August 17th, 2010.
This article is aimed at people new to e-commerce. It covers some of the basics of ensuring that your website maximises conversion rates.
It should also be read alongside 12 quick ways to increase conversion rates.
For more experienced e-commerce managers please see this article on advanced techniques for increasing conversion rates.
1) Minimized Navigation on Shopping Cart/Basket Pages
There is nothing more frustrating for an online retailer than an abandoned basket. Why did the user go all that way and then lose interest??
It’s fair to assume at the check out stage that a user does want to buy something. So our advice is to minimise the navigation available on your shopping cart pages. Keep wording short, simple, and to the point. Do not allow any distractions that could potentially pull your customer away or cause a delay.
By adding in lots of last minute deals and offers you risk diverting attention and losing the sale. Not everyone subscribes to this method, however at Datadial we believe it to be the best option.
An example: http://www.yapp.co.uk/pages/checkout_Login.aspx
2) Clear and Upfront Notification of Delivery Charges
Tacking on fees on to a final price without notification early in the buying process is the quickest way to lose a potential sale. Numerous surveys have revealed that hidden delivery costs are the number one reason for people to abandon a shopping cart. Notify your customers upfront if they will be required to pay any shipping or handling fees. This is a great way to increase conversion rates and build customer loyalty.
3) Clearly Display Trust Elements for Consumer Confidence
Remember, quite often users do not know who you are, where you are or really anything about you. Therefore it’s crucial you do everything you can to gain, nurture and keep your customer confidence in order to increase conversion rates. Here are a few ways to do this:
Clearly display “trust elements” on your website. Trust elements can include:
a. Credit card logos. Use only approved, high-quality logos representing the types of credit cards you accept. This helps customers feel more secure in knowing you are a legitimate business. It also shows the user that they can buy from your site. It may not be obvious otherwise.
b. Contact information. Whenever possible clearly display your companies contact information. Customers need to know they will be able to contact you if they have a problem, questions, or need more product details.
c. Real employee names and a company director. When people shop online they like to know with whom they are dealing. Displaying real names and titles of key company employees will help consumers feel more secure in knowing there are real people running the show and not just computerised robots or answering machines.
d. Photos of faces and places. Include photographs of the people with whom your customer is dealing. If appropriate and applicable, include very short biographies about the smiling faces on your website. Consider using photographs of your business location if applicable. This helps people understand yours is a legitimate business with a real location and that you aren’t likely to disappear in the night.
e. Visual verifications of claimed approvals, affiliations, and other credentials. If you have the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for example, proudly display it in a prominent place. If you have earned awards for business-related, and sometimes personal accomplishments, tell your consumers with a quality image and link that leads to more information.
f. Push any special customer services you have to offer. If your customer service representatives are bi-lingual or speak multiple languages, find a way to let potential consumers know from the get go.
Multiple Payment options
Most of the time one payment option on your site is totally adequate. But in the interests of maximising conversions you might consider adding other payment vehicles to your site.
The most popular alternative is PayPal. Some users only ever use paypal as they are comfortable with it and trust it. PayPal offers your customers options. They can pay with major credit cards, or can pay directly from their own PayPal account. It also has the advantage (depending on how you look at it) that Paypal store your credit card so that you do not have to re-enter it each time you visit a site offering Paypal. Paypal is also great one for small and start-up businesses that have no established a financial history with their banks. It’s fast and easy to register, display on your website, and capture funds that can be transferred right to your bank account.
So why not add it as an option?
Well it’s expensive with commission rates around the 3% mark (and 20p per transaction). Paypal also have a knack of siding with the buyer in the event of dispute meaning that refunds are issued on request, leaving merchants frequently out of pocket.
It’s an extra administrative thing to manage but if adding Paypal helps get an extra % sales conversion on your site then maybe it is worth it.
Google Checkout also offers easy solutions for start up merchants and small businesses. Google checkout claim to increase leads and create more conversions with a fast, easy, convenient checkout process.
You can also sign for basket abandonment alerts so you can recapture customers who wander away without buying!
The main advantage that Google Checkout has over Paypal is that its icon appears in Adwords results – so naturally drawing your eye to merchants using it, resulting in a 10% uplift in conversion rates according to Google.
However, Google Checkout has many drawbacks. Its interface and design are distinctly amateurish and this influencers trust building for users on their site. (Having said that Paypal’s interface is not much better). Also it’s only possible to link Google Check out to credit card accounts and not bank accounts.
Since its launch Google checkout has not taken off in anyway like Paypal before it and struggles for market penetration.
