Your SlideShare is downloading. ×
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
E commerce best practice compendium - Document
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×

Thanks for flagging this SlideShare!

Oops! An error has occurred.

×
Saving this for later? Get the SlideShare app to save on your phone or tablet. Read anywhere, anytime – even offline.
Text the download link to your phone
Standard text messaging rates apply

E commerce best practice compendium - Document

493

Published on

1. About Econsultancy ......................................................... 5 …

1. About Econsultancy ......................................................... 5
1.1. About the author ......................................................................... 5
2. Introduction ..................................................................... 6
3. Site search and navigation ............................................... 7
3.1. Drop-down menus ....................................................................... 7
3.1.1. Usability issues with drop-downs ............................................ 8
3.1.2. How customers activate drop-down menus ............................ 8
3.1.3. Mega drop-down menus ........................................................ 10
3.1.4. Examples of drop-down menus .............................................. 11
3.1.5. Tips for improving drop-down usability ............................... 17
3.2. Site search ................................................................................... 19
3.2.1. Why do retailers need site search? ........................................ 19
3.2.2. Search box design and placement ......................................... 19
3.2.3. Site search results pages ........................................................ 26
3.2.4. Learning from site search data .............................................. 37
4. Product pages ................................................................. 42
4.1. Video .......................................................................................... 42
4.1.1. Why your product pages need video ..................................... 42
4.2. Consumer reviews: examples and best practices ..................... 48
4.2.1. Why you need customer reviews ........................................... 48
4.2.2. The SEO benefits of reviews .................................................. 49
4.2.3. Bad reviews are valuable too... .............................................. 50
4.2.4. How to attract reviews from customers ................................ 51
4.2.5. How to present reviews and ratings ...................................... 53
4.3. Calls to action ............................................................................ 56
4.4. Product page copywriting ......................................................... 62
4.4.1. Why product page copy matters ............................................ 62
4.4.2. What are the ingredients of great product page copy? ......... 62
4.4.3. Five examples of great product page copy ............................ 64
4.5. Reserve and collect .................................................................... 68
4.5.1. Why offer reserve and collect? ............................................... 68
4.5.2. Tips for improving reserve and collect services .................... 69
4.6. Examples of great product pages .............................................. 75

Published in: Internet
0 Comments
2 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Views
Total Views
493
On Slideshare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
1
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
25
Comments
0
Likes
2
Embeds 0
No embeds

Report content
Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
No notes for slide

Transcript

  • 1. Market Data / Supplier Selection / Event Presentations / User Experience Benchmarking / Best Practice / Template Files / Trends & Innovation  Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates Report licensed by SDL This is a complimentary copy of the Econsultancy Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium. In order to download the original report, please visit the Econsultancy website: http://econsultancy.com/reports/ecommerce-best-practice-compendium
  • 2. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium Econsultancy London 4th Floor, Farringdon Point 29-35 Farringdon Road London EC1M 3jf United Kingdom Telephone: +44 (0)20 7269 1450 http://econsultancy.com help@econsultancy.com Econsultancy New York Ste. 307, 350 7th Avenue New York, NY 10001 United States Telephone: +1 212 971 0630 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 Published November 2012
  • 3. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 Contents 1. About Econsultancy......................................................... 5 1.1. About the author ......................................................................... 5 2. Introduction.....................................................................6 3. Site search and navigation............................................... 7 3.1. Drop-down menus....................................................................... 7 3.1.1. Usability issues with drop-downs............................................8 3.1.2. How customers activate drop-down menus............................8 3.1.3. Mega drop-down menus........................................................10 3.1.4. Examples of drop-down menus..............................................11 3.1.5. Tips for improving drop-down usability ............................... 17 3.2. Site search...................................................................................19 3.2.1. Why do retailers need site search? ........................................ 19 3.2.2. Search box design and placement ......................................... 19 3.2.3. Site search results pages ........................................................26 3.2.4. Learning from site search data..............................................37 4. Product pages.................................................................42 4.1. Video.......................................................................................... 42 4.1.1. Why your product pages need video .....................................42 4.2. Consumer reviews: examples and best practices .....................48 4.2.1. Why you need customer reviews ...........................................48 4.2.2. The SEO benefits of reviews ..................................................49 4.2.3. Bad reviews are valuable too... ..............................................50 4.2.4. How to attract reviews from customers ................................ 51 4.2.5. How to present reviews and ratings ......................................53 4.3. Calls to action ............................................................................ 56 4.4. Product page copywriting ......................................................... 62 4.4.1. Why product page copy matters............................................62 4.4.2. What are the ingredients of great product page copy? .........62 4.4.3. Five examples of great product page copy ............................64 4.5. Reserve and collect....................................................................68 4.5.1. Why offer reserve and collect?...............................................68 4.5.2. Tips for improving reserve and collect services ....................69 4.6. Examples of great product pages.............................................. 75
  • 4. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 5. The checkout process.....................................................83 5.1. The issue of registration............................................................83 5.1.1. Example: HMV’s checkout registration issues......................83 5.1.2. Consumers hate registration: the stats..................................85 5.1.3. Approaches to registration ....................................................86 5.1.4. Conclusion..............................................................................90 5.2. Checkout abandonment .............................................................91 5.2.1. Deciding whether to shop on an ecommerce site.................. 91 5.2.2. Reasons for abandoning sites soon after arriving................. 91 5.2.3. Postcodes ...............................................................................93 5.2.4. Avoid the dreaded error message..........................................95 5.3. Why should you enclose the checkout process?....................... 96 5.3.1. What is an enclosed checkout process?.................................96 5.3.2. Reasons for enclosing the checkout ......................................96 5.3.3. Examples from retailers.........................................................97 5.3.4. Conclusion............................................................................100
  • 5. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 1. About Econsultancy Econsultancy is a global independent community-based publisher, focused on best practice digital marketing and ecommerce, and used by over 400,000 internet professionals every month. Our hub has 190,000+ members worldwide from clients, agencies and suppliers alike with over 90% member retention rate. We help our members build their internal capabilities via a combination of research reports and how-to guides, training and development, consultancy, face- to-face conferences, forums and professional networking. For the last ten years, our resources have helped members learn, make better decisions, build business cases, find the best suppliers, accelerate their careers and lead the way in best practice and innovation. Econsultancy has offices in London, New York, Singapore and Sydney and we are a leading provider of digital marketing training and consultancy. We are providing consultancy and custom training in the Middle East, and extensively across Europe and Asia. We trained over 5,000 marketers and ran over 200 public training courses in 2011. Join Econsultancy today to learn what’s happening in digital marketing – and what works. Call us to find out more on +44 (0)20 7269 1450 (London) or +1 212 971 0630 (New York). You can also contact us online. Other related Econsultancy reports How the Internet Can Save the High Street http://econsultancy.com/reports/how-the-internet-can-save-the-high-street Ecommerce Platforms Buyer’s Guide http://econsultancy.com/reports/ecommerce-platforms-buyers-guide The Multichannel Retail Survey http://econsultancy.com/reports/the-multichannel-retail-survey Product Pages: A Best Practice Guide http://econsultancy.com/uk/reports/product-pages-a-best-practice-guide Checkout Optimization Guide: 70 ways to increase conversion rates http://econsultancy.com/uk/reports/checkout-optimization-guide 1.1. About the author Graham Charlton is Editor of the Econsultancy blog, which has more than 400,000 monthly unique users. He writes about all aspects of digital marketing, including mobile, ecommerce and SEO and has also written and contributed to Best Practice Guides on mobile marketing, ecommerce and multichannel retail. You can connect with Graham on Twitter (@gcharlton) or LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/graham-charlton).
  • 6. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 2. Introduction This report is based on our in-depth articles on ecommerce best practice, and forms a valuable guide to improving the ecommerce user experience for visitors, and maximising conversion rates for online retailers. It contains hundreds of tips and examples from ecommerce sites on improving search and navigation, making product pages more effective, and reducing checkout abandonment rates. This advice all comes with a caveat: though we can make recommendations, and there is much to be said for following existing best practice in this area, the best approach to web design and customer experience will vary depending on the type of website and the customer base. Therefore, we would recommend that online retailers test different design approaches to find the combination that delivers the best results for them. This report is split into three broad areas: Site search and navigation The report looks at best practices for ecommerce navigation and site search, including the effective use of drop-down menus, and how retailers can improve site search. Product pages This section has plenty of useful tips on how to use video, copywriting and reviews more effectively, and also looks at some examples of great product pages from online retailers. The checkout process Once retailers have persuaded the customer to add items to their baskets and head for the checkout, it’s vital that the process is as frictionless as possible to minimise abandonment rates. This section outlines the common reasons for checkout abandonment, and looks in detail at how retailers can avoid some of the common obstacles which deter shoppers.
  • 7. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 3. Site search and navigation One of the most important design considerations for ecommerce websites is making it easy for shoppers to navigate and find the products or the information they are looking for. Users should be able to find products quickly, and with a minimum of cognitive effort. This guide will look at navigation and site search, and I think it is important to make the distinction between the two. Site navigation is the way that users can find their way around a website by clicking on links, while site search is when users type keywords, or sometimes product codes, into the search box. In general, site search has higher conversion rates, as typing a product name or code into the box indicates that the visitor may have done their research already, and arrived at the site with a clear idea of what they want to purchase. We have researched best practice in this area, and will show you examples of different approaches to site search and navigation, retailers who we think are doing this well, and mistakes to avoid. 3.1. Drop-down menus Drop-down menus are a valuable navigational tool for ecommerce and other sites. There can be usability issues with some menus, but a well-designed drop-down will help customers to navigate more quickly and effectively. Drop-down menus are now almost ubiquitous on online retail sites and, used well, they enable shoppers to take a shortcut to the product category or sub-category they are looking for, while also providing a chance to promote certain products or offers. From a design perspective, the use of drop-down menus also allows a ‘busy’ layout to be tidied up, with all of the sub-categories hidden away awaiting a click or mouse-over. However, they can be fiddly to use when not implemented well, and are frequently a pain when viewed on a mobile screen.
