However, the question remains: how do you get more sales?
One way to do so is to focus on converting more website visitors into customers (also known as conversion rate optimization.)
Imagine you are currently getting a 5% conversion rate. That means for every 100 visitors to your website, you’re turning 5 of them into customers. If you can increase your conversion rate to 7% (or maybe even 10%), you are essentially spending the same amount of money… and getting MORE returns!
To do that, you can follow certain ecommerce best practices.
These best practices were discovered either through research or the experience of successful online stores.
Which also means that these are merely "best practices" for other people. To get the best results, test them on your own store to see if they work for you.
With that said, here’s 24 ecommerce best practices you should test on your website:
24 Ecommerce Best Practices To Test On Your Online Store
1. Stop Using The Sliding Carousel
The carousel has been popular with ecommerce retailers because:
That’s what most people have been doing.
It looks kinda cool
It showcases the products the store sells in one clean swoop.
Express Watches, a UK-based retailer of Seiko watches wanted to eliminate customer anxiety over whether the watches they sold were real or merely imitations.
To test if adding trust badges (or elements) would help in improving conversion rates on the website, Express Watches ran an A/B test where:
A (control): An image of the watch was shown with the copy “Never Beaten On Price”
B (variation): An image of the watch was shown with the copy “Seiko Authorized Seller Site”
A 107% increase in sales. Which effectively doubled Express Watches’ sales for the month.
ConversionIQ also ran a similar experiment where they added the standard trust badges (McAfee Secure trust mark and the Norton Secured trust mark) to several websites.
In a test with an Internet Retailer Top 200 supplier, adding the McAfee Secure trust mark improved conversion by 3% for all traffic and 12% for new visitors.
Adding the Norton Secured (SSL) trust mark also helped US Cutter, a supplier of vinyl cutting supplies increase conversion by 11%.
B - Press
Positive press coverage is a great way to instill credibility in your business. So if you have been featured in any notable publications in your industry (for e.g Forbes, GQ, Esquire etc.), then consider adding them to your homepage to show new visitors that you are legit.
Your customers will look for reviews of your products before they purchase anything. Since you can’t prevent potential customers from seeking reviews of your products, why not guide them to it?
Adding customer-submitted reviews to your product pages will help improve trust in your products and help customers make better decisions.
The best part?
It improves conversions too. Diamond Candle, a scented-candle store boosted its product page conversion rate by 13%. Express Watches (our friend in the above example) tested the addition of inline customer reviews to their product pages -- and improved their conversion rates (from traffic to sales) by a whopping 58.29%!
(Wouldn’t you want that?)
Using customer-submitted photos and reviews also helped Diamond Candle grow their Facebook Page to 469,661 fans.
Isn’t that a double win?
D - Phone Number
What better way than to show potential customers that you are legit by giving them a real physical number to call?
Flowr tested placing a phone number on the website to see if they could improve conversions. They ran an A/B test where:
A (control) - no phone number
B (variation) - phone number
They managed to improve their conversion rate by 0.5%. Not fantastic, but a positive trend for them to continue further testing.
Side benefit: most companies shy away from taking phone calls, so if you’re available for a chat with your customers, you will stand out and they will love you!
E - Physical Address
Similar to the phone number, this helps show visitors that you are legit as you are physically located somewhere.
4. Answer All Relevant Questions On Your Website
Because you’re not there physically to answer all their questions, it is important that you provide every single piece of information your customers need to make a decision.
Don’t overestimate what your customer knows. Lay everything out for them, from Frequently Asked Questions to your Return Policy, and from Delivery Dates to your Shipping Policy.
Be clear and transparent in your transactions with them, and your customers will trust and love you.
5. Add Live Chat Support To Your Ecommerce Store
The difference between an offline salesman and an online store is that a salesperson can answer queries by the potential customer on the spot… which often results in a sale.
In an online situation, you don’t even know why visitors bounce away from your website. If they have on-the-spot concerns or objections, you can’t handle them because well… there is no way to.
The higher the cognitive load, the tougher it is for the user to find the things they want, the more likely they are going to bounce off your website and never come back.
