We’ve said it before, focusing time and effort on improving conversion rates through landing page optimization and limiting friction around the checkout flow are both powerful tactics to improve overall site performance for retailers of all sizes. It’s been rumored that Amazon’s on-site conversion rate is in the 9-10% range. If you’re like most retailers, you’d be happy to see conversion rates half as good as Amazon’s, which begs the question- what can internet retailers do to improve their ecommerce conversion rates?

We reached out to the brightest minds in internet marketing to discuss just that:  how to increase conversion rate for retailers. With panelists ranging from conversion rate optimization (CRO) experts to landing page optimization (LPO) platform representatives, we’re positive you’ll come away from our first shopping cart and conversion rate optimization roundtable with some useful insights.

Our Panelists For Today’s Conversion Rate Optimization Roundtable

conversion-rate-optimization-expert-tips

Tim AshSite Tuners – SiteTuners’ CEO Tim Ash is a recognized authority in the field and literally wrote the book on landing page optimization. Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions is considered a must-have guide for anyone involved in improving website performance.

Darrell BenatarUserTesting.com – Darrell Benatar is CEO of UserTesting.com, the largest video usability testing service in the world. Darrell was previously CEO of Surprise.com, which was named one of “Time Magazine’s 50 Best Sites”. Prior to Surprise.com, Darrell produced computer-based learning applications including Make Your Case, a video-based mock trial game used in over 100,000 schools to teach students about jury trials. Darrell graduated from U.C. Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

Brett Bair – Monetate – Brett Bair is the Senior Director of Client Advocacy at Monetate. Monetate empowers marketers to leverage Big Data to create more personalized and engaging online customer experiences.

Christian SouzaCart Rescuer– Chris Souza is the Co-Founder of CartRescuer a SAAS service that turns your abandoning visitors into more sales. An Entrepreneur and designer living in beautiful Orlando Florida, Chris Souza has spent the last decade studying the art of conversion optimization to help other businesses become lucrative.

Siddharth DeswalVisual Website Optimizer – “Siddharth Deswal works at Visual Website Optimizer, the A/B testing tool. He’s been involved with web development for about 8 years and actively looks to help businesses discover the value of Conversion Rate Optimization. He tweets about A/B testing and effective ecommerce marketing tips on @wingify.

Chris GowardWider Funnel – Chris Goward was one of the first people to look at websites and say: “We should test that!” From that revelation he founded WiderFunnel—the company that pioneered conversion rate optimization methods for companies such as Google, Electronic Arts, SAP, Magento and BuildDirect.com. He is the brains behind the LIFT™ and Kaizen™ methods and speaks at conferences and seminars around the world to evangelize how marketers should optimize their marketing to maximize their leads, sales, and profit. Chris is author of the conversion optimization book, You Should Test That!, published by Wiley Sybex in 2013.

Bill BreckBuy Knowing – Bill Breck is the Vice President of Product at Buy Knowing, a Point of Purchase Platform for ecommerce sites. They keep shoppers on product pages through a simple widget that engages the shopper with real time Q&A so they can ask, get satisfied, and make their purchase.

Keith HagenConversionIQ – In the past 2 years alone, Keith has run more than 1,500 ecommerce website tests as the co-founder and lead analyst of ConversionIQ, a consultancy focused on running continuous improvement programs for ecommerce. Gaining insights into what is and isn’t working with websites since 2002, Keith is realistic and unapologetic about getting results and is currently on retainer to advise over 20 Internet Retail sites.

Ruth Dew – VolusionRuth Dew is a Product Marketing Manager at Volusion and  is responsible for the marketing positioning, messaging and sales enablement strategy for the Volusion Platform.

Craig RossNexternal – Craig is the VP of Sales at Nexternal and is known in the industry as an expert in eCommerce, systems integrations, and online marketing. Craig has been with Nexternal since 2000 and his passion and experience are apparent to all who work with him.

Pete Koomen – Optimizely – Pete Koomen is the President and co-founder of Optimizely. Prior to co-founding Optimizely, Pete worked for Google where he was Product Manager for the Google App Engine. While there, Pete helped launch and grow the App Engine platform to more than 150,000 developers in its first year.  He currently oversees Optimizely’s product, engineering, and design teams and has made notable keynote presentations at the Brite Conference and for the startup accelerator Rock Health.


