“The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer,” said Peter Ducker, the father of management, back in 1954.
Even in the age of eCommerce, his words are still relevant.
Bringing traffic to your store is important, but it’s also essential that you can convert that traffic into customers. Focus on your eCommerce conversion rate to get more value out of your site visitors.
eCommerce conversion rate optimization is the cornerstone of eCommerce retail sales. This blog will help you understand eCommerce conversion rates and how to calculate them. Plus, find out what could be hindering your conversion rates and learn about the best practices for conversion rate optimization.
What Is an eCommerce Conversion Rate?
For those new to eCommerce, let’s go over a few basics.
Your eCommerce conversion rate is the rate at which visitors become paying customers. For example, if 100 people visit your eCommerce store and 10 of them buy something, you have a 10% conversion rate.
Improving your conversion rate is called eCommerce conversion rate optimization (CRO), and we’re going to go into detail about how to do it in a bit.
Simple enough, right? Now let’s discuss how you can measure your conversion rate and what a good conversion rate might look like.
What Is a Good eCommerce Conversion Rate?
If you’re new to tracking your eCommerce conversion rate, you’re probably wondering if yours is good or bad. What rate should you aim for?
The answer is: it depends.
Citing about 12 studies, Growcode, an eCommerce optimization company, puts the average eCommerce conversion rate at 2.27%.
But what a reasonable eCommerce conversion rate looks like varies widely by industry. If we look at the average conversion rate by industry, we can see that some categories like baby and child have an eCommerce conversion rate of under 1% (0.99% in this case), and others, like arts and crafts, have a higher conversion rate of 3.79%.
But the best way to measure success isn’t to compare your business to this chart or anyone else’s benchmark — it’s to track your progress.
If you started with a conversion rate of 0.5% and now you’re at 2%, that means your CRO efforts are paying off, even if you’re still below the 2.27% benchmark. And if you’re already above your industry average, you can still make tweaks that improve your optimization rate.
Why Is eCommerce Conversion Rate Important?
You have a lot on your plate and a long list of potential KPIs to track. Should you really worry about your eCommerce conversion rate?
Here’s why optimizing your conversion rate is a worthy goal.
1. Get More Value from Traffic
Many marketing tactics — like SEO, social media posts, or paid advertising — are aimed at driving more traffic to your website.
But the quality of that traffic matters. If you consistently get 1,000 visitors per day to your eCommerce site, but none of them buy anything, you might as well have zero visitors. But if you follow the CRO tips below and get 50 of those 1,000 to buy, your traffic is suddenly more valuable.
Without increasing traffic at all, you’ve increased your sales.
2. Understand Your Customers
Let’s say that your eCommerce conversion rate is 3%. Then you add informational videos to your product pages, and your conversion rate goes up to 3.5%. Now you know that your target audience is more likely to buy if you offer these videos.
Tracking your conversion rate helps you understand what drives site visitors to convert.
3. Make More Money
The bottom line is that if a higher percentage of site visitors convert, you earn more revenue without needing to bring in more traffic.
How To Calculate Your eCommerce Conversion Rate
Before getting started with optimizing your eCommerce conversion rate, let’s figure out how to calculate conversions. That way, you have an accurate starting point. The conversion rate formula is a simple one. Follow the example below, and you’ll be able to figure it out.
eCommerce conversion rate = (Total transactions/Total visits) * 100.
For example, if 120 visits lead to 7 transactions, divide 7 by 120 and then multiply it by 100. (7 transactions /120 visits) * 100 = 5.83%.
You can also get more granular. For example, you could look at the conversion rate of a specific page or product. For right now, though, we’re going to stick with the conversion rate overall.
Before you can calculate your conversions, you need to be able to track them. Check out this article to learn more about using Google Analytics.
The Top 5 Reasons Your Conversion Rate Is Low
There are a lot of reasons shoppers might fail to make a purchase. Fortunately, most of them are solvable.
The Baymard Institute has some great insights on the percentage of shoppers that abandon their carts (and you can also check out a few more reasons on our blog). Other shoppers might bounce before they even consider a purchase. If your conversion rate is low, check for the following five problems.
