As an e-commerce merchant, it’s easy to fall into the trap of investing the bulk of your energy, resources and marketing budget into attracting potential customers to your shop. The assumption is that, once they’ve visited the shop, they’ll make a purchase if the product suits their preferences and the price is right. But it’s rarely as straightforward as that.

The truth is that the design, layout and user-experience of your site factor significantly into how many of those site visits are actually converted into sales. In this post, we’re going to look at a few of the most important factors that play into an e-commerce website’s ability to convert site visitors to paying customers.

Call-to-Action Buttons

Calls to action – from the way they’re phrased to how they’re displayed – can have an enormous impact on your online shop’s conversion rate. It’s easy for the person who designed and laid-out the website to assume that the call to action is obvious. However, it may not be immediately clear to your shop visitors where they should look, click or otherwise act.

This is where prominently displayed call-to-action buttons are crucial. Tell your shop visitors in no uncertain terms what you would like them to do. Here are a few examples:

  • ‘Add to Cart’
  • ‘Continue Shopping’
  • ‘Subscribe’
  • ‘Find out More’
  • ‘Checkout’

Just don’t bombard them with too many calls to action, as this can become confusing and ultimately cause them to give up. Ideally, a given page should have a single, prominent call to action.

High-Quality Product Images

What sets the heavy-hitting online merchants apart from their smaller, more entrepreneurial competitors? In many cases, it’s only a matter of presentation. Large shops have the means and equipment to arrange high-quality photoshoots for their products, and this allows them to create more visually appealing websites.

But the truth is that taking higher quality product photos really isn’t that difficult or expensive. Nor does it need to cost much in this age of high-quality camera phones and digital SLRs. Here’s a handy tutorial for shooting product photography on a budget.

Sense of Urgency

Humans are emotional creatures, and many of the daily decisions we make are more emotional and impulsive than rational. That means that merchants are wise to create an emotional dilemma (such as a sense of urgency) for their customers.

There are several ways that you can create a sense of urgency for your customers. Here are a few examples:

  • Offer limited-time offers (such as discounts or free shipping) on orders that are placed within a certain timeframe.
  • Notify your shop visitors when a particular product’s stock level is low; for example, many hotel booking websites let you know when you’re currently looking at the last room in a particular category.
  • Incorporate a timer into your shop; for example, this could be a countdown to when today’s orders ship, letting visitors know that if they don’t complete their purchase before that time, their order won’t go out until tomorrow.

There are many other ways to create a sense of urgency for your shoppers. The key is knowing your product and its limitations as well as what motivates your target customers.

Free Shipping

Free shipping is more common than ever before. In fact, a recent article published in The Wall Street Journal reports that more than half of last year’s orders sent from the 30 biggest e-commerce merchants were shipped for free. Consumers are aware of how easy it is to find free shipping – to the extent that being forced to pay is perceived as a turnoff.

The truth, of course, is that there is no such thing as free shipping. Instead, the cost of delivery is worked into the retail price of the product. But today’s consumers are quickly becoming accustomed to not having to factor in the cost of shipping.

With that in mind, many of today’s e-commerce experts warn that charging for shipping is essentially a conversion killer. If your prospective customers believe that they can get a product shipped for free, then why would they bother paying for the service?

The downside to this is that large companies like Amazon.com and big box stores are able to secure incredibly competitive bulk shipping rates – and that’s an option that simply isn’t available to smaller online shops and entrepreneurs. All the same, it may still be worth bundling the cost of shipping into your product price to side-step the issue altogether.

Contact Fallen Leaf Design for Assistance

The e-commerce website designers at Fallen Leaf Design are experts at creating online shops. Contact us today to find out how we can boost your shop’s conversion rate.