When you’re working hard to get the most out of your online store, you’re constantly on the lookout for actionable solutions that can boost your conversion rate. Many of these solutions come under the title of CRO Marketing.
It’s a continual learning process. Reading books, blog posts, articles, and attending conversion rate optimization (CRO) conferences are all great resources for gaining a competitive edge and finding new ways to boost your conversions.
However, nothing is more inspirational than learning from the world’s biggest online stores.
If you want to improve your ecommerce conversion rate optimization efforts (and, really, who of us would claim that we know everything about CRO Marketing, especially when it comes to ecommerce CRO), check out what we’ve learned by studying the biggest and most successful ecommerce websites.
We’ve gathered lessons from 10 giants of ecommerce so you can get inspired and get actionable tips to improve your ecommerce CRO and conversions.
In order to collect and present the most effective solutions, we chose 10 of the most well-known ecommerce giants to include in our review:
Ecommerce CRO Marketing Tips From the Ecommerce Giants
Now let’s learn some of the outstandingly good conversion optimization marketing lessons that each of these ecommerce giants has to teach us.
How to Be Better at Ecommerce Conversion Rate Optimization
1. Be the expert on the topic
Quoting Vint Cerf, who is recognized as one of ’the fathers of the Internet’: “Information flow is what the Internet is about. Information sharing is power. If you don’t share your ideas, smart people can’t do anything about them, and you’ll remain anonymous and powerless.”
By accepting this theory, we can assume that sharing more and more useful information with others leads to authority. In the case of online stores, this means that potential customers will see us as experts.
To put it another way, you won’t be just a simple retailer in your prospects’ eyes, but also an expert advisor. Once you’re recognized as an expert advisor when something happens in your industry or product field, your customers will think about your first, and your website will be the first they visit.
It gives you a chance to present a solution to their problems or deliver a new product line – and if you’re able to satisfy their needs, ideally, they will buy from you first too.
Sharing information typically occurs through three channels:
- Your newsletters
- Your social media sites
- Your website
This article is focused on your website, so we’ll skip the first two channels for now and analyze how you can boost your conversions by making your website an ’information hub’.
Within your online store, the product pages are the most important parts from this point of view. You should share as much information as you can here, e.g.:
- all important product details
- customer reviews
- video demonstrations
- product tests
- delivery and return policy
- useful tips
… to sum up: all that is relevant from the customers’ point of view.
For presenting this amount of information, using tabs is highly recommended on product pages. These elements facilitate making your site well-structured – even when you need to share plenty of information with your customers. Tabs help your visitors quickly find all the relevant information they require before buying.
Here are some great examples from Walmart of product pages that use four tabs to provide a clean presentation and be very informative at the same time.
The ’About this item’ tab contains a very detailed product description. For this product which is food, there is a product description, ingredient list, and nutrition facts, warnings, and further specifications.
On the second tab, called ’Customer reviews’, visitors can find ratings and real evaluations from previous buyers. This can reduce uncertainty – which increases Walmart’s chances for conversion.
The third tab, called ’Item recommendations’, suggests additional products based on items viewed by other customers, offering further social proof and more opportunities to buy:
Finally, the ’Policies’ tab gives visitors a detailed explanation of Walmart’s policies and plans – including warranty and gifting plans, returns, etc. This content also builds trust and confidence, reducing uncertainty.
In addition to the detailed information on product pages, Walmart runs a blog, ’Tips and ideas’, where they share a huge amount of useful content related to their products. Here’s a taste of their ’Food & Celebrations’ category, where customers can find recipes, how-to guides, grocery lists, and more. What a comprehensive amount of information, right? And, last but not least, the blog is very important from an SEO point of view.
2. Use upselling and cross-selling
Increasing cart value is one of the greatest ways to improve sales. For this reason, upselling is becoming more and more popular as a conversion optimization tool among online stores.
Upselling is a sales technique where a seller induces the customer to purchase more expensive items, upgrades, or other add-ons in order to increase the overall price of goods or services which are purchased.
In addition to upselling, cross-selling is another common marketing technique to sell an additional product or service. For cross-selling, it’s vital that the additional item being sold enhances the value your clients get from your online store.
To make the best use of upselling and cross-selling, it’s worth using dynamic product recommendations to ensure all visitors get the most relevant recommendations. Let’s look at some great examples from eBay.