But, as above, if it means a small increase in sales conversions, and you can put up with the extra administrative hassle, then maybe it’s worth having Google Checkout as well as Paypal as well as normal Credit Card payment facilities.
Like Paypal, Google Checkout is suitable for small and larger merchants alike, though brand aware and high end merchants are unlikely to be found using either as there is undoubtedly something “cheap” looking about both!
July 22nd, 2010.
I recently went to a talk on the different forms that e-tailing is taking over and beyond the traditional e-commerce site.
Below is a distilled version of the talk with just the best bits. A lot of these examples are only availabe in the US at the moment but by reading this you are getting ahead of the curve!
(The talk was by the big cheese at Pod1 – Fadi – so credit to him for researching it all)
E-commerce via Apps
Start accepting cash and card payments with Square. No contracts, monthly fees, or hidden costs. Effortlessly manage the money you take with an easy and intuitive interface. US only at the moment and only for payments less than $60 but one to watch for sure.
See corporate video
And a review on how it works
Google shopper (Android only)
This APP allows you to scan barcodes, the co
vers of books and media, and even search by voice – the app will tell you where you can buy the same product and at what price. Pretty nifty if it works!
It took 12 months for the location-based social network to attract one million users and by stark contrast; the second million only took three months. Ever since February 2010, the site has been registering over one million ‘check-ins’ a week.
See how it works:
New e-commerce software
Vendr create POP-UP shops – They say that you can create your e-commerce site within 15 minutes. These are basic obviously sites now but I guess they will improve. In any event they will probably do for many home based businesses.
from their site: “Works with your current website: Add a “store” button to your blog or website, and your store will simply pop-up over your content — no more sending your customers elsewhere to make a purchase. Vendr functions as a part of your existing site. ”
Alvenda software allows you to create e-commerce shops within sites such as Facebook – Alvenda’s first customer, 1-800-Flowers.com, launched during the Mother’s Day holiday in 2009 and recognized a 10.5x lift in shopping activity by making it easier for people to shop.
New E-Tailing concepts
Cutting out the middle man – Harnessing the power of social media to revolutionise product manufacture and pricing.
For furtniture design and manufacture: You choose what makes it into our collection. Vote for your favourites and the most popular will be made available to order.
Buy early, pay less
The earlier you buy an air ticket, the less you pay. Now you can do the same with wine. Save £££!
WhipCar is the first service in the world where a car owner can rent out their vehicle for money, whenever they are not using it. WhipCar pairs sensible drivers with spare car time
April 22nd, 2010.
If one of your business goals for 2010 is to increase your conversion rate then here are some basic conversion tips, which amazingly so many website still fail to pay attention to.
1. Include calls to action. Make sure the home page makes visitors want to move deeper into the site and that the home page reflects exactly the kind of business you are.
2. Keep your site relevant In order to gain trust and loyalty from your visitors it’s important to keep your site up to date. For example once an event is over it should be removed from your site straight away and then updated with all forthcoming events/news.
3. Know what’s visible. Your most important information should go “Above the Fold”: Anytime a customer has to scroll down a page, they’re doing so to view content that lies “below the fold”. I still recommend putting all your biggest selling and most profitable products above the fold so your customer doesn’t have to scroll to find it.
4. Buy it now What happens when a visitor decides to buy a product? They add it to a shopping basket. How do they add it? They click a button or link (usually a button)and if they can’t see the button they will go elsewhere. There are still plenty of sites out there with buttons that are too subtle, or don’t say the right thing, or are hidden away at the bottom of a page. It is important to have clear buttons that also tell the customer what will happen next once they have clicked.
5. Importance of good images and design should always have visitor usability and appeal in mind. A beautiful, funky or attractive looking web site will not help your ranking but it will help secure client interest and entice sales.
6. Keep it short make sure the checkout process is not long – if your site has a lot of pages to complete before checkout you risk the visitor giving up half way through due to time. You only need to ask for the relevant fields to complete the purchase and follow-up with further details later.
7. Good product description should have a headline and an opening hook designed to get your reader to click on the item and find out more. The most important elements for product description pages are:
- Opening hook
- Overview of benefits
- Closing the sale
8. Convenience is key Visitors to the site often say how tired they are of having to open another account and having to remember another username/password. A way around this is to offer a one page checkout process which captures customer details, but does not open an account.
9. Keep them informed When customer buys something online, they want to know when it’s going to arrive at their door. People are impatient. Giving them an estimated delivery date during the checkout process is a good start. Emailing them when their product is dispatched is great. Giving them a tracking number if using a delivery service that supports online tracking is even better. Keep the customer informed at every step of the process, before and after sale, about as much as you can.
