Posted by CueBlocks.com
This post was originally in YouMoz, and was promoted to the main blog because it provides great value and interest to our community. The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of SEOmoz, Inc.
Invest in building filthy rich user experience, consistently and throughout your store. That is what stores with deeper pockets (like ASOS, Zappos & JCPenney) do to achieve better conversion rate than your store.
This article will take you away from usual Search Engine Optimization stuff to where the real money lies - Conversion Rate Optimization. What you do with the visitors you bring to your website?
Whether you're selling pajamas, concert tickets, shoes or shaving blades; e-commerce today has evolved and humanized beyond just convenience shopping . It is therefore imperative that you stop seeing people who land on your store as 'traffic'; but as real human visitors. People come to your store and engage at various levels (let’s call these levels 'touch points'). With each word that visitors read and with each media pixel they view at these touch points, they form a picture of your business in their minds. And based on whether or not they like the final picture, they make a decision about buying from your store or your competitor’s.
Here are the areas of e-commerce touch point optimization that we're going to cover in this article:
Know your Customers
Use Qualaroo to Survey Visitors
Enable Olark for Direct Chat Interactions
Survey your Existing Customers
Home Page Optimization
Show your Top-Selling Products on your Home Page
Offer More Ways to Order from your Store
Show videos on your home page (below the fold)
Localize your store to specific countries
Avoid vague category structures
Sort category structure by popularity
Use CrazyEgg to create focused category navigation
Create categories based on what people are searching
Use a Compelling Business Tagline
Avoid writing vague ‘Unique Selling Points’
Product Search Optimization
Test your search for accuracy
Implement an Intelligent search to cover singular, plurals, mis-spells etc.
Implement Auto-Suggestions to help user search for relevant keywords
Enable Category Search
Let the user know what they searched
Product Page Optimization
Get high quality product images
Pay attention to your product’s description
Show Product Videos (for your top selling products at least)
Don’t let Price be a Surprise
Empower visitors with creative calculators
Clearly show the Product’s delivery time
Allow them to select delivery date
Enable Out Of Stock Notification
Encourage users to leave reviews
Offer Persistent Shopping Cart
Don’t make users enter the same information twice
Pre-fill information where ever you can
Preserve Information on a validation error
Clearly mark the fields as optional or mandatory
Give input example against each field
Offer a unified single ‘Name’ field
Automatically pre-fill city & state field as soon as user enters a zip code
Keep the form field labels visible at all times
Keep the form linear
Form field length should match the expected length of the input
Use FaceBook Connect
Be specific with your button’s text
Display validation errors in close proximity to the input field
Display validation checks against each field
Make 'Account Registration' an Optional Step of Checkout Process
Don’t complicate Password Selection
Make the ‘Guest Checkout’ option more prominent than Registration
Make your primary button most prominent among rest all call to actions
Avoid unnecessary buttons on the checkout page
Primary button placement
Limit the navigation and exit points on the checkout page
Use Intelligent defaults
Let users force-proceed on potentially wrong validation
Process steps should function as navigational links for the checkout process
Don’t surprise users by adding extra cost abruptly
During registration, make the Newsletter sign-up an opt-in by default, not opt-out.
Offer Brave Guarantees
Touch Point Optimization
Write crisp & enticing Meta Tags
Enable Open graphs
Check your Auto-responder Emails
Pay attention to your password Reset Emails
Get your Order Confirmation Emails right
Enable Order Shipped Emails
Optimize the thank you messages on your store
Make user friendly 404 Error Page
No Results Found (Product / Page)
Validation Error Messages
Offer them multiple payment options: It’s a no-brainer but this checklist will look incomplete without it.
