123-Point eCommerce Website Optimization & CRO Checklist

Summary: The best businesses understand their customers’ experience, strategize to match customer expectations, and then add the folds of data to complete the picture. State-of-the-art technology, streamlined physical infrastructure, reduction of customer friction points, and zero-defect mentality work together to create par excellence website user experience. Insightful audits followed by website and eCommerce conversion rate optimization push you ahead of competition. In the post below, we walk you through the ‘what to check’ list for eCommerce website optimization and also explore the ‘why’ behind the concept.

There has been ample research on what makes some eCommerce brands outshine others. And enough data is also available on the growth figures for eCommerce. Worldwide sales on eCommerce websites were $4.9 trillion in 2021, are expected to touch $5.5 trillion in 2022, and be around $7.4 trillion by 2025. That is reason enough for you to present your brand with cutting-edge technology through the best-optimized website and user experience.

Based on eCommerce Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) insights from experts, along with the 20+ years we’ve spent building eCommerce websites for our clients here at Net Solutions, we’ve assembled a 123-Point eCommerce Website Optimization and CRO Checklist. You might not always use all these techniques, but each is worth considering. You can also download a concise version of the eCommerce website optimization checklist for free.

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Why Is an eCommerce Audit Necessary?

Even though eCommerce can be highly lucrative, success (as in all retail sales) depends on maximizing your profit margins. Profit margins can be slim for some products, and every decision you make spells the difference between success and failure. Even if you’re selling products with higher profit margins, your competition is constantly working to provide similar products at a lower price.

Given that every choice you make as an online retailer can directly impact your margins, you’ll want to pay close attention to copy, layout, mobile UX, and many other factors that could make the difference.

Why all the fuss over the details? Consider this famous analogy from our conversion rate optimization experts:

Picture a website that generates $1 million USD in revenue each year. If you make a series of changes that boost sales by just 3% (without increasing your expenses), that’s an extra $2,500 per month in gross profit—or $30,000 per year!

Would you want to leave tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table? If not, read through this post and download the eCommerce website optimization checklist.

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Pre-checkout: Global Store Experience

This section covers “the overall site experience,” including the moment a new user discovers your eCommerce store. A positive, professional tone that inspires trust pushes customers to buy from your store.

  • Website immediately communicates what you’re selling. Visitors should know within seconds what products you’re selling. Strong visuals and clear header copy will help communicate this.
  • Call to action is clear. Unless you tell people what to do next (e.g., buy now), they’re less likely to do it.
  • Website engenders trust in potential customers. You can communicate trustworthiness though:
    • Professional design (e.g., uncluttered, grid layout, clear images)
    • Customer reviews
    • Feature testimonials
    • An easy-to-find and easy-to-use search feature
    • Professional “About” page that inspires trust
    • Accessible contact/support links
    • Easy, intuitive site navigation
    • Clearly displayed shopping cart
    • Links to FAQs, shipping followup, return/canceling policies, and privacy policies
    • Attractive 404 pages, so when users end up on a page that can’t be found, it looks professional and politely explains what’s happening
  • Website increases cross-selling opportunities by featuring:
    • Personal recommendations based on a customer’s search or purchase history
    • Items purchased by other visitors with similar search histories
  • Platform maximizes future marketing opportunities
    • Include an effective “intrusive” pop-up that offers some sort of equal exchange for a visitor’s email address (such as a 20%-off coupon)
    • Enable cookies so your website remembers each user’s past searches

Maximize the Mobile Experience

mobile experience

The mobile experience is vital these days, with over half of all eCommerce transactions taking place on mobile devices. If you haven’t taken the time to optimize your eCommerce site for smartphones and tablets, it will impact your business.

