On-Site Optimization: Seven Barriers that Hinder Conversions

Ron Dodby Ron Dod

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Generating eCommerce sales can be a tough business. Retailers must not only be aware of how to reach their target audience, but they must also know what they desire, put forth messaging that lures them to and through the site, provide products at the price points they agree with and tout smooth and memorable user experience.

Many brands have become quite adept at those first few criteria. However, there are still scores of sellers who provide subpar to downright awful on-site experiences. This lack of UX design optimization acumen can create a legion of hurdles for consumers to get over in order to get what they want from a site. But, the more likely scenario is that they will seek services elsewhere.

Retailers who fail to pay rapt attention to their on-site experiences are losing out on untold sums of revenue and hordes of potential customers. With this type of eCommerce experience, a brand will only be around long enough to tell their tale of woe.

To avoid the catastrophic fates that await merchants that unwittingly create barriers to consumer conversion, we have outlined seven of the most common on-site impediments to sales, subscriptions and other conversions, along with how to remedy such ails.

Ready to craft a better on-site eCommerce experience? Read on.

Mazy Menus

highway sign with maze of arrows

Many eCommerce websites are designed from a business perspective. As a result, creating the navigation experience fails to take visitors into consideration. Naturally, this can give rise to a frustrating interaction for shoppers who crave simplicity and a clear path to purchase.

Over the years, the evolution of UX trends has given rise to expanding dropdown menus, multi-level “hamburger” mobile menus, mega menus and other navigational formats that reveal tons of categories, subcategories and sub-subcategories that consumers rarely visit. Moreover, these types of structures tend to create confusion, frustration and a general opacity in how a customer should move through the site.

To successfully design a streamlined and intuitive menu, it is necessary first to analyze which navigational links draw the most clicks alongside a site’s most popular categories. By minimizing the menu choice to only the most sought-after real estate, shopping pages tend to receive increased traffic as they are easier to reach and create a greater navigational focus.

Once a user lands on a category page, this is where they should find filter options to drill down into deeper category layers, not in the navigation menu.

Moreover, the results generated from such alterations to the on-site experience are measurable. For instance, a VWO case study shows that A/B testing of the Portland Trail Blazers’ website helped to build “a new menu design that boosted ticket sales by 63%.”

A Slow Site

There are no ifs, and or buts about it. Slow websites get abandoned. Period.

slow-websites-abandonment-graphicThis behavior is particularly true in the eCommerce space where websites are expected to load in two seconds or less. Therefore, if a consumer must struggle with a slow-loading, sluggish on-site experience, a brand will lose substantial amounts of sales and future customers.

In today’s digital age, high-speed service is mandatory.

There are several free tests that merchants can utilize to audit their site’s speed and load times, such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. Using this service will provide site owners with a starting point to understanding their performance metrics and remedy current load time ails.

However, there are many tactics that merchants can implement to improve their eCommerce site speed, such as employing a content delivery network (CDN), minimize redirect chains, leverage browser caching and optimize product images.

A Superfluous Checkout Process

This impediment is possibly the most frequent offender on the list–and the most detrimental. Too often, retail websites tout cumbersome, extraneous, multi-page checkouts with lengthy form fields.

This structure is downright unacceptable to most consumers.

man holding credit card giving thumbs down

As proof of the detestability of such checkout processes, cart abandonment research from the Baymard Institute shows that 26 percent of online shoppers in the U.S. have ditched their digital basket because of a “too long/complicated checkout process.”

Given that more than a quarter of respondents encountered such issues, optimizing the checkout process is of the utmost importance.

There are numerous ways to achieve this goal. For instance, the purchase process can be enhanced by:

  • Minimizing the number of pages
  • Reducing form fields to the bare necessities for order fulfillment
  • Supply numerous payment options
  • Avoiding pushing upsells too hard
  • Preventing shipping cost surprises

Moreover, there is one major checkout optimization technique that merchants can utilize for better performance. However, this one warrants its own section.