Show Social Media Proofs
Sign-up with Google Trusted Stores
Information Touch Points
Show product close-up videos
Educate the visitors and enable them to make an informed decision
Create an impressive about page
Get a thorough usability testing done
Load Speed Optimization
Leverage browser caching
Serve scaled images
Combine images into CSS sprites
Minimize request size
Shipping and Returns
Get your Shipping Policies right
Offer Free Shipping
Display the Free Shipping Threshold Order Value Prominently
Offer a good returns policy
Use Adwords Remarketing
Clean your Email Subscribers’ List from time to time
Before diving into the technical aspects of conversion rate optimization, we feel it makes sense that we talk a little bit about user experience first. However, there's already enough written already about 'user experience', so here let's first define it and talk about one of the very often overlooked but biggest roadblock in the way of improving a store's user experience (or perhaps any website).
User Experience – Defined simply, user experience is the sum of all the experiences that a user is offered on your store. It includes everything from visual, audio, aesthetic, usability, commercial and also the experience a user carries with her or him post the purchase. It is an extensively inclusive phenomenon and determines the way a user will 'feel', 'think' and 'act' on your store. Optimizing user experience is not an exact science but a mix between science and art. No one cookie-cutter formula works for all sites and it's quite dependent on your niche industry and the target marketing you are aiming at.
There are many obvious challenges that every store owner has to face in creating a meaningful user experience on their store. It requires attention to the finest details.
To understand what picture your store has built and is projecting, you need to first break the entire user experience into unique experiences delivered at several of the touch points on your websites, for example:
What is the immediate impression that a user gets when he or she lands on your store?
What do users see when they type something in the product search?
What do users get in their mail box when they register, reset password, subscribe or place an order?
How are the users thanked when they perform an action, like new registrations, purchases, subscriptions etc?
What happens if a user lands on an 'out of stock' product page?
What happens if a user searches for a product that doesn't exist?
What does a user see if he enters an invalid email address during registration?
How much information is required to be filled in order to complete the purchase?
How does your store inspire trust in the heart of the visitors?
How does your store reflect that you will promptly ship the purchased product(s) to his country on time?
There can be thousands of such instances that can make or break your store's impression. Taking care of these touch points is one of the fastest and surest ways of growing your e-commerce business.
Most e-commerce stores (especially small to medium size enterprises) are built foremost for technology, aesthetics and average usability with Conversion Rate Optimization usually being left for a later stage.
Being an e-commerce specialized agency, we come across stores that are built upon high quality code and backed by high-end IT infrastructure but failing to deliver a meaningful or a memorable user experience.. This leads to users visiting these stores and leaving them without blinking an eye, let alone, making a purchase. With all memory erased of a damp store, they even forget that they ever visited such a store in the first place.
Just like these stores, you too have a chance to make an impression but if you fail there is no doubt that the user will leave within 15 seconds of landing on the website. Such instant abandoning will of course lead to allow ROI on the money invested in the development and marketing of the store.
The reason why this happens is simple. More often than not, most of the attention during store development goes into building the store, where designers design, programmers code the functionalities, testers remove the bugs, copywriters write content' but nearly every job role is unable to give single minded focus and attention to creating an optimum user experience. Of course, any website that is created or built from scratch will take into account the user's requirement but somehow a conscious investment into building an unmatchable user experience is still lacking in the initial phases of design, development and marketing processes.
So, the Agenda of this white paper is fairly clear – To give you a starting point to improve your Store’s Conversion Rate by identifying and working on the touch points which you might have skipped during development phase of your store. We have classified the work to be done on these touch points into easily readable and comprehensible ways, so that as a store owner you face no difficulty in recognizing the problem or implementing the solution to it!
Here we go:
Empathy is good but it doesn't go well with conversion optimization. You can't introduce changes on your store, simply by putting yourself in your customer's shoes and hoping that visitors would love them and eventually start buying more. It's far too much dependence on empathizing. If you want to improve conversions, you need fresh eyes and a different perspective than your own. You need to know your customers with the help of direct interactions and not just by empathetic assumptions.
Spend time and resources in knowing your business, your customers and your competitors before you create a single test. Many business owners and conversion rate experts create tests and winning strategies before even knowing the rules of the game (and how to win it). It doesn't work that way until you're 100% sure about what your customers want.
You can use the following tools to study your customer behavior:
1. Use Qualaroo to Survey Visitors: This Online survey tool (formerly called KissInsights.com) provides the quickest way of adding a short survey (usually just one or two questions) to important pages of your store.