  • 8. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 3.1.1. Usability issues with drop-downs There are some potential usability hazards with drop-down menus, such as losing the menu altogether by moving the cursor out of the menu area. To minimise this risk, avoid drop-down menus with more than two levels, as in this example from Best Buy. Since the menu and sub-menus are activated, then the cursor hovers over the menu, it is very easy for customers to hover outside of one of the columns and lose the whole menu. It also makes the menu almost impossible to use on a mobile device. Making users scroll within drop-down menus should be avoided, as this can be a fiddly process which creates more work for the user, and increases the risk of losing the menu altogether. 3.1.2. How customers activate drop-down menus Another consideration is the action that users need to take to activate drop-down menus. Users could either click on the navigation bar to activate the navigation menu below, or else the menu could appear when users mouse over the category. One advantage of the clickable option is that the menu remains in place whether the cursor remains in the area or not. This therefore removes one potential source of frustration.
  • 9. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 The fact that users have to click to activate the menu needs to be indicated, as shown in this example from Google. However, the majority of retailers use the hover option, which is one argument against the clickable drop-down. If users hover and no menu appears, they may assume that there isn’t one. It also removes the option of clicking on the navigation bar and heading straight for the category page. The problem of losing the menu due to misplacement of the cursor can be solved by delaying the disappearance of the menu by a second or two. Microsoft’s UK site used to take this approach with its drop-down menus, though it has since redesigned and opted for the clickable drop-down. If you move the cursor outside of the menu area, it doesn’t instantly disappear, but instead users are given a second or two to return to the menu before it vanishes. This is an excellent solution to the problem, which removes a potential source of frustration for web users. If a menu is activated by the cursor moving over the target area though, it should be easy to close. After all, the user may not have intended to open the menu.
  • 10. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 In this example from O2, hovering over the data allowance button opens a hovercard explaining the package, but this then obscures part of the comparison table, and it can only be closed by clicking the X. This isn’t ideal as it means more work for the user. A user-friendly alternative would be to close the menu when users click elsewhere on the page. 3.1.3. Mega drop-down menus Large drop-downs can display large numbers of links to sections of the site, and allow users to jump straight to the category or sub-category they are looking for. This means customers reach product pages more easily and quickly. The design of large drop-downs should be tested though, as it is possible to overwhelm users with too many links. Pros and cons of mega drop-down menus Pros  Visitors can reach lower levels of navigation quickly, and with a smaller number of clicks.  If well designed, the drop-down can offer a variety of paths to the same product depending on how the customer wants to shop e.g. by brand or by product type.  Drop-downs can be used to filter and therefore narrow the customer’s product selection, saving them extra clicks.  They enable retailers to intelligently merchandise the menus by offering the most popular categories at the top and on the left of the drop-down, where they are most visible.  Mega drop-downs work well with horizontal navigation bars. Microsoft eye-tracking research strongly supports using horizontal navigation across the top of a web page, while Jakob Nielsen backs this up with his ‘F-shaped reading pattern’, whereby users start by reading across the top line and then look down the page a little and read across again and then continue down the left side.
  • 11. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 Cons  Drop-downs can be very difficult (and sometimes impossible) to use on mobile devices. With the growth of mobile commerce, and the use of tablet devices, retailers need to consider the needs of mobile users.  Large drop-downs can slow the customer journey by providing too much choice and complexity. The ‘Paradox of Choice’.  They are often scripted with code that behaves differently depending on the browser used.  Large drop-downs can sometimes be visually unappealing and cluttered, making them difficult to scan and make sense of. A well-designed drop-down will use different font sizes and colours, icons and images to make them more readable. 3.1.4. Examples of drop-down menus M&S tried out a mega drop-down when it redesigned its website in 2009. One huge drop-down menu provided all of the links to the shopping areas of the site, with more than 60 links available from the menu. All of the links are available to click without having to do any scrolling at all, though M&S could have used colour, different font sizes, bold text, and images to make the list easier to scan and digest.
  • 12. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 This version of a mega drop-down menu was perhaps too large to be usable, and M&S did replace it with a smaller alternative, which is easier to digest. Kiddicare’s drop-down menus provide a good example of filtered navigation, by narrowing users’ searches to car seats for the correct age group, or sending shoppers straight to Isofix car seats:
  • 13. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 For an example of using drop-downs for merchandising, see how Argos places the most popular products at the top and left of the menu: On ASOS, the drop-downs allow customers to see all of the product sub-categories at a glance:
  • 14. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 Comet uses a large drop-down, but instead of using it to display a long list of sub-categories, highlights some of its latest deals and best-selling products. River Island used to have a stark drop-down menu with no background. It does match the brand, though depending on the images used behind the menu, the menu text could be very hard to read:
  • 15. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 River Island now uses a more ‘traditional’ drop-down: Officer’s Club shows the price range on its drop-down menus so that users can filter by price before they reach the category page. This should work well for the retailer’s generally price-sensitive customer base.
  • 16. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 This is an excellent example from Sunglass Hut, showing images of the different styles of sunglasses, which provides a very useful navigation aid.
  • 17. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 3.1.5. Tips for improving drop-down usability 1. Use clear headings One of the main reasons for using a mega menu is to present a large range of links in related sets. To show users which links fall into related sets you can use headings to group them together. 2. Use columns Most sites already group related sets into their own columns and often use a single pixel column border to help with demarcation. 3. Showcase your best sellers Save time for customers by placing your best-selling products on the mega menu. This means that users can click directly to them without the need to visit a sub-category and then locate the product. 4. Keep it short Be cautious of making your mega menu too tall. It might extend off the page if they are browsing from a small screen, such as a netbook or mobile device. You can check how many of your customers have such screens by using Google Analytics. Try to make the menu fit the majority of screen sizes. 5. Add a border or shadow Help the menu to stand out from the page content better by using a drop shadow or subtle border. This is particularly important if you’re using a white menu on a white background. 6. Test it in a range of browsers Make sure the menu works in all browsers by undertaking plenty of cross-browser testing to ensure it’s easily navigable for everyone. 7. Consider using the full width of the page Some of the clearest and most effective mega menus are the ones which span the entire width of the page, or a significant proportion of it. They allow the site to include clearer headings, supporting images and promotions for offers and best-selling products, which aids usability and helps drive sales.
  • 18. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 8. Use images and icons The Sunglass Hut example, and this from BMW show how drop-down menus can be more useful, as well as easy on the eye, with the addition of product images. 9. Promote your USPs Promote offers, guides and unique selling points on your mega menu. 10. Get the timing right Make sure the menu appears rapidly, stays in place while the user’s mouse is hovering over the top and vanishes when the mouse is moved away. Jakob Nielsen recommends that the menu should wait for half a second before appearing, as this prevents the menu popping up every time a user passes their mouse pointer over the top. 11. Vary the menu size if you need to If some top-level categories contain dozens of sub-categories while others contain just a few, consider using mega menus containing different numbers of columns. Some sites with small ranges in certain areas use a combination of wide multi-column mega menus and short drop-downs to good effect. 12. Focus on granularity When you’re planning what to include on your menu, take time to consider your approach. You don’t want to offer too many groups or include too many sub-categories, otherwise you’ll make the menu too big and overwhelm your visitors with too many options.
  • 19. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 3.2. Site search Site search is a vital feature for ecommerce sites, as it allows visitors to take a shortcut to the products they have in mind. Using site search indicates intent to purchase on the part of the user, so these visitors are potentially valuable for online retailers. Oddly, there are some high-profile ecommerce sites that don’t offer site search at all, including Gap.eu and H&M. These retailers are missing an opportunity to quickly convert visitors that arrive with a specific product in mind. 3.2.1. Why do retailers need site search?  People use site search. On ecommerce sites, up to 30% of visitors will use the site search box, and each of these users is showing a possible intent to purchase by entering product names or codes.  Improved sales. Effective site search means better usability, so customers can find things more quickly. This can translate into higher sales, as customers who find what they are looking for easily are more likely to make a purchase, while site search also offers opportunities for merchandising. 
  Higher conversion rates. More intuitive search and navigation means higher conversion rates. According to a Screen Pages study, use of the search box results in an average conversion rate of 2.4%, against a site average of 1.7%.  Increased site usage. A better user experience means that customers are more likely to spend more time on the site, and can boost the number of registrations and return visits.  Improved customer retention and loyalty. More loyalty as customers know they can find products more easily. 
  Improved branding. Improving user experience means more customer satisfaction, and a better customer journey compared to competitor websites. 3.2.2. Search box design and placement An effective site search function on an ecommerce site has a number of potential benefits. Customers are accustomed to finding results quickly and (mainly) accurately from search engines, and will expect a similar experience on ecommerce sites. Here are some tips and examples showing best practice in search box placement and design: 1. Offer a site search function "What incredible insight" you’re thinking, but you’d be amazed that some big name ecommerce sites don’t actually offer this. The following sites have no site search at all, which is bonkers.
  • 20. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 H&M No site search box at all, but at least it has some decent filtering options which will allow customers to narrow down what they are looking for. Gap.eu No site search box, and the top navigation bar is so subtle it’s easily missed. I wonder how people find anything. 2. Positioning of search boxes Navigation, including site search boxes, should be visible across the entire site so that visitors can move around easily, whichever page they happen to arrive at. Retailers should place the site search box in a prominent position on the page so visitors can find it easily. Most ecommerce sites place the search box near the top of the page, above the main navigation bar, as in the example below from Best Buy.
  • 21. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 As this is where visitors will expect to find the search box, it makes sense to place it somewhere at the top of the page. According to Depesh Mandalia, Head of Conversion & Product at ticket.com: “There is a standard for search boxes to be placed in the top right of websites. Creating familiarity here speeds up the shop and reduces customer thinking time. Keep it simple and easy to find.” 3. Make it easy to find It needn’t be the most visible item on the page, but users should be able to find it quickly when they arrive at a page and scan around. Different positions should be tested to find which generates the most queries. On these examples from John Lewis and Net-A-Porter, the search box blends in to the page, and is harder to spot as a result. John Lewis: Net-A-Porter: 4. Position the search box away from other boxes Don’t confuse customers by placing it too near other boxes, such as newsletter sign-ups or postcode searches for stock info.
  • 22. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 5. Labelling of the search box It should be obvious what the search box does, so label it clearly. The use of colour to label Play.com’s site search makes it more likely to attract the visitor’s attention, and also doubles as a useful call to action. However, using the word ‘search’ instead of ‘go’ may make the purpose even clearer. Another option is to use the magnifying glass icon, which is becoming commonplace on ecommerce sites.
