Online Business A-Z

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Turn Visitors to Customers October 16, 2009

Filed under: online business — Business Consultant @ 11:54 am
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shhhYou’ve built your website, sourced your suppliers, set your terms, and launched the perfect on-line business.  Then you wait, and watch.  Day after day, you check the stats, they’re looking, they’re visiting, but they are not buying.  The frustration sets in and you ask yourself, what did I do wrong.

Cart conversion, or turning shoppers into buyers, is critical in your on-line business.  Cart conversion affects your bottom line.  The more cart conversions that go through successfully, the more money your site makes.  One would hope that everyone who put something into his or her shopping cart would convert to a sale.  Unfortunately, the national average of conversion is roughly 30%, according to various sources, including FireClick.  So 70% of your customers will not actually purchase what they pick up.  There are many cited reasons for shopping cart abandonment, including poor navigation, slow loading pages, asking for too much information, and registrations.

Here we enter into a look at on-line business strategies that can turn your lookers into buyers.

Throughout this article, there is a key strategy that applies across the board.  SIMPLIFY – I just cannot stress enough, the importance of simplifying.  Don’t overcomplicate your site, and make it easy for me to do business with you.

Take a look at your checkout process.  Even the most avid customer will stop mid-sale and leave your site if the process is too consuming.  Are you collecting too much information?  This can leave customers feeling uneasy.  Is the process too long?  According to a recent survey by Nielsen Online, a service of the Nielsen Company indicated 81 on-line shoppers out of the 1000 surveyed, shop online to save time, not money.  Do not waste their time.  What information do you need to conduct your transaction?  Only collect that information from your buyers.

Do you have your customers register or log in to make purchases?  This can be a major deterrent to most on-line buyers.  When you go to the local grocery, do they ask you to register to buy food?  No, it’s a waste of time.  Think – get in, make the purchase, and get out.  Requiring customers to register or log in, unless you have a really good reason for doing so, is pushing your customers away.  Remember that they are shopping your store for convenience of time.  How many sites have you registered on, and forgotten the login or password?  Presenting the option however, of registering to gain the ability of reviewing previous order history, or tracking their order, feels like great customer service.  Just offer it after you’ve gotten the sale, this allows them to choose whether or not to spend the time.

How do your checkout screens check out?  Is it one, continuous, overwhelming screen?  Is it many screens collecting piles of unnecessary information?  Customers need to get in, make the purchase, and get out. However, the checkout process should build confidence, or they start second guessing their purchase, and start tossing items out of their cart.   Or worse, they run completely.  Make the process short and sweet.  One continuous form they have to scroll down looks like a big process to time savvy customers, so break your checkout form into quick, and bite sized pieces.  Keep the graphics on the checkout pages to a minimum; eliminate them with great product descriptions if you can.  The ideal number of screens to check out is two to three.  This eases the customer by building confidence that you aren’t collecting too much information, or wasting their time.

One final aspect to examine is your placement of your marketing survey.  Marketing statistics is the key to tracking the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, so eliminating the collection of this data isn’t an option.  Entertain the idea however, of moving the collection of this data to follow the sale.  Again, this is a time conscious shopper; don’t distract them from buying your products.  The relief comes to the customer once they complete their purchase, and they most likely will oblige in providing the information you desire.

Now there are obviously, many other site issues that can impact cart conversion rates, such as security, shipping time or shipping rates.  It’s always best to look at the whole picture from the customers’ point of view.  Cleaning up, simplifying your checkout process and quality customer service are key steps to securing more sales for your on-line business. There are several customer service support software providers around like — and analytics tools available on the web that can aid you in the fine tuning of your on-line business, such as Google Analytics. So take the time to make the process simple, and then track the effectiveness of your hard work.