Using Qualaroo, You can ask questions like:
Why did you decide to buy from us?
Would you recommend us to your friends or colleagues? Why?
How was your experience shopping with us?
How would you describe us to your friends?
What would make you shop more often on our store?
2. Enable Olark for Direct Chat Interactions: This tool enables you to chat with visitors on your store and gives you intelligence about your business. This is very useful in identifying what issues people face while buying from your store in a live scenario while they are actually executing a purchase. This highly crucial insight can help you discover common patterns, frequent problems which can be shared with your development and marketing team for further improving user experience and usability on your web store.
3. Survey your Customers: If you have been in the industry for some time and have a formidable customer base, then the starting point of your store conversion optimization process should be reaching out to your customers and getting their perspective about your store & business. You can use SurveyMonkey to email slightly longer surveys (4 to 5 questions) to users and seek their feedback in return for sweepstakes. This is the quickest way to reveal hidden conversion issues if you have a good email subscription base.
4) Show your Top-Selling Products on your Home Page
Use analytical tools like Google Analytics and administrator reports to determine which products & categories are performing. Once these are identified, you should focus your marketing efforts in promoting your top selling products in banner sliders and recommended products.
5) Offer More Ways to Order from your Store
Clearly show all the different ways in which a customer can place an order on your store including the 'by phone and by fax' options. Nothing is too obsolete or inappropriate when it comes to establishing connection with your user; present to them all available contact points. ). Some customers prefer to order in a certain way, so clearly stating these options will help increase your conversion rate.
6) Show videos on your home page
What is the best way to persuade the visitors on your store about the quality of your product? Videos! Show the work that went into creating the product that you’re selling. A professionally shot video can add serious credibility to your claims. This is like making the features of your product apparent to your customers. Keep in mind that abstract terms such as 'Art' or 'Quality' may not help the user in drawing a concrete conclusion about your product. But supported by actual evidence such as: showing an artist carving an artifact and of course by audio-visual media, it makes customers believe that what you are selling is really art. Plus a video can command both attention and the desired connection with the customer.
This is exactly how Apple manages to create demand for their products and also sell them at a premium. The following video shows the work that went into creating the body of Apple’s new MacBook Pro laptop: Apple’s Marketing Strategy
7) Localize your store to specific countries
If you're in the US and selling internationally, a good number of visitors and conversions on your store may be coming from countries outside your own. If these people know that it's going to be an international shipment, they will need reassurance from you that you can ship to their country in time.
For this, you can enable a functionality that identifies a user's country (from their IP) and show a notification on the top header, like 'Yes, we ship to Australia'. This can give the user a lot of confidence when he orders from a store that's outside his country. See how Threadless localizes its store internationally:
Along with it, see if you can change the currency of the entire store to currency of the user's country (if you ship to it). This advanced level of localization can be achieved by putting in more thought and coding resources.
Most of the visitors landing on your store are in a hurry. If they sail through your navigation and come up dry, they might be put off from using the search functionality again.
The objective of a navigation menu (top, side or footer menu) is to make your most or frequently searched content easily accessible to these hurried visitors. You have two options - either clutter your menu by putting everything you have inside the menu, or intelligently show only those links that are important to visitors. Showing what’s important to you in the navigation may not help your store’s conversion. Leaving the visitor guessing might not help either.
8) Avoid vague category structure: The size of your inventory should correspond with the number of categories on your website. Don’t create too many categories on your store just for the sake of having them. Only include the links (to information) that users are actively searching for on the store and not the links that you think are most important.
9) Sort category structure by popularity: The category links in the navigation should be in the ascending order of their popularity wherein the most clicked links are at the top and the least clicked category links are pushed down to the bottom of the navigation. If not by popularity, you can also put all the links alphabetically because it's one of the ways that users anticipate the standard navigation to be.
