If you get ample traffic to your online store but don’t convert that traffic into sales, you will never reach your revenue goals. And for many online stores — even stores with a great product and brand — low ecommerce conversion rates eventually lead to store closures.
To optimize your ecommerce conversion rate, you need to know how to guide potential customers through your conversion funnel. Conversion rate isn’t something you “do,” per se. Consistently converting shoppers requires a marathon of research, experiments, and tweaks.
Fortunately, there are some low-lift tactics that might make a huge impact on your website’s conversion rate.
What is ecommerce conversion rate?
In the digital world, a conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who perform a particular desired action (such as signing up for a newsletter) on your website or page within a specified time period. Ecommerce conversion rate is the percentage of visitors to your online store who make a purchase in a specified time period.
For example, let’s say you wanted to measure your rate for the month of November. If you had 13,021 unique website visitors, 201 of whom made a purchase from your store, you would divide the number of visitors who made a sale (201) by the total number of visitors (13,021). The ecommerce conversion rate for these numbers would be 1.5%.
Now, let’s learn more about the rates your ecommerce business should aim for.
What is the average ecommerce conversion rate?
Ecommerce conversion rate benchmarks are important to understand how you stack up against other online retailers — and more specifically, your competitors.
Bottom line: the latest data, which comes from Kibo Commerce in Q1 of 2022, shows that ecommerce conversion rates in the US average out at 2.3%. The report goes into considerable detail about variances in conversion rate: for example, conversion rates vary between mobile (2%), tablet (3%), and desktop (3%).
Take that number with a grain of salt. A “good” ecommerce conversion rate depends on your business’s maturity, product category, audience, digital marketing maturity, and so much more.
What’s a really good ecommerce conversion rate?
Most ecommerce experts say that a rate of 1-3% is normal, whereas 4% is fantastic. But, I have another take on the matter. After 10+ years of experience working with leaders in the industry, I’ve learned that the best definition of a good conversion rate comes from your internal data and individual business goals. Focus more on increasing the number of conversions in your store month-over-month than how that number compares to anyone else.
As a rule, your conversion rate optimization (CRO) plan should involve ways to continually improve your own rates, rather than just comparing yourself to everyone around you. There will always be a new tool, strategy, or update that your competitors will use to top you. You can’t afford to become complacent.
So, even if your rate is above the industry average, continually learn about new ways to increase conversions and continue to optimize the user experience and website functionality for your shoppers. And, if it’s on the lower end of the scale, start implementing the following advice right away.
Ecommerce conversion rate optimization (CRO): How to increase your store’s conversion rate
I don’t want to suggest there’s a silver bullet or hack for optimizing your conversion rate. However, most of the tips below relate to one core factor: providing an easy, supportive customer experience.
Below, I share 16 tactics to help you improve your customer experience and, as a result, boost your ecommerce website’s conversion rate.
1. Track everything visitors do on your store (with these four CRO tools)
By tracking and recording each action shoppers take on your store, you equip yourself with real data to make informed decisions about your business and your website’s user experience (UX) decisions.
And, in order to collect the right data, you need to use the right tools. Trusted solutions ensure that your insights are valuable. Here are some of the most helpful, proven ecommerce analytics software options that you can integrate with most ecommerce platforms.
1. Google Analytics
A free, open-source platform, Google Analytics (GA) provides online store owners with crucial information about page views, bounce rates, and other conversion-related data. The platform’s machine learning capabilities provide powerful insights into your customers’ behavior and achieve unmatched transparency in your data.
With GA, you can collect data in real-time, run free reports instantly, and collaborate with others on your team to decipher the results. This is the only tool that provides such robust, accurate insights about which users are likely to convert, which pages lead to conversions, your audience’s demographics, and where the most revenue potential lies.
Also, consider investing in a helpdesk with revenue statistics reporting.
2. Crazy Egg
Crazy Egg’s heat-mapping tools empower you with an additional tier of insights to your Google Analytics tracking and reporting. The platform displays heat maps, scroll maps, and click reports based on how users behave on your website, giving you a visual representation of how shoppers interact with your content on every landing page and product page.
You can use the insights gained to make informed design decisions, make sure your CTAs are being seen by your customers, and place content in the order of importance to them (a fantastic way to design your navigation menu). In addition, you can actually track what happens behind pop-up forms and login screens.
Designed specifically for ecommerce stores, HumCommerce helps online store owners take their analytics to the next level. Like Crazy Egg, HumCommerce provides heatmaps. In addition, you can access other amazing insights:
- Conversion funnels: set up goals, funnels, and identify store “leaks” by seeing the pages where shoppers most frequently exit your website
- Visitor recordings: see what visitors see on your site with session recordings of taps, scrolls, clicks, and more
- A/B testing: run tests on your pages and forms to ensure that you’re making the best decisions with your content
- Ecommerce analytics: see visitor demographics, popular products, and popular categories to build powerful customer profiles
- Form analytics: use form analysis and reports to boost individual form conversions
Kissmetrics is a tool that will give you insights about your customers and help you turn them into super-targeted Facebook and email marketing campaigns. Segmenting your contact lists becomes an automated process when you integrate the software with your store.