  • 23. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 6. Text in the site search box The text within the box can be used to explain the function of site search to customers. For example, the text in the Tesco search box tells customers that they can search for products by keyword, or by product code from a catalogue, or even enter a location to find details of their nearest store. 7. Make the text disappear when users begin to enter a search term Retailers should also use JavaScript to ensure that the default text in the box disappears as users click to enter their own search term. Don’t force them to delete the text before they can begin, as this is incredibly annoying. 8. Let people search using the enter key This is much easier than having to move the cursor and click the ‘search’ button. It’s all about making things as easy as possible for customers. 9. Size of site search box This is an area that is worth testing, and the size required will depend on the type of products sold on the site and customer search behaviour. If customers are entering search terms of two or more words then the box should be large enough so that users can see the whole term they are entering. This means that users can correct any errors and misspellings if they need to, as they can see the search term in full. Amazon uses a search box, which is large enough to deal with complex queries, such as the make, model and serial number of an electrical product. 10. Place a site search box on each page of the site Having a search box on each page makes it easy for customers to get back to a product search from any point, and also provides an alternative method of navigation for users that arrive at product pages. However, placing a site search box within the checkout process can provide a distraction for customers when they should be concentrating on making a purchase, so this is one area that doesn’t need one.
  • 24. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 11. Allow users to narrow searches before they begin Tesco provides a drop-down menu so that customers can limit the scope of their search to one section of the site. Limiting the scope of searches avoids returning lots of results that are irrelevant for the user, as well as making it more likely that they will find what they are looking for. Narrowing searches can be very useful for sites with a large number of SKUs. 12. Use auto-complete Some retailers use an auto-complete tool which begins to offer suggestions when users have entered a few characters into the search box. This has a number of advantages: it speeds up the search process for users, it helps them to avoid misspellings, and it also ensures that customers’ searches will return a product result. According to Matthew Curry, E-commerce Manager at Lovehoney: “In my experience, auto-suggest provides a real boost to search conversion rates. In a usability test I ran, we found that users actually relied upon site search autosuggest and auto-correct to know the correct spelling of words for them. Make sure that your site search solution is up to scratch, and that you still provide search results for common misspellings, just in case.”
  • 25. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 In this example from Waterstones, shoppers who can’t remember the spelling of a famous Russian author’s name only need to get the first four or five letters right. The same principle applies for travel sites, where users may be unsure of the spellings of some results. Well-implemented auto-complete for site search can save customers a lot of effort, and speed up the search process. 13. Link to advanced search options The LA Times links to advanced search options as soon as you begin to type in a query.
  • 26. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 Since the newspaper has a lot of content, it makes sense to allow the user to search in more detail. 3.2.3. Site search results pages Once users have found the search box and entered their product query, the most important aspect is the speed and accuracy of the search results. There is a lot that retailers can do on search results pages to enhance the user experience and make the route from search to purchase as smooth as possible. Here are some examples, good and bad, from retailers, as well as some tips to improve the user experience: 1. Site search results pages should load quickly If there is a noticeable lag between hitting the search button and viewing results, users will begin to lose patience. 2. Avoid returning no results where possible If customers have searched for a product that the retailer just doesn’t stock, it doesn’t have to end with a ‘no results found’ page. However, as commenters on a site search article we posted pointed out, zero results pages can be a valuable source of information for retailers. Tracking these pages via analytics can help retailers to fix problems with site search, and it can also inform them of the products customers are looking for that they don’t currently stock. 3. Return accurate results If shoppers see obviously irrelevant results, then they will be less likely to trust the site search function. An Econsultancy/Funnelback Site Search Report found that companies need to work on the accuracy of their site search functions.
  • 27. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 500 company and agency respondents were asked what percentage of searches carried out on their site are successful. On average, only 50% (exactly) of searches are successful. If customers type a simple query into the search box and irrelevant results are returned, they are likely to lose confidence in site search. A search for ‘blue shirt’ on Zara returns all manner of items, very few of which are blue shirts: A better example comes from House of Fraser: 4. Keep the original term in the search box Showing the original term makes it easy for users to modify the search by adding an extra word or two, based on what they see in the results. 5. Order search results by relevancy In the example of the Amazon search for ‘iPod’, the retailer places the most relevant results at the top of the pile.
  • 28. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 This means that actual iPods and iPod Touches are displayed before the vast range of accessories and related items. Retailers could also order searches according to the items they think will sell best, as users are likely to give more attention to the top few results. 6. Suggest alternatives If the product customers are looking for is unavailable on the site, suggest a relevant alternative. For example, if a customer searches for a brand of toaster than isn’t sold by a retailer, then showing results for other brands is the best approach. This means that users don’t have to hit a dead end, and offers the potential to keep the customer on site and make a sale. Comet could improve here. Surely the word ‘toaster’ in the search term provides a clue? 7. Correct and anticipate common misspellings While some users’ entries may be near impossible to decipher, it is possible to anticipate common and obvious misspellings and still provide results. This approach ensures that users find a list of possible products to buy, and also neatly avoids ‘blaming’ the user for their error. Comet works out my typo and offers you results from relevant sections of the site, though it doesn’t show any actual products:
  • 29. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 In this example from Play.com, the site search has figured out the typo and provided accurate results straight away. It doesn’t even mention the typo, thus sparing any embarrassment. 8. Provide filtering and sorting options on results pages This is essential, as some searches will produce large numbers of results which would otherwise be unmanageable. For example, a search for ‘iPod’ on Amazon produces more than 120,000 results. Users need to be able to remove products they don’t want from this list by filtering by price range, product categories, brand, colour, user review score and more. 9. Take customers with catalogue codes straight to product pages Retailers that use catalogues generally provide the option of entering the product code into the search box. Best practice here is to take the customer straight to the relevant product page. The customer has already shown intent to purchase by entering the code, so the journey to checkout needs to be as smooth as possible. The same could also apply to someone searching for a very specific model number.
  • 30. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 10. Consider adding stock levels to your search results Customers don’t want to waste time visiting product pages and adding items to their basket only to find that items are out of stock. If they can be informed of stock levels on site search results pages, then this can be avoided. If a product is unavailable, retailers can offer alternatives or provide information on when it will be back in stock. If there are just a few left and customers need to act fast to secure the item, then this can be a persuasive sales tool. In another example from technology retailer Insight, customers have the option to filter searches so they only see items that are in stock, saving any wasted time.
  • 31. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 11. Show product images and prices for quick scan Product images allow customers to scan the list of results for the product that suits them. It is especially useful on fashion sites like ASOS, where how items look is all-important. 12. Add product information to search results Comet shows not only the product image and price, but also presents a couple of key points about the laptops (screen size, RAM etc.) as well as the available delivery/collect in store options. Adding product information allows customers to quickly compare the ‘headline’ features of products and speeds up their search.
  • 32. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 The site search results on Merrell show the available colours when users mouse over, a useful shortcut:
  • 33. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 13. Add calls to action for fast purchase If shoppers have used site search, then they may know exactly what they want, having already researched the product in question, so make it easy for them. In this example from Comet, shoppers can add the item to their basket straight from the search results page, skipping the product page altogether. 14. Consider using ‘quick view’ Quick view features, which have become more common recently, allow customers to see a ‘mini- product page’ straight from the search results or category pages. As with most features, it’s worth testing this to see how it performs. It may be helpful for customers and encourage them to add products to the basket more quickly, but it could be better for conversions if they see the full product page. In the example from Merrell, customers can see more product details via this light box, and either add the required size boot to their basket, or head to the product page for further detail.
  • 34. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 15. Show reviews in site search results Reviews are a great sales driver, and they have plenty of uses beyond product pages. In site search results, the average review score (and number of reviews) can be used to give shoppers a quick indication of the popularity and quality of a product, as in this example from Kiddicare. It also provides a great filtering or sorting option, so that users can narrow searches according to the ratings given. 16. Show search results above the fold Users want to search, and then see a few results on the page, so they don’t have to scroll too much. In this example from Comet, which otherwise presents site search results well, the first result is barely visible above the fold, thanks to the other elements on the page.
  • 35. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 17. Filter search results by reviews Filtering options are vital on site search results pages, and there are a number of ways to use them. For example, AbesofMaine allows users to navigate within user reviews once you arrive at a results page: 18. Allow users to customise results pages Customers may want to view search results in a number of ways, so allow them the option of list views, galleries, or seeing all results on one page.
  • 36. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 19. Adapt results pages for type of product sold On Motorcycle superstore, users can select their exact model in search results pages, so that only relevant products are shown. 20.Use video in site search results Video works on ecommerce sites, so why not use it in search results pages? For example, onlinegolf.co.uk found that visitors who watch video are 85% more likely to buy. When they made the videos available in their site search, video viewership doubled. 21. Return mixed content Even on an ecommerce site, search results don’t just have to be products or services. Users may also be looking for contact details, returns information or buyer’s guides.
  • 37. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 3.2.4. Learning from site search data The terms that customers type into your site search box represent a wealth of valuable data that can be used to learn about your users’ behaviour. This data can be used to improve the site search functionality, to optimise results pages for common searches, improve merchandising and more. Below are some opinions from several ecommerce experts about how site search data can be used most effectively: Why is site search data useful? According to Osric Powell from SLI Systems: “E-commerce is increasingly dependent on data driven analysis for decision making. Site search analytics provides a unique and direct insight into the shopping behaviour of your visitor. Analysis of the language used by your visitors is one of the most powerful and freely available sources of information you can glean from the tools you use to measure site search performance. Furthermore, the findings from site search reports are easier to communicate to internal departments and managers for maximum overall benefit to the business.” How you can make the most of site search data Here are some ideas on what to look for from site search data, and the lessons that can be learned from this. 1. Level of usage Understanding how many people are using search and how that is performing over specific periods of time is useful to know. Also, how may repeat visitors are using search is good to know and can be used for more time sensitive marketing. 2. Review the top search terms on your site The most popular search terms can tell you which products being are looking for most, so you can then optimise your site search to make it easier for users. For example, you could use auto-complete to suggest popular products as people type. Also, if people are searching for products that are currently unavailable, this can help your buyers to make decisions about stock levels. 3. Keyword value Understanding the value of keywords used from the search box directly informs PPC and again gives your merchandising/email marketing teams some degree of focus when designing their campaigns. 4. Immediately increase your revenue If you’re an ecommerce retailer, it’s great to have a process of working through your top 100 or so search phrases every so often, and checking what comes back when you actually search for these yourself.
