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17 Reasons for Failed Conversions

Posted on 7.14.2013

E-commerce merchants always have one thing on their minds – conversions.

Despite how great your products are or the amount of traffic your marketing initiatives drive to your website, conversions are hard to come by. This is because everything from the color of a call-to-action to the quality of a product image can push your visitors off your site and onto your competitor’s checkout page.

The only surefire way to optimize your site for conversions is through testing, but in order to run tests successfully, you must recognize some of the most common problem areas of e-commerce sites. Luckily, you can start by checking out 17 of the top reasons for failed conversions below:

1. Checkout form is too long.

Oftentimes, merchants have long checkout forms to collect valuable data from their customers to leverage for future marketing campaigns. Unfortunately, this technique frequently backfires, as many consumers want to get through the checkout process as quickly as possible and without sharing personal details. After all, when you shop in a brick-and-mortar store all of that extra information isn’t required. That said, keep the checkout process as quick as possible, because you can always make an effort to collect additional customer info after the sale is complete.

2. No guest checkout.

As aforementioned, consumers like to avoid long checkout processes that require them to divulge private information. In addition, some visitors don’t want to be forced to become site members (e.g. creating a login and password combo) before continuing. This is especially true for first-time customers who don’t want to be targeted every time they go on the Web by a brand they don't fully trust. So, by offering a guest checkout option, you make it easy for consumers to convert hassle-free. Plus, if you are selling good products and consumers leave with happy experiences, they are more likely to choose (on their own) to come back and become members of your site.

3. Bad (or no) reviews.

User-generated content can help your e-commerce store not only rank higher in the search engines, but it also provides your site with higher engagement rates and is influential in other customers’ purchasing decisions. A product with all bad reviews, or no reviews, can turn customers away from the checkout process. It is important to keep quality products in stock and maintain superior customer service so that bad reviews are far and few in-between, as well as to encourage consumers to write reviews. Better on-page design can also help achieve this initiative, so that the review box is easily seen and can be quickly filled out. 

4. Lack of shipping savings.

Although you don’t want to lose revenue by offering free shipping on every purchase, try offering free shipping with a minimum purchase as well as free shipping promotions around the holidays. This could be the difference between your customers completing the checkout process or purchasing from your competitors' sites or brick-and-mortar stores. While we are on the topic, make sure to be upfront with shipping costs. This information should be shared early in the purchasing funnel

5. Low-quality product images.

A product image is typically the only way a potential customer can or will view the item that they are considering purchasing from your site. It's not enough, however, to only have high-quality images on your site. You'll also need to add multiple images from a variety of angles. This way you can increase buying confidence.

6. Uninformative descriptions.

Details like sizes, colors, fabrics, etc. are very important to consumers who are making purchasing decisions online. After all, a product image only shows so much and an uninformative description can deter visitors from making a purchase, or even worse, can lead to an angry customer. For example, if a consumer looking for a sleeper sofa and finds one they think is the perfect fit only to discover it is just 5-feet long once it arrives, they are likely to return it and, even, write a bad review and not shop from your store again. Be upfront with your customers and provide as much details as possible within descriptions.

7. Prices are too high.

Everything a customer needs is only a click away on the Internet, which means that the savviest of shoppers are going to compare your prices with the competition. Don’t put yourself at a disadvantage by pricing your items too high.

8. No customer support.

Perhaps the biggest difference between shopping online and inside brick-and-mortar stores is customer service. And while it is not a good idea to force your live chat or virtual assistants on your customers, it is a best practice to make them available in the case that your customers need help finding something or have questions about a product. In fact, a 2012 Oracle study reveals that 57 percent of consumers believe that live help is among the most important features of a website.

9. Unclear calls-to-action.

Calls-to-action are crucial in attracting conversions, and everything from the navigational elements' wording to their color and placement can affect your bottom line. This is why it is essential to test your CTAs to see which variations achieve the best results. While the best way to test is with services like SiteSpect, Monetate and Optimizely, merchants can also leverage buttonoptimizer.com to design new buttons for free and then test them on their sites.

