How to Improve Your Ecommerce Conversion Rate in 2020

an image of an incomplete rubix cube on the table

Ecommerce is the ultimate Rubix cube of online marketing – from product photography and descriptions to filter pages and checkout sequences, every change big or small has the potential to impact the conversion rate of any given product.

But, when you’re tinkering with so many different parts of your website, how can you conclusively prove that these changes are adding up to increased traffic and revenue?

Ecommerce conversion rate is the top-line metric for online business owners when it comes to understanding whether the changes they’re making to their site are increasing product sales.

In this blog, we’re going to explore what ecommerce rates are, why they’re crucial and ultimately, how you can raise yours.

Ecommerce Conversion Rates

an explanation of term 'ecommerce conversion rate'

Let’s say, for example, you had 10,000 visitors land on your online shop last week, and 300 of those completed a purchase, you’d be able to work out your conversion rate with the following formula:

Number of People Completing Checkout (300)


Number of Visitors in the Same Time Frame (10,000)


300/10,000 = 0.03 (3%)

One interesting factor is that many ecommerce retail stores these days are selling across multiple platforms, such as Google Shopping and Amazon.

Even if you aren’t aggregating all of your conversions and site visits on one platform, you can put together a tracking spreadsheet to keep your finger on the pulse at all times.

Why is Your Conversion Rate Important?

Your ecommerce conversion rate is absolutely vital to the success of your business. Even if you’re pulling in 10,000 visitors a month through PPC or social ads, your site visitors could still arrive to find that your user-experience (UX) is below par, or your products aren’t effectively showcasing their value. When this happens, you’ll only end up with an underwhelming number of visitors converting to customers.

Since ecommerce websites can be expensive to put together, time-consuming to maintain and complex to organise, it’s crucial that you check your site is producing an adequate number of customers and conversions for your business to succeed.

Conversion rates are also quite a handy metric if you’re looking to make large-scale improvements over the long term and you want to measure how your tweaks and customisations are impacting your bottom line.

But what is a reasonable ecommerce conversion rate?

Well, that’s quite a difficult question to answer, since it’s not a good idea to aggregate conversion rates across different industries. It would help if you instead benchmarked your conversion rates against those who share your industry and specific niches.

Completing a cost-benefit analysis and proving that you’re making a return vs what you’re spending, is an excellent place to start and from there you can begin focusing time and energy on optimising your site to make further gains.

The ideal process here is bringing all of your product categories up to the same standard of your highest-converting products. By doing this, you know that your conversion benchmark is reflective of your specific demographics.

Ecommerce Conversion Rate Benchmarks Across Industries

The numbers we’ve compiled below, courtesy of IRP Commerce, are based on figures from November 2019:

  • Agriculture & Supplies – 1.46%
  • Arts & Crafts – 3.28%
  • Baby & Child – 0.19%
  • Car & Motorcycling – 0.95%
  • Electric & Commercial Equipment – 2.06%
  • Fashion, Clothing & Accessories – 1.48%
  • Food & Drink – 1.31%
  • Health & Wellbeing – 3.58%
  • Home, Accessories & Giftware – 2.43%
  • Kitchen & Home Appliances – 2.92%
  • Pet Care – 2.79%
  • Sports & Recreation – 1.35%

How do your conversion rates match up against the average in your industry?

How to Improve Your Ecommerce Conversion Rate to Match or Beat Industry Averages

There are several things you can do to beat your competitors, and below we’ve highlighted ten which could really give your website the get up and go it needs to achieve your goals.

#1: Videos

man in white t shirt pointing a camera at actors

Any and every business owner should now be aware of the power of video, and if you’re not, just consider this:

“By 2022, online video will account for more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic”

– Cisco

That speaks volumes, however when you also consider that:

“72% of Customers Would Rather Learn About a Product or Service by Way of Video”

– HubSpot

It tells us that, as business owners, we’re missing out on something pretty darn important if we fail to leverage the power of video.

There are a few different kinds of video that you could utilise, such as:

  • Explainer & Product Videos
  • Customer Testimonials
  • Corporate Videos
  • Tutorials
  • Webinars

The most important by far is explainer and product videos.

Explainer and product videos allow your audience to look at your product from all angles and get a glimpse of it performing its primary action – just take a look at the example below from Man Crates, which showcases the product niche and the brands humorous side:

You can never really ‘see’ a product online, and there is no real comparison to being able to look with your own eyes and touch with your own hands, so it can be hard to justify a significant price tag without giving it a once over.

