Key Concepts in Online Store Optimization

Converting visitors into paying customers is the primary goal of every ecommerce website, and there are specific strategies online retailers can use to boost conversion rates. If you’re the proprietor of an ecommerce website and you’re frustrated with high bounce rates, low conversion rates and customers abandoning full shopping carts before completing their purchases, you may need to make some changes to your site. In particular, you should reevaluate your design aesthetics and ensure your website projects a sense of security. In both cases, there are specific strategies you can use to boost your bottom line.

Use Web Design to Increase Conversion Rates

Attracting customers to your website is an important part of the battle, but the most difficult task – converting visitors into paying customers – is still ahead of you. The design and layout of your ecommerce website is a crucially important tool when it comes to online store optimization. Ecommerce design experts stress the importance of a simple layout with easy navigation, clear calls to action and strong product descriptions.

With ecommerce websites, less is often more when it comes to site design. Present a clean, uncluttered but professional-looking website with clearly marked navigation tabs across the top of the homepage and a link to your sitemap. Offer customizable advanced search features that permit customers to search by product type, manufacturer, price and any other metric that may apply. One of the main reasons customers abandon ecommerce sites is because they can’t find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. Make sure they can and you’ll likely be rewarded in the form of higher conversion rates.

The importance of clear calls to action and strong product descriptions cannot be overstated. Once the customer lands on your website, a well-placed, simple and strong call to action tells them what to do next. Make sure your landing page’s call to action is prominent and straightforward and you’ll prompt customers deeper into your site.

By contrast, your product descriptions should be very intricate and detailed. In conventional retail environments, customers can pick up merchandise and inspect it closely from any angle they like. You need to replicate that experience digitally to the greatest possible extent, through accurate and detailed product descriptions and multiple product views with a zoom feature. If a customer knows exactly what they’re buying and feels confident it’s exactly what they’re looking for, they are far less likely to abandon their shopping cart before finalizing their purchase.

Colors are important psychological cues and can also be used to subtly increase your conversion rates. While there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to using colors on ecommerce websites, you can use analytics to test out the relative success rates of different color schemes and combinations. Similarly, analytics can also track the relative success rates of various fonts, product descriptions, calls to action and page layouts.

There are two basic approaches to using analytics. The simplest approach is to maintain two different sites: your current site, and a test site that incorporates the design and content changes you want to make. You can then redirect a certain percentage of visitors to the test site and simply compare the relative conversion rates between it and your current site.

A more accurate but more time-consuming approach is to track analytics on your current site for a fixed period of time, then implement a single change and compare the metrics over the same fixed period of time. For example, you might track conversion rates on your current site for a two-week period, then add new product descriptions and track conversions for two weeks before comparing the numbers. With this approach, you can see what works and what doesn’t, change by change, item by item.

How to Create a Stronger Sense of Site Security

One of the major reasons shoppers abandon carts before finalizing their purchases is that they perceive inadequacies in payment processing security. You can project a sense of security by taking steps to increase your legitimacy and transparency.

First, though, make sure you restate your payment processing security features on your checkout page. If assurance of security is right there before the customer’s eyes, they’re less likely to question it. Next, make sure to offer multiple payment options. In addition to processing credit cards and electronic checks, set your site up to accept PayPal and bill-to-phone payments. The more payment options a customer has, the more secure they will feel and the more likely they will be to complete their purchases.

Also, avoid surprise surcharges on your checkout page. If you charge for shipping and handling, make sure it’s clearly stated before the customer reaches the checkout. Surprise surcharges are one of the top reasons customers abandon their virtual shopping carts.

Finally, it helps to display a telephone number on your checkout page and a physical company address, if you have one. This reassures customers that they can reach you if they need to, which helps you appear more legitimate and can increase your conversion rates.

David Rodwell is a writer on business and economics who takes a particular interest in payment processing technology. You can find more of his articles located at

comments powered by Disqus
WinWeb Business Cloud - Creating Financially Sustainable Businesses