Here are examples of several e-retail sites that effectively eliminate barriers to shopping.

Big companies can afford to pay for an optimizer expert to enhance their e-commerce websites—which, of course, they already have done. But what about the small business? Maybe you’ve just started out and are wondering how to get more traffic or increase conversions…

Then this article is for you. Make a cup of coffee, roll up your sleeves, put your legs up and take a read.

Milk?

Let’s go.

1. Make it fast

advertisement
  1. The speed of your website is important for the following two main reasons:
  1. People expect websites to load within four seconds. Statistics show that websites that don’t, can lose on average, about 25% business.
  2. Google includes loading speed as a ranking factor.

Website speed can get pretty technical, so do this: check out your site’s speed, and if it takes too long to load, seek the help of a tech web guru.

What you can do something about, because it’s not highly technical, and is the most common reason for slow ecommerce websites, are product images.

Oleg Korneitchouk, who has worked to improve hundreds of ecommerce websites, says that, “when businesses take high-resolution images and don’t properly resize and optimize the format for web, images are unnecessarily large in file size and hamper web performance. It’s best to resize them to fit their purpose, save them in the proper file type and compress them losslessly using one of the many tools online.”

Get some simple image optimization guidance from Shopify.

2. Have a good design

advertisement

What your website looks like plays a large part in how many conversions you’ll get.

Would you rather trust this website to buy a car:

Or this one?

Point made, right?

On your website, avoid:

advertisement
  • Unnecessary distractions to the one action you want visitors to take on each page.
  • Poor quality, small images that visitors struggle to see properly.

Your website has about eight seconds to “hook” a visitor, so the very first elements that get seen, are in prime areas and need to be maximized. What does this mean? You need to consider the one thing you want your visitor to do when he or she lands on the page, and then the design needs to help guide them to doing that.

The website has to be immediately clear on:

  1. How it can help the visitor, and
  2. Why they should buy from you and not someone else.

Include a clear unique value proposition, like this:

Muse leaves no chance for misunderstanding on any level. They provide a clear headline that is short, clear and gives the benefit of the product. As a visitor, either you’re going to be fascinated enough to stick around to find out more, or you’ll click away.

While we’re analyzing the Muse website, note how clean the design is, with the focus on the product. Even the way the woman’s body and face is turned towards the product, encourages the eye to move to the headphones. And another thing: The image they’ve used gives a calm feeling to those who land on the website. Exactly what they were going for, I’m betting.

advertisement

3. Don’t irritate customers

Shopping cart abandonment

Did you know that 68.81% of shopping carts are abandoned? That’s a huge number to be so close to a sale and then lose it.

And the top three most common reasons for abandonment are all related to customers finding it too hard to make a purchase:

  1. The extra costs added in the checkout, are too high. The real problem is a lack of initial transparency about extra costs.
  2. Websites demanded people created an account before purchasing.
  3. The checkout process is too long or complicated.

Suggested solutions for these issues is to enlist the help of a third party like a friend or family member to find out what they think of the checkout process. Cut out anything that is not absolutely necessary. Ask your current customers how you can make the process easier for them.

advertisement

Here are some ideas by Design for Founders:

  • Provide free shipping options.
  • Give estimated costs as early in the process as possible.
  • Provide an estimation of when to expect delivery.
  • Offer a variety of payment options.

Once you’ve done all you can to make it as easy as possible, use the GetResponse Abandoned Cart software to map out a recovery process for people who ditch their carts before paying. This can significantly increase lost sales.

Website popups

Website popups that jump out at visitors almost immediately when they land, are excruciating and useless, and the reason for that is because when someone lands on your website, they don’t yet trust you.

If the popup is timed better, so that the user has time to actually read at least some content, you’ll get better results.

advertisement

And please don’t make it impossible to close a popup, or people will simply leave. Why should they tolerate irritation when there are other sites out there that they can go to, and who will not make life a pain in the butt?