10. Points Of Contact Many visitors to your site dislike making contact online so it’s helpful to have your phone number clearly on the contact page if that’s one of the ways you can expect to convert visitors into customers.
11. Payment options? Customers these days need a few options in order to buy online. Not everyone has a Paypal account or a credit card. You need to offer your customers as many payment options as possible, or you could risk losing potential sales. Make the user’s life easy and give them as many payment options as possible.
12. Highlighting offers and sales on your website will encourage an increase both visitors and revenue. In your headline one should feature different benefits as this will have a huge impact on your sales. This is often the first thing visitors to your site see so it must capture their attention and entice them to buy the product(s).
September 13th, 2009.
At business school I was taught the way to make money was to make our assets sweat. I think they meant to get the most out of everything you owned and to make sure it was being worked night and day to maximum effect. And so at Datadial we try to do the same for our clients’ websites by making sure that they are focused on developing websites that maximise sales levels by being search engine friendly and that convert users in to buyers.
The usual reaction in squeezing more out of a website is to rush into a redevelopment exercise. Redeveloping a website is expensive that is often undertaken on a whim and without real research into what is working and what is not on the current website. Indeed it’s often the case that the current site is perfectly capable of delivering many more sales and that it just needs refining to improve the user experience.
This doesn’t need to be an expensive exercise. The key to successful marketing is to consistently test and measure everything that you do. Delivering fantastic conversion figures is within reach for us all, no matter how small the budget.
Here are four ways that we have carried out for some of our clients to help increase their onsite conversions at virtually no cost.
1) Online surveys
What better way to really understand your customers than to ask them for direct feedback?Â What is it that makes them want to buy from you rather than your competitors?Â How did they hear about you?
Carrying out market research will enable you to build on what you’re doing well and make any necessary adjustments and help you to grow. You will be surprised by how many people are willing to take the time to reply to surveys.
We recently did a survey for one of our clients Design911.co.uk which gave vital insight into user behaviour. Coupled with Click Tracking report (see below) Design911 have been able to fine tune their website to respond to users’ expectations and behaviour.
Below is a sample of the survey results that were produced.
2) Mouse tracking –
Why do other sites make it so difficult to buy anything from them? We’ve all experienced a confusing website at one point or another. But could your site also be suffering from usability issues? Find out where the sticking points are with Mouse tracking.
You may also find that users are trying to click on things on your site that are not designed to be clicked on. We found this with Design911:
With design 911 we found that that very few people clicked on the middle of the page and that lots of users tried clicking on ads on the right handside of the page which were not actually clickable. We found too that the search box was being under used as it was below the page fold and that users were taking at least 60 seconds to make a click on key navigation items.
3) Study your analytics
It’s all too tempting to gloss over your analytics reports – these reports contain vital information which reveal where users are getting stuck, turned on or turned off. Seems obvious to say it but unless you take the time to check what is going on on your siteÂ you will never be able to intelligently amend your site and measure the effect of your changes.
There is a mass of information to look at but here are 3 basic things to do
Check Bounce Rates: Bounce rates tell you if a visitor who has been directed to your site via a search engine or Adwords likes what they have found. If they leave the site immediately this is called a bounce. If this happens you need to question if you are showing the right products for the keyword search and if you could provide better information, or if they had come via Adwords, are your Adwords set up correctly.
Funnels: You can set up funnels to determine where people are dropping off over a series of pages (typically the shopping cart process). Different funnels can be set up for different goals.
Compare to previous periods: There are a number of trends such as time on site, the number of keywords that you are being found for, the number of pages per visit that are good to compare from onen time period to another so that you detect trends.
4) A/B Testing
Having pawed over your analytics you can then start making intelligent changes to your site. How will you make more people fill in your enquiry form? How can you get them to add one more thing to their basket. Take a look at the forms below and guess which one had the higher conversion rate.
This company carried out A/B testing on their sign up form and increased their conversion rate by 10%.
This is called A/B testing or Multivariate testing which we use to determine which images, copy and design most appeal to your customers and which version increases conversion.Â You can have as many or as few variables as you like when creating your A/B testing. Ideally you would set it up to automatically serve different versions of the page to alternate users but to save money you can do it on a week on/week off basis.
We helped Conference Genie increase conversions on their site by altering the sign up process. Interestingly we did it by making their site more complicated.
Weirdly the problem on this site was that it was too easy to use. Users could not believe that they could just dial a default number, punch in a code and start a conference call. So we made the site appear to generate a specific telephone number and a unique code for them. Turning a one step process into a two step process actually increased conversions.
