Look: If you want to increase online sales, there’s no one better to listen to than the top eCommerce experts.
Which is why we asked 14 of the world’s leading eCommerce gurus, including Steve Chou of My Wife Quit Her Job and Richard Lazazzera of A Better Lemonade Stand, one simple question…
What is the first thing you look at on an online store to increase conversions?
Their answers are nothing short of amazing.
But these are just the beginning, you can read their full answers to get an understanding of how to increase online sales! Here are a few points that they’ll get into:
Now, let’s hear it in detail from the experts!
Once you attract customers, make sure you're keeping them!
Without further ado, I’ll let the experts take over:
“The first thing that I look for in an eCommerce store is a strong value proposition. Why should I shop here versus a competitor? I also look for a clear call to action above the fold. Every page should have exactly 1 objective and the exact offering should be obvious within the first 2 seconds.
You’d be surprised at how many shops do not fulfil these 3 requirements.”
“I’d try out the buyer’s journey myself to find any obvious, low-hanging fruit. If forms are badly designed or the checkout has a lengthy registration process then these may be easy to improve.
I’d also look into the analytics data to find any areas where the site is failing – looking at bounce rates and exit points for each step in the funnel, segmenting by user type, device etc to find areas for improvement.”
“In my Persuasion Slide framework, friction is the element that slows down and often stops the customer before conversion.
In eCommerce, ease of completing the purchase is critical. The competition is often Amazon, who lets customers buy with a single click. A simple checkout process is crystal-clear and doesn’t have anything unnecessary. Extra effort items, like setting up an account and password, should be optional.”
“My take is people are too often taking the bells and whistles approach to eCommerce, instead of getting the foundation right. Meaning, they buy into the whole “you have to try this latest, greatest eCommerce tip to massively increase your sales!” philosophy.
I think there’s definitely a place for that approach — the A/B experimentation, testing exclusivity tactics like countdown timers and flash sales, creating loyalty programs, and all that fun stuff.
But many people jump straight to that step too soon. The very first things I look at are the copy, product photos, and difficulty of checking out. If you haven’t taken the time to optimize these foundational aspects of your online store, no amount of bells and whistles can save you.”
“The first thing I do in this situation is to examine the positioning of the products. Given my background (copywriting & content marketing), the first thing I look at is the site and product copy, but I also look at the product photos, any additional graphics/images/photos used throughout the store, and the overall look and feel of the site.
Are new potential customers immediately oriented – do they know where they’re at, what’s for sale, why they’d buy it, and how much it costs?
It’s a broad top-level examination, but looking at things from this lens generally gives me a checklist of more specific things that can be tweaked and tested to improve conversion.
The other thing that comes to mind is that too many companies – whether SaaS or eCommerce or in another industry – put far too much focus on getting new customers, instead of retaining their existing customers.
Make sure that you’re not neglecting the post-purchase part of the buyer’s journey. This is another place where content can come in extremely handy – most people use it in the early stages of the buyer’s journey, but you can also use it as a way to onboard your new customers, make sure they understand the value of their new purchase and integrate it into their daily life, and turn them into loyal, returning purchasers.”
“The first thing I look for when analyzing an eCommerce store is the product pages and the about page.
On the product pages, I’m looking for the usual suspects – captivating product descriptions, all the important details (size, weight, product specs), and gorgeous product photos.
For the about page, I’m looking for a story and trust factors that tell the customer ‘We’re dedicated at what we do and we strive to do it well’.”
“The first thing I look at to optimize an online store for conversion is the product pages.
Product pages are equivalent to landing pages, and they need to tell a full story of the product, with detailed information, social proof, related products and anything someone might need to get them interested, excited and turn them into a buyer.
What are a few things that work? Videos, for one, which also boosts the page in terms of search.
Also, people want to glance and get as much info as possible. Use graphical representations for as many things as you can. Is it machine washable? Graphical representation. Is it a technical product that’s hard to understand? Break it down –– graphically.