10. Security concerns.

The fear of identify theft is enough to make a shopper abandon their cart. Merchants should, obviously, do their due dilligence to protect their customers’ personal information and also make them feel safe by displaying security signals on their sites to ease consumer concerns. Retailers can leverage security companies, such as VeriSign or Truste, to ensure customers that they are taking precautions to secure their personal data.

11. Not optimized for mobile.

A recent Netbiscuits study, which surveyed 5,000 customers in 10 different global markets, found that 25 percent of respondents spend more than six hours per day on the mobile Web. This means, if your site is not optimized for mobile, it is clear that you are missing out on valuable conversion opportunities. And while it is worth noting that consumers don’t always make purchases on smartphones (tablets, on the other hand, are a whole different story) they do conduct plenty of research on their handheld devices. And if that research is done on someone else’s mobile site, chances are the conversion will end up on that site too.

12. Uninspiring landing pages.

Since the landing page is the first impression a site gives to incoming visitors (and potential customers), it should be designed to impress. Merchants should consider featuring best-selling items on this page along with must-have deals. They should also use testing tools to identify which items and copy receive the most click-throughs. In addition, merchants must ensure visitors are landing on the correct pages when they come from search (to manage expectations and increase the likelihood of conversions). For example, a customer who conducts a search for “high heels” should be directed to the clicked site’s high heel section, rather than the site’s tennis shoe area. By directing consumers to the area of the site that they requested, you eliminate the guesswork and minimize the chances of them abandoning the site because they couldn’t find what they were searching for.

13. Lack of marketplace visibility.

It is hard to talk about e-commerce without talking about Amazon, as this online marketplace has greatly impacted the online retail industry. The availability of so many products in one place, from a variety of vendors, often makes marketplaces, like Amazon, eBay and Google Shopping, among the first destinations for online shoppers. And by having a presence on these sites merchants can better compete with the opposition and increase conversion rates in the process.

14. Missing payment options.

Some customers want to pay by credit cards, while others will want to pay by electronic checks (still) or an alternative method like PayPal. The only way to cater to everyone is by offering as many secure transaction options as possible. Many popular e-commerce platforms, like Bigcommerce, have pre-integrated payment gateways, so customers always have a way to pay. Bigcommerce, in fact, offers 60 different payment solutions.  

15. Bad navigation.

It’s a pretty simple concept – if customers can’t find it, they can’t buy it. This is why it is important to take the guesswork out of your site by making sure its navigation is effortless. You can even test your site’s search function by looking for products yourself through your site's search bar, as search is one of the most common ways consumers find products on websites. Mike Feiman of PoolDawg.com states that adding rich auto complete to PoolDawg’s search tool led to higher satisfaction and conversion rates. Thus, updating your site's search function could prove to be a profitable decision too.

16. Undesirable return policy.

Like it or not, returns are part of the e-commerce industry. Although having detailed descriptions and high-quality images, as well as leveraging tools like virtual fitting rooms, can diminish return rates, it is impossible for merchants to avoid returns altogether. That said, don’t make it hard for your customers to make returns. After all, at some point in our lives, we have likely all been that customer who was burned by seemingly unfair return policies. And online returns are a hassle not only for merchants, but for consumers too. In fact, a ShopRunner study notes that 69 percent of consumers claim that returning items purchased online in a complicated process, regardless of fees. Questionable return policies can also impact loyalty in addition to conversion rates, as the study also reveals that 81 percent of online shoppers are not likely to make repeat purchases from a retailer that charges for return shipping. 

17. Slow load times.

Don’t expect your customers to stick around and wait for your page to load. A 2012 TagMan study reveals that a one-second delay in page-load time can cause a 7 percent loss in customer conversions. Luckily, there are many ways merchants can speed up their sites, such as leveraging a tag management system to optimize the load time for all tags, or by using a solution like SiteSpect AMPS to decrease load times by as much as 50-70 percent.

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