  • 38. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 One such example comes from Austin Reed’s site. If you search for ‘Barbour’ there, you’ll see that it returns zero results. We’re pretty sure Austin Reed sells Barbour in some of their stores, and does sell dozens of wax jackets on the site. Therefore it’s likely to be a search term used on the site, but obviously nobody’s taken the time to take a look at that. Even if Austin Reed doesn’t stock Barbour jackets, than providing results for wax jackets is surely better than ‘no results found’. 5. Use this data for other marketing activities The way people search for products on your site is also an indication of the way they may search on Google. Therefore, site search data can be used to improve search advertising. There is a lot you can learn from the language people use when searching for products. 6. Give the data to your buyers/writers/salespeople It’s fairly easy in any analytics package to set up automated reports of top searches. These are often really useful for buyers, who need to know when demand is bumping up and down, but also need to be able to judge potential demand for products that aren’t already stocked. According to Dan Barker: “For salespeople the data can be great. For example, if you’re selling job ads and you can tell potential advertisers things like ‘we had 30,000 searches for ‘digital marketing manager’ on the site last month, and only 4,000 for ‘online marketing manager’, so you should put the ad in using the word ‘digital’’ that’s brilliant both from a ‘sales’ & a ‘helping the customer’ angle.” 7. Using search for merchandising relevance According to Oscric Powell: “Knowing the top search terms helps you to understand your most popular products, and this is obviously important. However, there is an added insight in that this helps you to understand how your visitors perceive you. “For example, one of our white goods retailers has found that visitors were entering search terms related to memory (ram, dimm, SD card etc.) although they no longer stock such products. This could be an opportunity to start carrying such items or to partner with sites that do.
  • 39. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 “There is a deeper level of insight that can also be useful for merchandisers. Suppose you sell TVs and find that your most popular search terms is ‘30” LCD TV’. Which one of the tens or hundreds of TVs that you stock do you merchandise in your sort order above the fold on the first page? “Understanding your most popular terms and how that correlates with the most popular product is well worth tracking where you have many products that meet with the originally search term.” 8. Look at ‘poor results’ What is the definition of a poor result? For some it is simply when someone enters a search terms and the site returns a ‘no results found’ page. This is important but doesn’t tell the whole story. Another definition of a poor result is where the search term used returns hundreds (or even thousands) of results, as can happen on Amazon: This can also have a detrimental effect on the site especially if you have poor filtered navigation options to assist the user with filtering the results. Conversely, a poor user experience can happen if too few results are returned. A ‘poor results’ report should be able to provide this level of insight. 9. Timeliness of keywords Knowing when people are searching (in terms of trends and patterns) can give your business a competitive advantage. Analysis of the terms provides a powerful way to co-ordinate your PPC strategies ahead of time and can even provide savings by bidding for keywords before they rise in cost. This is not the same as asking how many times visitors searched for a particular keyword during July. Rather we are asking what keywords are being used and how it trends out. For example, if you sell flowers, fruit seeds etc. it can be useful to know that searches for ‘poppy seeds’ started appearing in March, peaked mid-July and began tailing off during August. 10. Click depth Click depth provides an indicator of search relevance and also how deeply visitors are traversing the site. Are users clicking through to pages five and six? Could we get them to that product quicker by cross linking results with suggested keywords and popular search terms?
  • 40. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 11. Click rank Where are users clicking on your search results? According to Osric, you tend to see the highest density of clicks on page one and in the top five to ten (above the fold) products. If that is not the case then something is wrong with search results relevancy. Learn from the pages from where search is conducted. Depesh Mandalia, Head of Conversion & Product at ticket.com: “It’s important to know which pages (aside from the homepage) customers are searching from since it may indicate a poor user experience or that we’re not catering for customers as well as we should.” “For example, some of our PPC landing pages are high on the ‘visited site search from’ measure which means we need to better serve our target keywords or create new target pages and split those keywords out which are driving site search hits (hence drilling back to keywords from those start pages is important).” 12. Exit rate This is important since it means users are exiting from site search most likely after not finding what they’re looking for. 13. Are visitors finding what they want? Looking at data on the percentage of search exits (people who abandon the site after viewing site search results) can tell you whether or not people are happy with what they find. It’s also a good idea to review search results for the most popular and most profitable lines, to ensure that the process works well. Trawl for other elements and info that is missing from your site E-business consultant Dan Barker: “On ecommerce sites I often see people searching for ‘size guide’, ‘store finder’, ‘delivery’, ‘return’ etc. Trawling through on-site search terms often gives you clues for that. It can also tell you when navigational options or links are missing.” “For example, on holiday sites, if you find people are searching by ‘country’ & you only offer the ability to navigate by ‘city’, you can find clues as to where there’s enough demand to make the site change.” “Looking at the page people were on when using terms like that often gives clues as to where information is missing too. So, if everyone’s searching for the word ‘delivery’ from product pages, it may be worth adding delivery info to your product pages.” 14. Average order value (AOV) Average order value and how that pertains to search visitors helps with the ROI argument for Site Search. AOV should consistently outperform the metrics you see for visitors who do not use the search box. 15. Look at searches that return no results This may be an indication of people searching for products you don’t have, which may tell you what to stock in future, or that they are using different terms to describe your products.
  • 41. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 16. Device usage It helps to look at the search terms, types of search and usage patterns you are seeing across different channels. For example, are there differences in search behaviour between users of different devices? This information can be used to inform future design updates, or to optimise certain pages for different devices. 17. Look at which filters people use Knowing what facets users are selecting (and the order by which they are doing) is a very important part of assisting the user experience and how much content to surface. Too many retailers do not filter the amount of garbage they surface in search results pages and thus confuse the visitor. For example, filtering by particular sizes may be more likely to lead to sales than filtering by others, and therefore you can spot inventory gaps. Or perhaps particular colours are more popular than others. This can be interesting for travel sites too (where you get an idea of things like the lead-times people are searching for, whether star ratings/price are more popular for hotels in particular destinations, etc.).
  • 42. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 4. Product pages What customers see and read on the product page forms a large part of the decision making process, so a well-designed page will increase your chances of converting visitors into buyers. A good product page needs to display products in the best light, and should also work hard to persuade customers to add the item to their shopping baskets. An informative product page with persuasive sales copy, quality images, and all the information that shoppers need is essential for online retailers. We will now look at some of the features that online retailers can use on their product pages to show products in their best light, as well as some of the extras like video that can help to provide a richer experience for shoppers. By using examples of product page best practice, as well as some where retailers haven’t quite got it right, this guide will provide ideas on how retailers can do more to showcase their products and thus maximize conversion rates. Though there are some common elements to all good product pages, it is important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to designing product pages for ecommerce sites. What works well on one site may have a quite different effect on another. The key is to make sure your product pages contain the essential ingredients that the majority of shoppers will be looking for, but you should also think about adding features that will enhance the experience for users. Retailers need to optimise product pages for visitors by testing different elements, such as placements of call to action buttons and sales copy, until the right balance is found. 4.1. Video While more and more retailers are using online video, there are still plenty of sites which could use it to improve their product pages. Here are some examples of best practice from retailers that use video on their product pages. 4.1.1. Why your product pages need video There are some compelling arguments for the use of video by online retailers, such as increasing brand engagement, the opportunity to tie in online video with offline campaigns through QR codes, but the biggest argument is the impact on conversion rates. Here are some stats:  Using video demos of items on product pages increased sales for Zappos by between 6% and 30%.  Shoppers who viewed video on Stacks and Stacks product pages were 144% more likely to add to cart than other shoppers.  On Ice.com, the conversion rate for shoppers viewing video on product pages increased by 400%, while return rates dropped from 12% to 9%.  Shoeline.com improved the conversion rate by 44% for product pages containing videos.
  • 43. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013  Videos on the simplypiste.com product pages increased conversion rates by 25%, as well as leading to a reduction in the number of returns. 1. Optimise video for SEO Adding video to product pages provides more opportunities for search engine indexing, and there are ways that retailers can maximise the SEO value. For example, Simplyhike has several product videos, and these appear frequently in product searches on Google: There are several factors that determine where your product video will rank in search results:  Metadata: video title and description tags.  Number of comments and shares.  Backlinks.  Date added.  View count.  Rating and flagging (where applicable).  Incoming links (exposure on other sites, other embeds, RSS links). Not every one of these factors can be controlled, as many are down to actions that viewers take and this places even greater importance on the content of the video.
  • 44. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 2. Show the product in use For many products, people want to see it being used so they can make an informed decision. This demo video of a Kayak on the REI site provides an opportunity for people to see that the product works, looks good, while also explaining the various features and key selling points: 3. Embed video into product pages This is better from an SEO perspective, and it makes for a better user experience than opening up a pop-up window to showcase videos. For example, by simply linking to an advert hosted on YouTube instead of embedding, Smyths is missing out on some of the SEO benefits, and actually taking users away from the product page:
  • 45. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 M&S does this better, hosting the videos itself, but they open up in a new window: ASOS provides a better example on its product pages. Videos are embedded, load quickly, and can be viewed there and then on the page. This also means that, if they like what they see on the film, the ‘add to bag’ button is right in front of them.
  • 46. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 4. Provide instructional videos for complex products Think of the doubts and questions that customers may have when viewing a particular product page, and how video can address them. Instructional videos which demonstrate products in action and provide instructions for use and assembly can overcome any doubts that customers may have. For example, Simply Group uses specialist advisors to create videos for its product pages showcasing the various features. For this backpack, it means that shoppers can see how much it can carry, the number of pockets, zips etc. The addition of videos like this led to a 25% uplift in conversion rates. Kiddicare understands the questions that customers will have when buying products like prams and ‘travel systems’ online. It’s not possible to test the item as you would be able to in store, but the videos are designed to overcome this. The videos for travel systems and other products are very detailed, showing how it folds, the accessories that come with it, all important for the parent deciding whether to buy.
  • 47. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 In addition, the videos have been split into four so that customers can just skip to the relevant section. 5. Use UGC when appropriate User generated videos are a great tool when used well. They are cheap to produce, show shoppers that other people have purchased and enjoyed the product. The fact that videos are being submitted regularly, as well as the comments and ratings around them are also an indicator of page freshness for Google. This approach works really well on gadgets and gifts site Firebox, and fits perfectly with its brand image. Firebox offers the chance to win a £50 voucher for people who submit product videos, so there are plenty on the site.
