landing pages and conversion rate optimization blog by pagewiz

9 Deadly Sins of eCommerce CRO Every Marketer Needs to Avoid

By Puranjay Singh on February 15, 2017

Reading Time: 14 minutes

CRO Secondary

If you run, manage, or market an eCommerce store, you probably know the importance of conversion rate optimization.

eCommerce presents perhaps the most direct use case for CRO. Customers landing on your store aren’t there to read blog posts or subscribe to email newsletters; they are there to buy from you.

By removing obstacles to conversion the process, you can greatly increase your revenues without increasing your traffic.

While there are plenty of articles online on what you should do to increase conversions, not enough articles talk about what you shouldn’t do.

Which is why in this post, I’ll show you 9 eCommerce CRO mistakes you need to avoid at all costs.

1. You force mandatory account creation

Consider how’d you feel if you were about to make a purchase and the site required you to create an account to continue further.

Like most people, you’d be too bothered to continue. After all, you are here to make a purchase; not get into a relationship with the store.

Therefore, don’t make people jump through extensive hoops during their first interaction with your brand.

You can collect information at a later stage when customers see the value of your service.

For example, check out how Nike makes use of guest checkout:

nike CRO

This strategy gives power back to your customers. They can decide to create an account if they want to, or they can just checkout without the lengthy sign-up process.

If you do want users to sign-up, try using the “Slack Strategy”.

Essentially, Slack doesn’t ask you for a password when you first sign-up for its service. Instead, it lets you play around for a few days, then sends you an email to create a password.

slack CRO

Try doing something similar for your eCommerce store – after customers place an order, send them an email a few days later to create an account.

You could sell this idea by telling them that they can track their orders directly through their accounts.

2. Your store lacks credibility

Trust is a big factor in your customers’ decision-making process.

In fact, according to a 2006 study, 70% of customers are liable to quit a transaction because of a lack of trust.

As an eCommerce store owner, it’s your job to reassure customers and ease their fears, uncertainties, and doubts (FUDs). After all, you are asking people to spend their hard earned money on your store.

There are plenty of red flags that can send alarm bells ringing in your customers’ minds. For example, lack of a physical address or customer testimonials can be perceived as a sign of a potential shortcoming with your brand.

Here are some ways to increase trust in your brand:

Return policy

A clear money-back or return policy reduces risk for your customer. If your customers know they can get a refund, they might be more willing to make a purchase.

Check out this clear statement about returns on Zappos’ site:

CROTrust symbols

2 out of every 3 Americans are not comfortable sharing their personal and credit card details online. With such high levels of distrust, you need to reassure safety of their data.

Enter trust badges and seals.

These simple displays are like a digital certification of approval of trust from established institutions (such as McAfee, BBB, Norton, etc.)

Including these symbols on key pages (such as the payment page) can reassure customers that their financial information is safe.

For example, see the checkout page on Oriental Furniture:

oriental furniture CRO

Customer testimonials & reviews

Testimonials increase trust in the quality and effectiveness of your service. They act as a form of social proof – one of the pillars of persuasion.

When people see others enjoy success using your service and products, they are far more likely to trust you with their business as opposed to self-promotional messages.

This is why 90% of shoppers say that their purchase decisions are influenced by reviews.

Amazon is the poster child of using testimonials and reviews effectively. The review section is one of Amazon’s strongest assets since it gives would-be shoppers subjective insight into the product quality.

Amazon CRO

3. Your site’s navigation is confusing

The longer customers spend trying to find a product on your site, the more time they have to change their mind about a purchase.

And a cluttered and unintuitive site navigation is the prime reason for premature site abandonment.

Take a close look at your site navigation. Ask yourself: “If I was here for the first time, would I be able to figure out how this site works?”

At the bare minimum, you should replace dropdown product categories with a product category and subcategories page to help better visualize your different offers.

You want to avoid a situation like this:

Bad CRO

Instead, create a navigation experience that delights customers and makes it easy for them to find exactly what they need.