That’s why it is important that you simplify your navigation bar -- and make it easy for the visitor to direct to where they want to go.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
Herschel uses a simple, proven horizontal navigation bar with visual cues that tells the visitors where to find what they’re looking for.
This significantly reduces the number of clicks the visitor needs to go to where he wants to go… which results in more sales for Herschel.
In fact, take a look at this case study by Frosmo:
A simple navigation bar change (changing the “watches” tab to “men’s watches”, “women’s watches” and “children’s watches”) helped online watch retailer Saat & Saat increased conversions by 62.5%.
That’s how important getting your navigation bar right is.
11. Have An Omnipresent Search Bar
According to a study by eConsultancy, 30% of your visitors will use internal search and visitors who used search will convert better than those who didn’t.
That’s why it’s important to get your internal site search right.
For starters, make your search bar obvious. Don’t make your visitors search for your search bar (no pun intended).
Something like this works great:
Don’t worry about making your search bar like Google’s. The main aim of your search bar is to help your visitors find the products that they are looking for.
Focus on these 2 functionalities:
Precision - the percentage of retrieved search results that are relevant
Recall - the percentage of all relevant results your search system actually retrieves
And you’re good to go.
12. Offer A Guarantee
This is a concept called risk reversal, pioneered by the marketer Jay Abraham.
By employing risk reversal, you reduce the risk that burdens the customer during a sales transaction. You also reduce buyer’s remorse, the sense of regret that hits customers when they made a purchase.
Not only that, a generous return policy indicates to your customers that you are confident in your product.
In fact, in an experiment done on NuFace, a facial lifting eCommerce store, NuFace’s orders increased by 90%. Additionally, their Average Order Value also improved by 7.32%.
If you can afford it, make sure you test including free shipping in your offer.
15. Make Your Products Easy To Find
There are some customers who hop on to your store because they already know what they want.
But for the rest… they have no clue. They are doing the online version of window shopping. They want to see what you’ve got.
And that’s why product filters are important.
Product filters sort your products -- helping visitors focus on the items that match what they want (which increases the likelihood of them purchasing something.)
Think about what is important to your visitors, then create filters that are relevant to them.
And if you do this correctly, you’ll be ahead of many of your competitors. Why? According to Smashing Magazine, 42% of eCommerce sites DO NOT use category-specific filters… even for their core product categories.
If you need an example, following major apparel brands are a good way to get inspired on how to do this correctly.
Here's an example from H&M:
16. Avoid Poor Category Names
Being clever doesn’t work.
You might be tempted to create some fun, clever product category names that you think your customers might enjoy.
All your customers want to do is to navigate to the pages where they are interested in -- and then buy your product.
“Web users are task oriented and want to satisfy their needs quickly. Deciding which category or link to click requires cognitive effort. For every page, people must review and compare the choices and then decide which one will most likely produce the desired effect. This process can be exhausting, especially if each decision causes doubt. The anguish of being wrong often leads to fatigue and frustration, which in turn causes people to abandon websites. Clever category names cause doubt and hinder site exploration. The more confident people feel about their decisions, the more likely they are to engage with your website.”
Keep your product category names clear and descriptive.
17. Identify Out-Of-Stock Items
Ever had the experience of seeing a product you really like, clicking it and finding it to be out-of-stock?
How did you feel? Frustrated? Angry? Upset?
That’s how your customers feel too.
If your product is out of stock, be transparent about it. Tell them straight up. Make it easy to see that a product is out of stock.
And don’t just remove the item either.
Leave the product there -- and add a “Get notified when back in stock” email sign up button.
You can also follow the example from Ministry of Supply here:
18. Write Great Product Descriptions
As every great direct response copywriter would know… A copy is important.
Great copy can be the difference between a sky-high conversion rate and a dismal one. Great copy can be the reason why people remark about your brand… and why people don’t remember a single thing about you.
By making the checkout process nice and smooth, visitors are then more likely to finish the entire process and turn into a customer.
20. Create A Shopping Cart That Remembers The Customer
Do you know what’s the greatest life hack I can provide for boyfriends who are looking for presents to buy their significant other?