“I always start off at the high level. I get into Google Analytics and look at the eCommerce metrics. Then I look at the funnel, i.e. how many people came to the site, how many added something to the cart, how many completed their cart, what was the AOV, etc.
There’s no rocket science to the first stage – you just need to look at the story the analytics are telling you. Once you have that story mapped out, you can begin to see where the biggest problems are and start your work from there.
Last month we found a win for a client with a revenue lift of up to 268% on a test using this method.”
The first thing I look at is the checkout process to see what can be pared down to make fewer steps/require less time.
“I have a detailed audit process I use to evaluate eCommerce sites that evaluates a site from home page through checkout. Within the review findings, I prioritize issues based on severity, validating my hypotheses with web analytics.
It’s very common thinking in CRO to just start with checkout, because users with carts are “closer to conversion”. But higher-funnel issues reduce the number of carts built and thus checkouts initiated, and can have a greater impact on revenue than optimizing for a smaller number of carts, depending on the severity. So I always start with reviewing the site end-to-end.
I find a lot of common mistakes on mobile that are good to rule out. For example, email capture pop-ups that span more than the width of the mobile screen to where the “close”/opt-out icons are not visible can skyrocket your bounce rates.
Many category menus (behind the hamburger link) require you to tap a + icon EXACTLY to activate the sub-category menu, else you’re taken directly to the parent-level category where subcategories are hidden behind Filter buttons, making it harder for shoppers to hone in on the products they’re trying to find.
On category pages, filter menus often auto-load a product set after each filter/attribute selection, rather than supporting multiple selections. And checkout sign-in gates (Guest and Returning Customer Sign In options) often present returning customer fields first, and Guest Checkout can slip below the ‘portrait fold.’
If it appears Guest Checkout isn’t offered, you risk losing new shoppers (and even returning customers who don’t remember their passwords).”
“I look at the dropouts. I use Google Analytics Goals to set up funnels at least for (1) featured products on the homepage and (2) paid ads (especially PLAs). There’s nothing sacred about GA, other tools can be used as well.
The key is to find out where visitors are dropping out of the funnel. Normally, this reveals specific pages, which are often templated. Those pages become high priority for testing and optimization.”
“The first thing I do is go through the site and consciously note down how much the site makes me think, or work harder than I have to to understand what you sell and how to buy it.
This leads into a broader UI/UX review that will uncover opportunities to make it easier for your customer to figure out what you sell, why they need it and how it will improve their lives, navigate/find the right product, add it to cart and check out.
“The first thing I look at is how the store communicates its UVP (unique value proposition) or UCP (unique campaign proposition).
What value do they communicate to their potential customers? How do they stand out from their competitors? What are they offering in their campaigns that make them the right choice to buy from?
This is part of what establishes the initial trust with their visitor as well. If they can’t communicate that clearly in the first 5-8 seconds, most visitors will bounce from their website.”
“The first thing we look at is traffic analytics, with special attention to conversion funnel. Any problems with the buyer’s journey will first be demonstrated here in the form of buyers dropping out and not completing their purchase.
So, we look for the steps that have a large dropout rate, especially towards the bottom of the funnel, as these tend to be the lowest hanging fruits for optimization. To do this, we use reports such as goal flow, behavior flow, reverse goal flow, funnel visualization and enhanced eCommerce reports in Google Analytics.
Another thing we check initially is the reports that may indicate technical issues with the website. Broken links, bad code or incompatibility with popular browsers, devices or operating system tend to have an adverse effect on conversion and user experience. So spotting and eliminating these issues represents a sure way to increase conversions initially.”
Now that you've heard from the experts, it's time to try it out for yourself
Wow, talk about amazing. If you want to increase online sales, any one of these answers will help you do it. Come back often for a refresher course if you need to!
A BIG thank you to all the experts who participated in making this post possible. You guys and gals are awesome!
If you thought these answers were helpful, please share the post so we can spread the wealth.
Why not check out how these 14 brands are ruling instagram with their UGC strategies here.