Create categories based on what people are searching: Use Google Analytics to find out what visitors are searching in your store's product search box. You can view the search terms by following this path in Google Analytics:
11) Create categories based on what people are searching: Use Google Analytics to find-out what visitors are searching in your product search box. Google Analytics > Account > Standard Reporting > Content > Site Search > Search Terms.
The keywords with top ‘total unique searches’ are the ones that people are searching for. You will find the top searched product and brand names here. These are obvious contenders to be placed at prominent places inside your navigation menu. A navigation based on users' preferences and popularity of products rather than on conventional categorization can have a positive impact on the conversion rate.
12) Use a Compelling Business Tag-line
Visitors on your store pay more attention to your business tag-line (small text, just under your logo) than you think. In many ways, your business tag-line gets equal attention as your logo does. Putting a little more effort and creativity while creating a business tag-line that summarizes the experience you’re offering to the user on your store can get further drive the customers to make a purchase on your store. A great tag line can form immediate connections with the visitors by positioning your business at the spot where they would want to see it.
13) Avoid writing vague ‘Unique Selling Points’
You don’t need an MBA degree to know that you must tell your visitors clearly and exactly what your Unique Selling Points (USPs) are. Why they should buy from your store? Strategically presented USP on your store can help you counter the mental barriers in the visitors' mind that might be stopping them to buy from your store.
Bedding.com is a good example of vague USPs, for example: Easy Returns, Free Shipping, Price Guarantee, Risk Free Shopping:
Thus, avoid writing vague ‘unique selling points’ on your store, for example: Satisfaction Guaranteed, Fast Shipping, Best Deals etc. Be specific, such as: Free Shipping on orders above $50, $10 Flat Shipping, 100% Organic Products, 60 Days Return Policy etc.
If your store is like many others, then the off your market visitors enter your store from the home page. If they know what they want, they would straight away search the product name in the store's product search box. An inaccurate or dysfunctional product search can hurt your business in the form of lost sales, especially when the size of your inventory exceeds the scale at which it can be manually browsed.
Sometimes, users are not able to locate the product search. You can use Google Analytics (Content > Site Search > Usage) to know whether or not users are actively using product search.
You will notice that the conversion rate of visitors using product search is higher than visitors who are not using product search.
One of the possible reasons of low usage of product search is the placement and presentation of the product search functionality. You must highlight the presence of product search functionality by using both better placement and aesthetics. This will ensure that search box doesn't get lost with the other elements on the page.
You should have an effective search feature on your store, which is:
Easy to use: Gives clear instructions on what and how a user can search.
Fast & Accurate: If your inventory size is huge, you can use 3rd party engines like Celbros or SOLR to return search results faster.
Friendly: Think of what users will see if there is no product match in the inventory.
14) Test your search for accuracy
Test your search for accuracy by searching keywords (singular & plural). For example, if you’re running a sporting goods store, a search for ‘basketball’ & ‘basketballs’ should return the same results associated with basketball(s).
15) Implement an intelligent search to cover singular, plurals, misspellings etc.
Your store search should be intelligent enough to return results as per the intent of the searcher. For example, the top listings of a search should return ‘basketballs’ and not ‘basketball jerseys’. If the user wanted a ‘basketball jersey’, he would have searched this term. Test your search with similar key phrase combinations and see how accurate it is.
16) Implement Auto-Suggestions to help user search for relevant keywords
It’s a commonly used search functionality wherein you show keyword recommendations, as the user types his search query in the search box. This feature helps users to search the right keyword and makes it easier for them to find the desired product more quickly. If this feature functions properly it can push users to purchase from your store.
17) Enable Category Search
Implementation of most product search engines (like SOLR & Celebros) requires considerable investment of time and money. If you can’t afford to invest in search but still need to manage a huge inventory search, you should at least have a category level search so that users are able to search in a particular category.
18) Let the user know what they searched
While displaying results for a search, always let the user know what ‘keyword’ they searched. Don’t test their memory and help them search the product right keywords.
For example, searching for a keyword like ‘Sandals’ at NineWest.com returns no results (it’s not that they don’t have sandals, it’s just that their search functionality isn’t that great). It also doesn’t show what keywords exactly did the user search. Imagine, if a user misspelled a keyword, she would abandon the store with an impression that the store doesn’t have what she is looking for. She won’t realize that she actually misspelled the product name in the search box.