The 3 Conversion Rate Optimization Questions:

1. Why is it worth a retailers time to invest in improving their overall checkout experience?

2. What are some areas that online retailers have a hard time understanding or implementing when it comes to shopping cart abandonment and conversion rate optimization?

3. What are some new techniques, tools, or platforms that online retailers should leverage to increase shopping cart conversion rate optimization?


Tim Ash – Site Tuners – @tim_ash

1. Why is it worth a retailers time to invest in improving their overall checkout experience?

tim-ash-site-tuners-conversion-rate-optimization Checkout are often the most broken parts of e-commerce catalogs. Because they rely on the support of IT to implement, they also often have very poor usability and very unfriendly error messages.

2. What are some areas that online retailers have a hard time understanding or implementing when it comes to shopping cart abandonment and conversion rate optimization?

Since everyone has to checkout in order to pay you, the gains locked up in the checkout process can be substantial.

Most companies assume that their current multi-step process is the correct one. They will rarely experiment with changing the order of the checkout, or varying the number of steps. Sometime this is a limitation of the ecommerce platform itself (only allowing very limited customization). But sometimes this is just the unwillingness of the IT staff to create alternative checkout experiences.

3. What are some new techniques, tools, or platforms that online retailers should leverage to increase shopping cart conversion rates?

There are a number of tools that can improve checkout conversions. First of all it helps to have in-page web analytics and user session recording (like ClickTale) on a very granular level. That way you can review abandoned cart sessions and see exactly where people are having problems. After that you can fix the usability issues that you find. Another helpful approach to increasing average order value is to suggest up-sells or cross-sells in the cart with services like Certona (or even after the purchase on the confirmation page). Making sure you have a clean email address is key – there are services like LeadSpend that can validate an email address in real-time (and allow you to ask for a more deliverable one if the entered email is not high-quality). If someone abandons your cart, email abandonment recovery services like SeeWhy can be a powerful tool to reactivate many of these buyers.


Darrell Benatar – UserTesting.com – @Darrel Benatar

1) Why is it worth a retailers time to invest in improving their overall checkout experience?Darrell-Benatar-User-Testing

This is like asking why a racecar driver should care whether his car is tuned for the race. If a retailer is going to optimize anything, it should be the checkout experience, because if you can’t convert the visitor, what’s the point of any other marketing or optimization efforts?

Of course, there are plenty of other things that need to be done right. SEO, advertising/retargeting, social, customer service, content marketing, etc. are all great. But look at your KPIs, and see just how many of them are directly affected by the checkout experience: conversion rate, average order value, abandonment rate, time to purchase, customer loyalty… you can’t hit your KPI targets without a smooth—even enjoyable—checkout experience.

There are two other primary reasons that the checkout experience is worth optimizing:

  • Choice. This isn’t 1999; consumers don’t have to put up with poor checkout experiences. There are thousands of good ones out there. You have to be one of them.
  • Amplification. Social networking is a megaphone that allows consumers to amplify their voice when they talk about your brand. And negative experiences tend to get amplified more than good ones. Pair that with the fact that shoppers are heavily influenced by friends, and you get the idea of how important it is to nail the checkout experience.

2) What are some areas that online retailers have a hard time understanding or implementing when it comes to shopping cart abandonment and conversion rate optimization?

Mobile. Every retailer knows that they have to nail mobile to compete, but Skava’s 2013 mobile shopping survey shows that almost 9 out of 10 people have problems when shopping from their smartphone, and 26% of mobile shoppers agreed that the checkout process “is a pain.”

Our own research shows that the reason companies are failing in this area is that they’re porting existing sites to mobile, rather than starting from scratch for the optimal mobile experience. Porting is tempting, but it doesn’t work. It may seem like a cost-saver, but in ecommerce in particular, any savings would be eaten up quickly by the cost of lost sales.

3. What are some new techniques, tools, or platforms that online retailers should leverage to increase shopping cart conversion rates?