4. Make things easy

Products

Product descriptions

For e-commerce, images need to work on as many senses as possible. For instance, if you look at the product image below, the photo is so well done, that you can almost feel all the parts that make up the camera. The image is so large that the details are precise:

advertisement

Blackmagic Design has also included images of the camera from every angle, as well as “hero” shots, where the customer is the hero. Take a look:

Allow product images to tell a story; to support the text on the page. Provide various angles of products, and make it easy for users to zoom in. According to Smart Insights, 96% of consumers say that when they buy online, it’s the image which does the selling. Generally speaking, your product images have about 90 seconds to convince prospective buyers. Better make the best of them…

Barriers to purchasing

Eliminate as many barriers to buying as you possibly can. Much of the suggestions already provided will work towards this very thing, but there are a few more things you can do:

The following page is a product description by Desir for the “Womanizer”:

advertisement

Their choice of words on the entire page tells a story: These female sex toys are not sleazy (as they have a reputation of being). Instead, this company provides toys that are sophisticated, for the classy, independent woman. Considering the price of their products, their target audience are women with money, so it’s essential they present their company as high-class.

Here’s how they’ve eliminated barriers to buying:

Not only do they have a product description, but they’ve added images of the product in every possible angle, included reviews from customers who have tested it, added an informational video about how it works, included related products, trust seals and a 24-hour free delivery notification.

How else can you eliminate barriers to purchasing?

  • Encourage user-generated content. People trust other people more than they trust your business. When you include images and reviews from current customers, this lends a tremendous amount of trust.
  • Add social proof. Here’s an example by Nike:
  • Be up front about additional charges.
  • Include your contact number.
  • Include your social network addresses.

Forms

advertisement

Try to banish account registrations, and make all forms as short as possible, with only the very bare requirements.

5. Test what’s test-able

Headlines

Before settling on a unique proposition-value headline, test a few because, quite frankly, you will never know which one works best for conversions without testing them on your target audience. What you think rocks, may not actually rock your customer’s world. And you may be very surprised at what works and what doesn’t work as well.

For instance, when Basecamp was still 37signals, the conversions on their web page increased by 30% when they changed the headline to “30-day Free Trial on All Accounts”. Their lowest-converting headline was “Start a HighRise Account”.

advertisement

How would they have known that if they had not tested it?

Hello bars

Many e-commerce websites make use of a horizontal eye-grabbing bar above their header. They put info in it that will make a difference, like “20% off” or “free delivery”. Test the wording in these bars.

Call to actions

Conversions for call to actions can be dramatically improved by the words used. When testing their call to action wording, Firefox increased downloads of their browser when they changed “Try Firefox 3” to “Download Now – Free”.

advertisement

Processes

Start by testing customer-facing processes first—what do your customers need to endure to buy from you? If you don’t test the process, you won’t know if it’s working, or if certain parts are “broken,” and what can be made simpler and more streamlined. Don’t make visitors jump through hoops to buy from you!

6. Get more organic traffic

There’s only two ways to get more organic traffic to your e-commerce website:

  1. Promoting it.
  2. Content-ing it.

The only real way to grow and sustain organic traffic that is directed via search engines, is with content that contains relevant keywords, as well as keywords for location and product branding (if relevant).

advertisement

Kissmetrics provides a comprehensive guide to SEO for ecommerce which includes keyword research methods.

In short, what do you need to do to get ranked high in search results?

  1. Add unique, value-add content regularly (about three times a month should do it, depending on the competitiveness of your niche).
  2. Longer content is what gets to the front pages—aim for about 2000 words.
  3. Include link building to authority sites. This is so that search engines can determine relevancy: birds of a feather flock together; you are the company you keep…
  4. Add relevant keywords to blogs. For instance, if you sell wedding gowns and see that a common search query is “what wedding dress is best”, you can create a blog post with that title.

The beginning?

There you go. It’s a mouthful, but don’t feel overwhelmed. The key to making whoopee is taking it one step at a time.

The recommendation is that you decide on which part of this article to start with. Master that section and then go on to conquer the next part.

advertisement

And watch what happens to your traffic and conversions.

It will be worth the trouble.

Inbound Junction helps retailers and brands reach online shoppers by connecting them with relevant bloggers.

Favorite