Check out how household appliances retailer AO World organizes its products using a taxonomic order:

AO CRO

Don’t forget to include a filter option to help customers sort through products quickly. For example, filter options to consider include price range, size, and color.

Check out the filter options on Luxury Beauty Company’s shampoo product page:

Luxury Beauty CRO

To take your site’s navigation functionality to the next level, include an autocomplete search box on your site.

These search boxes improve product findability which ensures customers take action.

Take a look at how hardware accessory retailer Screw Fix implements this on their site.

Screwfix CRO

4. You use mediocre visuals

Unlike a physical storefront, shoppers on your online store can’t see, touch, or feel a product.

For this reason, your product images are the lifeline for your conversions.

Not only are they the only means available for a customer to base their decision on but they help them better understand your product, how it works and how it looks.

Start by making sure that your images are high-quality and include various angles of your product.

Take a look at the number of images used by Best Made Company for a knife:

Best Made CRO

It’s certainly far more visually appealing than a single bland photo.

More importantly, the use of varying angles and closeups let the customer get a feel for the product.

Don’t forget to include the context in some of your images to help your customers better visualize how they can use your product.

Jewelry line Wild Gems follows this principle to display their brand of earrings.

Wild Gems CRO

They provide an image of a real person wearing their product helping customers visualize their product in action.

For some product categories (such as furniture), it’s also a good idea to include product dimensions.

For instance, consider how UrbanLadder shows a silhouette of a person along with dimensions to give you an idea of the product size.

Urban Ladder CRO

5. Your checkout process is too complicated

A common phenomenon experienced by online stores is the act of customers adding products to their cart but failing to complete checkout

It’s known as shopping cart abandonment and its prevalence is 68%.

This means that out of every 100 people who add products to their shopping carts, nearly 3/4th will leave without buying.

Often, this number is high not because people don’t want to buy but because your checkout process is flawed.

As WebsiteSetup points out, a survey of 19,000 consumers showed that “complicated website” and “long process” are among the top reasons for shopping cart abandonment.

Website Setup CRO

One such flaw is having too many steps or including external links to your other products right on your checkout page distracting a customer’s attention.

Take a look at how the checkout usability drops as you add more steps.

Usability Drop CRO

Therefore, make sure to avoid any unnecessary steps during checkout.

If you can’t reduce the number of steps in your checkout process, consider providing an express option like Namecheap does.

Namecheap CRO

The other flaw to avoid is the introduction of unexpected costs.

For example, including shipping charges to the total cost right before a customer is about to complete a purchase is going to lead to abandonment.

You need to clearly state your shipping policy before they begin the checkout process.

Ideally, you want to offer free shipping as most customers don’t like to pay for shipping.

To offset the cost, you can always set a minimum purchase threshold. Most people would be ready to add more items to their cart to meet this limit and avail free shipping.

Check out how Macy’s mentions its shipping policy right on their homepage:

Macy's CRO

You also don’t want customers to click away from the checkout page. This is why you should remove all external links from the checkout page (except the ones necessitated by law – like ToS and privacy policy).

For instance, Amazon removes its massive navigation menu completely once you hit the checkout page. Instead, you’ll see just two links, both of which are unlikely to interest shoppers enough.

Amazon Shipping CRO

6. Your store has a bad value proposition

Most store owners overlook the value proposition of their own site in favor of the products they aim to sell.

However, this is a dangerous approach to take.

Unless you sell in a very specific niche, if a potential customer so as much fails to understands what sets your brand apart, there is nothing preventing them from going somewhere else.

Therefore, make sure to include a value proposition that sells your website to customers just as much as the products on it.

After all, the value proposition is likely the first thing customers will look for.

Check out this example from Holstee:

Holstee CRO

You can immediately tell what Holstee’s value proposition is. Customers can easily buy the products in the subscription pack individually from retailers, but Holstee’s value proposition makes the offer much more enticing.

It’s important to keep in mind that customers don’t always buy into your product’s utility; they buy into the idea that your product represents.

For example, Zappos is one of thousands of retailers selling shoes. But you’d choose them over competitors because Zappos offers a clear value proposition: superior service and free returns.

