If you’re looking to start selling online (or in-store) and need a comprehensive, full-featured shopping cart to handle it all for you, you probably do what many new business owners do—you start scouring the Web for options.
And there’s certainly no shortage of e-commerce solutions out there. From shopping cart scripts to third-party “bolt on” products that work with your favorite content management system, it can be a lot to wade through.
For many enterprising entrepreneurs, one of the most popular choices has been hosted e-commerce services. Many of these services tout their feature lists, their unlimited bandwidth and product options and their customizability. And while all of those things are important, what it really comes down to is:
Will using this service improve my conversion rates?
Thankfully, these sites have caught on to the importance of helping their customers lift conversion rates, so they’ve implemented several features worth noting. Here are my three favorites, and the tools they offer that could make the difference in your conversion numbers.
Shopify is one of the most popular online website store builders, and at the front of the pack as far as conversion optimization goes.
Most online store builders will walk you through the process of setting up Google Analytics, but Shopify goes one step further by letting you collect and export reports about your traffic and referrals, as well as your product sales. These days, it’s no longer enough to know that you sold 100 widgets this month. You need to know who bought them… Where they came from to find you… What other pages they visited before they ultimately bought from you.
Robust analytics will help you pinpoint areas for improvement, and being able to export them into understandable reports means that conversion optimization goals aren’t just for the technically minded anymore. When you turn website optimization into something the whole team can get behind, your efforts are multiplied that much more.
People may say they hate being labeled, but it really does affect them on a psychological level. Shopify lets you sort customers into groups based on a wide range of criteria—from order history to geographic location and more.
One study asked adults about their voting habits, and then the researched labeled a random sampling of those voters as more “politically active.” As it turned out, this label had a positive effect on their turnout rates at the polls: they had a 15% higher turnout than their non-labeled peers.
Leverage your customer groups to create recommendations, remarketing campaigns and loyalty discounts with exclusive rewards to remind them how much you value their business.
Reviews and ratings can be the make or break point of the customer’s decision process. Bazaarvoice did a comprehensive case study with lingerie site FigLeaves to determine just how much reviews can impact a sale. The results are quite surprising:
Shopify incorporates and prompts customers for reviews and then formats them into search-engine-friendly pieces that can be used to boost your rankings as well as your sales.
Shopify has a 14-day free trial with pricing starting at $14/month.
As one of the largest e-commerce store providers, Volusion is no stranger to empowering commerce on the web. With its myriad feature list, it’s all too easy to get lost in the details. Like many online store providers, Volusion offers many of the same features as its peers, however it also offers a few noteworthy features that could impact your conversion rates for the better, including:
Multiple Navigation Styles
A one-size-fits-all navigation menu is a sure sign that a company is more focused on the aesthetics of a template than its marketing power. Fortunately, Volusion offers a variety of customizable navigation menu styles to help customers find what they need quickly.
Think simpler is always better? Not always. Earlier this year, VWO presented a conversion optimization case study from Bizztravel, a well-known Dutch travel company. Many of its users were finding what they needed via its simpler navigation menu, but some were getting lost deeper into the site, particularly when searching for specific ski areas and resorts.
The drop down information, rather than the multiple-click layers of searching they had to do, gave them all the information they needed, as well as things they didn’t know they needed until they saw it (like accommodations, experience level and so on).
The results just go to show that having the flexibility to test multiple navigation styles will help you learn what your audience really wants—and deliver it before they even have to ask.
Taking a “page” from Amazon’s best practices, Volusion’s one-page checkout is a conversion optimization specialist’s dream.
The easier and faster you can make the checkout process, the more likely a customer will complete it. One-page checkouts also historically convert better than those spread out across multiple pages. In addition, Volusion’s one-page checkout can help reduce another all-too-common specter that haunts many online stores:
Shopping Cart Abandonment
Last year, the Baymard institute looked at 22 major e-commerce shopping cart studies to determine what the average shopping cart abandonment rate was.
Out of all the people who started an e-commerce order, a staggering 67.44% never finished it. Why not?
And while no shopping cart solution can answer all these issues, they can tell you where you’re losing customers so that you can do your own research to pinpoint and fix the leaks. Volusion incorporates sophisticated tracking systems to determine when and where (and if possible, by whom) a cart was abandoned, giving you the perfect opportunity to launch into retargeting mode—or at least find out why they went elsewhere.
Volusion starts at $15/month and offers a free trial period.
BigCommerce seems to run by the model “Go Big or Go Home.” With hundreds of features spanning nearly any type of integration or customization you could want, BigCommerce does everything… well… bigger. Here are just a few of the features they offer that can improve your conversion rates:
Google Trusted Store Integration
You do have to meet specific criteria in order to become Google Trusted Store-approved, but if you meet the requirements, BigCommerce will help you with the technical details (Platinum package only).
Studies have shown that trust seals can improve conversion rates and perhaps no site is more used or well-liked than Google. If you were searching Google for a particular product, and saw that not only was the store leveraging rich snippets (those 5-star reviews) but was also a Google trusted store, wouldn’t that make you want to do business with them over some no-name competitor?
Remember one of the biggest reasons customers abandon their shopping carts from above? They want to compare prices elsewhere. Well, BigCommerce doesn’t let them get away that easily. Its stores integrate with many of the top-rated shopping comparison sites, including Shopzilla, Nextag, Google Shopping and more.
When a customer goes to your site, then leaves to compare prices but again sees your site listed on their shopping comparison site, how much more trust do you think they’ll have in you? (Particularly if you have the lowest price or free shipping!)
Abandoned Cart Saver
Speaking of abandoned carts, how would you like a built-in retargeting system with your shopping cart solution? BigCommerce does that too. For Gold package and above customers, its Abandoned Cart Saver will let you do just that, giving you the ability to customize abandoned-cart emails and monitor return shoppers and conversion rates from the dashboard.
Based on BigCommerce’s own internal reviews and client case studies, those customers doing $1,000 or more per month in sales can expect to see a 5–50% increase in their conversion rates as a result of using the Abandoned Cart Saver feature. On average, 15% of sales are saved by using the service—and that’s a sizeable number you can’t ignore.
BigCommerce plans start at $15/month with a free trial.
The Bottom Line on E-Commerce Solutions and Conversion Rates
No one feature alone will make the defining difference in your conversion rate. It’s important to carefully consider all your options and decide on a solution that fits your needs and budget. In addition, features alone won’t affect your conversion rate if you don’t have the offer, content, design and other pieces of the puzzle to complete the picture.
Remember that as with every solution out there, features are tools meant to be used in combination with a targeted conversion rate optimization plan. Together, they’ll help you launch a store that delivers an unbeatable shopping experience—and that’s the foundation of any good conversion rate!
Read other Crazy Egg articles by Sherice Jacob.