading times directly affect the bottom line of an E-Commerce website. Page abandonment rises to from 2-3% at a loading time of 1 second, to a bludgeoning 25% at 3 seconds of waiting, with 70% dissatisfied users becoming less likely to buy from the website again.
Hence, it is crucial that you invest in optimizing your platform and using better hosting solutions.
#2 Intuitive Navigation
Customers are magnetized by large inventories boasting product diversity; however they are put-off if they are unable to easily navigate through the enormous selection of products. Hence, product selection must be carefully planned and when necessary, limited. Too many choices often pits customers into “decision paralysis”. Hence creating a navigational system that limits available choices prevents it by allowing customers to easily find what they are looking for, naturally increasing conversions.
The simplest method of simplifying customer search is by categorizing the inventory by brand name or category. This serves both types of visitors: those searching for specific brands, and those who only know what they want.
#3 Mobile Responsive Design
Consumers have dramatically shifted to relying on their smart devices for accessing online content and are regularly using mobile devices to add products to their cart. A SmartInsights compilation shows a steady increase in conversion rates across all mobile devices. Although customers’ purchase history using mobile devices has not reached the level of desktops, it is important to note that they are accessing E-Commerce platforms from their mobile devices.
This makes incorporating responsive and/or adaptive website design to cater this potential customer base.
#4 Powerful Search Capabilities
This is a corollary of the previous point. Intuitive navigation must be backed by powerful and intelligent search capabilities. It often becomes the deciding factor for a conversion.
The run-of-the-mill, default on site search engine is not always the right option. They often cannot correct grammatical errors, find useful results that match your visitor’s true intention, nor offer lightning fast results. Given how accustomed to Google and Bing people are, they expect fast results, optimum number of search results per page, and the ability to make those small spelling errors and still land on the correct pages. If you want any technical assistance to improve the search capabilites of your website, you can hire developers. To make your search hasslefree, I have listed some reputed web development companies on the basis of user reviews:
#5 Online Chats and Customer Support
Unlike a real brick-and-mortar retail store, you cannot assign a dedicated sales representative to look after the customers walking through the aisles and searching for the products. Even when you have intuitively categorized your inventory and offered powerful search capabilities, customers are still prone to search and decision paralysis. Hence, they are likely to go to the search engines to read more reviews about the products or compare the ones they have shortlisted to make a more informed decision.
The moment they move away from your website, regardless of whether they have closed the window/tab, the rate of conversion is significantly reduced. Hence, the best way to keep them within your online store is to offer them online sales support to address their pre-sale and post sale questions. Display option for online chat on product pages, home, and contact us page.
#6 Trust Marks
The E-Commerce world is suffers from cases of online fraud. Your visitor and potential customer only sees a website, with nothing tangible much to back it at the moment (a warehouse, a store, an office, etc.). Hence, they look for things that could offer them the assurance that the website is real, trustworthy, and secure.
This where trust marks come into play. These are online accreditation certificates from various online authorities such as Verisign, GeoTrust, BBB, TRUSTe, Network Solutions, among others.
#7 Visible Login Area and Shopping Cart
When your potential customers start shopping, they expect to have an automated shopping cart working tirelessly in the background to organize the products they have shopped. Given that customers are not likely to login or create an account on your E-Commerce website on their first visit, or during shopping, it is essential that your eStore has a robust shopping cart system.
The shopping cart system must be backed by a secure login area. And both of them should be easily visible and accessible across all devices and platforms.
#8 Disclosing Payment Systems and Shipping Fees
Imagine that a customer has visited the E-Commerce website, successfully navigated to the right product selection, and added products to their cart. What are the possibilities of this website losing it customers? Several ways actually, two of which include not accepting payment methods and placing high shipping costs. Avoid these problems by disclosing the shipping costs and the accepted card payments:
- Disclosing payment methods on every page — Display payment methods’ icons on each page. Most software cart software allow a variety of payment gateways. Know what they are, and find out the most popular ones that are used on different popular E-Commerce websites.
- Disclose shipping costs — High shipping costs are not only a great conversion barrier, they are downright frustrating for the customer. Eliminate the surprise by disclosing them on the product page.