May 20, 2016

Reducing the path to purchase on e-commerce websites

8 seconds is the average time visitors spend before deciding whether or not to remain on a site (MarketingSherpa)

A recent Forrester Research report highlighted the importance for retailers to hook target shoppers, with easy to use site search, including autocomplete and clear categories. Why are we comparing ecommerce websites with spearfishing? Because both rely on a target that is not easy to catch the attention of.

1. Can you reduce the path to purchase?

10-20% of customers search, but the search box contributes 40% of revenue, compared to the navigation which contributes to 60% of revenue (InternetRetailingExpo2016)

It’s important to utilise all areas of your website for sales opportunities, including the main area of your website and the search box. Improving your navigation menu could be a good initial strategy for increasing conversion rate:

It must be consistent – A website which is constantly changing from page to page is confusing to a website visitor. Consistent navigation promotes ease of use and increases your visitors’ ability to find relevant information quickly.

Use accurate navigation titles – Visitors should have a general idea of what they’re going to find on a page before clicking a navigational link. Misleading navigation text confuses website visitors and leads to a higher abandonment rate.

Ensure that you have ALT text – All images should have ALT attribute with descriptive text, particularly images which link to other pages. This ensures that everybody knows what the link is.

Speed things up with autocomplete – Building an autocomplete function into your search box speeds up the process of filling in information for website users. It also reduces the likelihood of people leaving the website from making spelling mistakes.

2. Are the search results what my customers are looking for?

70% of (desktop) e-commerce search implementations are unable to return relevant results for product-type synonyms (requiring users to search using the exact same jargon as the site) “Ecommerce Search”

Don’t show zero results – Every time your customer clicks onto a page with an error message, they come to a dead end on your website, meaning there is likely to be a lost sales opportunity. The best way to avoid this from happening is to prevent the “No results” page from appearing on user’s screen.

Irrelevant results – Just as error messages affect your conversion rate, so do irrelevant result pages. To avoid people leaving your website at this point, you can link your website to other pages which a website visitor may be interested in.

Strategies and positioning – It’s worth considering the positioning of links and images on your website as this can also help to move people to the website pages they desire. Showing items in the same range/size/stock could be a good tactic for keeping search results relevant for customers. If you’re looking to boost ecommerce sales then it could be a good strategy to display higher value items.

Have you thought about mobile search?

“Digital interactions are expected to influence 40 pence of every pound spent in brick-and-mortar retail stores.” (Deloitte Digital Study)

Mobile usage continues to increase and studies also suggest that people prefer to use site search on most mobile ecommerce sites. So, it’s therefore surprising how many ecommerce sites are not compatible for mobile. Ecommerce Search found that 88% of mobile ecommerce sites have “no results” pages that don’t contain any “intelligent” help based on the user’s context. Amazon could be used as a benchmark of a company which is adopting best practice for site search on mobile. Making sure your landing page is optimised for mobile is a must, if you haven’t done this already.

Are you measuring site search success

Most eCommerce platforms have analytics tools that can identify on site search results. These tools can be useful for tracking what searches are popular with your website visitors and then positioning relevant content. Google Analytics is another useful tool which you can be used to track what search terms your website visitors are using to find products.

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