19) Get high quality product images
People no longer want to browse a website – they want to experience it. An image is ALWAYS the first thing that a visitor will notice as soon as he lands on your store’s product page. Good product images can add life to your store and help your store convert better - there are no two ways about it.
Images are more sense-oriented and may not evoke an emotional response:
Pay special attention to the default image of the product description page. It should be really high quality.
Avoid using generic stock photos. Take actual pictures of real persons using your products. A real product picture (taken from an average camera) will convert better than a cheesy stock picture.
Don’t just show a single image, show as many as you can – from different angles.
20) Pay attention to your product’s description
After the product image, the other element that plays an important role in improving the conversion rate of your store is the product’s description.
Internet is full of “killer” copywriting words, winning sales layouts, etc. Let us tell you from our experience that these tricks won't take you very far. In fact, they will take you nowhere. A mile long sales page won't convert if you don't understand exactly 'what' will persuade visitors to buy. This is what we suggest that can make your product descriptions more compelling:
Keep the most important features of the product at the beginning of paragraphs and bullets.
Don’t try to pester, persuade or build a hype about the product - users will know if your claims aren’t genuine.
Offer two versions of the product description - summary and detailed. Product summary will be read by the visitors who are in a hurry and the detailed version will be read by visitors who are willing to spend more time knowing about the product and getting more confident about their buying decision.
Use bulleted points to make the information easier for the visitors to consume.
Link out to privacy pages, shipping, return policy & FAQs.
Users have apprehensions about privacy, shipping details, FAQ and returns policy. Keep these pages within easy reach of the product pages & checkout screen.
(see how Zappos links to important information from its product page).
21) Show Product Videos (for your top selling products at least)
Because your images can’t talk. With the technology getting cheaper and more accessible, more and more stores are embracing videos to show their products. If you haven’t given it a shot yet, do it now. Show videos along with product pictures and see if the addition impacts the sale of the product.
22) Don’t let price be a surprise
When visitors don’t buy, one of the biggest reason is that the user finds the price either too high or the product description too vague to back up the claims.
Price must stand out on the page. Use large font size, bold formatting, and a different color. Full price or estimated full price - should be shown to the user as early as possible. Shipping and handling prices if listed too late in the checkout process can also be one of the reasons for a higher cart abandonment rate. Design the checkout process in a way that there are no surprises for the user. It's not just the product price, the visitors might also find your shipment and handling charges too high. If there are any taxes to be included, show the total amount on the product page before the user checks-out.
23) Empower visitors with creative calculators
There are many types of calculation tools that you might want to offer to enable them to shop the exact product specifications they want from your store and in the quantity and quality they prefer. For example – shipping calculator, size calculator etc.
24) Clearly show the product’s delivery time
Buyers want to be in control of the transaction when buying from your store. On the product page, let users know when they can expect to receive the product if they order.
25) Allow them to select delivery date
If the product's expected delivery date doesn’t suit the user, you can give user the facility to delay the delivery or predate it. So, if a user is going on a holiday for 4-5 days and which also happens to be the expected delivery date, you must enable the customer to select a delivery date and leave a comment as well.
26) Enable Out Of Stock Notification
We recommend adding an “email me when item is restocked” feature wherein you prompt users to submit their email address so that they can be notified as soon as the product returns back 'in stock'. This is an automated process but there are ways of giving this 'auto responder email' a more personal touch.
27) Encourage users to leave reviews
Collecting product reviews has to be made part of the sales process itself. Using auto-responder emails, prominent call to action buttons etc. can further help in enhancing sales and generating better response from the users.
After the Panda & Penguin update it’s critical for store owners to keep their website updated with fresh content all the time. It may not always be feasible to create unique copies for each and every page on the website or adding content to different pages at regular basis. This is where user generated content comes in handy. Thus content like user reviews can have a direct impact on traffic, conversion rate and average order value of your store.
