Ecommerce is the ultimate optimization puzzle -- from individual product pages to filtering mechanisms to your checkout sequence, every choice you make has the potential to have a massive impact on the sale of a given product.
But when you're making changes all over your site, how can you know that, overall, those changes are adding up to customer and revenue growth?
Ecommerce conversion rate is the ultimate top-line metric for online store owners looking to understand if the changes they're making to their site are positively or negatively impacting the number of visitors who eventually become customers.
Here, let's explore what ecommerce conversion rates are, why they matter, and how to raise yours.
An ecommerce conversion rate (CVR) is the ratio of the total number of people who complete checkout (i.e. make a purchase) on your site, compared to the total number of site visitors you have.
For example, if you had 1,000 visitors to your online shop yesterday and 30 of them made purchases, you'd calculate your ecommerce CVR by taking the total number of people who completed checkout (30) and divide that by the total number of site visitors in the same time frame (1,000). In this case, your ecommerce CVR would be 30/1000 = 0.03 = 3%.
One complicating factor is the fact that many ecommerce retailers today are selling across multiple platforms. Even if you aren't using a tool that aggregates your product page or site visits and conversions in one place, you can leverage a tracking spreadsheet to keep a pulse on your ecommerce across platforms over time.
We've put together a free ecommerce conversion rate tracker that you can download here along with an ecommerce marketing and sales plan template in our Ecommerce Planning Kit.
Your ecommerce conversion rate is crucial to the success of your online shop. You could bring in 50,000 views per month to your website through ads, but if the user experience on your website is poor, your ads are misleading, or your product descriptions aren't effectively communicating the value of your products, you might only end up with a small percentage of that traffic converting into customers.
Since an ecommerce site can be expensive to maintain and complicated to organize, you need to check routinely that your online presence is driving a significant amount of customers and sales for your business.
Ecommerce CVR is also a useful metric to track over time to see how the improvements that you're making to your website, product categorizations, product descriptions, checkout process, or any number of other aspects of your online store are actually impacting your business's bottom line.
It's not worthwhile to compare your ecommerce CVR to an overall benchmark that aggregates CVRs across industries. Frankly, CVRs vary wildly across ecommerce, and if you're going to compare your own site's conversion rate to anyone else's, you should try to find common conversion rates for your category.
If you've done a cost-benefit analysis and proven that you make more money than you spend by selling your products online, you're at a good starting point. From there, we advise focusing your time on optimizing your site beyond where it currently stands.
If you have one category of items with an excellent conversion rate, you can also aim to bring all categories up to that standard. With that approach, you can at least count on the fact that the CVR benchmark is reflective of your specific target persona, not anyone else's.
If you're starting from scratch, here are industry-specific benchmarks backed by recent research that we've compiled from a variety of sources.
Agriculture: 0.62% - 1.41%
Arts and Crafts: 3.84% - 4.01%
Baby and Child: 0.71% - 0.87%
Cars and Motorcycling: 1.35% - 1.36%
Electrical and Commercial Equipment: 2.49% - 2.70%
Fashion, Clothing, and Accessories: 1.01% - 1.41%
Food and Drink: 0.90% - 1.00%
Health and Wellbeing: 1.87% - 2.02%
Home Accessories and Giftware: 1.46% - 1.55%
Kitchen and Home Appliances: 1.61% - 1.72%
Pet Care: 2.51% - 2.53%
Sports and Recreation: 1.18%
Ecommerce Conversion Rate Optimization
Add additional payment optionsYou might try adding videos that show your product from a variety of angles and allow people to see them in action. It can be difficult to get a sense of sizing, fit, and material quality from photos, and video tends to demonstrate more detail. You also want to solve for the increasing number of people who prefer to consume video rather than text.
There's nothing more frustrating than wanting to look at the small details of the item you're considering buying online … only to find out that you can't zoom in. Let your prospective buyers zoom in on the images of your products. This ensures they have a truer sense of your product before purchase. Use higher resolution photos and provide photos from more angles, too.