Making small changes instead of wholesale changes was also recently backed by Peter Fitzgerald, who leads Google UK’s retail industry division. He said that the whole area of analytics – that’s technical jargon for examining the ways that people navigate websites when they shop online – has taken on new importance to retailers.
Simple changes can make the world of difference, particularly since statistics show that 50.1% of online shoppers who place items in their shopping carts still do not buy them.
By subtly altering a website’s layout based on how people use it, websites can increase sales significantly.
“There is often a lot of unimportant information on the top of a web page. If you move this information out of the way it can make a huge difference,” said Mr Fitzgerald.
For example when Comet, the electricals retailer owned by Kesa, the listed stores group, removed two bits of text from the top of its web page (saying ‘top checkout tips’ and ‘you’re safe with us’ respectively), its conversion rates increased by 6.7pc. “Online retailers are spending more time on analytics to see where things are going wrong,” said Mr Fitzgerald.
Department store group Debenhams recently tested the message and positioning of an online sign-up form for its Beauty Club. Improvements to it increased the number of customers the chain signed up by over 89pc. Little such tweaks are being made by online retailers as a means of gaining incremental sales. Experts say that the results of the small changes can be seen almost immediately.
Google’s Mr Brittin said: “By interpreting analytics data and continually testing their sites, retailers can really understand what consumers are looking for online. Often very small and seemingly obvious tweaks can boost sales significantly.”
All of the above exercises can be implemented fairly quickly and inexpensively. However, don’t underestimate the time you need to truly get to grips with your findings.
By constantly analysing the results and carrying out appropriate changes you will be able to squeeze every last conversion out of your site without incurring expensive redevelopment costs.
June 21st, 2009.
From 1st January 2010 there will be a change to the basic rule regarding the place of supply of services. This is the rule which identifies the country where services are deemed to have been ‘supplied’. Currently, if a supplier has established its business in the UK, then the place of supply will be deemed to be the UK and any services charged for will be subject to UK VAT. There are, however, numerous exceptions to this rule. Establishing whether a service falls under one of the exceptions â€“ and if so, which one â€“ constitutes a major headache for businesses.
The new basic rule states that if the recipient is a business customer then the place of supply is the country where the recipient belongs. Therefore, when the new rule applies, if a UK business supplies training services to a business customer in Spain and delivers the training in France then the place of supply will be Spain and the reverse charge will apply. The existing rules dictate that the place of supply is France, with the result that the UK business may need to register in France.
The new basic rule also states that if the recipient is not a business customer then the place of supply is the country where the supplier belongs.
As is now the case, there will be some exceptions, but these exceptions are in many cases different from those currently in force. It will be important to ascertain just how your business will be affected.
The changes may affect businesses which receive services from abroad. Such businesses may already account for VAT using the reverse charge mechanism, but may in future have to do this in situations where the reverse charge currently does not apply.
Another significant change, which is being introduced as an EU anti-fraud measure, relates to EC Sales Lists. Businesses supplying services to commercial customers in other EU countries will be affected. Currently, EC Sales Lists are required only for supplies of goods. Although this comes into force on 1st January 2010 you should be preparing now to collect the necessary data.
Â The above was copied from an email sent to me by UK Training (Worldwide) Limited
4/5 The Mayflower,
Tel: +44 (0)1704 878988
Fax: +44 (0)1704 832124
I have no association with them but the information is important to digest for anyone trading online.
As ever Datadial are here to assist you in implementing your e-commerce sites to the specification you desire.
November 10th, 2008.
We took a dogs dinner of an old website and transformed it into a work of art that converts users to buyers. AsÂ always the project was delivered on time and on budget.
Yapp Wine Merchants website now has a fresh, modern design, packed with tools to help you find the wine you need.Â It is unfrightening and designed to cater to Yapps broad user base.Â We’ve made searching for wine fun and easy whilst retaining Yapp’s connoiseur edge.
Everyone has their own ways of looking for wine so we implemented 4 ways to navigate the site:
- The Easy Wine selector uses dynamic searching
Watch your search results change dynamically with easy to use search sliders. Have a play.Â The great advantage of this is thatÂ it all happens onÂ one page with no hopping backwards and forwards to and from search results.
- The Food and Wine selector allows you to search for wine by Food Type by clicking on images of different food types.Â This is not rocket science but is dis-armingly useful.
- Advanced Search - for those who really know what they are after.
Search by Regional maps
- “You recently looked at”
Isn’t it annoying when you look at lots of different items and then have to re-find them by re-doing the searches.Â Well we eliminated this problem with the “You recently looked at section” so you dont have to re-do previous searches.
