Driving conversion rates is the key challenge of online retailing. But conversion rates remain in the low single digits for the majority of retailers.
It is the conversion rate that ultimately translates into sales, the only real measure of success for any retailer.
In the brick-and-mortar store, conversion is all about turning shoppers into buyers, in online retailing, it's exactly the same - help shoppers find whatever they're looking for, engage them with your product and brand, and finally, turn them into buyers.
The online merchant can accomplish these goals by taking many of brick-and-mortar's merchandising best practices and adapting them to the online environment. These strategies and tactics include: great assortment and pricing, exciting promotions, comfortable store ambiance, helpful sales associates and more. While they are certainly limits to the online environment, online merchants can successfully implement a wide rage of successful, time-tested brick-and-mortar strategies.
Almost all retailers today - regardless of their size and market share - have access to some very advanced e-commerce solutions to power their sites. What will distinguish the winning online fashion retailer is their skill at using smart online merchandising practices to drive conversion rates.
This is what we do at KSL eConsulting, Inc, sharing our core competency and hard-won industry know-how in online merchandising with our retail partners.
For example, the data collected from customer's click-path combined with demographic data and purchasing history can be used to enabled personalized offers. Complete and detailed product information is one distinct advantage to online retailers - copy descriptions can be far more thorough and knowledgeable than the help offered by the average sales associates in the brick-and-mortar world.
Here are 12 steps to optimize conversion rate:
- Start from the numbers. The saying "if you can't measure, you can't manage it" is very true. Review enterprise and web analytics reports to understand what is selling, what is not selling, what is in-stock, what customers are looking for, what is working and what is not working. This will guide the online merchandising agenda and priorities.
- Ensure of the assortment and availability. This is the foundation of retailing. Merchants must have the products that their customers want. This has not changed since the barter system existed. One key reason for customers to shop online is because online is fast and convenient. When you are out of stock, another website is just a click away. Partner with product development, buying and planning to have the right products at the right timing.
- Offer competitive pricing and compelling promotions. Online, customers can easily compare prices by going from one site to another or through shopping comparison sites. This is particularly important when selling third-party brands that are not exclusive to you. And sometimes, shoppers just need that extra nudge of a promotion to make the purchase. Gift with purchase and free shipping are among the proven winners.
- Be the authority to tell your merchandising offers. Take the authoritative and proactive steps to tell customers about your most exciting merchandising offers - whether it is a sale, the hottest trend or a must-have item - and support your offers with a strong call-to-action. Do not wait for the customer to search and dig through the site to find the item. They may not find it.
- Distort to key items and top sellers. Distort and emphasize the key items that you have invested in both the inventory and marketing efforts. Key items typically have a mass appeal that ensures higher conversion rates. As for top-sellers, they are the winners "voted for" by the customers and you will not go wrong by distorting to them. Make the top seller even bigger.
- Optimize on-site search. Half of your shoppers already have in mind what they're shopping for when they come to your site. For this group of customers, it is important to make sure your on-site search function is optimized to your merchandise and guide customers to find what they're looking for.
- Optimize shopping navigation. The other half of your shoppers - the browsers - are open to being seduced by something that catches their eye and desire. It is important to take the customers through the merchandising funnel and call out the merchandising excitements.
- Optimize search result page. Search result page for a category can consist of many pages. The product that are shown on the top pages are more visible than those on the bottom pages. It is key to distort to the top sellers, key items and new arrivals on the top pages. Either your product sequencing is manually set-up or an automation within the content management system, sales performance, inventory position, price points, newness are among the key factors to be taken into account in sequencing the products.
- Present your product at its best. When shopping online, shoppers rely on the product photography and copy description to make a purchase decision. In presenting product online, it is crucial to ensure that all critical views of a product are shown and all critical product information is provided.
- Make it easy to buy. One top reason for shopping online is because of the convenience. Make sure your site is easy to use. Customers have no patience for a site that doesn't work well, has technical problems or just plain bad design.
- Up-sells, cross-sells and impulse-sells. Never leave money on the table. Take the opportunity to up-sell on the product page to drive margins; cross-sell in the shopping cart to drive higher average order value; and impulse-sell at the check-out to drive higher average order value and average item ordered.
- Fast and secure checkout. Ensure that checkout is fast and secure. Allow customers to checkout as a registered customer or as a guest. Never subject a customer to a required registration - doing so will be a perfect scenario for shopping cart abandonment.
Are you satisfied with your site conversion rates? What are your best practices to drive site conversion rates? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comment section below.