  • 48. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 4.2. Consumer reviews: examples and best practices 61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision, and they are now almost essential for ecommerce sites. User reviews are proven sales drivers, and something the majority of customers will want to see before deciding to make a purchase. Here are some compelling stats on user reviews, why they are great for SEO, why bad reviews are valuable, and how to use reviews in navigation and on product pages. 4.2.1. Why you need customer reviews There have been so many positive recommendations of the value of reviews for ecommerce that the case doesn’t really need to be made anymore, though I’ll make it again anyway. Quite simply, user reviews increase conversions. They can eliminate any doubts potential customers may have about a product, or can help product selection. Shoppers like leaving reviews too. Stats reveal that 47% of Britons have reviewed products online, which suggests there is no shortage of people ready to provide their opinions. The stats  According to Reevoo stats, 50 or more reviews per product can mean a 4.6% increase in conversion rates.  63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews. (iPerceptions, 2011).  Site visitors who interact with both reviews and customer questions and answers are 105% more likely to purchase while visiting, and spend 11% more than visitors who don’t interact with UGC. (Bazaarvoice, Conversation Index, Q2 2011).  Consumer reviews are significantly more trusted (nearly 12 times more) than descriptions that come from manufacturers, according to a survey of US internet users by online video review site EXPO. (eMarketer, February 2010).  According to Reevoo, reviews produce an average 18% uplift in sales.
  • 49. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 4.2.2. The SEO benefits of reviews Improving conversions and improving customer experience should be the main purpose of user reviews, but let’s not forget the considerable SEO benefits. These include: Fresh, unique content for search engines Search engine spiders like unique content that is regularly updated, and user reviews are a great way to attract more content. When many ecommerce sites just use the same standard manufacturer descriptions and product specifications, user-generated content can differentiate a product page in the search results. This is important as it makes pages more useful to customers, and also increases the chance of ranking highly in the SERPs. Improve rankings for ‘product name’ + review Reviews are an increasingly important part of the purchase journey for online consumers. Indeed, a recent survey found that 64% of consumers would read online reviews when purchasing technology items such as MP3 players and cameras. This also means that more consumers will be searching for the name of the product plus the word ‘review’, or related words such as ‘ratings’. If you have reviews on your site, then you stand a better chance of picking up this traffic. Increased CTR on results pages If review content is correctly formatted, then these rich snippets can help increases click-throughs from search engine results pages. In the example below, the addition of the star rating makes the third result stand out: According to stats from Distilled, these rich snippets can mean a 10-20% increase in click- through rates in some cases. Long tail targeting The additional content generated by user reviews increases the chance of ranking well for long tail searches. In addition, people leaving reviews tend to use the same language that other people will use when actually searching for them.
  • 50. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 Key SEO considerations for user reviews Indexation To ensure that search engines reach your user generated content, it must appear in text form in the HTML. You should also avoid a reliance on JavaScript, cookies, Flash, images, iFrames or other technologies that would limit the accessibility of any content you wish the search engines to see. Non-duplication Though snippets of reviews could appear on multiple pages, such as on category pages, or promoted via the homepage, it is important that the full review has a single page and a single URL. Breadth of content As many pages on the site as possible should feature user reviews to maximise the opportunity to rank well for this content and capitalise on long-tail traffic. 4.2.3. Bad reviews are valuable too... All reviews are valuable, and a mix of positive and negative reviews helps to improve consumer trust in the opinions they read. Indeed, stats from Reevoo suggest that the presence of bad reviews actually improves conversions by 67%. Reevoo found that people that seek out and read bad reviews convert better, as the very fact that they are paying such close attention means they are more likely to be in purchase mode. 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores, while 30% suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see any negative opinions on the page. Too many bad reviews aren’t good for business The benefits of bad reviews very much depends on the proportion of good to bad. The negative reviews make the positive ones more believable, but there is a point at which they ring alarm bells for consumers. If, for instance, a product page contains 15 reviews, and two are negative, then the other 13 look more authentic. If that proportion changes, it’s a different matter.
  • 51. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 Research from Lightspeed found that between one and three bad online reviews would be enough to deter the majority (67%) of shoppers from purchasing a product or service. The tolerance of bad reviews varies depending on age groups. For example, 28% of the 45-54 age group and 33% of 55-64 year olds would be deterred after reading two bad reviews, compared with just 10% of 18 to 24s. It also depends on the type of product on offer. A book, game or film will often divide opinion, but reviews of electrical products which highlight flaws will be more likely to deter others. 4.2.4. How to attract reviews from customers 1. Use a reviews provider One guaranteed method of getting enough customer reviews to make your product pages more persuasive for shoppers is to use a third party reviews provider, such as Reevoo or Bazaarvoice. Many retailers, including Comet, Tesco, and Argos use these companies to add reviews to their sites. This is a useful way to build up a body of reliable reviews for product pages which could otherwise take some time. These reviews are also authenticated, so customers know that the person leaving the review has actually purchased the product in question. Drawbacks include the fact that such reviews tell other potential customers nothing about buying from your site in particular, as reviews are generally syndicated. 2. Email customers post-purchase Sending an email after a customer has purchased an item to ask for a review is a good idea, but the timing is a key issue here. You need to give customers enough time to have received the product and had to chance to start using it and form an opinion, but it still needs to be sent when the purchase is fresh in the customer’s mind.
  • 52. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 This is a tactic which has worked for M&S recently. Thanks to including Bazaarvoice reviews functionality in post-purchase emails, Marks & Spencer has increased customer feedback by more than 400%. 3. Ask for reviews on product pages There are plenty of product pages that have yet to attract customer reviews, perhaps because the products are niche, or newly released. However, if you are attracting reviews from people who haven’t used the product or, as is often the case on Amazon, reviews for items which haven’t even been released, they may be less useful to other shoppers. 4. Make the process of leaving a review as simple as possible Some users may not have a lot to say about some products, or may have a limited attention span, so make it nice and easy to leave opinions. Offering customers the option of leaving a quick rating out of five or ten is one way, and provides a useful summary score to add to product pages, while another way to get a little more useful detail is to ask users to give different aspects of products a rating, as Reevoo does. This also provides some useful detail for other customers:
  • 53. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 5. Offer incentives for leaving reviews If a customer has purchased an item, one way to get them to take the time to write a review is to offer an incentive, as Comet does here: This is possibly best limited to post-purchase emails, so that people aren’t leaving reviews just to enter a competition or receive a discount. 4.2.5. How to present reviews and ratings It’s great to have lots of reviews, but once the number of reviews gets to a certain point, it’s important to find ways to organise reviews and help other shoppers make sense of them. Here are some ideas: 1. Rate this review / was this helpful? According to usability expert Jared Spool, adding a simple question to its product pages was responsible for $2.7bn of revenue each year for Amazon. That question, ‘was this review helpful to you?’ enabled users to give feedback on reviews and helped Amazon to sort the wheat from the chaff. As Jared Spool says: “Amazon quietly bumps the three most helpful reviews to the top. It tries to balance positive and negative reviews, so shoppers get a balanced perspective. An interesting
  • 54. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 side effect is how these selected reviews get more votes. If they are controversial (in that not everyone agrees they were helpful), their ratio goes down, allowing the most helpful reviews to bubble up past them.” “This makes it a self-managing system, letting the reviews people find the most helpful to maintain their standing at the top of the list. The result is an understated implementation that works great.” 2. Average review score summaries Not every customer will take the time to read reviews, so showing average review scores helps them to get an idea of ratings at a glance. 3. Use reviews in filtered navigation Reviews are not only useful on product pages, but they can also help customers in their product selection. If you have reviews on site, adding a filter by user rating option provides a useful tool for customers: Kiddicare does this, but also uses reviews and customer feedback to help customers navigate to products according to their pros and best uses:
  • 55. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 4. Using charts to display review information Like the average review scores, charts like this one from Amazon help users to make sense of large numbers of reviews, and get an idea of the general consensus. 5. Show some detail Kiddicare not only gives a rating and shows the customers’ opinions, but also lists pros and cons, best uses, and asks the person leaving the review to describe themselves. This means that potential customers can view this useful detail at a glance, but it also means that Kiddicare can use this information in its navigation. 6. Online reviews for in store customers Reviews aren’t just for online purchases, and many will either research online before heading in store, or use their mobiles to find reviews of the products they are considering. I’ve yet to see examples of this, but using online reviews in stores could work as a sales driver, in the same way that Waterstones and other retailers use staff recommendations. People are using smartphones to find reviews (and compare prices) anyway, so it makes sense to show reviews, or prompt them to visit your product pages on their mobiles and view reviews.
  • 56. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 4.3. Calls to action Call to action buttons need to jump out at the shopper and leave them in no doubt about the next step they need to take to make a purchase. Visitors can have low attention spans, and an effective call to action which catches the customer’s eye can make it clear what the next step should be. There is no definitive answer on which buttons work best, so it is important to test different combinations of colour, button size, wording and placement to see what is most effective. As a general rule though, if it doesn’t stand out clearly on the page, there is room for improvement. Here are some tips on designing and displaying calls to action. 1. Test This is really the key. If you choose a call to action that stands out well, using your ‘best guess’ you may do very well but until you test it there’s no way of knowing whether you have chosen the best option. Simple changes to design, colour, wording and size can produce impressive results. For example, this test from Visual Website Optimizer produced a 6.3% increase in sales. The original button blended into the page, and was less prominent than the ‘oversized print’ message.
  • 57. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 The new version made the button more prominent, and added green to make it stand out: It’s easy to see why that change improved sales, as the new version is obviously clearer, but more subtle changes can also produce results. 2. Colour The button must stand out from the background, as well as from any other icons or images on the product page. A colour should be chosen which contrasts with those used on the rest of the page, preferably a bright colour which catches the eye. A bright colour can stand out best, but it is also important to consider that some colours may create certain associations in shoppers’ minds. Orange is sometimes recommended as the ideal colour for calls to action, as it draws attention to a button without being too bright. Some colours have other connotations; some may associate red with danger or debt, while green can signify ‘go’. These are all things to consider when choosing a colour. Testing variations will help you to find the best colour for your website’s call to action buttons. In a recent interview with Comet’s E-commerce Manager Ryan Thomas, he told me that he had been testing colour variations, and has settled on green for the moment. This colour may not work on every site, but it certainly stands out clearly on Comet’s product pages.
  • 58. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 The two calls to action are the only uses of green on the entire page, which helps the button to stand out further: 3. Wording of calls to action The wording should leave shoppers in no doubt about what will happen when they click the link. It should ideally start with a verb that conveys action: ‘buy’, ‘add to basket’, etc. Users expect to see phrases like ‘add to basket’ and ‘buy now’, so it may be wise not to deviate too much from this kind of language. For example, Zara.com uses the phrase ‘process order’ on its site, which may be confusing for some. For this reason ‘add to cart’ or ‘add to basket’ can work well. Users are familiar with this phrase, and will be more likely to notice it when they scan the page.
