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5 Ecommerce Website Mistakes Even A Baby Will Judge You For

by Andrey Milyan August 17, 2017

I have always been amazed at how many ecommerce websites are leaving money on the table when it comes to usability and user experience. This is where a little conversion optimization (CRO) can go a long way.

Let’s look at 5 common mistakes being made and how to fix them:

1. Full website navigation in the checkout flow

Problem: Once a consumer adds something to cart and is ready to pay, your sole objective should be to get her through the checkout flow as quickly and as painlessly as possible. Why get me distracted with drop down menus with dozens of links to other categories?

The above example from AutoAnything.com is not ideal since it gives you too many opportunities to get off track. A simple logo with a “back to cart” CTA is likely to have a significant positive impact on this site’s conversion rate.

Solution: Remove any distractions and opportunities to visit other sections of the site. Clearly label the steps, show progress being made and reassure your visitors that the transaction is the right decision and is safe with familiar brand logos (Visa, Symantec, Amazon Checkout, etc.) and reviews from other customers.

2. No products above the fold on category pages

Problem: Here is an example from GAP.com. Specifically, their men’s shoe product category page. I’m viewing this site on a 15.6″ laptop screen and I can’t see the entire graphic above the fold, not to mention the products themselves.

Not only are there no shoes above the fold, once I do scroll to the product view, the top products are all flip flops. I doubt that most consumers looking for men’s shoes are shopping for flip flops. I’m also not convinced that this is GAP’s most profitable product in this category.

Solution: The takeaways should be clear by now. Show the consumer what they are looking for. If they click on men’s shoes, show them men’s shoes. Also, be strategic about the products you choose to display at the top. Ideally, they are your best sellers.

3. Mini cart functionality that leaves visitors on the same product page

Problem: A mini cart was developed as an improvement over an experience of adding something to cart with no visual confirmation that the items was actually added successfully. As with the mobile hamburger buttons and homepage carousels, mini carts have proliferated more as a latest trend in website design than a fully tested, effective user experience. The above Clinique example is well executed but suffers from the same problems inflicting almost every mini cart experience.

The problem is two-fold. First, if I’ve just added an item to cart and have confirmed that I would like continue shopping, why leave me on the same product page? What are the chances that I’m going to add the same product to cart twice? Why not take it to your top converting category, best-selling products, etc.? Second, let’s say I’m Sears and my AOV is $200 (for the record, a completely made up number). After browsing their site, I add a $3,000 refrigerator to my cart. Does Sears want me to keep shopping or pay immediately? If I was them, I would say absolutely the latter.

Solution: Ideally, you should have the flexibility to decide what to do with a visitor who just added something to cart. For example, if the cart value is below your AOV, send them to a high-converting section of the site to keep shopping. If it is above your AOV, stop being greedy and proceed straight to checkout with as little friction as possible.

4. No persistent “add to cart” CTA

Problem: The above example is from LLBean.com. This is the view I get when I scroll down to the product details on one of their product pages. The issue is typical. Even Amazon, the gold standard for online shopping experience, used to take visitors to a separate reviews page with no “add to cart” button in sight. With product pages full of specs, endless reviews, photos and so on, it is a travesty not to make it as easy as possible for your site visitors to purchase once the decision has been made.

Solution: The solution is simple. On desktop, have a persistent top bar (or a sidebar) with some basic product info, a thumbnail and a prominent CTA. A persistent shopping cart icon wouldn’t hurt either. On mobile, have a sticky CTA at the bottom of the screen, where it is easy to click with a thumb.

5. Prominent coupon field in the checkout flow

Problem: Tell me if this has ever happened to you. You shop for something online and find exactly what you are looking for. The price is competitive and you proceed to check out. Then you notice a huge coupon/promo code field. What goes through your mind? “Hmm, if they have a prominent field like that, there must be a discount out there!” What happens next? You probably open a new tab, go to Google and search for “website name coupon”. This particular website doesn’t have any promotions right now but you come across a deceptive “$10 off” offer on Retailmenot.com and click on it.

At that point, one of the two things is likely to happen. Either you open the affiliate link, realize there is no discount and leave the site disappointed. Alternatively, you open the affiliate link, realize there is no discount but decide to buy anyway. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the website operator just paid commission for a sale that did not originally come through an affiliate.

Unless your marketing strategy calls for giving everyone a coupon code (a legitimate strategy successfully employed by companies like Bed, Bath and Beyond and Jet.com), a prominent coupon code field in the checkout flow is a bad idea.

Solution: There are a few potential solutions to consider. Hide the field itself behind a link. Those who have a code to apply will find it anyway. Also, offer your visitors your own promo code before they go searching for one and never come back. If your platform is flexible enough, you could even hide the field from certain traffic sources.

If you have found one or more of the above mistakes painfully familiar, you’re in good company. I’ve given you examples of some of the best known brands with significant online sales. For those of you using ecommerce platforms like Shopify, some of these changes are more difficult to make. However, many are relatively easy fixed that require minimal resources to address.

If you are looking for a full audit of your own ecommerce website, lets get in touch.

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