Monday, 29 October 2012

6 ways to improve your business's conversion rate

Getting users to visit your ecommerce store is difficult enough, but getting them to actually make a purchase is another problem altogether. While your business may be great at bringing traffic to your site, if you aren't able to turn these visitors into customers, you are missing out on a number of sales that could seriously harm your business's performance. 

So how can you improve your conversion rate?

Make it easy as possible

Making it easy for customers to purchase from your store needs to be two fold.

Firstly, you need to make it as easy as possible for customers to move around your site, browsing through your products until they find one they would like to purchase. This simplicity in the layout could consist of more filters for customers to find a specific product they want, clearer images or more products per page. 

The next step is to make the checkout process as short as possible. When a customer has found the product they would like to buy, they want to be able to purchase it as quickly as possible. While you may need a detailed checkout system to get the customers personal details, delivery details and credit card details, there are a number of ways you can make the checkout system shorter. One way is to limit the information needed only to the bare essentials, this would be just the name, delivery address and credit card details. However, you could decide to go to the opposite end of the spectrum, taking more information the first time they make a purchase on your site to create their own individual account. Not only will this encourage repeat business, but when that customer next visits your ecommerce store to make a purchase, it will be much quicker as their details will already be recorded within your ecommerce software

Also this ease of access shouldn't just be limited to the store itself, but also the browsers which the customer is viewing your store on. You should make sure your store displays correctly in all browsers, primarily Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. If your store doesn't display correctly when a customer visits, it is unlikely they are going to make a purchase. 

Build up trust

If a customer trusts a business, they are likely to make a purchase from the store. While this trust is usually built up through the customer actually making a purchase, you can create these initial levels of trust through other areas such as your social media sites. Engaging with your customers on a regular basis, while also being  honest and informative about what is you have on offer is a great way to not only increase your traffic, but encourage that increased traffic to then convert into valued customers. 

Another way to build up trust is to simply be as open with the customer as you possibly can. For example, if you have a product that is out of stock, tell the customer that it's out of stock and that more will be available soon. Don't allow the customer to still buy the product and then just leave them waiting until you get the product back in stock. All this is going to do is annoy the customer and result in them leaving your site to go elsewhere. While you may miss out on that particular sale, your honesty in handling the situation gives you a much better chance of them returning to your store in the future.

Keep the customer informed

Throughout the entire shopping experience and once the transaction has been complete, you should stay in contact with the customer. During the purchasing process this will consist of regular emails informing them that their order has been placed and when it has been processed and dispatched. Beyond that you can also provide them with regular emails regarding any new products or sales you are running, giving your business the best chance of having them become repeat buyers.

Variety is the spice of life

The more options you provide your customers with, the happier they are going to be. While this may be a greater expense for you, the increased sales that these variables will bring in, make it a much more profitable endeavour. So what should you add variety to? Well the answer is pretty much anything you can think of. In terms of your products, this could consist of different clothing ranges or more size and colour options. You could also provide the customer with more payment and delivery options when it comes to actually purchasing the product. The more options you provide the customer with, the more customers that are going to leave your store having had a memorable shopping experience. 

Provide a number of ways for the user to contact you

A customer may visit your store, find a product they are interested in, but are hesitant to complete the purchase due to one or two queries they may have. Providing both an email address and a telephone number allows the customer to quickly get in touch and have their questions answered by you. While most online stores do have a contact email address, many people are often reluctant to email as they know it usually takes a few days before they get a replay. Having a contact telephone number makes the whole process seem much more personal, allowing them to have their questions answered to then complete their purchase straight away. 

Monitor your competitors

Even if you have had a large amount of traffic and sales in the past, you should always keep track of what your competitors are doing in terms of products they are selling and the prices that they are selling them at. You can then look to adjust your own online store to ensure you are still outperforming them. A customer may visit your site to view a product, knowing how much that same product costs at your competitors store. Having the same product, but at a higher price is then going to result in them leaving your store and purchasing from your competitor. If you had taken the time to view your competitors prices and adjust yours so that it is slightly lower or the same, that customer may have chosen to purchase from you rather than leaving. 

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