  • 59. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 4. Size of calls to action The call to action is the most important link on a product page so shoppers need to instantly see it without having to hunt around. It should be the biggest link on the page. After all, the bigger it is, the more chance it has of being noticed, so why not increase the size and test the results? The call to action for the Firefox browser is the biggest feature on the page and as a result it is unmissable: 5. Button placement Buttons should be placed somewhere where users’ eyes are likely to scan as they view the product page. Placing the call to action just below the price, or to the right of the product listing makes it easy to scan and spot quickly. Also, online shoppers are used to seeing calls to action in this area of the page so it makes sense to follow precedent.
  • 60. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 6. Create urgency Creating a sense of urgency in the customer’s mind can nudge them into a purchase decision there and then. This may not be applicable for every site, but if you have a sale on, or limited stock, or perhaps can guarantee next day delivery if the order is placed within the next hour, then this can be a powerful technique. 7. Give it some space Even the brightest and most clearly worded call to action will struggle to stand out on a cluttered page, though Ling’s Cars does deal with this issue by using flashing green gifs. Ling’s Cars may be the exception which proves the rule, however. For most sites, it’s important to make sure that there is some clear space around the call to action button. This will avoid the risk of it being drowned out by the rest of the elements on the page. On this John Lewis product page the button is in a dull colour as well as being quite small, but it stands out thanks to the white space around it. A brighter colour may be more effective though.
  • 61. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 8. Multiple calls to action for long pages Thanks to adding reviews, videos and just about everything it can find that relates to the product, Amazon often has very lengthy product pages, so the retailer has added multiple calls to action above and below the fold. These buttons can grab the attention of users further down the page and also increase the opportunities for shoppers to add further items to their baskets. 9. Prioritise the most important calls to action There may be two or three calls to action on a page, perhaps different levels of subscription, ‘buy now’ or take 30 day free trial, or order now or collect in store. Customers should be presented with all options, but it’s worth drawing more attention to the action you’d most like them to take. Here, AVG would much prefer you to buy now: 10. Adapt for different devices There are different considerations for designing calls to action for different devices, though the essentials are the same; it should stand out and be easy to click. You can also look at the way people use devices and adapt calls to action to suit this. For example, direct line used a swipe button for the iPad-friendly version of its German homepage. This led to a 9.23% increase in registrations for a quote:
  • 62. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 4.4. Product page copywriting While product page design has improved in the past few years, an often-neglected area is sales copy. A common mistake is to simply place the manufacturer’s product descriptions on pages. While this approach is easier, especially for sites with large product ranges, a more personal touch and unique tone of voice can help your product pages stand out and really sell the benefits of products. 4.4.1. Why product page copy matters SEO benefits When many of your competitors are using the same manufacturer’s product descriptions, there is a real opportunity to strand out in search results pages, since your description will be unique. Customised product descriptions also allow you to provide more text and keywords for search engines to index. Conversions OK, if you’re selling photocopier paper, this is tricky to do, but just the sense that a real human being is writing product descriptions can set them apart. 4.4.2. What are the ingredients of great product page copy? There is no hard and fast rule here and, as you will see from the examples below, good sales copy can take many different forms. 1. Uniqueness Product descriptions should be unique to that website. Customers will appreciate that the page has been written specifically for this product, while there are the SEO benefits mentioned earlier. 2. Convey knowledge of the product If the customer reading the description can get the sense that the copywriter knows the product well and has used it, then this makes the copy more trustworthy. 3. Don’t stuff it full of keywords Of course, retailers want to make sure their target keywords are in product descriptions for the search engines, but if it becomes too obvious to the visitor, it’s a real turn-off. A good copywriter should be able to get the target keywords in without overdoing it. 4. Formatting Product sales copy should be easily readable. Customers don’t need huge swathes of text, as this makes information hard to scan and digest. Use of short paragraphs, bold text, bullet points, images etc. can help to make copy more visually appealing.
  • 63. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 Some product pages have to convey a lot of technical information about products, such as tech specifications for laptops. By putting this information into a table, Comet makes it easier for customers: 5. Express key benefits of products Good sales copy needs to be persuasive, and should convey the benefits of products, what it will do for them, how it will improve the customer’s life, and so on. 6. The higher the price, the harder you have to work on the copy If you’re selling packs of pens or printer paper, then a basic description of the product should suffice, but if you’re selling big-ticket items, then the copywriter will need to work harder. If it’s a luxury item, then the sales copy should reflect that. See the J Peterman example below. 7. Tone of voice The examples below all show a friendly and natural tone of voice. According to Alice Little, Content and Community Editor at adult retailer Lovehoney, this is very important: “We try to write in a friendly, natural way that gives first time customers the confidence to try our products and reassures our more experienced purchasers that we have the knowledge and expertise they’re looking for.” “We always aim to make it easy for the customer to see themselves using the product and feeling the benefit. We also give hints and tips in a product description to make the customer feel excited about using the product before it’s even arrived.”
  • 64. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 4.4.3. Five examples of great product page copy 1. Appliances Online This example has been chosen because it highlights how improving sales copy can immediately improve conversion rates. The retailer uses creative copywriters to produce unique product descriptions, which sell the key benefits of products in a more human tone. It has worked too. The new sales copy was introduced, along with other product page improvements, all of which helped to increase sales by 9.5%.
  • 65. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 2. The J Peterman Company The sales copy on this website is inspired, and totally unique.
  • 66. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 3. Patagonia Patagonia uses a friendly tone, but still conveys the benefits of its products, and uses bullet points to outline the key features. 4. Lovehoney There aren’t many examples that are ‘safe for work’ on the site, but here’s one, which is an example of the natural tone that Alice referred to above.
  • 67. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 5. Firebox The product page copy on Firebox matches the brand perfectly, as well as really selling the benefits of products, in the case the Magic Wand TV remote.
  • 68. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 4.5. Reserve and collect A recent survey found that fewer than half of the UK’s top 50 online retailers currently offer a click and collect service for customers. Of those that do, less than a quarter extend this service to mobile. According to the Econsultancy survey, 80% of respondents had used reserve and collect services in the past 12 months. The data shows that the service is far less popular with US consumers, with nearly half (46%) saying they have never used it. Given the success of these services, and the rapid growth of mobile commerce, this represents a real missed opportunity for retailers. Even for those retailers that offer reserve and collect, there is an opportunity to optimise the experience for users and improve revenues. 4.5.1. Why offer reserve and collect? Because it works Retailers that have adopted it are driving a significant proportion of sales by using click and collect. Argos is the original success story for reserve and collect, having launched its own service more than ten years ago. ’Check and Reserve’ accounted for 29% of Argos’ £819m sales in Q1 2012. Its business model lent itself perfectly with reserve and collect, and it perhaps had fewer challenges than some to implement the service, but that doesn’t mean it can’t work for others.
  • 69. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 Halfords introduced a click and collect service, and now 86% of all its online sales are for in-store collection. It fits with consumer behaviour Large numbers of consumers research online with the intention of heading to the high street to eventually make the purchase. For example, more than a third of Homebase customers fit into this pattern. By providing click and collect, retailers are ensuring that, if a customer hits their site to research products, they can ‘lock them in’ for the offline purchase by making sure a product is there for them to collect in the store. It saves time for consumers It’s a busy world, and if you can save customers some time and thus make their lives easier, they’ll appreciate it. Reserving products for them means they needn’t go from shop to shop looking for a copy of the latest games console, gadget, or whatever. They can just head to your store and pick it up. The potential for cross selling Reserve and collect can drive footfall into your store, and this brings with it the potential to add incremental sales to the original reservation. Let’s say a customer has reserved an iPad. While they’re picking this up, they may see a case they like, or useful add-ons like keyboards and headphones. It helps to give multichannel retailers an edge Reserve and collect is one tactic that pureplays like Amazon don’t have. Perhaps it’s inconvenient to wait in for a home delivery, or you would rather get the item sooner. It can appeal to the ‘want it now’ mentality. Rather than waiting for delivery from Amazon, you can reserve and collect in store that day. 4.5.2. Tips for improving reserve and collect services 1. Promote it Simple really, but if customers are aware that the reserve online, collect in store options exists, they are more likely to use it. Also, it can be a sales driver. At Christmas for example, it can be a useful option for last-minute gift shopping (as mine invariably is). The hell that is the high street on Christmas Eve is reduced slightly if all you have to do is head in to one or two stores to pick up reserved items. Make sure customers know this is an option. It can drive sales, so there’s no sense in waiting until customers are in checkout before you present the collect in store option.
  • 70. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 Next is one site which does nothing to promote the service, while Halfords, by contrast, makes this clear on every page: 2. Show local stock levels A quick stock level check saves time for customers, and avoids the frustration of heading to checkout only to find that the item is unavailable nearby. Here’s a good example from Sears, which provides the stock check option on its product pages. Also, by showing how many items are left it adds an element of urgency which may just push the customer towards a purchase.
  • 71. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 3. Suggest alternative stores If the most local store doesn’t have the item in stock, customers may be willing to travel further afield, so give them options if stock is available in other stores. Sears does this in the screenshot above, as does Argos here. The local store has none, but if the consumer is willing to travel a few miles, they can pick up a new iPad: 4. Allow shoppers to enter postcodes to check stock availability before checkout As in the two examples shown above, customers should be able to check stock levels before they add items to their basket. This avoids any wasted time and the resultant customer frustration. 5. Suggest alternative products when selected items are out of stock in local stores We’ve yet to find an example of this, but this is a feature which could be useful to customers. For example, Argos has no 64GB iPads in the nearest ten stores, but perhaps customers would settle for a white iPad, or the 32GB version if suggested, especially if it’s a last minute gift.
  • 72. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 6. Make products available for collection ASAP This is one area where retailers can gain a real advantage, as well as appealing more to mobile searchers. In this example, items reserved at Comet can be collected 30 minutes from reservation, while other stores make you wait until the next day or longer: This satisfies the customer who is eager to get his hands on his purchase, and is more likely to appeal to people on mobile who are searching for a specific item. By contrast, if customers select reserve and collect on Next, they have to wait three days to collect the item unless they pay extra:
  • 73. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 7. Be clear about timings We know from experience that Argos tends to have items available within the hour, but it doesn’t make this clear on the confirmation page: If the item is available straightaway, make this clear. If nothing else, it’s a good sales-driver. 8. Set a default store This is useful for returning customers and users of mobile apps, as it saves time re-entering postcodes and makes repeat ordering much easier. Also, detecting a user’s location can fulfil the same purpose for new visitors. 9. Make the reservation process nice and easy Reserving for in-store collection should be much easier than ordering for home delivery. Keep form-filling to a minimum, and only ask what is necessary to complete the purchase.