We’re pretty big fans of Optimizely for A/B and multivariate testing. Want to try a new placement for your cross-selling or upselling blocks? You can start that experiment in about 5 minutes, and you don’t have to use expensive engineering resources to do it. In a highly competitive space like e-commerce, we love fast, low-cost solutions like this so companies can iterate quickly.

InVision just released new support for gestures and transitions so mobile prototypes feel more like the real thing (especially when the testers use the prototype on a mobile device). Since so many e-commerce companies have a ways to go to improve the mobile shopping experience, a mobile prototyping tool is important to have in the toolbox.


Brett Bair – Monetate – @monetate

1. Why is it worth a retailer’s time to invest in improving their overall checkout experience?Brett-Blair-Monetate

On average, 97% of a retailer’s traffic does not convert, yet often 98% of a retailers marketing budget is spent on driving traffic. Modest gains in conversion can make the ROI on that marketing spend significantly better. More importantly, a bad checkout experience could cause you to lose a potential long-term, highly influential, high-value customer. This potential customer also has even more power than ever with the ability to share that terrible experience through social media.

It takes a lot of micro conversions to make it to the checkout so it is devastating to lose someone that didn’t bounce from the website, has already found what they are looking for, configured the product, added it to cart, and started the checkout process.

2. What are some areas that online retailers have a hard time understanding or implementing when it comes to shopping cart abandonment and conversion rate optimization?

Not everyone abandons for the same reason. Often retailers will throw offers at abandoners without doing a proper set of tests to determine the most successful way to bring customers back to a website and get them back into the check out process. A customer may be in a situation where completing checkout is just not feasible. There is no reason to just throw away margin when they return to the site. However, if there is a reason like limited stock, special offers or other time-sensitive components, these should be leveraged in the communication to bring that customer back to the website. This information is relevant and makes for a strong call to action.

3. What are some new techniques, tools, or platforms that online retailers should leverage to increase shopping cart conversion rates?

Personal shopper-oriented chat like Needle can help customers find what they are looking for and allows the customer to get a live person to affirm it is indeed the right product for them. They also can help customers accessorize to drive up average cart value.


Christian Souza – Cart Rescuer- @cartrescuer

1. Why is it worth a retailers time to invest in improving their overall checkout experience?Chris-Souza-Cart-Rescuer
Statistically speaking, between 60%-90% of your visitors will not finish the checkout process the first time around. Abandonment will happen from visitor early buying stages, frictions and distractions. The checkout experience must be optimized to deal with these issues. Ignoring these elements is a big mistake. Here are some tips to tackle them.

  • Early buying stages – Not everyone is ready to buy the first time around. Add lead magnets to capture leads and nurture them to be ready to buy from you at a later time.
  • Frictions – Users by default have trust issues. Incentives are a great way to counter and relieve frictions.
  • Distractions – It happens, so make sure you have cart abandonment strategy to turn your abandoning visitors into more sales.

2. What are some areas that online retailers have a hard time understanding or implementing when it comes to shopping cart abandonment and conversion rate optimization?
Online retailers focus to much time and effort on copying their competitors. What works for their competitors, won’t necessarily work for them. Instead, online retailers should focus on their customers pain points and resolve it for them.

3. What are some new techniques, tools, or platforms that online retailers should leverage to increase shopping cart conversion rates?

The first step is to survey your customers. Understand what they need and if there are any elements of friction. Create a buyers persona and focus your marketing efforts on these buyers. Be relevant and engaging. And finally, test everything you do. Testing allows you to be constantly tweaking your sales funnel for improvements.


Siddharth Deswal – Visual Website Optimizer – @wingify

1. Why is it worth a retailers time to invest in improving their overall checkout experience?Siddharth-Deswal-Visual-Website-Optimizer
Abandonments on eCommerce sites are highest at checkout, making this the proverbial “most bang for the buck” opportunity. Time and effort spent optimizing this one step alone will reap significant returns for those who do it well.

As a general rule of thumb, work to increase trust, security and ease of use. What you completely want to stay away from is springing any surprises, specially those that involve additional charges.

2. What are some areas that online retailers have a hard time understanding or implementing when it comes to shopping cart abandonment and conversion rate optimization?

