We’ve dug into some of the most important e-commerce reports of this past year and retrieved a selection of essential statistics and conclusions that you should take into consideration to improve webshop conversions.
If you want a quick recap, take a look at the slides at the bottom of this article:
The statistics are based on the UPS Pulse of the online shopper report and VWO E-commerce Survey from 2014.
1. Know your customers
The first step is the most basic. None the less it can be the most challenging part. How on Earth do you get to know the people behind the online traces in your webshop? These are not simple pixels that follow predictable technological traces. They are living, breathing humans with desires, needs and volatile emotions. They are very easily bored and they can lose patience in a split second if they don’t find what they’re looking for.
The more you know about what they want and how they think, the better you can satisfy their needs and accommodate their tastes.
However, you should tread carefully as to not offend your users. Even though there’s no doubt that offering a tailored user experience is the future of online shopping, the data indicates that a majority of shoppers are still indifferent to personalized offers, while only 16% are very likely to pay attention to those personal messages (VWO p 15).
The art is to subtly adapt your selection and offers to the user without shoving it in their face. We believe this should be the standard in the entire e-commerce business, and luckily things do begin to look brighter. As technology gets more advanced, online businesses are enabled to shed more light on their customers’ behaviour. At Plytix, of course, this is the very core of what we do.
Time is up for the one-size-fits-all user experience and it will soon be replaced by dynamic shopping environments adapted to the individual customer. One way to make this possible is by allowing brands and retailers to get a more detailed insight into which products the individual user on each site prefers and at which point during the user journey a customer might discard or abandon the product.
Long story short - you cannot increase your webshop conversions if you are solely focused on your bottom line. You must think about and cater to the people who buy your products.
2. Avoid cart abandonment
According to VWO, unexpected shipping cost is the biggest reason for cart abandonment among online shoppers (28%), while the runner-up is having to create a new user account (23%).
This, of course, points to two of the biggest overall barriers to conversions: cost and complexity. This doesn’t mean that you win consumers over just by offering a low price and an easy purchase process.
The trick is to know your customers’ preferences so intimately that you can ensure they meet no unpleasant surprises, such as having to create a new user account, paying more than expected etc. In short, it’s less about bringing down the actual cost and complexity and more about avoiding unexpected cost and complexity.
You need to keep the customer in the know through the whole process and make the access to information as easy and transparent as possible - without disturbing the customers unnecessarily by shoving information in their face. They should at all times be able to see the final estimated cost, delivery time and other terms and conditions without having to leave the shopping cart.
And finally you should be aware of any minor detail that might annoy your customer. It’s these small annoyances that end up causing them to move on without placing the order. These annoyances could, for instance, be triggered by how small errors are handled:
As Christian Holst of Baymard Institute puts it in the VWO report:
“After you've fixed the most obvious roadblocks (offering a guest checkout and providing total cost estimate in the cart), the next step is to optimize your error messages. While form errors are low in frequency, the severity is tremendous. During our checkout usability studies, we often observe how users struggle with resolving errors and frequently end up abandoning a site. Besides highlighting the erroneous field, it's vital the message itself is dynamic. For example, don't simply write ‘Invalid Phone Number’. Provide the user with the actual validation rule trigged, e.g. ‘Phone number can only contain numbers’”.
So boosting your webshop conversions requires you to be critical of your own user flow. Always think - "How can I make this better?" or "What frustrates me when I try to buy things online?" Holding a mirror to your business is a valuable way to retain customers.
3. Offer free and fast delivery
As mentioned above, unexpected shipping costs are the biggest reason for cart abandonment and more than half of online shoppers are ready to cancel their purchase if they don’t qualify for free shipping. And there are plenty of reasons why you should take action on this fact.
According to the VWO survey, 25% of customers are willing to buy more items in order to qualify for free shipping. What’s more, the UPS Pulse report is even more positive, saying that as many as 58% have actually bought more in order to get free shipping. Defining a minimum purchase amount is as a threshold to free shipping can be an effective tool for increasing conversions.
Even if the threshold doesn’t have the desired effect, the urge to qualify for free shipping can be used to nudging customers to taking other steps, as a total of 93 % of consumers are willing to take some sort of action to obtain free shipping (UPS Pulse p 22).
Another crucial factor in increasing conversions is delivery speed. This criteria is mentioned by shoppers as the fourth most important when choosing a webshop, preceded by product selection, product information and retailer reputation.
On average, consumers are willing to wait a maximum of seven days for delivery, and this is a challenge for many international retailers. The consequence is that they lose significant revenue because 50 % of online shoppers have abandoned a shopping cart due to lengthy delivery times or missing information about the delivery date. Transportation takes time, but at least make sure to continuously optimize logistics on your side, from the very moment the order is placed.
4. Convince the customer to come back
Dare I say the word remarketing? Some regard it as plain stalking. And it does have obvious pitfalls that most often manifest either due to technological limitations or because the sender mindlessly treats consumers as targets rather than customers.
Regardless, remarketing is here to stay. According to the VWO survey, 54 % of users are likely to buy a retargeted product if they are offered a discount. Even more encouraging is the fact that 72 % of Millenials are favourable to retargeting, which is promising news for marketers. It’s a fine line between stalking and serving the customers, making remarketing something of an art.
As brands and retailers get increased insights into their customers’ needs and behaviours, they will be able to refine the retargeting further, thus transforming it from an annoyance to a convenience. This way they’ll be able to do what this whole e-commerce business is actually about: serving, not stalking, customers.