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Ecommerce tips: how to improve product page conversion

by on 22nd June 2016

Most SME retailers focus more on traffic generation and promotion than they do on site conversion.

Often we find that a focus on conversion rate takes a lower priority; as if it’s the poor second cousin of the family. This is a common mistake that leaves revenue on the table with an open invitation for your competitors to steal share of market from under you.

Amazon are a test driven ecommerce operation. Every feature will have yielded an improvement in sales transactions when tested.

Amazon are a test driven ecommerce operation. Every feature will have yielded an improvement in sales transactions when tested.

Why? Increased conversion means more sales, which means higher revenue and higher profitability, which means efficiently deployed, higher marketing budgets.

As part of a series on retail and product level optimisation, we’ve looked at how retailers can optimise their product pages for search and how to improve mobile UX.

Today, we’ll take a look at some features that aid retail product page conversion.

1. Delivery

One of the of biggest barriers to buying online is delivery. Objections such as cost, delivery time, delivery options and location can get in the way.

Evidently, delivery is everything. You’ll have chosen a retailer because of their delivery promise. Or, your previous experience of their delivery service. Giants like Amazon place huge emphasis on delivery time and location, with locker locations (dotted all over most UK cities) and their subscription-based Amazon Prime same day delivery service.

It’s a given that a good delivery message can improve website conversion rates, and a good delivery experience can influence repeat sales.

According to Chloë Thomas, of eCommerce MasterPlan; You need to get it right in all of these places:

  • On every page: a header with the headline offering, and then a link to the delivery options.
  • Clear information on every product page: Is it in stock? When will it despatch?
  • Relevant postage prices: clearly explained on the checkout and basket pages too.

I would establish those points as the minumum must haves. In fact I’d argue that consumers in 2016 demand far more, making this the new minimum standard:

  • Same Day Delivery
  • Order Tracking and SMS / Email Updates
  • Delivery Location Options (local Post Office, Multi Addresses)
  • Saturday / Sunday or Evening Delivery
Delivery options include multiple drop off locations for Demontweeks customers

Delivery options include multiple drop off locations for Demontweeks customers

There are almost certainly search benefits to having these features; search demand for certain products, for example, “flowers same day delivery”.

Interflora's mobile site draws immediate attention to same day delivery whereas the desktop version is a little slower to bring it to the fore.

Interflora’s mobile site draws immediate attention to same day delivery whereas the desktop version is a little slower to bring it to the fore.

I’d argue that there are mobile product conversion benefits. Interflora, for example, recognise that their mobile users are far more likely to demand same day delivery and therefore make that message clearly visible on the landing page.

2. Stock Levels

This site confirms when an item is in stock but attempts to set dispatch expectations when the product isn't available for immediate delivery.

This site confirms when an item is in stock but attempts to set dispatch expectations when the product isn’t available for immediate delivery.

Displaying how many items you have left in your inventory; products in stock, hotels rooms available and so on is a tactic used to take advantage of the feeling of scarcity. The theory being that the scarcer an item is, the more motivated a buyer might be to complete a transaction. In a nutshell, if you reduce the quantity supplied of a product or its availability you create a scarce product. This perceived scarcity then allows you to sell more.

Booking.com know all the tricks including publishing inventory numbers to motivate the booking completion

Booking.com know all the tricks including publishing inventory numbers to motivate the booking completion

3. Sales Velocity

As an amplifying effect to your scarcity strategy, some retailers add a timescale to the inventory depletion. For example: “6 people booked today” might be better than “6 people booked”.

If a deadline is implied, for example in job advertisements, then so is application velocity, as demonstrated here by Reed Jobs:

number-of-people-applying

4. Return Policy

Having a return policy can be a huge trust influencer when it comes to purchase decisions.

Boohoo.com have clear and detailed returns policy with instructions how how to return a product depending on your location in Europe.

Boohoo.com have clear and detailed returns policy with instructions how how to return a product depending on your location in Europe.