  • Website checked against Google’s Mobile Friendly Test Tool. This free tool lets you know how easy it is for mobile visitors to use your page, and it pinpoints any issues (e.g., text too small to read, clickable items too close together).
  • Navigation bar icons feature labels so users know what each button does
  • Call-to-Action (CTA) buttons stretch across the mobile screen, allowing visitors to click with either hand
  • Clickable elements are not clustered too close together, making them harder to click
  • Visible, readable headers
  • Top buttons and links are positioned properly to maximize click-thrus
  • Shopping cart icon is easy to find on mobile screen
  • Forms optimized for mobile devices
  • Categories display two or three images per line
  • Visitors can swipe to scroll through product choices. Swiping is essential since visitors are used to performing this action on other websites
  • Optimized mobile links to FAQs, shipping follow-up, return and canceling policies, and privacy policies

Homepage

Aside from the elements mentioned above in the “Pre-checkout” section, there are a few key elements that apply specifically to the homepage. Double check these, since much of your traffic will enter your site from the homepage.

  • Content speaks to three main types of visitors:
    • Returning visitors who often want to see product recommendations based on past purchases
    • Deal-seekers who want to find discounts
    • Exclusive shoppers who want to see new and limited-edition items
  • Banners with CTAs that attract conversions
  • Eliminate carousels because studies show they harm conversions

homepage

Listing and Category Pages

listing

These pages will show a range of products, and optimizing them is absolutely vital. It’s here your customers will decide whether your website offers the breadth of products they’re looking for, at the right prices.

  • “Strike-through” graphics for discounted items, as in: $99 $79
  • Percent discount noted on discounted items
  • Eye catching colors on important items such as “Buy One, Get One Free”
  • Product images placed above the fold (that point where the content cuts off on most monitors and users are required to scroll)
  • Filter options that allow users to sort items by specific features, top sellers, etc.
  • Ascending/descending ranking and sorting options (based on price, relevance, etc.)
  • Clear, compelling product description summaries:
    • Product name
    • Photo
    • Details
    • Price
    • Any other relevant info
  • Minimal advertising so as not to overwhelm the visitor
  • Unavailable products featured at the end of the list
  • Side-by-side comparisons of different products, when appropriate

Search Result Page

search result page

Your search results page is another key element that will influence your conversion rates. If you set this page up correctly, visitors will see a number of options for the products they’re hoping to buy.

  • Category and subcategory filters that are accurately named and make it easy for visitors to filter results
  • Ascending/descending ranking and sorting options (based on price, relevance, etc.)
  • Featured products visible above the fold (the point where the content cuts off on most monitors)
  • “No results” page includes a CTA prompting them to search by other keywords, or including ads for other products
  • Search results tied to most popular keywords
  • Advanced search tool that detects common misspelling and typos, bringing up the items users are most likely looking for
  • Results include auto-suggestions
  • Search page shows the keyword the visitor searched for
  • Search page displays the total number of results

Individual Product Pages

Individual Product Pages


The product page is where the real sale happens, and the customer closes the deal. Or, if your page falls short of customer expectations, you inadvertently send them onto another search or even another website. To ensure conversions at this point, your product pages must include all the information visitors need to make a decision.

  • Large high-resolution photos from different angles
  • Image zoom to view details from multiple angles, showing the most important features
  • High-resolution photos from different angles
  • Detailed product information, including
    • Product name
    • Price
    • Availability
    • Product specs (weight, dimensions, etc.)
    • Any other relevant info
  • Ratings and reviews prominently features
  • Testimonials from satisfied customers
  • “Add to Cart” button prominently displayed
  • Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) techniques, including
    • Countdown for sales ending
    • “Order Now” countdown (e.g., “Order now and get it by 2 pm on Wednesday”)
    • Display stock levels (e.g., “Only 2 left!)
    • Display number of recent purchases
    • Display number of customers currently viewing the item
  • CTA appears above the fold (the point where the content cuts off on most monitors and users are required to scroll)
  • Clear pathway to checkout
  • Sold out items show alternative products that are similar
  • Cross-sell items appear consistently on each product page
  • Complementary cross-sell items appear before checkout (e.g., someone buying a coffee maker can also purchase coffee)
  • Shipping calculator on checkout page so shoppers can explore their options
  • Range of options displayed, such as different sizes and colors
  • Clear reminder to select size, color, etc. for customizable items
  • User-generated content such as YouTube video reviews
  • Question & Answer section where others who have purchased the items can help shoppers find solutions
  • Links are minimized to avoid distraction and keep visitors on the page

Shopping Cart

shopping cart

You may think you’re more than halfway to the finish line when someone fills up their virtual shopping cart, but you’d be mistaken! A study from the Barnard Institute found that nearly 70% of all online shopping carts end up abandoned. With this in mind, it’s essential to optimize your shopping cart to encourage conversions.

