If you are looking for new ways to increase your online sales, you might first want to look at your website. There are so many common errors when it comes to Ecommerce web design that you could actually be missing out on a significant volume of sales as you read this.
So what can you do to optimize your website and ensure that your visitors turn into customers? In this article we sum up the top 8 errors that could be slowing down your online sales, from website speed to checkout. Investing some time on improving these aspects of your site could be much more cost-effective than other traditional approaches such as advertising and spending endless marketing dollars, and bring you greater results.
1. Your site is too slow
Because of the nature of Ecommerce sites, any issue causing visitors to drop off can have a very significant impact on revenue gains compared to a regular site. And when it comes to speed, a mere 2-second delay in loading time is enough to drive a great number of visitors to drop off your site. In fact, 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
Ensuring optimal speed is also particularly important to Ecommerce sites because heavy integrations (such as with payment and shipping providers) can significantly slow down website performance.
If your site isn’t performing optimally, you could potentially be missing out on up to 47% of your sales, so looking at your hosting options and upgrading if necessary could bring you incredible returns.
Another common issue with Ecommerce sites is downtime caused by sudden surges in traffic, for example during special promotions such as Black Friday. It is essential to plan ahead for these traffic increases, because if you don’t you could be losing out on the majority of your sales.
2. Your product descriptions are insufficient
Web users are used to finding all the information they need in one place, and fast. With that in mind, ensuring that your product pages cover all necessary selling points and provide as much information as possible could dramatically lower drop-offs.
Try and include not just a product description but also more specific information, such as sizes, materials, weight and dimensions; you never know what your customers may be looking for.
This applies to product images too. Many Ecommerce sites fail to provide appropriate images, or they only provide one image, which is normally insufficient for the average online shopper. Remember that images are often the most direct way for customers to become familiar with the product, and they will normally look at them before they read the product descriptions. Make sure to include several images from multiple angles and, if applicable, in different colors.
3. Your website navigation is too complicated
If there’s something that can be said of today’s online customers it’s that they are used to the best. We have become accustomed to finding information easily and intuitively, and your site navigation is a key factor in ensuring this is the case.
Unfortunately, if your site navigation is poor – whether the functionality is jittery or the navigation design is too complicated – the majority of your visitors will drop off. With a website, a positive user experience is simply an aspect that cannot be ignored.
This also applies to how you categorize your content. Think about what the most common categories for the products you sell are on other Ecommerce websites, and ensure your site reflects these. By making your site as familiar as possible to your users you will make it easier for them to find what they need.
A good way of ensuring your site’s navigation is optimal is to come up with top 10 user journeys through your site based on 10 different types of customers. You can then test to see if the site navigation for each of these products makes sense, and optimize accordingly.
Here A/B testing can play an instrumental role, allowing you to test different approaches and looks and to see which ones are most effective.
4. Your search bar is useless
Product categories are important, but for customers who already know what they’re looking for in your site, a search bar is a very convenient shortcut. Most of these customers would find it an incredibly frustrating experience if they had to click through sub-sections and categories to find their desired product.
But search bars can also backfire and lead to drop-offs if your products are not optimized with keywords and tags. In that case, the user would only be able to find a product by searching the product name, making it difficult for users to compare different products of the same category (eg. smart TVs).
When setting up your product pages, make sure to assign keywords and tags to all content, and to include all possible permutations; you never know what keyword your users are going to search.
Another way of optimizing your search bar is to enable filtering, whether by category, size, color, etc. This will make it easier for users to sift through all your content and easily find the products with the exact specifications they need. You can also enable content sorting by tags, such as most popular, lowest price, etc.
5. Your site is not optimized for mobile
This is where I would normally throw a stat on how many of today’s online sales are carried out on mobile devices. But mobile shopping is now so pervasive that such stats have become obsolete; mobile is the mainstream way of shopping online.
It therefore goes without saying that it’s essential to ensure your Ecommerce site is optimized for mobile. And that is probably the single most important takeaway from this article. If you don’t have a mobile site, you don’t have a site.
Remember that optimizing your site for mobile means not only allowing users to browse your products online, but also to make a purchase. Mobile sites should provide the same shopping experience as on desktop, from browsing to payment. Here, ensuring that the checkout process is extremely streamlined for mobile is really key. If it’s hard to make a purchase, they won’t make a purchase.
Most content management and Ecommerce platforms nowadays provide mobile optimization, so that shouldn’t be a problem for most companies, but if you’re using an older platform this may be something you need to add on and make an investment on as soon as possible.
6. Your checkout is too complicated
Checkout is a time when many online customers drop off. This could be for a variety of reasons, which we covered in our previous article, but the top ones are:
- There are too many checkout steps. Many customers will get frustrated by a checkout process that is too long or that requires too much information. Try to keep it to just a few steps. On the other hand, keeping it to only one step may be detrimental too, making the user feel overwhelmed, so always aim for two or three.
- It requires them to create an account. Having to create an account is often an unnecessary annoyance, especially if a customer has no immediate plans to shop again on your site. Always include the option to check out as a guest. However, giving users the option to create an account at the very end of the purchase process is a good way to build up customer loyalty and provide them with additional benefits that will keep them coming back (order history, saved payment and shipping details, etc).
- Offer a variety of payment options. Credit or debit card are not the only ways to pay for products online! Consider including other options such as Apple Pay or PayPal and your customers will be happy.
- There is no support available. Support is simply an essential service for Ecommerce sites. If your customers encounter a problem during payment, many will seek to solve the issue before dropping off. If support is not available, you will simply lose these customers. Live chat is a great option for quick support on Ecommerce sites!
7. You don’t provide product recommendations
Although this won’t necessarily lead to customer drop-offs, a lack of personalized content could be costing you significant revenue gains.
Personalization is increasingly becoming a sought-for feature in content management, but it’s especially effective on Ecommerce sites. There are two common types of personalization:
Tag-based personalization can be set up by assigning tags to all your products. Your platform will then pull up products of similar tags as “recommended content” on a product page. This may catch the eye of your customers, leading them to make additional purchases.
Machine learning personalization
This type of personalization is more complex and relies on user personas to provide personalized content. For example, certain user personas will be associated with certain types of behaviour, so a website visitor exhibiting that type of behavior will be assigned to that persona and shown product recommendations relevant to it.
Through personalization you can make your website content highly relevant to each individual, encouraging them to purchase additional products and generating extra revenue.
8. Your site doesn’t look trustworthy
Finally, it might surprise you to hear that your site’s design can have an immense impact on how your website is perceived in terms of security. So regardless of the security measures of each site, a site that looks good and slick will feel more secure to your customers.
You can get around this by building a site that looks modern and responsive, and which feels familiar to your customers in terms of design and functionality. This applies especially to your checkout pages.
Customers are also used to coming across trust badges during checkout, even if they don’t stop to examine them. Including these will provide your customers with peace of mind that their payment details are secure.
Other things that may give your customers the impression that your site isn’t secure include being redirected to a separate domain or site to pay, providing a checkout process with a different design or style from the rest of your site and not allowing customers to create an account and view previous orders.