  • 74. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 10. Make it mobile This is essential. Mobile is a vital link in a retailer’s multichannel strategy, and people will increasingly use their phones for product searches and stock checking while out and about. If you can display stock levels and allow customers to reserve items for collection, this gives you a big advantage over rivals. Mobile is vital not only in terms of convenience and gaining an edge over rivals, but also in mobile search results. Google is integrating more and more local information into shopping results, and if you can show stock levels (and allow reservation) then this makes your result stand out:
  • 75. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 4.6. Examples of great product pages Not every page in this list is perfect, but they all contain great examples of features that have been used to showcase and sell products, such as great use of video and imagery, presentation of product features, and user reviews. Amazon Amazon’s product pages are long and require lots of reading and scrolling (it would take several screenshots to show the whole iPod Touch page) to digest the lot, but the pages clearly work well, and contain plenty of innovations that are now commonplace on ecommerce sites. The most obvious of these innovations is user reviews, but the cross-selling options (customers who bought this also bought...) are also inspired. The pages may be cluttered, but if customers are looking for any information about a product, it’s almost certain to be on the page somewhere.
  • 76. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 Schuh Schuh is a great example of how product images can be used to overcome the fact that customers cannot see products at close hand or try shoes on. One way it does this is through a prominently displayed ‘easy 365 day returns’ policy, which reassures customers that items can be returned, and the other is through product images. Schuh provides eight images of these trainers so shoppers can see them from every conceivable angle, and there is also the option of a 360 degree rotating view of the product.
  • 77. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 Firebox The product pages of gadget retailer Firebox are almost as cluttered as Amazon’s, but they contain just about everything you need to know about the products. We like the use of product videos sent in by customers which show the various gadgets in use. Firebox pays £50 for each video submitted, and this looks to be value for money, as the videos show other shoppers that the product works, and that other customers have bought and used it without any problems.
  • 78. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 ASOS Fashion retailer ASOS gets many things spot on with its product pages. Key information on delivery and returns is provided in a prominent position above the fold, cross-selling is relevant, and a nice big call to action has been placed in the centre of the page. ASOS also does well with product imagery, with several views provided, as well as the option of a catwalk video, which can be quickly viewed without leaving the page or opening a pop-up window.
  • 79. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 Kiddicare Kiddicare’s product pages are great at conveying everything customers will need to know about a product. Multiple images and videos are provided, handy for showing how to fold and unfold a pram for instance. It also has plenty of product information, while showing both the countdown clock for next day delivery and the number of products left is a good way to create urgency in the customer’s mind. What is especially good about Kiddicare’s product pages is the presentation of user reviews. Reviews are shown in a lightbox on the page, which saves space, while summarising pros and cons, and best uses of the products is very helpful for shoppers. Hotel Chocolat The product pages on this site do the basics reasonably well, but are most notable for the quality of product photography. High resolution images of chocolates like this are great for stimulating the taste buds of shoppers.
  • 80. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 Etsy Etsy provides plenty of information on its product pages, and presents information about sellers in a useful way for shoppers: Customers can see feedback information about the seller at a glance, or can contact them with any questions. We also like the fact that two calls to action have been placed on the page so they can be seen above and below the fold.
  • 81. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 Comet Comet may be in difficulties right now, but it did do a lot right online. Here, it does an excellent job of presenting a lot of product information, technical specifications, and useful tools for customers without making its product pages too cluttered. There is a lot of useful detail here. Reviews and a summary of the average score, a summary of product features above the fold, clear delivery information, and even the option to enter a postcode and check stock at your local store. Tabs are used to present the product details, user reviews, buyer’s guides and FAQs, which keeps the page at a reasonable size. Nice clear calls to action too.
  • 82. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 Webtogs The product pages on this site are a great example of best practice. The page contains plenty of product information and reassurances for customers about delivery, returns etc., while still retaining enough white space to make the page easy to digest. Webtogs uses icons to present key information in a way which stands out, so customers scanning the page can quickly see the dimensions of the tent, the fact that delivery is free, and the big add to basket button. Naked Wines These product pages have been included as they contain a couple of elements which are not used in the previous examples. One is the option to ‘meet the winemaker’ and get an idea about the story behind the wine. The other is the use of user reviews and ratings to help shoppers make a decision about the wine. The wall underneath the image provides lots of comments from other users about the wine, which can be very useful. The box on the right, which shows the percentage of users that would buy the wine again, and whether it represents value for money or not is a great idea, simply presented.
  • 83. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 5. The checkout process The advice here does not necessarily form a comprehensive guide to checkout best practice. For that, we have our Checkout Optimization Guide: 70 ways to increase conversion rates. However, the following pages contain some valuable information on the reasons for customers abandoning the checkout process, as well as some improvements which ecommerce site should consider introducing to maximise conversion rates. The ideal checkout process should form a smooth transition between the shopper adding an item to their baskets and completing a payment. However, there is a lot which can go wrong in-between basket and payment. This includes forced registration, lengthy and fiddly web forms, unclear error messages, and technical problems. We have looked at some of the common reasons for checkout abandonment, and how online retailers can sidestep these issues to create a frictionless checkout process. 5.1. The issue of registration Making customers register before they checkout is a barrier to purchase, yet many online retailers have yet to learn this lesson. The arguments against this barrier are compelling. For example, ASOS halved its abandonment rate at the registration page simply by removing any mention of creating an account. In a more famous example from Jared Spool, one retailer added $300m to its annual revenues by removing the registration button. To illustrate this point about the barrier that is registration, I’ve used the example of UK games and music retailer HMV. 5.1.1. Example: HMV’s checkout registration issues For new visitors, it is necessary to register and create an account before completing a purchase. This is also an issue for returning visitors who may have forgotten their previous password. With so many passwords needed for so many different websites, bank accounts, social media profiles etc., this is a big issue.
  • 84. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 So, if you have an account with HMV and have forgotten the details, you can’t create a new one with the same email address. Obstacle number one. This is the first mistake. It would have been better to allow you to set up a new account with this email address, while offering the password reminder option as well. Amazon has an interesting example of how to handle this. It will allow you to create a new account with a previously used email address, but warns that the existing account will be disabled. If the user in question is a reasonably regular customer who has simply forgotten their password, this may convince them to go down the password reset / reminder route and avoid losing stored billing address and payment details. However, if this is an old, unused account, then allowing customers to go ahead anyway avoids the pain of resetting the password, while keeping Amazon’s database tidy. HMV could also have provided a password reminder, or asked a couple of security questions, to avoid the annoyance of customers having to wait for an email.
  • 85. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 Another potential annoyance for customers, and this is not unique to HMV, is that they have to re-enter the email address after clicking the ‘forgotten password?’ button. The email reminder also took two or three minutes to arrive, which may not seem a long time, but can be long enough to deter a potential customer. All in all, from attempting to log in, resetting the password took about 10 minutes. In this time, potential customers may well head somewhere else. This compulsory registration approach will lead many customers to simply abandon the purchase, or to create multiple accounts using alternative email addresses. The site in question for the $300m example quoted above found that 45% of customers had multiple accounts on the site, and this is likely to be the case with HMV. Of course, HMV could improve its password reset process to provide a smoother experience for customers, but the best solution would be to remove the compulsory registration step altogether. 5.1.2. Consumers hate registration: the stats A recent Econsultancy study found that one in four online shoppers would abandon a purchase if they were forced to register first. After adding items to your basket, what would make you abandon your purchase?
  • 86. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 5.1.3. Approaches to registration Online retailers want customers to register with them, as this provides useful information for marketing emails, as well as making subsequent purchases easier with stored address and payment details. Amazon is the prime example here. Its saved address and card details, as well as one-click purchase options make it almost too easy for repeat customers, as well as mobile shoppers. Also, asking customers to register only requires one or two additional pieces of information on top of the details required to make a purchase. It’s just a case of setting a password, and perhaps a few preferences. Paul Rouke, MD of usability firm PRWD, explains this very well: “What I find most fascinating is the responses I get from people when I ask them ‘what additional information do you expect you will need to provide if you create an account compared to a guest checkout option?’.” “When they then actually start to break down the type of information they need to provide to checkout using either option, they are left with just one piece of additional information: choosing a password.” The key therefore, is in the presentation of the registration option. Retailers, understandably, want to extract some useful information from customers which will help them to personalise future marketing communications. However, this should not override the importance of providing a smooth checkout experience for shoppers. Also, in many cases, simply by removing the barrier of registration, companies can persuade customers to provide much of this information during the payment process. Here are the most common approaches to registration: Compulsory registration before purchase This approach is used by HMV, as well as plenty of well-known retailers, including Tesco, Curry’s, Play.com, Amazon, TopShop and others. It could be argued that all of these sites could improve their abandonment rates by removing this barrier, and adding a guest checkout option. Of the sites mentioned, at least Play.com outlines the benefits of registration and attempts to reassure customers:
  • 87. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 Optional registration before purchase Why not give customers the choice? This is a good option as it offers the benefits of registration to customers but avoids the drawbacks i.e. it doesn’t form a barrier to purchase. If the benefits are explained to customers, then some may still choose to register. House of Fraser’s recently revamped site provides a range of choices to customers, and explains each clearly. A neat approach. Compulsory registration during checkout ASOS has a minimalist pre-checkout page, with no option to register before checkout, just a simple continue button. This login screen was the result of lengthy split testing, and presents no barriers at all for new customers.
  • 88. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 Customers do have to create an account during the checkout, but once they are ‘in the door’ it seems less of a chore. However, we would question the need for customers to enter date of birth during checkout, or at least make it optional and explain why this question is asked. It does seem to be an unnecessary extra barrier.
  • 89. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 Optional registration during checkout House of Fraser offers customers the chance to create an account during the checkout process, but doesn’t insist on it. It could perhaps do more to explain the benefits and encourage more shoppers to register, but the key thing is that is doesn’t make it a barrier. No registration at all This is the approach used by Comet. From the basket page, customers are straight into entering delivery details, with no intermediate step. Comet does take customers’ email addresses for order confirmation, but doesn’t even offer to create an account, though there is an unobtrusive login / register link at the top of the page. With this approach, instead of spending time registering, they are selecting delivery options and beginning the purchase. This means the checkout is shorter for customers, which should reduce abandonment rates.
