A big chunk of my working week is spent responding to incoming enquiries from E-commerce businesses who tell me they are not selling enough product on their website. They don’t know why, and can I help.
I commonly find when auditing an E-commerce website to diagnose what is causing poor performance, that the website has fundamentally been designed as a ‘brochure’ website, and not with the primary function to sell product. Successful E-commerce websites have carefully considered every aspect of the buying journey and proactively put in place measures that combat objections from the buyer, without the need to engage with them. Successful E-commerce websites pre-empt the traffic slow and pathways within the site and consistently measure performance using Analytics.
If you think of your website as a funnel with holes in it. At the wide end, you are able to scoop great volumes, but because there are holes in your funnel walls, by the time the liquid has travelled to the spout you only have a tiny bit left. Your job in E-commerce is to find ways to plug the holes in the funnel!
Buying online has become sophisticated, and with fast, slick and easy selling platforms such as ASOS the buyer has come to expect that you will facilitate their journey from start to finish. In a crowded market, if your prospective buyer needs to exert thought or effort into finding the data they require to make a purchase, they will simply exit and go back to the next entry on Google rather than give themselves a headache trying to figure out what they are looking for.
The primary function of an E-commerce website is simple: To deliver the visitor into the checkout with the fewest number of clicks as possible. That’s it. One job.
The trouble with a website that has been designed as a brochure is that the primary function of a brochure is to inform, educate, impress…. but not necessarily to prompt a call to action. It may not even be clear upon landing on the homepage that the website is an E-commerce store. This in itself can perplex the visitor into exiting immediately and finding someone else whose site does appear to be a ‘shop’.
The most successful E-commerce sites, offer check boxes that filter products, slide bars that allow them to filter by price, or sort from price high/low, newest to oldest. The more opportunities you give your prospect to find what they want quickly, the more chance you have of them checking out before they lose interest and leave.
You’ve got them… now you need to keep ’em!
If you have been successful in navigating them to the item they want to buy – how do you make sure you don’t lose them?
Does the information within that product page answer all their questions? Is the photograph good quality? Is the shipping cost transparent? Have you been clear about when they will receive the product? Does your product description illustrate product dimension, returns policy, and unique features? Have you told them how many pieces will come in a box, how the item will be packaged, whether they need any additional consumables?
The objective here is to pre-empt what questions that buyer would need to ask to be confident in their purchase and ensure that these are addressed – concisely and succinctly.
Is your E-commerce Checkout losing conversions?
A tell-tale sign that a lot of people are seriously considering your product but something has put them off, is when your checkout/shopping basket appears on your analytics a great many times more than you’ve made sales. This suggests that someone has added it to their basket in order to find out what the shipping cost is because it wasn’t apparent, or that some part of the payment process has caused them to give it up.
This most commonly includes having to set up an account, or only taking payment by card – requiring them to get up and go and hunt for their bank card – (which if they’re like me, might be shoved behind the gear stick in the car from when they put petrol in earlier in the day!) By contrast, PayPal users can checkout within a couple of clicks, with the assurance that their purchase is protected.
If you are struggling with poor sales from your E-commerce site, the first step is to access your Analytics and see whether your conversion rate is reasonable. Average conversion ranges between product sectors, but as a rule 1-3% isn’t too bad. If you have healthy traffic but low conversion, this would suggest that your site is not effectively set-up to close the deal, or your traffic is poor quality (that’s a separate blog post in itself!)
If you have good conversion but are only receiving a few hundred visitors per month, then it is likely your website is performing well, you just need to ramp up the volume.
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