Ensure that product descriptions are grammatically correct, intuitively structured, and prominently accessible. When it comes to getting creative with your descriptions, know your buyer persona.
In some cases, retailers might have 10 essentially identical products that are differentiated only by their size, for example. While the product specifications should reflect the different product dimensions, it's most likely okay to leave the copy describing the product's use case as is.
On the other hand, if you're selling something like body care products, you might write a completely new set of copy to describe who each product is right for, the different sensory elements of the product, and the look and feel of the product.
At a baseline, always include product measurements, material specifications, warranty information, and any other information that would be crucial for making a buying decision about your product to avoid losing prospective customers who are wondering about a key detail.
You simply can't answer every question that anyone has ever had in your product description. Since you want to do everything you can to convince someone to buy your product while they're already on your site, consider chat as another avenue.
Chat can be a powerful tool for bridging the gap between your product descriptions and specifications and the information that an individual needs in order to buy. It also enables people to ask questions about your brand, shipping and return policies, and anything else non-product-specific without leaving the web page of the product they're close to buying.
Altering your CTAs is a classic website conversion rate optimization strategy, and the results can sometimes be small. However, switching up the copy within your CTAs, the options that people have for the next place they can go, or the prominence of those CTAs can be low-effort, high-impact ways to encourage people to click to buy.
Studies have found that while the majority of CTA tests don't produce statistically significant results, the ones that do create enormous impact, with on-page conversion lifts averaging 49%. You won't know what conversion rates you might be able to see until you start experimenting with each little aspect of your site.
It's becoming increasingly easy for companies with cheap, low-quality products to deliver comparable on-site experiences and images -- thus convincing buyers that their products are the same as the others in the market, just less expensive.
The one element of an ecommerce site that's hard to fake, however, is customer reviews. Allow your customers to leave reviews of your products to prove that they're truly high-quality. If you've got great reviews, consider moving them higher on the product pages to see if the social proof impacts prospective customers' buying decisions.
If you don't have a solution that allows customers to leave reviews automatically, collect quotes from people who've bought from you before and add several to each of your product descriptions. A/B test a set of product pages, including testimonials on the variant only.
We'll admit this one isn't the cheapest option to implement, but the ROI can be enormous. Many people choose to go to a local store that could fulfill the same need rather than shopping online because it would be significantly cheaper to drive 15 minutes to the store than pay $5-10 for shipping.
Free shipping reduces the perceived barriers to ordering something online. That means that you'll likely end up with a greater number of people making purchases, and the revenue from those additional customers may compensate for the losses incurred by paying for their shipping.
There are dozens of small changes you can make to the user experience of your checkout process. Two of our favorites are eliminating any unnecessary fields, and adding a progress bar.
While it's tempting to collect additional information about your buyers during the checkout process, additional questions lengthen the amount of time it takes to buy -- and everyone is short on time.
Progress bars can have two advantages. First, they can reduce buyers' concern that they don't have the time to complete the checkout process at the moment. Second, they give people a sense of accomplishment after each step they've completed, building positive momentum toward completing their purchase.
Allowing people to create an account and save their information for future purchases makes a lot of sense for repeat buyers. But if you require people to make an account in order to make their first purchase, you may lose potential customers because they don't yet trust your brand. Additionally, some people are averse to saving personal information online.
In fact, Trustpilot reports that requiring account creation at checkout is the second-biggest reason why people abandon carts, coming in just below having to pay for shipping.
Those who become repeat buyers will create an account eventually if they feel comfortable saving their information. In the meantime, don't add extra steps to the checkout process for people who are ready to buy.
Finally, consider running a survey to better understand your customers' preferred payment methods and add the one that's most convenient for them. A study from the Merchant Payments Ecosystem revealed that 50% of consumers will end a transaction if their preferred payment method isn't available.
By meeting your customers where they are, you're potentially removing a nuisance (i.e. walking to another room to get a different credit card) or a complete blocker (i.e. not having access to any of the available payment methods). It will create an easier user experience and, if you select a payment method that your customers truly prefer, you'll increase your conversion rates.