1. Lackluster User Experience
Without a good, optimized layout or sitemap, usability and customer experience suffer. If your site is too hard to navigate, too cumbersome, or too hard to read, it can drive customers away as soon as they put something in the cart. Poor navigation back to the shopping page and issues getting to the cart can play a massive part in your customers leaving without purchasing.
It’s best to make sure that your website is optimized for desktop and mobile devices and keeps the user experience and buying experience in mind.
2. Complicated Checkout Process
17% of online shoppers abandoned their cart because the checkout process was too long or complex.
Checkout benchmark data shows that, on average, US checkout flow contains more than 23 elements and nearly 15 form fields. Baymard’s data shows from checkout usability testing that forms should only have 12-14 form elements and 7-8 form fields. Streamlining your checkout page will help drive customers to purchase rather than leaving their cart, annoyed by how many forms they have to fill out.
3. High Shipping Costs
Perhaps Amazon Prime has spoiled all of us, but customers expect free shipping in some way, shape, or form, whether it’s conditional (customers must buy a particular order value or something from a specific product category) or unconditional (free shipping no matter the cost).
It’s important that your messaging reaches its target audience. Regardless if that’s on your website or through any social media channels, emails, or other marketing channels, you may need to make adjustments to the copy or content. Your message is critical, so work with your digital marketing team to make sure you’re hitting all the right marks.
5. Ineffective Calls To Action (CTA)
Very similar to messaging, if your CTAs aren’t compelling or don’t create any sense of urgency, potential buyers won’t go to your eCommerce store.
eCommerce Conversion Rate Optimization Strategies
Now that you’re on the lookout for the potential issues mentioned above, you can work on increasing your conversion rate. If you find your numbers slumping but are at a loss on how to fix them, we’ve got some great solutions.
These are the best solutions that many of our customers have implemented successfully.
1. Optimize Your Checkout Experience
This may be where you’ll be able to see the most improvement as checkout flow is one of the most significant issues and one that is, on the whole, solvable. If you just focus on improving the checkout experience, you can improve your conversion rate.
Having a frictionless checkout experience (something Chargebee can help you with!), whether on mobile or desktop, is imperative. Chargebee has an off-the-shelf checkout experience that will bring your dream checkout experience to life. To customize your checkout and a self-service portal to ensure a frictionless customer journey, explore Chargebee Moments.
What does a frictionless checkout look like? Follow this checklist to make sure you’re providing the best experience:
- Offer multiple payment methods
- Use visual clues to increase trust and showcase security
- Show cart items during checkout
- Let customers check out as guests or with an account
- Show a checkout process bar
- Enable customers to save their checkout status and continue later
- Create an easy-to-understand checkout process
2. Build Conversion-Focused Product Pages
Almost all eCommerce sites have product pages, but some are better at encouraging conversions than others. For a product page to have a good conversion rate, it should showcase your product effectively and make the purchase process easy.
Here are some things you can do on your product pages to boost conversions:
- Give detailed product descriptions
- Show product reviews for social proof
- Add high-quality images and videos to let visitors see the product
- Create your pages with a user-friendly design
- Include strong and prominent CTA buttons like “add to cart” and “buy now”
3. Create Personalized Landing Pages for Your Audience
In addition to your conversion-focused product pages, consider creating personalized landing pages for a targeted audience. One example would be your homepage — this will be the page that most visitors land on, so make sure it speaks to your target customer.
You can also create landing pages with curated product offers based on an event or particular audience. For example, you could make Black Friday or Christmas offer pages.
If you’re selling a monthly subscription box, personalized landing pages are especially important. Most businesses following this model are targeted to a very specific audience, like dog owners or wine enthusiasts.
4. Simplify Navigation
We’ve already talked about your checkout flow.
But before potential customers can even think about checking out, they need to navigate the rest of your site. How easy is it to:
- Learn about your company?
- Find information about your products?
- Read about your shipping and return policies?
- Compare subscription plans?
Imagine how the user will move through the site for these goals and any others that your site visitors might have. Make sure their journey will be quick and easy. For example, can the site visitor find everything they need in your main menu, or will it take several steps to hunt down?
It’s also important to remove distractions.