There’s also the small matter of your competition. If you’re selling the same or a similar product to other folks out there, and they have a video on their site, but you don’t, who is the customer more likely to purchase from?

This statistic goes some way to answering that question:

“64-85% of Consumers are More Likely to Buy a Product After Viewing a Vi

Neil Patel

Makes for some pretty compelling stuff, right?

#2: Produce Stunning Photography

We’ve all been there, when trying to look at the finer details of something you’re thinking of buying online, only to find that you can’t zoom in or the quality of the photography just isn’t up to scratch. This neither furthers our interest in the product nor does it encourage us to buy it.

Spending a little extra time and money on your photography gives your customers the chance to view a product in its truest sense – even the tiniest details. The goal of your product photography should be to provide the buyer with the closest possible experience to viewing it themselves in a shop. Just take a look at this example of a VIVO Standing Desk:

VIVO standing desks
Courtesy of junglescout.com

The pictures are really clear and ultimately leave no ambiguity as to what the product does.

Product photography can be broken down to one core idea: if you weren’t able to write any product descriptions, how can your images tell the story of the product?

In ecommerce, images really are the be-all and end-all, which is why it’s so important to take the time to perfect your photography strategy if you are serious about increasing those all-important conversions.

#3: Words Are Your Friend

Buying products online still has that a tiny grain of doubt, no matter how small, particularly when it comes to more expensive items from companies you’ve never dealt with before, which is why it’s so important to create clear and compelling product content.

In some cases, you may find that you have four or five different products differentiated only by their height, weight and dimensions, for example. In this case, so long as your original copy is at a standard you’d expect as a visiting customer, there’s no problem in just tweaking this to reflect the slight dimensional differences.

On the other hand, if you’re selling more custom products, you will need to write entirely new set of copy to accompany each product, to cover what the product is for and why it’s a cut above similar products by competitors. Ultimately, you’re looking to persuade your audience that you are the one they should buy from.

At the very least, you must include product specifications where relevant, such as:

  • Measurements
  • Material specifications
  • Warranty info
  • What is and isn’t included – i.e. batteries

What you’re looking to do here is virtually walk the line between telling the potential customer the need to knows and intersperse it with compelling, ‘look at me’ words and phrases, as in the example below from Method Home:

Courtesy of method.co.uk

#4: Chat Function

It’s not realistic to think that you could answer every conceivable question, in your content or videos. Once a visitor lands on your website, you have their attention, at least for a short time – up to 15 seconds to be more precise.

Here’s the scenario, you’ve created some excellent video content, curated compelling product descriptions, but someone needs the answer to a question that you couldn’t possibly have thought of – what happens next?

Well, the first and most likely outcome is that they leave your website and look elsewhere if they can’t find the answer. Sure, perhaps, they could call you – but who has time for that?

No, the answer to this must be to install a chat feature onto your website. Chat is an incredibly useful bridge between your product content and the individual needs of a single buyer, and if you need convincing, consider that according to Ometrics, chat functions are 3x more likely to convert a sale than email.

#5: A/B Testing

an image of two similar web pages, one in green one in blue

Tweaking your calls-to-action is a time-honoured website conversion rate optimisation strategy, and the results, depending on what you change can vary wildly – even something as simple as changing the colour of your buy buttons can have a significant impact, in whether people decide to buy or not.

Studies have shown that, in the main, A/B testing won’t always produce impactful results, those that do have the ability to increase conversion rates by an average of 49%. This just goes to show that making little tweaks here and there can really pay dividends if you’re willing to change things.

#6: Showcase Customer Reviews

It’s becoming easier and easier for companies and retailers to sell cheap, low-quality products that look comparable to the real thing, therefore duping customers into thinking it’s the same product, just less expensive. This is a practice that is particularly rife on things like Amazon and eBay and is something that has even impacted Google’s paid advertising.

The one component of any good ecommerce site that is hard to fake, though, is genuine customer reviews. Allowing your customers to leave product reviews shows other potential customers that the product they’re thinking about buying is up to an excellent standard:

examples of excellent reviews
Courtesy of onilab.com

Many ecommerce sites will feature star reviews on products, which can then be attributed to Google listings to display when someone types the name of your product.

If you don’t have the means to create individual product reviews, follow up purchases with emails requesting reviews or take a few from your Google My Business pages, and add some of them manually to your product descriptions.

This not only emphasises the value of social selling, but it can also help to increase organic rankings in Google.