Most online retailers fail to understand that optimization isn’t about making changes to the web page(s), it’s about trying to influence the way your visitors think.

We find that it is best to approach optimization efforts with the question “How will this change make my visitors feel?” Will they feel secure that they’re in safe hands? Have we completely communicated the offering and all charges involved? Will they feel cheated when I show additional costs at checkout? Are they sure their credit card and personal information are in secure? End of the day, work towards solving the barriers that make them abandon cart instead of trying small tactical changes like “let’s change this button color to red”.

3. What are some new techniques, tools, or platforms that online retailers should leverage to increase shopping cart conversion rates?

Personalization is going to be the order of the day in the coming future. Customers want to immediately see what they find most interesting and they expect you to know that. One of the new tools that does this very well is Unbxd (www.unbxd.com). They’re a platform that aims to put the right product in front of the right visitor.

The second new tactic is to add a stronger layer of social to ecommerce. Smart retailers like Fox & Fawn are already using social constructs like selfies to increase their visibility across their target customer group. A new service, Olapic helps customers track social media for photos of their products (or any hashtags) and use that to increase sales.


Chris Goward – Wider Funnel – @chrisgoward

1. Why is it worth a retailers time to invest in improving their overall checkout experience?Chris-Goward-Wider-Funnel

The rationale for conversion optimization is well documented. Many experts agree that investment in website testing gives better return than on traffic-generation projects. You’re already putting a lot of effort and budget into driving all that traffic. You should get them converting into customers faster and more often!

It’s a simple ROI question: what would a 10%, 20% or 50% lift in conversion rate mean to your business? How much effort would it be worth to gain that?

I can’t speak for everyone’s results, but our e-commerce clients have experienced an average of 23.1% sales conversion rate lift on all our winning tests.

But, the biggest opportunities for you may not be in the bottom of the funnel checkout funnel. There may be more to gain in the top end landing pages, PDP’s, category pages, and site-search, for example. For every website, the specific barriers to conversion and opportunities are unique.

2. What are some areas that online retailers have a hard time understanding or implementing when it comes to shopping cart abandonment and conversion rate optimization?

When retailers see high shopping cart abandonment, they may assume the shopping cart is the problem. That’s often not true. Shoppers may be going through to the cart in a desperate, last-ditch attempt to find the information that should have been on your product pages. We’ll often see tests on PDPs where we clarify shipping info can increase purchase conversion rate and also reduce cart abandonment.

Another common problem is improper test setup that can cause misleading results. Retailers are often tracking the wrong goals, like ad click-through rate, add-to-cart rate, or product page views rather than conversion rate and revenue-per-visitor.

3. What are some new techniques, tools, or platforms that online retailers should leverage to increase shopping cart conversion rates?

There are many awesome tools that you should consider for different purposes within the overall system. At WiderFunnel, we’re technology agnostic; we don’t receive any payment for recommendations, so we can be unbiased. Here are a few to consider:
• For on-page behavior analysis: CrazyEgg, ClickTale, SessionCam.
• For website analytics: Adobe Analytics, Google Analytics.
• For user testing: UserTesting.com, FiveSecondTest.com, Silverback for Mac and Morae for Windows.
• For surveys: 4Q, Kampyle, and ForeSee.
• For A/B testing, multivariate and targeting: Adobe Test & Target, Optimizely, Visual Website Optimizer, Maxymiser, Convert.com, and Monetate.

It’s important to understand how the tools should fit into the conversion strategy. Most of these tools, other than the A/B and multivariate testing, are used for qualitative data collection. That qualitative data should not be acted upon without quantitative testing using a controlled testing tool, though. Or, at the very least, you should look for advice from someone who has tested similar findings. Changing your website based on small quantity data often harms ecommerce results and, worse, embeds invalid insights into their marketing playbooks.


