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Expert Advice
For Success in e-Commerce
Our team of e-Commerce experts outline an effective strategy for increasing and optimising your sales!
All of your customers have one thing in common: they’ve made it through the whole checkout process and order confirmation. But did you know that for every customer you are able to convince to make a purchase, two are lost along the way?

The average abandon rate for shopping carts is around 67.9%. In a bricks and mortar shop this would be like having two shopping baskets out of every three left in your shop full of items. This is an area of huge potential growth for etailers!

In this expert advice we’ve put together some key tips for improving the efficacy of your conversion funnel. Your conversion funnel is made up of all of the steps your customers go through: shopping cart confirmation, signing up, choosing shipping options, payment methods, etc.

Let’s get started!
1. The shopping cart is an essential part of your site and should be visible and accessible to visitors at all times from all pages.
2. Learn to discern the reasons your visitors have filled their shopping carts and use them to your advantage.
3. Reassure, reassure, reassure: before, during and after going through check-out.
4. Manage your conversion funnel based on figures: keep an eye on your stats and constantly optimise and improve the process.
5. Take care with your site design and favour simplicity: this is one of the main ways you can optimise your shopping cart.
6. Think long term and build customer loyalty. The more your customers are attached to your brand, the more your turnover will benefit.
7. Set up retargeting strategies and reach out to visitors who’ve abandoned their shopping carts for an improved conversion rate.
Put all of your eggs in one basket (and increase your turnover!)
01 Laying the groundwork: understand how your visitors use their shopping carts and make it easy for them
    As soon as visitors land on your site you have one goal: get them to fill their shopping carts with items they’re interested in. In this simple action there is no way to guarantee an actual purchase. Which is why it’s important to understand the way online shoppers think and make things easier for them!

    - Shopping Carts: A Distinct Use
    Figures show that online shoppers don’t use shopping carts in the same way shoppers in a bricks and mortar shop would. It’s important to note that over half of visitors to your site (57%) are only there to window shop, and have no real intention of buying anything. When they add something to their shopping carts, it’s more like adding an item to favourites that they might think about buying later.

    This insight into online shoppers’ behaviour tells us several things. First of all the ideal lifetime of a shopping cart: as the shopping process can last several hours, days or even weeks, you’ll need to leave the shopping cart filled for long enough so that the prospect can come back and make the purchase. This will save your customers from the frustration of coming back to your site and having to start back at zero and search for the products they were interested in all over again. It’s crucial to contact visitors between their first visit to your site and the following visits and convince them to come back and confirm their purchases.

    Why not use this trend to your advantage? Give your customers the option of creating a wish-list. This will also help you when you send out retargeting messages, as you’ll be able to adapt them to your visitors’ interests.

    - Give your customers access to the shopping cart from all pages
    Here’s a simple but important tip: your visitors should never have to struggle to access the shopping cart. It should be clearly visible on all of your site’s pages, including your homepage. Your goal: adding items to the shopping cart should be so easy your visitors don’t give it a second thought. A pop-up window with the option to confirm the purchase immediately or continue shopping is also a good strategy.

    It’s important to work on your call to action buttons so that once the shopping cart’s been filled customers are lead to click on them and go through the check-out process.

    - Remove any doubts your customers might have and reassure them constantly
    Without going so far as to say that buying online is stressful, it’s clear that (and you’ve probably witnessed this first hand) those couple of seconds preceding the purchase confirmation are filled with a certain apprehension…which can lead to drama for you in the form of an abandoned shopping cart.

    Shipping options and payment methods are two of the most common reasons for this. They are also the two easiest points for etailers to control. A couple of figures illustrate this:
    >44% of potential customers abandon their shopping carts because shipping fees are too high
    >73% of online customers expect to benefit from free delivery with no minimum purchase

    (Check out the little details that make a big difference in a previous Oxatis expert advice)

    - Follow your metrics closely!
    Improving your conversion rate and the efficacy of your shopping cart means effectively turning of all of these moments to your advantage. To continue to improve there’s no secret other than following your statistics closely, step by step, throughout the conversion funnel. Imagine that this process is a series of cascades, each one a page where you will potentially lose visitors. For example, maybe 80% of your visitors that got to the page where you choose shipping options actually made a choice and continued to the next step.

    It’s only by analysing all of these figures that you’ll be able to get an idea of when you lose visitors. It’s keeping an eye on these figures, as the Oxatis conversion funnel allows, that you'll be able to constantly find areas for improvement.