Not only do good product reviews add a lot of content on a product page but stand as credible testimony to the high quality of the product. Positive customer reviews make your store more shop worthy and thus can have a direct impact on the store's conversion rate.
Along with offering a provision for product reviews on the product page itself, you can also send an auto-responder to all your customers after a specific number of days (depending on the nature of product that you're selling). Send a link in the email where they can share or post about their experience of using the product.
Users are most vulnerable to abandonment during the checkout process. An effective use of text, icons and symbols is necessary to overcome all user apprehensions & objections that users might experience without overwhelming them. Here is what your checkout page should reflect:
Security: Let users know that your website is secure and that their privacy will never be compromised.
Transparency: Be transparent and include accurate shipping & tax details.
Payment Methods: Clearly show all the payment methods users can use to make the payment (PayPal, Credit Cards, Google Checkout etc.).
FAQs: If you think there are additional FAQs, you can cover them in a checkout related FAQs section.
28) Offer Persistent Shopping Cart
A lot of users add a product to cart, thinking they will complete the purchase or checkout later. Offering them a persistent shopping cart will be very useful for both the users as well as the store. This is because, if on their return they see the cart empty, they might not start again. They will prefer to abandon the cart instead of going through the process again.
A good solution to the problem is enabling persistent shopping cart on your store so that user finds the products in the cart until he removes them. If you’re wondering for how long should the product stay in the cart? The longer the better.
29) Don’t make the user enter same information twice
As much as you might think that users want to spend time on your store, the truth is that users want the buying process to be over as soon as possible. Start by removing the extra or avoidable fields on your website. A user in any case would never like to fill in the same information twice. It's not a good idea to make them enter the same information twice. For example, during checkout process, don’t make a user enter his shipping address and then enter the same information in the billing information fields again. This doesn’t make sense especially when only a small fraction of customers want to give a billing address that's different from their shipping address. There are many ways how you can get rid of this unnecessary step, for example: you can enable a checkbox (or something similar) that enables the user to choose whether or not user wants to give a different billing address.
30) Pre-fill information where ever you can
Like we just said, you’re not making your customers happy if you’re making them enter the same information twice. If a customer has already provided some information in step 1, don’t ask for it again in step 3. If you have to, automatically pre-fill the fields so that user doesn’t have to enter it again.
31) Preserve information on a validation error
This is an extension of previous two points. Don’t make your customers enter same information twice. If and when there is an error somewhere in the form, all entered information should be preserved. There is nothing more annoying for a user if he loses all the entered information because of a tiny validation error in one of the 15 fields on the form page. It can really drive a user nuts.
32) Clearly mark the fields as optional or mandatory
Make sure that you use asterisk (*) to clearly mark optional fields. It can confuse a user if he is not able to proceed because he is missing out filling some information which has not been marked as a mandatory field.
33) Give input example against each field
To minimize the chances of user hitting validation errors, you can show correct input examples next to each form field so that the user can know the correct way to enter the required information.
34) Offer a unified single ‘Name’ field
Offering extra field or two to make user enter middle or last name is unnecessary. It makes more sense to offer a single unified name field to the user.
35) Automatically pre-fill city & state field as soon as user enters a zip code
You can make the user’s life easier by implementing an intelligent data input system. Auto-detect and pre-fill city & state field as soon as the user enters his ZIP code.
36) Keep the form field labels visible at all times
Many stores show the input labels inside the input field to keep the form clean. Although this design approach makes the form look less cluttered, if the user is in a rush, he might click on the label before reading it. In such a situation, he would be confused about the required information he is supposed to enter in the field.
37) Keep the form linear
User starts from the top and work their way from top to the bottom. If your form has a trigger field, keep it right below the field that triggers it. For example, a state field should always come after the country field. On the shipping information page, if by default you show US states before the country selection field, user might get an impression that you don’t deliver to their country because triggered field is above the field that the user is working at.