Bill Breck – Buy Knowing –@breck

1. Why is it worth a retailers time to invest in improving their overall checkout experience?Biil-Breck-Buy-Knowing

  • Competition. Think of your checkout process is an extension of your customer service. Though your online catalog may include the same items as your competitors, your customer service is what sets you apart. The same goes with the checkout experience. If coupons, rebates, shipping, payment processing, and other variables are difficult to navigate, then customers will go elsewhere. Eventually, enough disgruntled customers could form enough market share for a new competitor to come to market
  • Increased conversion from intent to purchase. Often times, customers come to the website already knowing what they want to buy. The faster and easier the checkout process, the less time they have to change their mind. The classic examples are Amazon and the iTunes store.
  • Increased conversion from fewer abandoned carts. As store owners, we want customers to look at a product, like it, want it, and buy it. When a customer has a difficult checkout experience, they may go elsewhere to find the product that they wanted on our site.
  • Customer loyalty. Customers who appreciate a fast checkout (especially on mobile devices) are more likely to return. In addition, if its just as easy to create a username as it is to checkout as a guest, then users will be more likely to save their information. This extra step can indicate a higher likelihood of return.
  • Valuable customer feedback. Through the use of exit surveys and the order comments field, stores can collect customer feedback that can shape future development of the website features, catalog enhancements, and more.

2. What are some areas that online retailers have a hard time understanding or implementing when it comes to shopping cart abandonment and conversion rate optimization?

  • Shoppers vs. Buyers. Some people like to window shop then wait for just the right time and price to buy. They will build their cart and abandon multiple times before purchasing. Or the customer will build a cart and abandon in hopes they will receive a coupon offer upon exit.
  • A/B Testing. New features and techniques cannot be added in a vacuum, and implementing them one at a time takes a lot of time. That’s where A/B testing comes in. First, collect conversion statistics from your checkout that can be used as a baseline for performance. Then, instead of running a complete overhaul on the shopping cart, then on the checkout page, and then the confirmation page, consider making one adjustment to each page and tracking how each page effects visitor flow to the next. If a change to one page performs worse, revert it back. Slowly tweak each page one at a time, giving time to the measure the results against your baseline.

3. What are some new techniques, tools, or platforms (other than your own) that online retailers should leverage to increase shopping cart conversion rates?

  • Un-complicate Shipping. We use KingWebmaster’s Advanced Shipping Manager. They focus on Yahoo! Stores.
  • Email capturing. Collect email addresses from the checkout page using javascript then send abandoned cart emails to those visitors. Monitus provides this service for Yahoo! Stores. MyBuys offers this service for larger retailers.
  • Exit Surveys. To understand why customers are abandoning cart and fix the problem head-on, offer an exit survey. Use a service like UpSellIt.
  • User Profiles. Most desktop implementations of a website allow for creation of user profiles. If you don’t already have one, use a service like PracticalData for Yahoo Stores or have one custom coded for your site. This profile creation process is more critical for mobile implementations, which can be finicky and difficult to submit form field information. Plus, mobile users have your store catalog in their pocket almost all the time, it’s conveniently there for their planned purchase or impulse buy.
  • Cross-Sell and Upsell. Making product recommendations makes more sense after a transaction then before it. Why? Because you don’t want to distract a customer who intends to buy one product by confusing them with other products. Instead, send emails afterward with target recommendations just for that user. MyBuys offers this service, typically through a revenue share model.

Keith Hagen – Conversion IQ – @eMatador

1. Why is it worth a retailers time to invest in improving their overall checkout experience?Keith-Hagan-Conversion-IQ

The checkout experience is the last experience a new customer has before you acquire them, and as such, it may just be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back”. eTail sites are not perfect, and a customer’s confidence is gained or lost they their experiences. Unfortunately, most experiences before the checkout are not ideal and given the nature of the checkout, it is the place a potential customer most strongly weighs their decision to spend their hard earned money.

2. What are some areas that online retailers have a hard time understanding or implementing when it comes to shopping cart abandonment and conversion rate optimization?

Here are some areas we’ve notices Internet Retailers have had a hard time understanding.

  • Often, the biggest optimizations you can make to improve your cart/checkout funnel are before the user even gets there.
  • PayPal is more than a payment method and needs to be treated as such.
  • Customer Service assurances are the most important assurances.
  • When people are worried about the security of a website, they are really worried about identity theft, not general “security”.
  • People don’t want to create “another account” and you don’t need them to (up front anyways).
  • Abandonment Cart emails need to be tested and drafted against the non-spontaneous person’s buying cycle.
  • People want their cart persisted forever.
  • People want to know how many items are in their cart when they are not in it. All the time, and even if it empty.
  • People don’t want to type on a mobile device or at all really.

