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How to Increase Sales to an Ecommerce Site

Are you making it easy for consumers to make decisions and check out? Here's how to remove obstacles and increase sales on your ecommerce site.

How to Increase Sales to an Ecommerce Site
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Successful ecommerce outcomes are shaped by understanding what consumers want and how they want it.

The essence of a frictionless shopping experience is making it easy for consumers to make a decision and check out.

This is how to increase sales to an ecommerce site.

Frictionless Shopping

The concept of frictionless shopping is about making something easy to do.

Frictionless online experiences apply to all websites, but it’s particularly critical for eCommerce sites.

Easy Navigation

Navigation is a reference to the menu used to help users find and buy the products that they want.

The best approach is to make as much of the content available by linking to the top level categories from the menu.

For an especially large ecommerce site, this may mean linking to top-level categories that are several layers deep in the hierarchical structure.

What’s important to focus on is getting users to the most popular top level categories and giving them the opportunity to take one more click to their desired destination.

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If a category isn’t particularly popular then it’s okay to only link to the parent category of the less popular category.

For example if your website hierarchy looks like this:

Home > Category A > Subcategory B > Subcategory C

Subcategory B is the parent category to Subcategory C.

If Subcategory C isn’t especially popular then it’s fine to link to Subcategory B and let people drill down.

The goal is to make it easy for the most people to find and buy the product they want.

The job of the menu isn’t to funnel PageRank deep into the website. The job of the menu is to help users go to the most popular sections of a website.

Ultimately, every category or page on a website stands or falls by how many links point to those inner pages. That’s often the key to getting those pages to rank.

So the focus of what a user sees (like the menu) should be on making it easy for them (i.e., frictionless).

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List Products by Popularity

Always list products by popularity.

This makes it easy for the most users to find and purchase what they want.

It’s rarely a good idea to list products by price.

By listing products on category pages by order of popularity you ensure that buying products on the site is easy for the most amount of people.

Comparisons for Shopping

Google’s quality raters guidelines defines a high quality ecommerce page as one that allows users to browse and compare.

The quality raters guide is not an indication of what is inside of Google’s algorithm. But it does give an idea of what kinds of sites Google aspires to rank.

It provides ideas of what Google considers a useful webpage.

So when Google says a high quality page is one that allows users to compare different products, Google is revealing what kinds of sites Google wants to rank.

Whether that’s baked into the algorithm directly or indirectly is unknown. What is known is that making it easy to compare products is something that Google views as desirable in the kinds of sites it wants to rank.

This is what the Google Quality Raters Guidelines say:

“Keep in mind that many users enjoy browsing and visually exploring products online, similar to window shopping in real life.

Give high Needs Met ratings to results that allow users to research, browse, and decide what to purchase.”

Consumers like to understand the features and know the specs of the products being considered, both online and offline. Accommodating consumers to help them research and compare products in the manner they are inclined to do.

Doing that fits into the concept of creating a frictionless shopping experience.

Reviews Can Boost Sales

Reviews help make the decision making process easy. Always encourage users to return and leave reviews. Whatever you can do to encourage users to leave reviews will result in a win for you and for shoppers.

Showing reviews can boost the conversion rate by up to 270%, according to a research study by the Spiegel Research Center at Northwestern University.

Four key takeaways from that research:

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1. Displaying reviews can increase conversion by 270%
2. Reviews impact sales more for higher-priced items …
3. …for higher-consideration items 5 stars is “too good to be true”
4. Initial reviews have the greatest impact

The research also uncovered that the impact of the reviews were influenced by the following factors:

  • Price of the product
  • Degree of uncertainty or risk involved in the purchase
  • Average star rating
  • Presence of negative reviews
  • Number of reviews”

The research discovered that online reviews were most important for high priced purchases. The more expensive a product is the riskier the choice is perceived to be by the consumer.

They want to make the correct choice, so online reviews go a long way to increasing conversion rates for higher priced products.

Also, a five star perfect rating tended to generate some skeptical feelings while reviews that scored less than five stars were perceived to be more trustworthy.

Badges that indicate a reviewer is a “verified buyer” tended to increase trust in the review and increase conversion.

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Customer Turbocharging

This factor for increasing sales and decreasing returns is very exciting.

Researchers at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania published research that investigated how offline interactions drove sales and conversions.

Among many things, they discovered that a personal type of presence tended to cultivate better customers. They referred to this as the turbocharging the customer.

They discovered that offline businesses that also delivered a personal interaction with a consumer tended to cultivate better customers who purchased more often, returned to the store more often and returned less merchandise.

This is what the researchers observed:

“This is the notion of customer turbocharging. If you and I had never met before, and we exchange an email, that’s an electronic interaction. It’s a very low-energy thing, right?

If I call you on the phone, and we heard each other’s voice, then the energy of our relationship would increase. Now, we’re meeting each other face-to-face, and we’re having a discussion. Our intimacy has increased a great deal.

The next time I receive an e-mail from you, the energy never drops way back to where it started, with the electronic.

That’s a nice metaphor that now our relationship has been somewhat turbocharged. So even if we continue our interaction online, we’ve got this great offline experience that anchors it.”

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Customer turbocharging may be something to explore. Particularly for high dollar purchases, the personal touch may be what can help a site convert more visitors and kickstart positive word of mouth referrals.

Mobile User Experience

It can be easy to disconnect from the idea that many users are on mobile. This extends on how the user experience is created where the desktop version might receive more attention.

The MobileMoxie Page-oscope tool is useful for testing webpages across a wide range of simulated devices to diagnose how they function. It’s a useful tool for revealing where a webpage can be be improved in order to make more sales.

I talked to the founder of MobileMoxie, Cindy Krum (@Suzzicks), about what things an ecommerce site should focus on for a great mobile user experience.

This is what she recommended:

“What you are looking for is clear, unambiguous descriptions or keywords in your mobile navigation – nothing too creative or witty.

Remember that in some cases, using meaningful icons on your pages, that are out of the navigation, much like many top social networks do, can save space, and convey the meaning of your key points of navigation, without having to crowd a hamburger menu.

FYI – these icons are also great if you are running an international website, because they don’t have to be translated. Just make sure that you are using somewhat standard icons, that are universally or near-universally understood. Keep in mind that hover effects will not work on mobile, so you can’t use those to explain the meaning of your icons.

Within the hamburger navigation, try to avoid scrolling and drill-downs, especially if they go more than one level down.

If you have more than one level of drill-down menus, make it clear what heading of the drop down the user has open, and how to get to the primary elements in the dropdowns; also make it very clear how people can close the navigation, even if they don’t click on anything from it.

If there is room, it can also be good to include the search, log-in and log-out functions of your website in the hamburger navigation, though you might also need an account button to easily get people to the login too. Lots of banks and financial institutions do a great job with this.”

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Increasing Conversions

The goal of frictionless eCommerce and a good user experience is sales. Focusing on removing the obstacles that hinder conversions is a way to increase sales.

Every discussion about how to structure the site navigation, how to create the best mobile shopping experience, or how to increase trust is a conversation about conversions.

When considering what should be done about a particular website issue, looking at it from the perspective of how can it be done in a way that increases conversions will result in useful answers.

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Roger Montti

Roger Montti is a search marketer with 20 years experience. He provides site audits, phone consultations and content and link ... [Read full bio]

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