38) Form field length should match the expected length of the input
Most of the users closely relate the length of an input box with the input they are supposed to enter in the field. For example, if you’re asking for a CVV number, don’t make the length of the input box same as the credit card field just for the sake of design symmetry. Similarly, don't allow more than 12 digits in the credit card field:
This can make some of your visitors less certain about whether or not they’re entering the correct information.
39) Use Facebook Connect
With the help of Facebook connect, you can encourage more visitors to buy from your store by allowing them to login and complete their purchase using their Facebook username & password. This is better than forcing them manually register to complete their purchase. It saves their time and thus they are more likely purchase from your store.
40) Be specific with your button’s text
Avoid using generic button text for example - ‘continue’ because a button named ‘Continue’ if used in a shopping cart could mean two actions to the user:
Continue ‘shopping’ – continue adding more products to the cart.
Continue to ‘checkout’ – continue to checkout and pay.
This can make the user less certain while shopping on your store. Thus, it makes more sense to make the buttons more descriptive with text like 'continue shopping, 'continue to checkout' etc.
41) Display validation errors in close proximity to the input field
This is one of the most common usability issues found in many e-commerce websites. The validation error is displayed at the top of the form and in most cases it remains hidden due to scroll.
42) Display validation checks against each field
The best practice is to show the validation error right next to the field and show a ‘check’ mark the moment user enters correct input. This gives confidence to the user that he is heading into the right direction.
43) Make 'Account Registration' an Optional Step of Checkout Process
Do you know that a recent Econsultancy / Toluna study found that 25.6% of online consumers would abandon a purchase if they were forced to register first.
Forcing a user to register in order to complete purchase can make your customers feel that they’re not in control while buying from your store. This increases the chances of cart abandonment by the user.
Here is an example where account registration is a mandatory step of buying process:
Thus, if you're also forcing your visitors to register to complete purchase, providing a guest functionality clearly is the easiest way for you to improve your store's conversion rate.
Apple does a good job clearly defining that use can either login or checkout as guest.
44) Don’t complicate Password Selection
Avoid applying complicated validations to the password field. Let users easily select a convenient password and don’t force them to create something so difficult that they can’t easily memorize.
(Selfridges.com not only forces a user to sign-up in order to complete check-out process but also select password in a specific format)
45) Make ‘Guest Checkout’ a more prominent option
If you make ‘register as new user’ a more prominent option, users might perceive that they are being forced to register on the website to complete their purchase. Thus, with the help of design elements and typography, you should make Guest Checkout a more prominent option than ‘register as new user’ option.
46) Make your primary button most prominent among rest all call to actions
While surfing, our eyes act on buttons based on their prominence (size and color) instead of what they read. On a typical checkout page, there can be various buttons like ‘save’, ‘redeem’, 'apply', ‘ok’, ‘calculate’, ‘cancel’ etc. Make sure that the primary buttons of your checkout page are ‘Buy’, ‘Next step’, ‘Continue checkout’, etc. Make these visually the most dominant buttons or else a lot of users who are in a rush will end-up clicking on a wrong button.
47) Avoid unnecessary buttons on the checkout page
Show only the primary buttons on the checkout page and avoid unnecessary ‘apply’ buttons. Use AJAX to auto-submit the information as soon as it’s entered in the field. The changes should be applied immediately without reloading, and in close proximity with the input field.
48) Primary button placement
Inconsistent prominence and placement of primary buttons can confuse the user about whether or not a button will result in the execution of the primary function of the page. Most users expect a primary button to be placed on the lower right or left corner of the visual frame. Also, make sure that the primary button is placed consistently throughout the entire checkout process.
49) Limit the navigation and exit points on the checkout page
You have done all the hard work to help a user find products they want and add to cart. They have made the payment for their purchase and have entered the shipping address. Get rid of everything from the checkout page that might distract users away from the checkout page. Get rid of header navigation (or trim it), search and only show things that encourage users to complete the purchase for example - Guarantee, Return Policy, Support Information etc. Flipkart.com has a very clean and focused checkout process with almost no navigation.
50) Use Intelligent defaults
Use intelligent defaults in the most commonly selected values that users select so that customers can proceed with little friction. For example, you can help users make a decision by pre-selecting the most popular shipping option. If you don’t want to give a pre-selected option, help them in making the choice by labeling the most popular option as 'recommended'.