Most good retailers tend to:

  • Offer a reasonable return period (of between 14 to 30 days)
  • Make sure all terms and conditions of return are accessible and clear
  • Test making return policies visible on the home, category, product and checkout pages

There’s nothing like a stamp of self-belief when it comes to faith in the quality of your own products. If you’re willing to stand by them, then the extra credibility of being clear about returns, refunds and money back guarantees can help your consumer’s decision making a lot.

Remember: you find winning test combinations, consider how you might amplify the effect of that improvement by using it elsewhere. If a return policy had a positive effect on the product page, test it in the shopping basket.

5. Side-by-side Product comparisons

Side by side product comparisons lean on a component of Decision Theory called Distinction Bias. In a side by side comparison, Distinction Bias “can magnify the near meaningless differences between two very similar things to the extent they become decisive in which one we choose” (source).

side-by-side

The intention with a side by side comparison is to draw attention away from the cost by comparing smaller, arguably less significant details. In essence, it’s a clever decision making aid that highlights features that might be considered more important than the cost alone, or a mechanism to assign value to the individual differences to reduce the friction during the decision making process.

6. Time Sensitive Price Discount

Look at BooHoo.com’s homepage:

boohoo-time-sensitive-discounts

By assigning codes to time sensitive offers, BooHoo are assigning value to those codes. Customers might be more likely to transact sooner than later becuase of this value assignment. That’s thanks to the Loss Aversion phenomenon, people’s tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains.

7. Make Next Steps to Purchase Clear

You’ve put the right product in front of the user, motivated them to purchase and removed all the friction in their way *but* left it unclear as to how to proceed. This is bad:

The neglect of probability, a type of cognitive bias, is the tendency to completely disregard probability when making a decision under uncertainty and is one simple way in which people regularly violate the normative rules for decision making. Source

8. Use https, add Trust Badges, use Testimonials

If a user feels like they’re in safe territory, it’s possible they will amplify other behavioural tendencies, like impulsive buying behaviour:

“The Peltzman Effect is the hypothesised tendency of people to react to a safety regulation by increasing other risky behaviour, offsetting some or all of the benefit of the regulation.”

Dr. Sam Peltzman

So, use https, test trust badges and where relevant, try testing testimonials too.

9. Get Your Forms Tested and Working

Forms are the bane of our lives. Look at this:

Little form validation issues like this contribute to a sense of friction during use of the site. Lazy web development at its finest

Little form validation issues like this contribute to a sense of friction during use of the site. Lazy web development at its finest

According to Baymard.com, “85% of websites have bad forms”. I can attest to experiencing bad form behaviour on desktop and especially on mobile. Test for issues such as default keyboard: defaulting to enter letters in a credit card number field on a payment form is not smart. Nor is leaving auto capitalisation switched on in text fields such as email entry.

Resolving potential form entry issues is a good strategy to remove friction, which especially at the checkout stage can make a significant difference to your mobile conversion rate.

For a useful cheat sheet on keyboard types, take a look at this reseource: http://baymard.com/labs/touch-keyboard-types

Useful References and Further Reading

https://econsultancy.com/blog/7941-which-e-commerce-trustmarks-are-most-effective

http://www.contentharmony.com/blog/e-commerce-conversion-rates/

http://unbounce.com/conversion-rate-optimization/psychology-of-choice-conversion-rates/

http://unbounce.com/landing-pages/social-proof-proving-the-wrong-things/

http://www.quicksprout.com/2013/05/23/the-power-of-the-nudge-how-to-convert-visitors-into-customers/

https://econsultancy.com/blog/66364-19-must-have-features-for-mobile-product-pages/

http://www.smartinsights.com/mobile-marketing/mobile-marketing-analytics/mobile-marketing-statistics/

http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/delivery-key-growing-online-retail

https://econsultancy.com/blog/61816-what-can-retailers-do-to-improve-online-delivery/
http://www.neurosciencemarketing.com/blog/articles/cognitive-biases-cro.htm

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