No Guest Checkout

Here’s a cold, hard fact. A significant number of consumers will not buy from a website if it requires them to create an account. Most shoppers want to peruse a site, grab what they want and complete the transaction as quickly as possible, without feeling imposition from the retailer.

guest-checkout-graphicAny eCommerce site that will not allow visitors to spend money without first creating an account is turning away customers, plain and simple. As usability expert Jared Spool has stated regarding a site he worked with that required registration:

“[The login] form was preventing customers from purchasing products from a major eCommerce site to the tune of $300,000,000 a year.”

This isn’t to say that merchants should eliminate account registration. Instead, to provide a fully optimized checkout experience that effectively removes barriers from converting, it is necessary to give the visitors the option to generate an account as well as the choice to check out as a guest.

Empowering shoppers to do things their own way is a significant key to earning sales.

A Subpar Small Screen Experience

Mobile devices are the future of the internet. As the global proliferation of mobile devices continues, handheld machines consistently account for more time spent online than their desktop counterparts. According to reports from Statista, “in 2018, 52.2 percent of all website traffic worldwide was generated through mobile phones.”

Moreover, the number of eCommerce transactions that take place via mobile continues to climb year-over-year. In 2018, smartphones accounted for over 31 percent of all holiday sales, equating to $38.8 billion. Additionally, last year was the first year that smartphones accounted for the bulk of online retail traffic, topping out at 51 percent. This uptick marks a five percent increase over 2017’s 46 percent.

By 2021, mobile eCommerce transactions are expected to generate over $3.5 trillion in revenue, representing 72 percent of eCommerce sales.

woman looking at phone frustrated

Get the picture?

For all these reasons and more, eCommerce merchants cannot afford (literally) to possess an underwhelming mobile shopping experience. However, this is still one of the greatest on-site hurdles for earning conversions.

For retailers to boost mobile conversions, provide a fast-loading and responsive site that features a fluid UX design capable of moving consumers through to a conversion smoothly. Additionally, it is essential for mobile sites to support an omnichannel strategy as most mobile shoppers will be coming from other platforms.

Security Issues

Another on-site element that hinders conversion rates is the lack of indicators for a secure shopping experience. The bottom line is that if a consumer doesn’t have reasons to trust a site, they aren’t going to make a purchase.

site-security-graphicTherefore, showcasing a website’s secure nature via various markers is a prime pathway to conversions. A study from GlobalSign supports this notion as it reported that 90 percent of internet users “are more likely to trust a website if it displays security indicators [and] are more likely to leave details or purchase when they know that their data is sent over a secure connection.”

Moreover, according to the Baymard Institute’s cart abandonment research, 17 percent of survey respondents claimed to ditch their cart because they didn’t trust the site with their credit card information.

This data shows that displaying security badges and trust indicators can have significant impacts on sales. Therefore, moving an eCommerce store to HTTPS and displaying recognizable security icons can remove barriers to conversions and enhance the on-site experience for consumers.

For those that have caught on, all these on-site obstacles point to one overarching culprit.

A Poor User Experience

User experience trends are one of the most important considerations regarding increased conversion rates. If users can’t find what they want (or experience any of the problems above), they will go to another site.

However, convoluted navigation options and slow site speed aren’t the only UX hindrances. Annoyingly intrusive popups that appear upon arrival tend to send users fleeing. Similarly, sacrificing a site’s usability for the sake of looking clever or contemporary will drive users to find a more amicable experience. If a site lacks negative space and is jam-packed with animations, images and walls of text, visitors are likely to bounce.

man with hands in air frustrated at laptop

The point to these examples and the hurdles detailed above is that the user experience should be the central focus of all on-site elements. Every part of the site should facilitate the user’s desires, help guide them in the right direction and remove impediments from the path to purchase, thereby inducing a joyful and memorable shopping experience.

If the end user isn’t always top-of-mind, on-site interactions will suffer.

Digital retailers must deliver incredibly friendly and alluring on-site encounters if they wish to increase conversions. Many of the issues that plague eCommerce merchants stem from the elements listed above.

We understand that creating a unique, friendly and optimized on-site experience can be rather challenging. If your brand requires assistance in generating an expertly-crafted eCommerce website, reach out to our masterful web development team to help construct an online store that turns the conversion process into a no-brainer.

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