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How to Improve Your Conversion Rate in the Next Era of Ecommerce

By Jon MacDonald
7 minute read | Last Updated: July 14, 2016

To compete in the new era of ecommerce your strategy must deliver high-quality, complete, and accurate product information

A healthy ecommerce conversion rate is centered on trust.

Visitors must not only believe they can trust you with their payment information and that you will deliver orders within the expected timeframe – they must also believe that what you say about your products is true.

The primary hurdle for Ecommerce 1.0 was getting people to sidestep fear and try online shopping. Worried consumers would check their debit or credit accounts daily to make sure their finances hadn’t been hijacked. Less than a decade later, most U.S. adults shop online monthly.

Needless fear has given way to healthy precautionary measures.

Driven by the rise of mobile capabilities, the Ecommerce 2.0 phase brought big-brand adoption and the honing of internet marketing tactics. Consumers began to expect access to free and fast shipping, satisfaction guarantees, price matching, and the transparency of peer reviews.

Reluctant retailers, forced to accept the reality of the consumer’s newly acquired powers, began looking for ways to work with smartphone-equipped shoppers rather than against them.

Ecommerce 3.0 is now underway. Some might argue the point, move the lines of demarcation, or key on different developmental markers, but the research shows a shift in the ecommerce landscape. And that deserves strategic consideration by every company with an ecommerce presence. It’s that important.

Let’s talk about it.

Conversion Rate Essentials for Ecommerce 3.0 – Integrated Experiences

In the consumer’s mind, your physical store and your online store are no longer two distinct entities. Your customers want the ability to shop unimpeded in both places. In our experiences, consumers hate it when you separate your local and online presences with a difficult-to-navigate gulf.

“Your physical store and your online store are no longer two distinct entities.” Click To Tweet

Consider this: Travelers love hotel websites that provide panoramic views of rooms, lobbies, restaurants, and the surrounding area. Technology allows them to visit a destination before they ever arrive there, and the best properties work hard to make sure the reality exceeds the expectations their website helps create.

Travelers know one disgruntled customer can cause a ripple effect that influences hundreds, thousands, even millions of potential guests. They also know happy guests love to tell others about their excellent “find.”

How you present your product online has the ability to make or break your business. The Internet has made the world a much smaller and more aware place to operate.

Deliver what you promise and your business can prosper. Fail to make good on your claims, or fail to listen to your customers, and you’re in for a rough ride on the ecommerce highway.

3 Areas That Impact Conversion Rate Directly

The Shotfarm Product Information Report (2015) considered the online shopping habits and preferences of 1,542 consumers. The results of that report are indicative of what it will take to compete profitably in the face of Ecommerce 3.0.

Shoppers want to “visit your products” before they arrive. Sometimes, that means finding it locally, then placing an order for a different color, size, or price. But it often means gathering enough information online to feel confident about the decision.

There’s one HUGE caveat, though: You can do a tremendous job of persuasively presenting your goods and still lose money – if you neglect to honor one crucial consideration.

We’ll talk about that next.

First, here are three key findings from the Shotfarm report:

1. Shoppers want high-quality product content:

95% of respondents rated product information as very important (78%) or important (17%) to the buying decision.

When compared to using product description alone, the Shotfarm study found that using low resolution images and offering item number and price only (no description) drove conversion rate (CR) down by more than 80%. Conversely, using high resolution images, 360⁰ panoramas, and employing videos pushed CR up by almost 35%. Shoppers want more information, and they want quality information.

2. Shoppers want accurate product information:

Product information accuracy is crucial to brand image. Accurate descriptions may even determine whether or not the shopper will return to your online store for another look.

87% of consumers in the Shotfarm study said they would be unlikely to consider purchasing again from an ecommerce store that failed to provide accurate information about a product they purchased. 42% of participants in the study reported returning a purchase made in the past 12 months because the product was not accurately described online. When reality doesn’t live up to expectations, ecommerce results suffer.

3. Shoppers will hesitate to buy if information is sparse:

Leading factors for shopping cart abandonment were higher than expected cost and slower than expected delivery times.

30% of respondents, though, said they stopped before finalizing a purchase at checkout because they didn’t feel they had enough information about the product to place the order. Looking for a way to get more sales? Give your visitors the information they need to make an informed purchasing decision!

Those three areas of concern, if lumped together, point directly at the bigger picture.

In Shotfarm’s estimation, “Nothing directly impacts the experience of the individual customer like a product that doesn’t meet expectations.”

Low-quality and insufficient product information content results in lost sales and brand erosion.

conversion rate

Created by Shotfarm: http://www.shotfarm.com/the-impact-of-poor-product-content/

 

One Ecommerce Rule You Can’t Afford to Break

Now, let’s talk about the caveat.

Shoppers want accurate product information.

The days when snake-oil salesman could pass off phony products on an unsuspecting audience, then skip town with the money and ride merrily on to the next town are long gone.

It’s a tough habit to break, but copywriters and designers must never sacrifice accuracy and clarity in favor of persuasion and pushing for the sale.

Write this rule on the wall in your creative department in neon letters: “What you picture and describe must always be an accurate portrayal of what the buyer GETS!”

Efforts aimed at developing world-class customer service, building brand recognition, and getting your messages viewed by millions are fine. Every company needs them.

At the end of the buying journey, though, the primary need is for the customer to feel good about making the purchase.

Getting Ready for Take-Off

Get your marketing team around the conference table, then go over this launch pad for brainstorming. Take an honest inventory of your current situation:

  • Do our product descriptions answer the most frequently asked questions about the product? Are those descriptions accurate and easy to understand?
  • Do our photographs and graphics serve to help the potential buyer better understand the product and the features? Are the photos high resolution? Are there places where panoramic shots would be helpful to the shopper?
  • Are there places where video could be used to invite the prospect to a virtual visit with the product? Are current videos factual and free of obvious hype?
  • Will the buyer be impressed after opening the package? Will she want to tell her friends about it and place another order with us?

Graphics and copy meant only to entice are a curse to your brand. Today’s shoppers are much savvier and better armed than ever before. They can smell hype in an instant, and they rely on reviews of your brand and your products to inform their decisions.

Use persuasive copywriting and design. Take search engine optimization into account in your product descriptions. Help prospects understand why your product is the best answer to their needs and desires.

In the brave new world of Ecommerce 3.0, though, your strategy should be weighed heavily towards delivering high-quality, complete, and accurate product information.

Not every visitor will need to dig deeply, but those who want to know more should be presented with an intuitive process for experiencing your products almost as if they were standing in your store.

Those who want to lead the way with online shopping must be up to the challenge. Don’t fight the change; embrace it. Leverage it. Create it.