By Chelsea Boice

Shopping habits have changed substantially, with consumers now spending some, if not all, of their buying journey online. In fact, 73 percent of purchases start with research on sites such as Google or Amazon, with consumers going on to make an average of 19 online purchases per year. It’s no wonder that the world of e-commerce has been experiencing an impressive boom—up 15 percent between 2016 and 2017, which was three times the rate of offline retail.

But in the wake of these exploding online shopping trends, e-commerce sites still face a common problem: They’re missing their on-site sales goals. If consumers are becoming more prone to shopping online, what makes them stop short of actually completing the purchase?

For starters, if visitors are dissatisfied with your website, they’re less likely to make a purchase—poor website performance, among other factors, results in a staggering 79 percent of customers being less likely to make a purchase from that site again. Consider the following e-commerce website best practices to better influence more on-site sales and more efficiently nudge online shoppers through your checkout process.

Keep It Simple

As humans, we tend to prefer things that are clear and orderly, while we question the complex and complicated. This is definitely applicable to e-commerce sites, as simple, aesthetic design choices may be how online shoppers learn to trust brands and finalize a purchase. Here are several questions you can ask about leveraging simplicity in your site’s design to help encourage visitors to purchase:

Is our design too complex?

A clean, simple design not only helps you create a seamless shopping experience for your visitors, but it’s proven to be high converting. The more distractions your website has, the more likely a visitor is to abandon the cart. You can keep your visitors on track and draw attention to specific product areas by removing unnecessary elements, using white space, and sticking to contrasting colors and sans serif fonts.

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Is our copy scannable?

Don’t overwhelm your visitors with too much copy. Website visitors spend fewer than 15 seconds on a website before deciding to stick around or leave, so communicate your brand’s value immediately. Copy should be written using the inverted pyramid with the most important information first—and try using an active voice and avoiding technical jargon.

Keep It Easy

Ease of use is ultimately what makes for a good shopping and checkout experience. Your e-commerce site should make browsing and checking out as easy as possible to ensure visitors fulfill their purchase—and that they return for more. Consider asking the questions below to help you determine whether there is room for improvement in your shopping experience. 

Is our site complicated? 

If visitors are sticking around and browsing to see what your store has to offer, this is a good sign. But browsing doesn’t always equal buying. In fact, this could indicate that visitors are having trouble sorting through your products. Consider streamlining how visitors locate and view products by adding a search feature, improving navigation, or segmenting incoming traffic. 

Are there too many steps leading to make a purchase? 

Twenty-seven percent of visitors who abandon carts credit leaving to a lengthy or complicated checkout process. Your checkout process should provide this and this alone: a clear path to purchase. To help buyers complete a purchase, examine your checkout process to determine if there are opportunities to limit steps or distractions. This could include expediting registration or limiting competing calls to action (CTAs) within your checkout funnel.

Is our site mobile friendly? 

More and more shoppers are making purchases from their mobile devices, so it’s important to ensure that the purchase process is as simple on a mobile device as it is on a desktop. Pay close attention to how your buttons, forms, and other interactive elements work for your mobile shoppers.

Keep It Smart

Managing an e-commerce site isn’t an easy task, but there are several ways to optimize your site and the tasks needed to run it. Consider asking these questions below about smart techniques for optimizing everything that could affect your visitors experience.

How can we improve conversion rates?

From ensuring all CTAs are clear and prominent and adding quality product photos or videos to adding user generated content like reviews or product displays, there are many opportunities for e-commerce sites to optimize their conversion points and improve conversion rates. 

Can we make the shopping experience personal? 

Successful e-commerce personalization that is relevant and meets the visitor’s needs is a great way to attract and convert visitors into buyers. In fact, 86 percent of online shoppers say that personalization improves the likelihood that they'll make a purchase. Try leveraging past visitor behaviors such as recent purchases or viewed items or visitor data, such as demographics or where they are in the buying journey, to show personalized offers.

Are we using workflows?

Workflows not only can keep your customers engaged once they’ve left your site, but they can also improve your site’s overall efficiency. From abandon cart email follow-ups to the scheduling of sale offers and discounts, workflows can help contribute to a better, more streamlined shopping experience without the need for constant manual input. 

Final Thoughts

Online shopping trends are on an upward trajectory. Maintaining a simple, easy, and smart e-commerce site will ensure your visitors a pleasant shopping experience and improving your on-site conversions. 

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Chelsea Boice

About the author

Chelsea Boice Chelsea is a Junior Web Project Manager at SmartBug. She has over 5+ years supporting B2B and B2C organizations with inbound, email, and social marketing campaigns. She currently resides in Barcelona and in her free time, she enjoys salsa dancing, traveling, and true crime podcasts. Read more articles by Chelsea Boice.

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