Imagine a website visitor viewing one of your product pages. They’re almost ready to buy.
But there’s a lot happening on the page. In addition to an “Add to Cart” button, they see buttons for social sharing and for downloading an asset. A video is auto-playing. A wall of text makes it hard to skim product information.
For a better conversion rate, simplify this page. Remove distracting elements and don’t give the visitor too many options — just clear information and a single CTA.
5. Optimize for Mobile
These days, 54% of global website traffic comes from mobile devices.
Having a mobile-friendly site is no longer optional — if your eCommerce website doesn’t load well on a user’s phone, they’ll just abandon it and buy from a competitor.
Luckily, you don’t have to be a web design expert to make this happen. Major Content Management Systems (CMS) solutions like WordPress offer mobile responsive themes, and all of Chargebee’s checkout solutions are designed to work well on mobile.
6. Strengthen Your CTAs
CTA buttons or links are messages to your site visitors asking them to perform a certain action, like signing up for your service or buying your product.
There are things you can do to make your CTAs more compelling to visitors, like:
- Be specific (“Purchase Now” is better than “Click Here”)
- Change hyperlinks to visually appealing buttons if possible
- Experiment with button color or design
- Use urgent language, like “Buy Now”
- Move buttons to a more visible location
But don’t take our word for it — the best way to strengthen your CTAs is to A/B test multiple versions and choose the highest performing one.
7. Retarget Abandoned Carts
Most people who put your products in their virtual shopping cart won’t buy them. 69.82% of shopping carts are abandoned.
Some of these people (58.6% according to Baymard’s study) are just window shopping. But others want to make a purchase and still end up abandoning the cart for some reason. For example, out of the people who weren’t window shopping in the Baymard study, 24% abandoned the cart because they didn’t want to create an account.
You can get some of these people back.
Send them an email reminding them about the items in their cart. Many email marketing tools give you the ability to do this (as does Chargebee). Sometimes, all it takes is a single email to convince a hesitant shopper to buy.
8. Offer a Free Trial
Sometimes all that’s standing between you and a high conversion rate is customer hesitation. You’ve enticed visitors to your website and showcased your product effectively, but your potential customers don’t want to commit.
A free trial allows them to experience your product without any investment.
This strategy is especially useful for subscription box businesses. Sending one free box can easily turn into a year-long subscription.
9. Create Quality Content
Content can drive traffic to your site. For example, writing about a particular keyword can increase traffic from search engines, and posting content on social media can lead followers to click the link.
But can content increase your conversion rate?
It depends on the quality of that content. Content that’s uninteresting or irrelevant to your audience may bring traffic to your site, but as soon as those site visitors realize they don’t care about the content, they’ll bounce.
High-quality, well-targeted content, on the other hand, can keep users on your site and engaged. It can start them on the journey that eventually leads to a conversion. For example, if your eCommerce site sells dog food, you could write a blog about the top 10 healthy dog food recipes. Interested dog owners will read the article and stay on your site to learn more and (hopefully) buy your product.
Remember that you don’t have to create all new content to increase your conversion rate. You can also optimize the content you already have.
Sometimes, that means rewriting half of an article to make it more relevant to your audience. Sometimes, it just means adding a big “Try Our Product” button to the bottom of the page.
10. Improve Page Load Speed
How long do you think a potential customer would wait for your page to load? If you answered five seconds or more, you’re overestimating the patience of the average shopper. A website that loads in one second has a conversion rate three times higher than a site that loads in 5 seconds. One study found that a 0.1-second improvement in site speed caused retail consumers to spend almost 10% more.
In other words, even a tiny technical improvement to your website can boost your eCommerce conversion rate.
11. Live Chat With Visitors
Sometimes, a website visitor is almost ready to buy, but they just have a few questions remaining.
If you can answer those questions right away, the visitor will convert. A great way to do this is by adding live chat to your website.
If you have live chat implemented, you don’t even have to wait for your visitors to ask a question. For example, you could use a chat popup to showcase a new product or a current special offer.
12. Offer Money-Saving Policies
Sometimes a shopper isn’t ready to commit to buying your product. What if they don’t like it? What if it doesn’t work right?