- Tell a friend / Bookmark tools
Not strictly a navigation tool but so simple and effective.Â How else can you let your loved one know what you want for Christmas?Â Simply post your choices to your Facebook page and invite others to have a look.
Search engine friendly
As always with Datadial, the site is built to be search engine friendly
All pages from the old site have been redirected to the relevant new pages.
The site uses Friendly URLs so http://www.yapp.co.uk/Wine-List/Rhone-South/Chateauneuf-du-Pape/ instead of
Integrated stock control – the site is integrated to draw stock levels from Sage accounts.
The site is fully content managed, giving Yapp control over all aspects of the site including creating offers, mixed case offers and product information.
The site is also integrated with Datadial’s email marketing system.
July 9th, 2007.
Given that shoppers are a fickel lot it’s probably best not to annoy them too much, particularly if they have bothered to visit your website.Â
However, a survey of 2,400 UK online shoppers commissioned by MoreComputers.com has revealed the irritation many shoppers feelÂ when shopping online.Â
Particularly, the most annoying thing an online retailer can do is something calledÂ “philfing”.Â The term ‘philfing’ stands for ‘purposely hiding what I’m looking for’, and the survey found that 93% of UK web users are annoyed by such things as hidden delivery charges or credit card charges.
Other e-commerce practices which irritated shoppers included:
- Having to register before buying – this annoyed 57% of those surveyed, while 14% said this would make them abandon a purchase.
- 35% found hidden delivery costs annoying, while this would prevent 64% from buying from a website.
- No phone number being supplied for the site annoyed almost everyone, and rightly so.Â 48% found this annoying, while 50% would never purchase anything from such a site.
- Interestingly, 36% found the type of ‘people who bought this, also bought…’ information typical of Amazon annoying, while 5% said this would put them off buying.
At the end of the day it’s all about trust.Â Establishing customers’ trust in the buying process is essential, and it’s difficult to re-establish once it has been broken. Not providing a phone number or hiding extra charges until the customer has gone through the checkout process is guaranteed to break this trust. This is all obvious stuff youo might say but it’s amazing the number of companiesÂ ignoring these simple steps.
July 9th, 2007.
According to a new report from Marketing Sherpa shows that almost half of all online retail transactions are abandoned at the checkout stage. This constitutes the single biggest loss of revenue for many e-commerce sites.
There are large variations on abanodment rates ranging from as low as 15% to as high as 90%. The chart below shows the results of survey, and gives an idea of the variety ofÂ reasons for customers leaving the checkout process.
Some reasons may be omitted from these answers, such as customers’ level of trust in a website, but the data suggests some important conclusions:
- Many e-commerce checkout processes are suffering from design and usability problems which can be easily rectified.
These include hidden charges, lack of clear delivery details, or poor usability.
- Business processes within the checkout area give customers problems
User registration, shipping costs that customers consider too high, or overlong checkout processes.
- Some carts are abandoned for reasons beyond the control of the retailer.ï¿½
Some people will add items to their basket and reach the checkout when comparison shopping, with no intention of buying.
These conclusions suggest that there is much that online retailers can do to reduce their abandonment rates. Case studies suggest a 10-15% reduction can be achieved through redesign, split-testing or a combination of the two.
For more, see our the full report by E-consultancy’s website (Online Retail 2007: Checkout Special by Dr Mike Baxter, which examines checkout best practice) or talk to me, Robert Faulkner on 020 8600 0500 for a verbal digest of the report.
June 25th, 2007.
You may or may not be aware of the recent changes that have happened to Switch cards.Â Switch is no more and has been fully replaced by Maestro (part of the MasterCard family).Â This change occurred earlier this month and all websites have been updated to remove the Switch logo and replaced with the Maestro logo.
Further to this Mastercard are implementing security to all Maestro transactions from 30th June 2007.Â From this date all online retailers will have to use a security protocol called “3D Secure” if they wish to continue to accept Maestro transactions.Â 3D Secure encompasses Verified-By-Visa and MasterCard SecureCode andÂ is basically an extra layer of security used to prevent against card fraud.Â During the checkout process, after entering their card details, customers will be redirected to their bank or card providers website where they will need to enter a password which they set up with their bank or card provider.Â If they have notÂ set up a password they are given theÂ option to do this online.Â If all the security details check out then the transaction is completed as normal.Â
3D Secure has already begun to be implemented by us on all of our e-commerce websites.Â For clients who use Protx as their payment provider the changes do not need to be in place until August 2007.
For more information on these changes click here.