Duncan Keene, UK managing director of ContentSquare, describes how higher conversion rates are within reach.
Most retailers wouldn’t find it normal if out of 100 in-store visitors, only one bought something. Likewise, if most shoppers at a supermarket filled their baskets with food, only to leave them all at the checkout, they would think there was something wrong.
Unfortunately, this is the sad truth for online retailers nowadays. While shops with physical stores are fortunate to have a conversion rate of up to 20%, ContentSquare data shows ecommerce websites lag behind at about 1.5% conversion rate.
This is strange, considering how established online shopping is – according to EuroStat, two thirds of internet users in the EU shopped online in 2016. So why is the conversion rate for ecommerce retailers so low? The simple answer is a mediocre online user experience (UX).
Providing an online map
We all know how to shop on the high street, having spent years navigating the brick-and-mortar landscape. While online shopping has been around for several years now, the public is still less instinctively clear on how to get what they want online, and online user experiences are not yet as standardised as those found in physical shops.
In a physical store, navigation is simple, and shop assistants are always there to assist should there be any issues. These assistants also have a job to do – to make you purchase something, while attending a physical store means customers are able to try on clothes to check for size and style. This goes to show why physical shops have better conversion rates.
Online stores don’t have these luxuries, and have to rely only on their UX to goad users forward. Most consumers have gotten used to the online process, but a variety of website layouts, checkout processes, as well as different devices can make the purchasing experience a difficult one. If the customer isn’t familiar with the layout or experience, it’s likely he or she will simply leave without buying anything. In this case, checkout abandonment is also an issue, and ecommerce sites lose a lot of traffic this way.
The main solution to this is to have a website with good UX from the get go. It can be easy to forget this as a retailer when you’re focusing on the sale, but UX design is key. If your customer’s online experience is easy, they’re more likely to make a purchase. UX design should also be tailored according to market – for example, l’Occitane recently found that by tailoring their UX to their different international users they were able to increase their mobile sales by 15%.
Mobile is different
Recent data from ContentSquare’s mobile ecommerce report revealed that sessions on mobile phones are 1.5 times shorter than on desktop or other devices. 37% of these sessions were shorter than a minute. ContentSquare analysed 300 million user sessions in 2016 – so the data doesn’t lie.
The figures may be discouraging, but there are many things that brands can do to better their conversion rates. It’s not just about building a good website, rather, it’s important to understand your users’ behaviour in order to inform your UX decisions.
Many people don’t know that one of the main reasons for mediocre conversion rates is a disjointed team structure. As a rule, companies have an abundance of knowledge on user behaviour that could improve conversion rates, however it’s dispersed among different teams, meaning it never sees the light of day. Communication across teams is often minimal, as they are often siloed from each other. This creates confusion and limits cooperation.
In order to have an organisation driven by data, key team members should have visibility on that data and actually be able to understand what it means.. Many companies are achieving this this by increasing data literacy across all teams, teaching everyone how to engage with data through internal courses, and the use of visual tools to make data science more accessible to wider internal audiences.
Facing the online conversion wall can seem intimidating, but with these suggestions, you should be able to break it successfully. Your customers will be happier and more content with their experience with your brand, and your sales will naturally increase in kind.
By Duncan Keene
UK managing director