If potential customers think they can’t return the product or get a refund, they’re less likely to convert. A money-back guarantee alleviates these fears and can make website visitors more confident about making a purchase. Also, be sure you clearly outline your refund and cancellation policy.
Free shipping is another money-saving policy that customers love.
13. Strengthen Trust and Credibility
18% of shoppers in the Baymard study abandoned a shopping cart because they didn’t trust the website with their credit card information. Small changes to your website can make it appear more secure and credible to visitors.
Make sure your checkout is secure by following best practices like installing an SSL certificate. You can further build trust by adding visual signs of credibility. For example, you can add a trust badge from the Better Business Bureau or a security provider like Symantec.
14. Add Video and Images
If people are going to buy a product, they want to see it. Images and videos on your site make it more engaging and help your site visitors research your products.
When asked how they’d most like to learn about a product, 73% of consumers say they would prefer to watch a short video. Only 11% would prefer to read a text-based article. Adding videos to your product pages gives your audience what it wants and can increase the conversion rate.
15. Add Site Search
Website visitors are more likely to convert if they can find the product or information they’re looking for.
We’ve already talked about making that possible through clear site navigation. Another way to facilitate an easy customer journey is to add site search to your website. Prospective customers will find the product they want quickly — and hopefully, buy it.
16. Offer Strategic Discounts
Everyone loves a good deal.
When are you more likely to buy something online, when the product is at full price or when you just got an email with a special discount for your birthday? Of course, you can’t keep your products discounted all the time, but you can find strategic moments for sales and offers that temporarily boost your eCommerce conversion rate.
Other times to offer discounts include:
- When a customer makes their first purchase
- When a site visitor is about to exit the store
- After a cart is abandoned
- For every purchase within a certain time frame
17. Display Social Proof
Any eCommerce company can say they have a great product. But consumers are savvy and know they have to do their own research.
That’s why they turn to customer reviews. For example, 74% of shoppers check Amazon product reviews before making a purchase.
They’ll also be looking for social proof on your website. Including customer testimonials or embedding reviews from Google on your site can inspire trust and cause customers to spend more money with you.
18. Encourage Account Creation
Incentivising users to create an account on your site can be great for your conversion rate.
You can collect email addresses as part of the signup process. Once the email is captured, use it to create personalized email marketing campaigns with high conversion potential.
19. Create a Sense of Urgency
When a visitor comes to your website, you want them to make a purchase right then and there. It’s better for business if they don’t leave the site to mull over (and possibly forget) the idea. To encourage shoppers to buy quickly, create a sense of urgency.
There are two types of urgency you can work with. The first is real urgency. For example, you can offer a discount that’s good for one day.
The other type of urgency is implied urgency. An example of implied urgency is using the words “now,” “today,” and “limited supply” in your CTAs to spur the prospective customer to action.
Both types of urgency can increase your eCommerce conversions.
eCommerce Conversion Rate Best Practices
At Chargebee, we’re always talking to our customers about improvements they’ve made to their eCommerce businesses. Based on that experience, here are our five recommended best practices.
1. High-Quality and Easy-To-Use Website (Especially for Mobile Devices)
Ensuring that your website has excellent functionality on both mobile and desktop sites is imperative. According to Oberlo, nearly three out of every four dollars spent on online purchases is done through a mobile device. Without excellent mobile capabilities, your products may be abandoned in a customer’s cart forever.
2. More Payment Options With PayPal and Other Credit Card Companies
Like PayPal, Venmo, or a buy-now-pay-later startup like Klarna or Afterpay, major payment methods give your customers the flexibility they might not have with traditional retailers or on other sites.
And don’t forget major credit cards, like Mastercard or American Express, which some customers may prefer. Currently, Chargebee supports Stripe, Paypal, Braintree, Checkout.com, GoCardless, and 27 other payment gateways, making sure that your customers can use whatever payment method they prefer.
3. Customer Reviews, Testimonials, and Case Studies
Depending on what you’re selling, testimonials and case studies may not be the best route to go. Still, at a minimum, you should be including customer reviews. G2 has gathered so many stats, but let’s highlight some of the most impactful ones:
- Reviews make customers 71% more comfortable purchasing a product
- Customers spend 31% more when a business has positive reviews
Think about how much these positive reviews could impact your business – and how easy it would be to get reviews – GatherUp’s data places the number of questions 75% of consumers are willing to answer at five or less.