Check their shopping cart.
Any items added to the shopping cart is an indicator that she WANTS to buy the product. So read her mind by buying whatever has been added.
That’s why it’s so important to have a shopping cart that remembers the customer. It saves relationships everywhere.
Jokes aside, making your cart refresh itself is killing your sales. According to Frosmo, 68.63% of visitors abandon their shopping carts. Also, a study by SeeWhy showed 16% of males and 26% of females abandoned their cart because they wanted to complete the checkout at a later date.
If the cart saves the information, the chance of getting the sale is much higher.
Additionally, you can also include personalization through the shopping cart, something Amazon is great at.
By offering personalized recommendations based on 1) what was added to the cart, or 2) what was previously purchased before, you can improve your sales.
In fact, a study conducted by MyBuys showed that 40% of shoppers would buy more from retailers who personalize their shopping experience.
That’s a huge increase in sales you could be getting by adding some personalization!
21. Use Shopping Cart Abandonment Emails
Since we already know many of our potential customers will abandon their carts at some point, we should accept it and take actionable steps to arrest the problem.
The best way?
Use Abandoned Cart emails.
According to Shopify growth expert Richard Lazazzera, one of the elements crucial to the growth of your eCommerce store is the use of abandoned cart emails.
Abandoned Cart emails are emails sent to the potential customer... when they abandon the cart.
Here are some examples:
You could also offer them a discount to encourage them to check out:
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to recover potential customers to your website.
22. Utilize Email Capture
The rise of social media has led many retailers to think that social media would drive most of their sales.
Unfortunately, this is a common misconception.
According to a study done by McKinsey and Company, every dollar you put into email marketing has 40X ROI as compared to other channels like Facebook and Instagram.
Custora says that email is accountable for 7% of all eCommerce transactions.
What does all of this tell you?
Email marketing IS super important.
And that means you have to start collecting the email addresses of your visitors.
How do you do that?
An effective method utilized by many eCommerce stores is the usage of the exit-intent pop-up. An exit intent pop-up is a pop-up that appears when one moves the browser cursor towards the cross to close the website.
Incentivize them to join your email list through the exit intent pop-up by offering discounts, coupons or even money off their current cart (if they are abandoning one.)
Visited a website to look at some products… and then got shocked that now you’re seeing it everywhere you browse on the Internet?
That’s a technology called remarketing.
Essentially what happens is that when you visit a website, a cookie (or pixel) is dropped on your browser -- which allows the eCommerce site to then target ads as you surf.
It’s kinda “creepy” for the end-user, but super effective when it comes to lifting your conversion rates.
In this case study of CareerIndex (done by Think With Google), by utilizing Google Similar Audiences, CareerIndex was able to increase their conversion rates by 73% and decrease their cost-per-acquisition by 20%.
Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.
A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing.
Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.
We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Friday, June 6th.
I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did. Your picture is on our wall as “Customer of the Year”. We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!
This email resulted in thousands of sales for CDBaby because everyone was so impressed and talked about it.
B - Upselling Your Customers
What is upselling?
Upselling is selling a customer who just bought something that complements what he purchased. After making a purchase with you, he has already indicated that he trusts you with their money.
This is a perfect point to include some upsells.
Here’s an example:
Imagine that you’re custom-making a suit. That means you’re intending for the tailor to custom-fit your jacket and your pants.
However, since you’re already at the tailor, the tailor asks you if you would like to make a shirt that matches the suit. Thinking about how you would match them all together, you readily say yes.
That is an upsell.
The tailor can further upsell you with a matching tie for your shirt, and then a matching belt for your pants.
That is how simple business can increase the average order size of a customer.
There you go.
A huge list of eCommerce best practices you should follow for your eCommerce store.
Not everything will work for you, so it’s up to you to test them to see if they work for your store.
Si Quan is ReferralCandy's Content Marketing Manager. He is also the co-founder of BreakDance Decoded, an online breakdance training company. He loves standup comedy, and has a dream to visit at least 100 countries in his lifetime.