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Common E-Commerce Conversion Fails

Posted on 10.31.2013

Many Internet retailers are failing to convert enough visitors into customers. However, much of the time, the reasons are foreseeable. How does your site stack up against this list of common problems?

Slow Page Load Speed

Internet visitors want it yesterday! Any delay becomes seen as intolerable. Google is on a mission to speed up the Internet, because they have seen that even small increases in page load speed can affect conversion. Your page load speed not only influences your search rankings, but also has a direct impact on the conversion rate of visitors who land on your site.

Often, just tweaking some of your Web server settings can result in dramatic gains. Taking the time to set up a content delivery network (CDN) properly, purchasing the proper amount of hosting power and bandwidth, and optimizing assets like images and videos can also pay dividends. Pay attention to your coding and programming. Reducing the number of database calls to the minimum required in server-side code like PHP, Python or Ruby, or optimizing client-side code like HTML, CSS and JavaScript can all make major improvements in your page load speed (or at least the time it takes for the page to start rendering).


On-the-Go Conversions: See five e-commerce solutions that enable merchants to capitalize on the mobile market.


Lack of Visual Continuity between Mobile and Desktop

Mobile sites are fundamentally different from desktop websites. You have less space to do the important stuff. It’s necessary to reduce, but not to change the experience. The content on your mobile site should be highlights and essentials from your desktop site. It should be information chopped down to the specifics that visitors might be looking for: a price, a phone number or click to call, a few features and benefits and a purchase button. It should be limited information but not different information.

But even though mobile is increasingly a popular choice for key activities, it would be a mistake to think that mobile is always used alone. In fact, in the “always-on” world that we live in, people often bounce between devices and regularly use more than one device simultaneously. So there must be continuity among their experiences.

The style, colors, headlines and branding elements should all stay the same. Logical aspects like product categories and content hierarchy should remain consistent so that your mobile site is intuitive to people who have already shopped your desktop site. Make your mobile site an extension of your desktop site and your customers will thank you with their hard-earned money.

Excluding International Visitors

It’s 2 a.m. — do you know where your website traffic is coming from? Some of it’s not from your time zone, or even your country. You must recognize and honor cultural differences and provide appropriate checkout and onsite experiences. If you have significant international traffic, you should make sure that the checkout is specific to their country and no weird “Americanisms” creep in.

On checkout forms, for example, rather than asking for a state, you should be requesting state/province. For zip code, request zip/postal code. By speaking to visitors on their terms, you make them feel at home on your site. Some countries don’t even have states or provinces. So if you require a state or province in checkout, you will literally block the sale. Including a “No State or Province” option or disabling the state/province section when applicable countries are selected keeps the conversion funnel flowing.

Better yet, auto detect the origin of your visitor and show them a country-specific experience whenever possible. Display prices in their local currency and offer text translation. Making your site accessible and even comfortable to international visitors opens up your business to an entire world of customers.

Negative Bias from Initial Reviewers

If one person doesn’t like chocolate ice cream, that doesn’t mean it’s bad. The next person might love it. So don’t let a single bad review ruin a product (and your bottom line). If the first review posted on a product page is a one-star review, and you show the rating upstream in your site (on search results or category pages), fewer people will consider buying it after a quick visual scan of the starrating images. Avoid creating an average review score for a product with only a few reviews. You can still post the text of the review on the product page, but let it be in the context that it’s just one person’s opinion. Wait until you have several reviews before you start showing them as star ratings throughout the site.

Difficult Purchase Process

If customers can’t figure out how to buy your product — they won’t. It’s critical to have an easy, intuitive purchase process. So the purchase button needs to be easy to find. Calls-to-action need to be:

• Appropriately labeled (telling you accurately what will happen when you click)
• Big enough to click on mobile (we use our thumbs a lot and need bigger areas)
• Few in number (too many buttons on your cart page are a sure way to kill conversion)
• Obvious (prominent and unique compared to other visual elements)


After passing the checks listed above, it’s time to think about your shopping cart. Customers need an intuitive way to check out. Frequent online shoppers have become accustomed to a shopping cart button in the top right-hand corner of the page, but it’s important that the button stands out and is visible on all devices, especially on mobile. If you don’t have a site that offers responsive design, your visit cart button may be extra difficult to find for mobile customers. One solution to this is to add an overlay after an item has been added to the cart that gives the option to start the checkout process or keep shopping.

Routing All Mobile Traffic to the Mobile Home Page

Congratulations, you have finally created a fantastic dedicated site for mobile! But it’s too early to celebrate if you are sending all redirected visitors to your mobile homepage. Don’t route all mobile visitors to m.yoursite.com. Instead, take the extra time to route visitors to the specific internal landing page requested. For instance, if someone tries to click on a link to a specific product on a mobile device, they don’t want to be sent back to your home page to find it from there. They want to go directly to that page. It’s better to hold off on your mobile site launch until you have made sure that deep-linking is working properly. Correct this checklist of conversion fails, and your digital cash register will ring more often!

About the Author: Tim Ash is the CEO of SiteTuners, Chair of Conversion Conference and bestselling author of “Landing Page Optimization.”

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