4. Run A/B Tests
A/B testing is a tried and true method for making minor tweaks that can have massive impacts. Once you’ve identified where the problem on your website is (maybe one page has a high bounce rate or a low time spent on the page), adjust images, layout, CTAs, or anything else you feel could help solve the problem and run an A/B test. You could do it on any page on your website, including the homepage.
You can run A/B tests with a tool like Google Optimize or Unbounce. Only test one element at a time — for example, see what happens when you change the size of a button or the location of a menu. Make sure you run each test long enough to collect sufficient data. If you only have a few visitors to the page you’re testing; it’s not enough information to be actionable.
5. Offering a New Service (Like Subscriptions)
If you follow the blog (and if not, why aren’t you subscribed yet!), you know we’ve been talking a lot about how eCommerce subscription businesses are the way of the future. You can read all about recurring billing here. But before diving in, know that subscriptions are excellent for growing revenue and building strong customer relationships.
Solutions like Chargebee can help you manage your subscription strategy. Chargebee lets you change pricing on the fly, create coupon codes, run recurring subscriptions, and so much more. So take a look to see what we can offer you, or go ahead and schedule a demo now.
Popular eCommerce Conversion Rate Tools
The list of CRO tips above gives you a lot to work on. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry — there are tools to help you master conversion rate optimization. Here are just a few.
Analytics tools help you track and analyze your conversions. They include:
- Google Analytics: Detailed tracking and analysis of your audience and the sources of your traffic and conversions
- Kissmetrics: Track individual users’ behavior across multiple sessions and devices
- Mixpanel: See what visitors are doing now with real-time data analytics
A/B and Multivariate Testing Tools
A/B and multivariate testing is key to conversion rate optimization. Some of the tools that can help you run tests include:
- Google Optimize: Google’s platform for testing websites and apps that integrates with Google Analytics
- Opitmizely: Provides multivariate testing tools, website personalization, and feature toggle capabilities
- Unbounce: Landing page builder with A/B testing
User Research Tools
Learning about your site visitors helps you tailor the user experience to their needs. A few tools you can use to help you research your users are:
- Hotjar: Helps you visualize user behavior with heatmaps and session recordings
- Qualtrics: Create user surveys
eCommerce Conversion Rate FAQ
What Is the Purpose of eCommerce Conversion Rate Optimization?
Conversion rate optimization is a process designed to get more value from your website traffic. You use CRO techniques to increase the number of buyers you have, which in turn increases revenue.
What Are Three Ways To Optimize Your eCommerce Conversion Rate?
If the list of 21 CRO strategies in this article is too much, start with these three essential ideas:
- Improve the flow of your website, especially the checkout process
- Create relevant and helpful content
- A/B test everything
What Affects Your eCommerce Conversion Rate?
Many factors affect your eCommerce website’s conversion rate. Some are set in stone, like your industry.
But most can be improved. For example, the quality of your videos and images, the CTA copy you use, and the ease of your site navigation can all affect how many website visitors convert.
How Do You Optimize Your eCommerce Conversion Rate?
We’ve talked about 19 ways to optimize your conversion rate. But don’t try to change everything at once.
Choose one factor and test it. For example, experiment with including customer reviews on your website. Track your conversion rate and see if it makes a difference. Then move on to a different variable.
Why Is My eCommerce Conversion Rate Low?
If your eCommerce conversion rate isn’t as high as you want it to be, there are many possible answers. Some of the most common are:
- Your site or your checkout process is hard to navigate
- Site visitors have a negative user experience
- Potential customers don’t trust your site
- Your content isn’t targeting the right audience
Jumping into the eCommerce world can seem daunting. The last thing you want to worry about is how your site may not be optimized for your customers, whether through messaging, lack of mobile functionality, poor checkout experience, or poor pricing strategies.
Follow the best practices and keep all the hindrances we mentioned above in mind when creating your business goals around eCommerce.