  • 90. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 There are, however, some significant benefits (easy repeat purchases, personalisation etc.) to both customer and retailer from registration, and for this reason I think the option to sign up and create an account should still be provided at some point during the process. 5.1.4. Conclusion The ASOS approach to checkout registration, and the results it has already delivered, show that online retailers can have their cake and eat it. They can have the benefits from removing a potential barrier to purchase and still get customers to sign up for accounts. Customers are essentially doing the same amount of work and entering the same information as before; it’s the presentation that makes the difference. We also like House of Fraser’s approach, as it covers all bases and ensures that there is no barrier at all if customers don’t want it. As for HMV and other retailers that still make customers register before checkout, they may benefit from trying out some of these alternatives. After all, that’s what testing is for, and if a retailer can reduce abandonment, at anything like the rate that ASOS has, that would make a big difference to revenues.
  • 91. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 5.2. Checkout abandonment From security concerns to annoyances around hidden charges or high delivery costs, there are a number of possible reasons why not complete a purchase from an online retailer. An Econsultancy survey of 2,000 UK consumers looked at the reasons why customers choose to abandon online purchases. Of the 2,000 respondents, just 12.8% don’t shop online, while the other 87.2% shop at least several times per year. 5.2.1. Deciding whether to shop on an ecommerce site An ecommerce site needs to convey trustworthiness to potential customers. If you are Amazon or John Lewis, then you already have a brand that conveys this, but in the case of less well-known brands, what signs are customers looking for? 48% of respondents said ’trustmarks’ would help them to decide to shop at a particular site. I have argued in the past that good design is more important, but ‘trustmarks’ can be effective for smaller retailers who may not be known to the customer. ‘Clear contact details’ was cited by 46% of respondents, while 41% would use a site if recommended by friends or colleagues. Design factors, such as a professional look to the site and good performance and load times also help to engender trust. If you are shopping from a retailer you don’t know well, how would you decide whether to trust the website? 5.2.2. Reasons for abandoning sites soon after arriving We also asked customers why they would quickly abandon a site. The main reasons were slow loading pages, poor design, expensive prices, and concerns about security. Basket abandonment Basket abandonments have been separated from checkout abandonment in this survey, because though there are common issues, people tend to abandon baskets for different reasons than the payment process. Some of the reasons given here, such as high delivery charges (74%) and high prices (49%) are nothing to do with good basket design, and this is information that should be conveyed on product pages so customer do not have to use the shopping basket to find out.
  • 92. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 Another key barrier to purchase is compulsory registration, something which would make 26% of respondents abandon the shopping basket. Many retailers are now providing a guest checkout option, or optional registration once a payment has been made, but there are still a few that insist on it, including many mobile commerce sites. After adding items to your basket, what would make you abandon your purchase? Checkout abandonment There is plenty that retailers can do to optimise the checkout, including enclosing the process to concentrate the customer’s mind, and handling user errors effectively. The main issue cited by respondents was hidden charges, for which there is really no excuse. Retailers need to be upfront about total prices and delivery costs well before the checkout. Customers aren’t going to continue with the purchase just because this information is revealed late in the process. In fact, it’s likely to make them more annoyed. Once you are in the checkout process, what would deter you from completing the purchase? Security concerns (58%) and technical problems (44%) also cause customers to abandon the checkout, followed by a long process (37%) and lack of contact details (33%). 23% cite security measures such as Verified by Visa. It is now widespread on ecommerce sites, and retailers do seem to implementing it more effectively than before – embedding it into branded pages, advising customers etc., but this process itself still presents a major barrier for some. Remembering one more password can be an issue, one which means that customers have to go to the trouble of resetting the password.
  • 93. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 5.2.3. Postcodes One of the most common potential areas of friction within ecommerce checkouts is problems with postcode entry. The trouble is, people will enter their postcodes in a number of different ways, in upper or lower case, with or without a space in the middle, or will some make common errors. If websites are too rigid in their acceptance of postcodes and unclear in their error messages, then this can be a real source of frustration for potential customers. The postcode problem Users can enter postcodes in several ways. For example, some may leave a space in the middle, whole others will accidentally substitute zeros for the letter ‘O’, and so on. Many sites do account for this, and will accept postcodes with or without a space, which is how it should be done. However, some don’t, and entering your postcode in the ‘wrong’ format will trigger an error message. This happens on the Tesco Clothing website. In this case, there was no space in the postcode: There are several problems here:  The first is the fact that there is an error message. These are to be avoided at all costs. Error messages are annoying, especially if the customer hasn’t really done anything wrong.  Secondly, the checkout form does not specify the format the user needs to use. This could be indicated with a simple sentence, or by splitting into two fields so that it’s clear a gap is needed.  The error message in this case does nothing to address the issue. It doesn’t tell the user what they’ve done wrong, or how they can correct it. People are left to guess the reason, which is not good enough.
  • 94. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013  It’s possible that some users may think their postcode is incorrect, check it, re-enter and encounter the same error again. Maybe they’ll figure it out in the end, or perhaps they’ll just abandon the process. Either way, it’s an unnecessary barrier for shoppers.  It is not difficult to add or remove spaces from a postcode (or indeed a telephone number), so why blame the customer when you didn’t even tell them what you wanted in the first place? According to Lovehoney Head of E-commerce Matthew Curry: “It’s pretty easy to code around the spacing issue. All postcodes have to have three alphanumerics after the space (whether it exists or not), so you can figure out what the outcode part of what’s been entered, and correctly format the input before passing it to whatever postcode validator you have.” “Remember though that some new addresses may not be in the database of your postcode validator, so always provide a manual override.” What should retailers do? The rule here is to let customers type in what they want and then use your ecommerce system to process it into a different format if necessary. If the customer does make an error during checkout it must be made clear that an error has been detected and secondly, the location of the error on the form must be highlighted and the nature of the error indicated. Other postcode issues This is not the only potential problem with postcode entry, though it is perhaps the most common, and also easiest to fix. There are other possible issues around customers entering the letter ‘O’ when a zero was required, the number 1 instead of the letter ‘i’ or shifted characters (i.e. £ instead of 3, $ rather than 4). All of these issues can potentially produce error messages, and in many cases customers may be unaware of their mistake. This frustration, often compounded by unclear error messages such as Tesco’s, can cause customers to abandon purchases. For example, on Argos, if I type the letter O rather than a zero, it generates an error message. This happens with or without a space in the postcode.
  • 95. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 Argos is the second biggest online retailer in the UK, so I wonder how many customers may be abandoning due to this common error. These may seem small issues, but it can make a big difference to your sales. With the O/zero issue, Belron’s Craig Sullivan realised this was causing 2.5% of customers to abandon and changed the checkout forms to anticipate this input error. It’s a simple and elegant fix which avoids blaming the customer and makes the checkout process that little bit smoother. 5.2.4. Avoid the dreaded error message The main point here is to avoid error messages as much as possible. Users will enter information in different ways, and will make mistakes. Many of these errors, like the ones described above, are common and easy to anticipate. By accounting for these mistakes, ecommerce sites can avoid the user frustration that my cause abandonment. Of course, customers will still find ways to make errors however much you account for them. In this case, make sure your error messaging is polite and instructive. This one (since removed) is instructive at least, but not so polite: The fewer error messages people see during the checkout process, the more likely it is that they will complete the purchase.
  • 96. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 5.3. Why should you enclose the checkout process? Enclosing or isolating the checkout process is one proven method of reducing abandonment, as it focuses the customer’s mind on the steps they need to take to complete a purchase. 5.3.1. What is an enclosed checkout process? An enclosed checkout is one which is stripped down compared to the rest of the site, by removing the header and footer content, and any left hand navigation menus. According to Dr Mike Baxter in Econsultancy’s Checkout Optimization guide: “In place of the header should be a company logo in the top left of the page – this can be linked to the home page as the only ‘escape route’ remaining out of checkout, or simply left as an image.” In addition, Dr Baxter advises that the footer during checkout should provide links to information about delivery, returns policies, contact options, and privacy and security. Crucially, these links should be displayed in a pop up layer or lightbox over the checkout page so that customers can view the information without being taken out of the process. 5.3.2. Reasons for enclosing the checkout When reviewing ecommerce websites, one of the areas we always look at is whether retailers have isolated the checkout. This is the rationale behind it:  By leaving out navigational elements, all unnecessary distractions are removed and this allows the shopper to focus purely on completing their purchase.  Thanks to the removal of these distractions, information which gives the visitor confidence in their purchase is made more prominent, such as delivery details and customer service contact details.  Security logos and messages are more visible, providing reassurances for the security- conscious shopper.  It is made absolutely clear to visitors where they are within the checkout process and how many steps they have left to complete their purchase.  Apart from the homepage link, customers can only head in one direction, towards the payment and order confirmation page.
  • 97. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 5.3.3. Examples from retailers Unenclosed checkouts This example from the Paperchase website shows a process which has not been enclosed. The navigation menu and search box are still in place at the top of the page, providing plenty of potential distractions for shoppers: The foot of the page also retains the links from the footer, all of which could take customers away from the checkout:
  • 98. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 Enclosed checkouts Tesco has removed the main navigation and site search options, but there are still 15 links on the page which will take customers away from the process. River Island has successfully removed most distractions from the checkout, with the only links on the page showing delivery details, contact options, T&Cs and security info. However, all of these links open up without warning in a new window, taking customers way from the checkout page. Showing these in a lightbox over the page would have been a better option.
  • 99. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 The ASOS checkout is about as enclosed as you can get. Apart from the logo which links back to the homepage, there are no links at all on the page: This is certainly free of distractions for shoppers, but perhaps some information on delivery and returns, as well as contact details, should be provided for customers that need this. Finally, John Lewis provides an excellent all-round example: The process is enclosed, and the links for key information open up in a pop-up window which is easy to close and keeps the customer on the page.
  • 100. Ecommerce Best Practice Compendium 170+ tips and recommendations to improve your conversion rates All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © Econsultancy.com Ltd 2013 5.3.4. Conclusion For retailers yet to introduce an enclosed checkout process, I would recommend testing to see if this works for them in terms of reducing abandonment. Full enclosure, as in the ASOS example, may not be suitable for every retailer, as they may find that customers need more hand-holding during the checkout. By testing some of the variations used in this post, the results will tell you which version will deliver a better conversion rate. If you have been testing this on your site, we’d like to hear about your experience and, of course, we’d love to see the data. Please contact editor@econsultancy.com if you’d like to share your insights with us.

×