We’ve come a long way since the mid-'80s, when CompuServe was the world’s first and only ecommerce option available. Today, ecommerce has become an invaluable part of everyday life, with essentially every retail entity — from major corporations on down to local brick-and-mortar shops — having some form of online store. In fact, by the end of 2018, ecommerce sales (B2C) are expected to hit more than $2.3 trillion.

That is a lot of money — and opportunity — for your brand. As such, it is vital that your ecommerce site be perfectly optimized to stand out in the sea of competitors, maximize conversions, and keep customers coming back again and again. To do that, you need to provide the best user experience possible, connecting shoppers to the products they want in the fastest, most effective, and most convenient way.

Here are six ecommerce conversion optimization best practices to help you get started.

 

“Ecommerce optimization” conjures up images of search terms, keywords, and optimized CTA buttons. But first, it’s important to take a step back and make sure that your site is clean, user-friendly, and easy to navigate. Most users are quick to vacate sites that are too busy or over-complicated, and once they bounce you’ll have a hard time getting them to come back.

For example, 54% of ecommerce sites suffer from over-categorization. As an increasing number of people prefer to shop on their mobile devices — where intent-driven micro-moments are reshaping how we view the customer journey — overly complicated or crowded menus can be a hassle more than a help, potentially driving your customers off to look elsewhere. Over-categorization can cause navigation issues that result in customers leaving rather than completing a purchase.

More than half of consumers have said that they are likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t personalize its communications with them. This goes beyond email and social media, to onsite shopping recommendations. Use AI-driven tools such as intelligent product recommendations to personalize the shopping experience, giving your customers more of the experience they want, and increasing the chance of conversions.

AI-powered product recommendations not only offer more personalization, but enable a more relevant and efficient experience for your customers. And the evidence is there to back it up — in one case study, Black Diamond saw a 15.5% increase in revenue after implementing AI.

 
 
Learn how to harness the power of AI to personalize customer journeys and empower merchandisers—no data scientist required.
Another often overlooked tool may be one of the most important — shoppers who use native search functionality convert at a 3x higher rate than those using navigation tools, check out with 11% larger carts, and spend 15% more than those who just browse. Despite this, when searching, 72% of sites don’t suggest highly relevant categories in the auto-complete. For customers, it is a nuisance to be met with an inefficient search function, such as one that results in inaccurate results, crowded results, or no results at all. Bottom line, poor search experiences can result in higher bounce rates and dissatisfied customers. Better search results shorten the amount of time to checkout, and thus increase the likelihood of purchase.

Improve your search feature with language- or location-based search settings, allowances for hypernyms and synonyms, and searches based on audience segmentation. Predictive sort is a tool that incorporates AI and customer data to create personalized search drop-downs, search pages, and even category grid pages.

You can learn more about best onsite search practices here.

The purpose of a good ecommerce website is to make the end goal — final purchase — all but unavoidable. This means facilitating a clear journey to purchase from every part of the site. Is the purchase CTA button easy to locate and available on every page? Do your customers have to scroll to find it? It should be easily visible from any part of every page, on both desktop and mobile. We also recommend that the purchase CTA always remain in plain sight at the top or side of the page as your customer scrolls.

You must also collaborate on all inbound marketing efforts and ensure that everyone involved is aligned with this goal. For example, if a shopper is coming to your site from a social media post, blog post, or video, be sure that they are on a clear journey to purchase.

Cart abandonment is always high — in the first quarter of 2017, the global rate was 75.6%. As such, anything you can do to decrease this outcome is crucial. This is another area where mobile ecommerce optimization is paramount — mobile makes up the majority of cart abandonments in most major industries.
To tackle this problem, try to reduce field options and make them big enough for mobile users to easily see and fill. Also provide autofill options wherever possible, and offer the option for guest checkout — 35% of mobile cart abandonments are a result of shoppers being forced to create an account prior to checkout. Though you want to encourage return customers by creating accounts, it may make a significant difference to your conversions if you present that optional step after purchase, rather than as a requirement before.
As mentioned, mobile should be a top priority. At the end of 2017, phones accounted for more than 60% of site traffic. Naturally, anything that you can do to optimize the ecommerce experience for mobile is going to boost your conversion rate. Mobile payment accelerators and one-touch payments are a great way to accomplish that all-important goal of decreasing the time to purchase and facilitating journeys. Apple Pay, Android Pay, and PayPal are all major players in helping you to create frictionless online shopping experiences for all of your customers.
 
 
To increase conversion rates and ensure growth, you must embrace mobile site design and provide shoppers with a truly mobile-first experience. These six best practices will help.
If you want to grow your brand in today’s ecommerce landscape, you’ll need a site that is optimized to provide your customers with the best experience possible. Ecommerce optimization is an investment that pays for itself. After all, when you connect your customers to the products that they want in ways that they can appreciate, they’ll be eager to keep that connection going for years to come.
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