#7: Free Postage

DHL van

This option isn’t always necessarily the cheapest thing to implement, but the return can reap huge rewards. Considering that many people may choose to drive to a local store to purchase a product that may fulfil their needs rather than stumping up postage prices, it makes a good deal of sense for you to at least explore the option.

Shipping and postage costs are just another barrier that a customer would need to overcome before they can get their hands on a product, which may well be off-putting to them. By offering free shipping, you’re removing that barrier and, in the meantime, you’re encouraging others to purchase, which may come to offset the losses created by paying for their postage.

Even after exploring and discovering it’s just not something you can do at this moment in time, it’s incredibly important to make that crystal clear before a customer reaches the end of the checkout process that they are expected to pay postage. Whack on postage costs when the customer is at the end of the checkout process, and you’re just asking for people to abandon the purchase.

#8: Refine Your Customer Journey

Once you’ve figured out how your product pages should look and you’ve A/B tested them, it’s essential to take a step back then and ask yourself, ‘how easy is it for a potential customer to go from adding a product to the basket to completing the purchase?’

The answer should always be ‘very’. It’s as simple as that.

There are loads of small tweaks and changes you can make to the checkout process, chief of which are removing unnecessary steps and adding a progress bar.

While it can be tempting to collect any additional information from your buyers during checkout, further stages lengthen the process, which means you’re making things too complicated.

Progress bars are also great for two reasons. Firstly, they can reduce the concern of buyers who are short on time, and secondly, they build up positive emotions as they move towards the eventual completion of the purchase.

Having said that, you could chip away at your checkout until it’s absolutely perfect, but that still won’t stop users abandoning their sale. This could be for a whole host of reasons, such as needing to let the dog out or burning the Yorkshire, whatever their motivation, you need to ensure you’re in a position to capture that dropout.

Using cart technology, you can pinpoint where the customer fell through the gap and act accordingly, through a series of email prompts.

The first email you create should be to alert the customer their basket has been abandoned within the first 24 hours, like so:

Dote abandoned cart email
Courtesy of HubSpot

The second should look something like this after 48 hours or so:

image of second abandoned cart email
Courtesy of Shopify

The third, and last, email should offer something to entice the user to come back, as in this example:

huckberry abandoned cart email
Courtesy of Sumo.com

This example would offer free delivery if the user were to return and make the purchase there and then. You could also try coupons and money off vouchers – it’s really just about experimenting with ways to get people to come back to convert.

#9: Incorporate Guest Checkouts

Giving people the option to create an account to save their details for the future makes a great deal of sense for loyal customers. But, if you require potential customers to first make an account in order to make their first purchase, you may be losing customers who aren’t yet loyal to your brand. In addition to this, due to GDPR and the publicity surrounding high-profile data leaks, some folks just aren’t enamoured by the idea of willingly storing personal details online.

Research from Trustpilot actually shows that mandatory account creation at checkout is one of the biggest reasons why people abandon their purchase, second only to having to pay for postage.

Those who grow to know and trust your brand over time will eventually create an account if they feel comfortable doing so. In the meantime, be sure to keep your checkout process swift and minimalist.

#10: Retargeting

According to studies, retargeting can supercharge your conversion rate by as much as 400%, while also helping to improve brand awareness.

A successful retargeting campaign can also produce:

  • A click-through rate ten times higher than other kinds of ads
  • 26% more returning visitors who complete the checkout process
  • Customers who are 70% more likely to convert

Research suggests that retargeting campaigns can help to boost your conversion rate and therefore, positively impact the overall success of your online store.

However, if you’re new to the idea or you’re still wondering why it works so effectively, consider that, according to inc.com, almost all online shoppers who visit a website for the first time will leave having failed to complete a beneficial action. In fact, it’s thought that only 2% of visitors will actually buy something the first time they visit your website.

What this means in real terms, is that 98% of the traffic from new visitors coming to your website aren’t convinced – at least not immediately – to spend their money. Retargeting advertising is a fantastic avenue for businesses who are looking to win over these people, and by offering an advert to someone who is now familiar with your brand and has an interest in the product, you have a much higher chance of tempting them back.

In Summary

Creating an ecommerce website that succeeds requires numerous tweaks and improvements, which makes ecommerce the toughest puzzle to piece together.

In this blog, we’ve covered what ecommerce conversion rates are, why they’re important, how your numbers might stack up to others in your industry, and more importantly, how you might improve your website return.

If you’d like to discuss anything that we’ve mentioned in this blog, or you’re interesting in chatting to us about any of our services, then why not contact us today?

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