3. What are some new techniques, tools, or platforms (other than your own) that online retailers should leverage to increase shopping cart conversion rates?

  • Customer Service Assurances – Stella Service work best when people know what it is, so give it context.
  • Identity Theft Protection (Security) – AllClearID, McAfee, Norton all work while others may not.
  • Checkout tele-sense
  • Checkout form validation
  • Telling people exactly when their products could arrive by.

Ruth Dew – Volusion – @Volusion

1. Why is it worth a retailers time to invest in improving their overall checkout experience?ruth-dew-volusion-conversion-rate-optimization

a. It’s simple: improving the checkout experience leads to increased conversions and higher sales. The checkout process is the home stretch for a shopper looking to complete an order, so ensuring that the experience is as seamless as possible makes the sale that much faster. It’s important for retailers to think of each obstacle in the checkout process as an opportunity for a customer to second-guess their decision and abandon their cart – the less obstacles you have, the less likely they are to leave the sale.

2. What are some areas that online retailers have a hard time understanding or implementing when it comes to Shopping Cart Abandonment and Conversion Rate Optimization?

One of the most difficult points for retailers to understand is why shoppers abandon their carts in the first place. Getting a better grasp of common themes that lead to abandoned carts is the first step to increasing overall conversions. Along the same lines, many retailers believe that abandonment solely happens because of issues with the checkout page, whereas there are a multitude of factors throughout the shopping experience that can lead to an abandoned cart – including a lack of trust due to security concerns, surprise shipping or tax costs, etc. To help get a more holistic view of the shopping experience, a good place for retailers to start is user testing.

3. What are some new techniques, tools, or platforms (other than your own) that online retailers should leverage to increase average cart size or completed carts?

The most basic tool an online retailer should leverage is their abandoned carts report. This comes standard in most ecommerce platforms, and contains a wealth of data that retailers can use to identify trends and patterns, especially regarding products that are consistently tied to abandoned carts. Once this information is discovered, the retailer can further investigate any merchandising improvements or optimization opportunities on the product page. Beyond this, leveraging abandoned cart emails is a proven way to recoup potentially lost sales, especially when paired with a related coupon or discount. One Volusion partner that provides this is AutoResponderMax.


Craig Ross – Nexternal – @craigross

1. Why is it worth a retailer’s time to invest in improving their overall checkout experience?Craig Ross-Nexternal-conversion-rate-optimization

Shopping cart abandonment is still a major problem that plagues many retailers. Let’s assume that your current conversion rate is at 1%. If you could increase your conversion rate by just one percentage point by optimizing the checkout experience for your customers, you would double your sales volume. Merchants intuitively know that a simple shopping experience will result in more sales, yet they often fail to provide this experience. With some focus on the customer’s shopping experience, doubling the online sales in your store is obtainable for many merchants.

2. What are some areas that online retailers have a hard time understanding or implementing when it comes to Shopping Cart Abandonment and Conversion Rate Optimization?

Many retailers tend to focus on obtaining the relevant customer data that they need, rather than focusing on providing an enjoyable shopping experience for their customers. As a retailer, when is the last time you stepped into your customers’ shoes and went through the entire checkout process? How was the experience? You would be surprised at the amount of online retailers that haven’t taken the time to evaluate the checkout experience of their own online store.

One common mistake is forcing a customer to create an account before they’ve completed their purchase. This is often a big mistake. The goal should be to make it as easy as possible for a potential customer to complete their initial purchase, not force them to provide password information.

Another mistake many retailers make is requiring a customer to use a unique email address when checking out. Many times a customer will forget their password, or that they have created an account in the first place. By requiring a unique email address to checkout, a customer is prevented from placing their order at that point. They now have to jump through hoops to obtain their password which, more often than not, can cause them to abandon their cart.

3. What are some new techniques, tools, or platforms (other than your own) that online retailers should leverage to increase cart conversion rates?