    - Constantly give them good news
    As we’ve seen, the checkout process provides customers with ample opportunities to quit. Don’t hesitate to highlight the advantages of your business and the benefits you offer customers, for example: the possibility of a discount when they sign-up using their email address, secure online payments, several shipping options, customer reviews, guarantee complete satisfaction or money-back, an attractive return policy…

    It’s up to you to tell them what you do well!

02 During the process: an uncluttered, reassuring, effective site is the secret to a high conversion rate
    When visitors are in the process of confirming their purchases they’ve entered the conversion funnel. This is where all of your hard work convincing them your products are worthwhile will be rewarded, or not. Here are a few tips to follow to maximise your ROI and boost your sales.

    - The distraction issue
    Online shoppers, in the final stages of their purchases are a little bit like children in a sweet shop: they’re drawn to everything they see and anything they can click on. It’s a good idea to limit the temptations and potential distractions that aren’t linked to the checking out process. Menus, catalogue categories, navigation and search bars, sales on other products...all of these are opportunities for clicking, and leaving the conversion funnel, and should therefore be avoided. Wait until they’ve confirmed their payment to direct your visitors back to your product or catalogue pages.

    - Design is important!
    We’re not just talking about how your webpages look, but how user-friendly they are, and how effectively they lead your visitors to where you want them to go, especially:

    >Registration forms: Vertical fields to fill in, error indications when information is missing, examples to help your visitors fill them in correctly and of course only the minimum number of fields necessary to carry out the order smoothly.

    >Reassuring elements: labels, online security logos, “as seen in the press” and other media coverage, secure payment methods, bank logos, etc.

    >Shopping cart management: the ability to remove an item at any time, clear explications of options, optional insurance, the ability to go back to the previous step at any time, etc.

    - Facilitate adding items to the cart
    As filling in information isn’t much fun for online shoppers, you should try and make this process as quick and painless as possible. Whatever channel your visitors are using, you should use all of the tools available to you to try and make check-out easier. This could mean storing customer information or creating accounts linked to social networks.

    - Optimise mobile shopping
    25% of tablet owners ONLY use their tablet for online shopping…and as the months go by mobiles are becoming a key online sales channel. This means it’s a good idea to optimise your site so that no matter what device your visitors use to access your products, they’ll be able to confirm their purchases easily. This multichannel strategy will help improve your conversion rate and avoid losing potential sales. Luckily, with the Oxatis mobile store your site is optimised for mobiles in just a few clicks. This means you'll be able to take advantage of the 23% of UK e-Commerce that happens on mobiles!
03 Afterwards: work on your customers’ commitment and make the most of their purchases

    - A long-term goal with important implications: your customer loyalty
    Attracting as much traffic as possible to your site is definitely a good idea, and the goal of many etailers today (and something we wish all of our 7,300 etailers). But this isn’t the only important element to keep in mind. Developing a lasting relationship with your prospects and customers is also key. Loyal customers are potential ambassadors for your site: they are attached to your brand, have already made purchases on your site, are willing to recommend you to others and are less likely to go to another site in order to save a few cents (for more information on customer loyalty check out our previous Oxatis expert advice.)

    - Provide quality service!
    Converting more prospects into customers is again a question of commitment and customer loyalty, and especially the ability to provide quality service and keep your promises. This could refer to shipping times, product quality, availability and going that extra step to make the customer keep appreciated and satisfied.

    - Use promotional codes or free shipping to close the deal
    Some of your visitors would love to make a purchase on your site…but strike through prices, discounts and special sales convince them, at the last minute, to buy on your competitors’ sites instead. Providing your customers with promotional codes could help counter this trend. For example, you could offer a code when you use a survey to get more information on your customers, or when they sign up for social networks. This will enable you to start building customer loyalty and create some virality while preventing your prospects from going to your competitors.

    - Combat shopping cart abandonment by contacting your prospects at the right time
    As we mentioned at the beginning of our article, online shoppers have a unique relationship with shopping carts and use them to save their shopping ideas for later more than to actually make a purchase. In any case, an online purchase is rarely a strictly linear process, and you have a lot to gain by contacting those who've abandoned their shopping carts a few hours or a few days after they leave your site.

    - Try retargeting
    Retargeting is the ability to “follow” people who’ve visited your site (and filled a shopping cart without making a purchase) on the other sites they visit over the following days. Instead of the usual adverts they'll see the products they looked at on your site, which will remind them and make them reconsider making the purchase…and in a single click they can be back on your site, with their full shopping cart waiting for them.

    Now it's your turn!