  • Main checkout CTA clearly visible
  • Apply some of the FOMO techniques used your product page:
    • Countdown for sales ending
    • “Order Now” countdown (e.g., “Order now and get it by 2 pm Wednesday)
    • Display stock levels (e.g., “Only 2 left!”)
    • Display number of customers who recently purchased the item
    • Display number of customers currently viewing the item
  • Easy access to changing quantity
  • Easy access to removing products from cart
  • Ability to save products for later
  • Cart holds products for unregistered customers for 30 days
  • Registered customers can access cart from different devices
  • Logos that communicate secure checkout, SSL encryption, etc.
  • Availability (i.e., number in stock) is clear before checkout so customers aren’t disappointed when they can’t get the quantity they want after clicking “Buy”
  • Complementary products/cross-sell opportunities displayed
  • Discount code field clearly displayed
  • Free shipping re-emphasized when selected
  • Clear estimate of delivery day and time
  • Available payment options clearly displayed
  • System for sending automated emails to abandoned shopping carts for registered users, reminding them to make the purchase
  • Different colors to clearly differentiate “Continue Shopping” and “Checkout” buttons

Checkout Process

checkout

The checkout process is where the rubber meets the road. If you can make checkout painless, you can close the deal. And each time you successfully sell to a customer, their odds of returning increase, paving the way for long-term revenue.

  • Guest checkout feature for those who don’t want to create an account
  • Registration option for first-time customers
  • Single-page checkout that makes it easy for shoppers to purchase
  • Email requested at the start of the checkout process so you can follow up if they don’t complete the purchase
  • Vertical form with clear, non-disappearing labels
  • Clearly distinguished mandatory and optional fields
  • Form validation for all fields. This lets customers know right away when they’ve filled out a field incorrectly.
  • Guidance on how to correct entry errors (e.g., “This field requires a valid email address”)
  • Form field Pre-fill capabilities to expedite the process
  • Option to save credit card information for repeat customers
  • Enclose credit card form in a separate section. Studies show this makes shoppers feel more comfortable about giving you their information.
  • Visual prompts to show where shoppers can find requested information on their card (e.g., where to find the CVV code on the back of the card)
  • Bold, descriptive CTA buttons (e.g., “Buy Now”)
  • Main CTA stands out to encourage action
  • Registration process is simple and straightforward (avoiding unnecessary requirements for things like password selection)
  • Progress bar for sites with multiple checkout pages. This lets shoppers know there’s an end in sight so they’re less liked to leave without purchasing.
  • Order summary page that makes it clear the purchase hasn’t occurred yet, preventing shoppers from assuming it’s a “Thank You” page and leaving.
  • Option to make order or address changes on the summary page without starting over
  • Wide variety of payment options
  • Prominent seals conveying security and trust (such as SSL logos)

Improving Your eCommerce Store Over Time

All the eCommerce website optimization tips we’ve included in this blog post and the free guide that accompanies it are considered “best practices,” meaning they’ve worked for other sites across different industries.

That said, every customer base is unique, and over time you’ll see how your own customers respond to your website. You can take help of CRO experts to A/B test different elements and figure out what works to boost sales. It will help you refine your eCommerce site to widen profit margins and outperform your competition over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I measure conversions on my eCommerce website?

Conversion rate is the metric we use to measure conversions on an eCommerce website. Here’s how you can calculate it:

Conversion rate = Number of conversions/ Total number of ad interactions during this time period.

For example: If you had 50 conversions from 1,000 interactions. The conversion rate will be (50/1,000)x100 = 5%.

2. What is the optimal conversion rate for an eCommerce website?

1-4% of total website traffic is considered a good conversion rate for an eCommerce website. The average conversion rate is 2.63%.

3. What factors affect the conversion rate of an eCommerce website?

  • The value you’re offering
  • Relevance to website visitors
  • Clarity on communicating the value
  • Distractions
  • Sense of urgency

Arshpreet Kaur

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