51) Let users force-proceed on potentially wrong validation
Many forms are designed in a way that users are forced to correct the validations of the unimportant or optional fields. You should allow your customers to force-proceed through potentially wrong validation errors; for example - it might not make sense to stop a user on the ‘shipping information’ screen of the checkout process and force him to remove special characters.
52) Process steps should be presented as navigational links during the checkout process
Many checkout processes make the checkout page look like a chronological process by breaking the entire process into steps, for example:
Step 1: Register
Step 2: Shipping Information
Step 3: Billing Information
Step 4: Select Payment Method
Step 5: Pay
Most store owners make these steps clickable allowing users to go forward to the next step. But very few stores allow users to go back to verify the selected product or information entered by clicking on the previous step. Allow users to maneuver both ways (forward and back) by clicking on the checkout steps.
53) Don’t surprise users by adding extra costs abruptly
If users suddenly see an increased cost when they checkout (i.e. when they’re least expecting it), they will feel that they’re being tricked. Let users know about any extra costs (for example - shipping & handling charges or taxes) in advance on the product page itself. It should be clearly shown when extra cost is being added to the order during the purchase process.
54) During registration, make the Newsletter sign-up an opt-in by default, not opt-out.
When users are registering you don’t want them to feel tricked into signing-up for your newsletters. Let it be more of a permission than a trick. Not only will it make your business look more legitimate but will also help your email marketing campaigns in the longer run.
55) Offer Brave Guarantees
Most buyers expect some form of guarantee when they purchase from your store. Try giving different guarantees. Test bigger and a bolder ones for different shopping seasons. Check if your site is prominently displaying these guarantees on important pages of the store (e.g. Product description, cart and checkout).
56) Write crisp & enticing meta tags
Although, this is essentially a part of Search Engine Optimization, but Meta tags are the first level of contact with potential customers who are searching for keywords relevant to your business on various search engines. Thus, title and description tags are not only important touch points but also the doorway to your store from Search Engines. Thus, make sure that your meta tags read well.
You can use Google Webmaster Tools (Traffic > Search Queries) to check the Click Through Rate of the keywords that your store is ranking for and make necessary changes in the meta tags to achieve better CTR. If the avg. position of a keyword is good (within top 10) but the CTR of the keyword is low, it's an indication that the meta tags of that page might need rework.
57) Enable Open graphs
Lots of visitors on your store might land from social media websites such as Facebook. Similar to how meta tags help you show how your store listings look on Search Engine Result Pages, Open graphs will help you control how the pages on your store look, when shared on Facebook. Since many users might discover your store on Facebook, these open graph settings become important touch points for your store.
(see how, MrPorter.com has enabled open graphs on their store to make it more share friendly). You can use Facebook debugger to see how your page looks when shared on Facebook.
58) Check your Auto-responder Emails
Auto-responders are the email notifications that your system automatically sends to users at various instances like: new registration, password reset, order confirmation etc. These emails are important because these are your first personal communication with your customers. Reflect that you do business sincerely and can be trusted for fast order fulfillment too.
59) Registration Emails
This is the automatic email that goes out to users when they register on your store. The format of these emails varies from business to business. But there are a few things that remain standard to most businesses, for example:
It’s a good idea to include your company name in the sender field, the subject line or both. If the customer wants to spot your email among the rest, this would help them find it faster. Make sure that you use words like 'welcome' & 'thank you' in your first auto-responder. Include customer support information and encourage users to join you on your social media pages like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.
60) Pay attention to your password Reset Emails
You can safely assume that many of your users will register and forget their user name or password when they visit your store again (check the visits on your forgot password page from your Google Analytics account if you need proof). This is a very standard functionality that almost all online stores have in which a user enters his email address and receives his password or password reset link in his email. Now, since it's so standard, store owners tend to ignore the language and presentation of the following touch points:
Password Reset page, where user enters his email address
Confirmation page where user gets the confirmation on the user's