As an online retailer, it is important to gain your customers’ trust by providing a pleasant shopping experience. Here are a few techniques that have been proven to increase conversion:

  • Always On-Screen Shopping Cart – Most online retailers still use a separate shopping cart screen, which tends to interrupt the shopping process. When a customer is shopping, they should always be able to see the contents of their cart without being taken away from the shopping experience. With an always on-screen shopping cart the customer is able to modify the contents of their cart at any time. They also have the option of calculating shipping and sales at any time to see their total cost before checking out, which provides convenience and reduces abandonment.
  • Don’t force customers to create an account – The customer is on your website to make a purchase, not create a long-term relationship with your company. If the customer has had a positive experience shopping on your site and they plan on coming back in the future, they will most likely create an account on their own.
  • Keep it simple by eliminating any distractions or barriers – Once a customer clicks checkout, the goal is to get them to complete their order as quickly as possible. Don’t distract them with unnecessary information or make it easy for them to exit the checkout page. However, do make relevant information easily accessible such as links to your return, shipping & privacy policies as well as FAQs.
  • Clearly display all costs upfront – If a customer goes through the entire checkout process only to find out that are additional processing fees, or that the shipping costs are unexpectedly high or listed merely as “To Be Determined”, this can cause many users to cancel their order all together. It is import to eliminate hidden costs and be completely honest about the total cost of an order up front.
  • Remind customers to complete their purchase – If a customer does not convert their cart to an order within a specified amount of time there are many tools available to help remind customers to complete their purchase. Rejoiner, for example, will automatically send a reminder email to those shoppers. Often a simple reminder is enough to entice a distracted shopper to return and complete their purchase.

 


Pete Koomen – Optimizely – @koomen

1. Why is it worth a retailers time to invest in improving their overall checkout experience?Pete-Koomen-Optimizely

This one seems obvious to me: time and money spent driving traffic towards your site is essentially wasted when those visitors don’t turn into customers.

Online retail is undergoing some radical changes and online retailers need to differentiate themselves in more meaningful ways. A more compelling shopping experience, curated product selections, and overall superior customer service – these are all becoming major focal points for retailers to set themselves apart. Thinking through how to create that differentiated experience will be incredibly valuable for retailers in the coming year, as consumers are increasingly drawn to unique and compelling shopping experiences than cost savings alone, for instance.

2. What are some areas that online retailers have a hard time understanding or implementing when it comes to shopping cart abandonment and conversion rate optimization?

Businesses at large struggle with what to test or optimize in the beginning, from ideation to execution, across the entire conversion funnel, including Checkout. I think there are also hurdles to knowing how to set the right goals and run the right experiments. We recommend that marketers identify common, quantifiable success metrics that will be present in every test that is run. Common examples for online retail include: Homepage bounce rates, category pageviews, product page views, shopping cart ads, and all stages in your checkout flow all the way to the ‘Thank You’ page.

There are also challenges organizationally, when it comes to creating a team for testing or creating a culture of testing within an business. This often involves securing buy-in from superiors and creating a democratic approach to testing across an entire organization. No matter what size your company is, you’ll need one person to manage your optimization efforts. A testing program manager will prioritize test order, coordinate resources, understand how to interpret test results, and ensure those with buy-in have regular and timely updates on test results.

3. What are some new techniques, tools, or platforms (other than your own) that online retailers should leverage to increase shopping cart conversion rates?

Retailers should be thinking about their browsing, purchasing, and checkout experiences on a variety of devices. Each form factor presents different challenges and needs to be optimized in different ways. One tool we’ve been really impressed with is Mobify: they help businesses build great mobile websites and can save companies that are just getting started a ton of up-front work.


Summing It All Up

We’d like to thank all of our panelists for participating in our conversion rate optimization roundtable. It’s obvious from the range of the answers and solutions suggested there is a lot that retailers can do to improve on site conversion.

So, what have you done or are planning to do to improve your conversion rates on your website? Leave a comment below!

 

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About the AuthorNii is COO of CPC Strategy, a shopping feed management agency and is responsible for day-to-day business operations and long-term financial, tactical and strategic planning for the company. He has been with CPC Strategy since January of 2007. Prior to working with CPC Strategy, Nii was a product manager at eBay working on algorithmic merchandising and reviews and guides. See all posts by this author here.