The platform allows easy integration with WooCommerce, Shopify, Instagram, Facebook, and Slack, so you can access data from one dashboard. Then, the information is sorted to power behavior-driven campaigns. Understand what drives sales on your store to improve your customer engagement and nurture higher conversions.
2. Offer customer service via live chat
Customer service is the lifeblood of your long-term conversion success. When customers don’t feel they can rely on you to solve problems, they will move away and never return. Consider offering customer service via live chat to help.
79% of stores currently that offer on-site live chat say it positively impacted their conversion rate, sales, and customer retention. The in-context, right-when-you-need-it channel can’t be beaten when it comes to locking in the sale when a customer’s on the fence.
For example, with Gorgias' live chat campaigns, you can automatically send browsers a message at key moments of the customer journey, such as when they add a popular item to their cart, asking if they need help or offering a discount code:
So, use a live chat to answer shopper questions and offer incentives that urge them toward clicking “complete purchase.” Even if you can’t staff live chat around the clock, consider using chatbots or forms to collect contact information to extend your availability.
Read our article on how to add a live chat app to your Shopify to get started. Or if you're looking for live chat app recommendations, check out our list of best live chat apps (or our lists of the best apps for ecommerce or Shopify specifically).
3. Optimize your shopping cart flow
One of the reasons shoppers leave your store before making a purchase is because the checkout process is over-complicated. If you don’t streamline the shopping cart flow and your customers become even slightly irritated at the last minute, your ecommerce conversion rate will take a huge hit. So, make create a checkout experience that is simple, quick, and user-friendly.
One of the biggest mistakes is requiring too much information during checkout, or not allowing guest checkout. If you ask for phone numbers, email addresses, or account creation during the checkout process, you’re establishing barriers to buy.
The checkout flow needs only four steps:
- (Minimal) customer information input
- Payment and delivery information
- Order details verification
- Order submission
That’s it! And, the fewer checkout pages you can make this happen on, the better — just keep it simple.
4. Leverage an email marketing plan
Email marketing is a crucial piece of the online sales puzzle. And, yours should include more than just order confirmations and links to your blog posts. Specifically, they should include abandoned cart recovery, lead nurturing, advanced segmentation, and more if you want to drive subscribers all the way through your sales funnel.
We highly recommend transactional emails to increase the lifetime value of your customers. For example, you can recommend products based on what the customer has purchased in the past or send discount codes to lure repeat orders. While you’re at it, you can use email to ask for customer reviews.
5. Display social proof and user-generated content
There are so many online stores out there selling junk that consumers are naturally untrusting. And, there’s nobody better to prove your trustworthiness than other customers. Use social proof (like product reviews and testimonials) and other user-generated content to earn the trust of brand-new site visitors.
Allow users to post reviews on product pages. Even negative reviews are valuable as they give you, the store owner, an idea of which products you shouldn’t sell. Positive reviews, of course, entice more sales.
Run user-generated content (UGC) campaigns on social media. For example, ask customers to share images of your products on Instagram with a hashtag and display their content on your homepage or individual product pages.
Involve your customers in answering FAQs. Amazon provides a superior example of how this works by posting customer questions and answers on product pages.
Other customers’ advice, questions, and testimonials are more persuasive than sales copy. Plus, more content can help your search ranking, which is another way to improve your ecommerce conversion rate.
6. Offer free shipping and returns whenever possible
Modern consumers are so accustomed to free shipping and returns while online shopping that they cringe at paying even a few dollars. Plus, they don’t want to be surprised by additional charges when it comes time to check out. So, try to offer free shipping and return policies whenever possible.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to pay all the shipping and handling out of pocket. Instead, you can compound shipping costs into the product price and offer free shipping on orders over a certain amount. And, if it’s fair, you might be able to offer bulk pricing discounts on certain products, which is another enticing offer.
7. Consider the devices shoppers use to browse your ecommerce site
If a customer first visits your site from a PC and then later finds that it’s not accessible from their mobile device (or vice versa), it can kill your sales. So, you need to be mindful of your traffic sources and cater to everyone who visits your site.
Responsive design is the first recommendation, but most ecommerce platforms already offer this as a standard option. Another idea is to create a mobile app, which kills two birds with one stone by giving mobile users convenient access to your store and sales, plus it puts you in front of more shoppers. When you’re on their home screen, you’re at the front of their minds.
8. Offer multiple payment options
If you’re only offering one payment option, you could be losing out on a ton of customers. Many shoppers will decide not to make a purchase at the last second because they were planning on using Apple Pay or PayPal. So, you need to expand your horizons on the payment options front.
Do you accept Discover or American Express credit cards? Can Google Checkout users pay easily on your store? If not, it’s time to start allowing more payment methods. Talk to your developer to find out what options you can add.