Zappos Returns CRO

7. You make your CTA hard to find

Your CTA is undoubtedly an important element of your site.

It’s what customers use to help guide them to complete a specific action.

In the case of your eCommerce store, this generally means starting the purchase process (by clicking “Add to Cart”).

Therefore, if your CTA is hidden at the bottom of your page or overshadowed by other elements, potential customers will end up leaving in frustration.

Your CTA has to be prominent.

And to achieve that, you have to pay close attention to design, color, placement, and copy.

Make sure you use actionable copy such as “Add to cart” rather than “Shop.” Furthermore, make sure the CTA stands out by using a color scheme that contrasts your site’s theme.

Last but not least, test your CTA placement.

Generally, above the fold placement is recommended where you highlight your product. This will ensure your customers don’t miss out on the crucial next step.

Check out how clothing line BooHoo makes use of prominent CTAs:

Boohoos CRO

The purple button is unmissable on the page.

Target’s CTAs not only uses the company’s brand colors but also uses casual, conversational copy.

Target CRO

8. You don’t include product descriptions

Not providing a product description alongside your items will lead customers to ignore the product completely.

While people do pay more attention to images overall, the reverse holds true in eCommerce.

According to a Nielsen study, customers on an Amazon page spend 80% of their time reading text. Only 20% of their time is spent looking at the photos.

And this text mostly covers your product’s features and benefits.

Customers use this information to compare products and make up their mind on what to buy.

In fact, the text needs to resonate with your target customers while at the same time painting your product in a good light

Take a look at this example from J. Crew:

J Crew CRO

The product details provide more than enough information to convince women whether the dress is perfect for her.

9. You don’t create a sense of urgency

No matter how perfect your site or offer, people will always look for a reason not to convert.

Even if they are interested in a product, people have a natural tendency to delay a purchase.

For some, this ‘I’ll buy it later’ attitude might never lead to a purchase. For others, by the time later comes, your brand might have long become an afterthought.

This is why you need to make use urgency to drive conversions in the present.

Urgency moves people to take action immediately by tapping into their fear of missing out. It’s a phenomenon known as “loss aversion”.

You can either make use of time-based or scarcity-based urgency.

Time-based urgency

This format requires the use of a countdown timer on your product page.

This timer remains present on your page counting down until the product becomes unavailable or a special offer on it ends.

With limited time to take advantage, interested customers will take action.

Amazon’s lightning deals, for instance, show users when the deal will end:

Amazon Lightning CROScarcity-based urgency

This format drives customers to take action by implying a shortage of your product.

For example, you might display the number of items left in stock to urge users to buy quickly. If they don’t, they risk missing out on the product entirely.

Take a look at how apparel brand Rue Lala uses both formats together:

Rue Lala CRO
Be careful not to overuse and abuse scarcity.

If your customers get a sense that you are taking them for a spin, they will abandon purchasing from your brand permanently.

Conclusion

Marketing and managing an eCommerce store is no easy task. Don’t let that hard work go to waste by committing simple mistakes when converting customers on your offer.

A few simple tweaks such as changing your CTA colors, removing navigation from checkout pages, etc. can go a long way towards converting visitors into customers.

Go through this guide and make sure your store doesn’t fall prey to these common pitfalls.

Which of these “deadly sins” of eCommerce are you guilty of committing?

Let me know in the comments below!

Puranjay is the founder of GrowthPub, a content-focused growth marketing agency. He also blogs at GrowthSimple.com/blog where he recently curated a list of growth hacking tactics. He can be reached at @puranjaycom on Twitter.

  • Very comprehensive and exhaustive post Puranjay.
    I like in particular the example you offered related to the mediocre visuals and UrbanLadder. I have been thinking for a while on an object to place in one of the product pictures that could be consistent across the whole website. I definitely agree that giving context could help the customer get a feel for the item before the purchase but I don’t necessarily like UrbanLadder’s execution. At the same time I haven’t been able to find a better example. Do you have any other examples you came across the internet that tries to overcome the lack of context?