9. Perfect your calls to action (CTAs)
Your calls to action (CTAs) are the little bits of text that ultimately guide your shoppers to take action. And, modern shoppers, frankly, need to be told what to do. So, learn to write compelling calls to action and place them in front of users in an impactful way.
CTAs should create a sense of urgency using words like “now” or “limited time.” They should be concise. Simple buttons and text seem to be the best way to trigger desired actions. Use CTA buttons, which are visually distinct from the rest of the text on your webpage, for even more conversion impact.
“Learn more,” “join free,” and “add to cart” are some proven phrases to use on your web store. And, you should A/B test your wording to find out what CTAs provide the biggest incentive and achieve the highest ecommerce conversion rates for your store.
10. Publish high-quality images and videos of your products
Crappy photos in product descriptions can be a turn-off for many shoppers. If they can’t envision what a product will look like once they have it in their possession, they are more likely to make the effort to shop offline so they know what it is they’re buying. So, you need to give your product images and videos some extra love.
Interesting backgrounds, real-life use situations, and entertaining or educating imagery will have a tremendous impact on your sales. Really, your product photos should be treated as mini ads, showcasing the value in the purchase. Use professional photos and enhance each of them to drive more transactions for your online store.
11. Implement a customer referral program
I’ve already mentioned social proof and UGC because your shoppers trust other consumers. And, people who are just getting to know your brand are more likely to trust a family member, friend, or influencer over you. Why? Because they know you have something to gain. A referral program allows you to leverage previously-established trust to grow your retail operations.
Tools like Referral Candy and Conjured Referrals can help you create stunning, automated referral programs. Your customers get rewards for finding new customers, and most of the work is off your plate.
12. Provide coupons and discounts to entice more sales
When a customer lands on your website for the first time, they are looking at your prices and researching the best store to make the purchase. If you can offer a discount code for signing up for your email list, you complete two tasks:
- Build your email list
- Tempt the shopper to make the purchase with you rather than your competitor (especially if your discount code has an expiration date)
Most ecommerce platforms have a built-in discount and coupon code generator to help you create deals that nurture more sales. Research the options available on your system and see what apps, add-ons, and plugins you can find to create discount campaigns that boost your transactions.
13. Create a shopping cart abandonment strategy
Once a shopper leaves your shopping cart at the last minute, you know they’re interested in buying from you. But, without an abandoned cart recovery plan, you may never see them again; there’s a gaping hole in your bucket. So, do everything you can to get shoppers back to complete their purchases.
For context, here are the top reasons shoppers abandon their carts based on research from Baymard Institute:
Try implementing the following:
- Exit-intent popups to collect shoppers’ contact information
- Abandoned cart recovery emails
- Optimize your subject line
- Offer a discount that will expire soon
- Leverage social media messaging
Once you get shoppers back to their carts, and you delight them with your products, your sales will skyrocket.
14. Optimize your on-site search and navigation
When a shopper lands on your website interested in a specific product, it must be extremely easy to find it. Otherwise, they will just move on to a competitor. And, once they’ve started a relationship with someone else, it will be more difficult to get them back. So, make sure your navigation and search features are user-friendly.
Drop-down menus, menu pages, fat footers, and “sticky” buy buttons can help. But, ultimately, you will want to test your navigation and organize it strategically; this is where heat-mapping and other advanced analytics methods really come in handy.
15. Display product stock levels
One of the most disappointing experiences an online shopper can have, second to a disappointing product, is no product delivery. And, disappointing your customers is an expensive mistake to fix. By displaying stock information on your products, your shoppers know what to expect (and might even buy more if they see an item is running low).
For example, you may only have three of a specific item in stock. If users can’t see that on the front end, and four customers try to make a purchase at the same time, one of them will miss out. Then, they’ll either reach out to customer service, utilizing your internal resources, or they’ll move away to your competitor and never return. So, display your product stock levels to keep expectations realistic.
16. Give your search engine optimization (SEO) ample attention
One of the best ways for your target audience to find your store is through a Google search. And, if you haven’t given any thought or attention to your store’s search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, that will never happen. So, keep SEO at the front of your mind when creating your store and conceiving your marketing strategy.
In our Shopify SEO guide, Gorgias CEO Romain Lapeyre covers this topic thoroughly. You need to create a list of keywords you want to rank for and then implement a comprehensive strategy to generate new search traffic to your online store. This will improve your conversions.
Learn more about ecommerce growth and conversion optimization
At this point, we hope you understand the importance of conversion rate optimization and a few strategies to improve it. However, it’s always helpful to learn directly from ecommerce leaders about their individual experiences with CRO.
Want to learn more about how real stores improved their conversion rates by focusing on their customer experience? Check out our customer story on Lillie’s Q. They increased their conversion rate by 75% by working with Gorgias to implement real-time customer support and reduce cart abandonment.
Alternatively, watch the replay of our ecommerce expert talk. They discuss their tips to drive growth and boost conversion rates through great customer experience.