First of all, let’s check out how they convince visitors on a product page to buy two or more products. eBay draws their visitors’ attention to the fact that they can save $5 when buying more items. Furthermore, the most relevant additional items appear automatically. After selecting one of them, a cart view can be seen that shows the total price and the amount of the discount.
On the cart page, visitors are given another way to check if they can save money by bundling related products or buying one more item:
After clicking on ‘See all eligible items’, visitors are directed to a special landing page where they can review all the related upselling offers:
3. Ensure seamless buying on mobile devices
According to Smart Insights, 80% of Internet users use their smartphones to search the Internet. The majority of consumers are ‘multi-screening, which means they’re accessing websites on mobile or desktop, so consistent experiences across devices are necessary to win their business.
Online buyers need instant access to all of your features on their mobile devices as well. Your online store should be not only mobile-optimized, but it should also provide the same feel and flow, just as comfortable as on a desktop.
Consequently, responsiveness isn’t merely a suggestion in today’s fast-paced world, but now an important requirement of all online stores that want to be successful. It ensures that your prospects will be able to browse your site – and buy from you – at any time, and from anywhere.
Shop.com provides a great example of seamless purchasing on mobile devices. Their home page is clear, easy-to-understand, and totally mobile-friendly.
In addition, Shop.com has a native mobile app as well, which provides an even more fine-tuned experience for mobile shopping.
Product pages are fully descriptive, appealing, and persuasive – the same quality of presentation you would expect on a PC.
The call-to-action button is clearly highlighted and adding to the cart is similarly easy and straightforward:
In addition, Shop.com has a great solution to gather subscribers on mobile devices:
4. Use first-rate, high-quality pictures, and advanced photo options
In the world of online shopping, product photos play a crucial role, because your visitors can’t see your items physically. They can’t touch them and they can’t try them out. So product photos are a big factor influencing a customer’s decision to ’purchase or not purchase’.
For this reason, your product photos must meet these requirements:
- use more than one product photo per item
- take the time to make them look professional (monochrome background, crystal-clear visuals, etc.)
- shows photos clearly on category and product pages
- use only high-resolution photos
- show the item from different points of view
- feature only one product in each photo unless a set is sold bundled together, in this instance it is still good to include the individual item and accessory photos
- offer different options for viewing the photo, e.g. zoom, multiple photos, interactive features, etc.
Let’s check out BestBuy’s product photos. They use huge, you might say, gigantically large, top-quality images to demonstrate what a product looks like:
This giant product photo can be enlarged even further by clicking on it, and the product can be seen from multiple angles with clear navigation to browse the photos:
BestBuy goes a step further, convincing visitors with a video presentation by one of their product experts. This video demonstration is worth more than a thousand words when it comes to influencing customers to buy:
5. Provide personalized content and offers
Personalization is critical for a successful online business. Let’s take a look at some interesting facts about ecommerce personalization that establish why it’s so important:
Online shoppers prefer personalized shopping experiences. They expect an ecommerce store to serve their individual needs with customized content and offers – this greatly affects their purchasing decisions.
You can achieve a surprising increase in revenue by investing in analytics to learn how to personalize your messages more effectively. According to Cleverbridge, 65% of online stores achieved an increase in conversion rates when using a sophisticated personalization strategy.
At Amazon.com you can find some amazing examples of ecommerce personalization. After logging in, Amazon provides personalized offers that even contain the visitor’s first name.
Amazon is a pioneer in early ecommerce personalization and they’re still going strong. In order to boost online sales and increase the cart value, they suggest items that were bought by customers who also bought the currently viewed product.
Amazon also provides product recommendations based on a visitor’s history on the site, to provide another opportunity to buy.
Amazon even presents products related to items you’ve viewed, right on the home page. A personalized home page is a very effective technique to convince returning visitors to buy. It’s a lot like saying, ‘Welcome back, what can we help you with today?’.
6. Front-load your best-converting products
Your homepage is the entry point of your online store. This is where you temp, persuade or seduce your visitor to follow the path towards the checkout.
The way you welcome your visitors on your homepage will play a big part in whether your prospects bounce off immediately or eventually convert to become customers.
That’s why the giants of eCommerce front-load their best offers.
Here are a few quick tips on what to promote on your ecommerce homepage:
- best-selling products
- best special offers, ie – those that convert the most
- most profitable products
- most popular products, ie – products that are viewed the most by the visitors
- recommended products based on your visitors’ browsing history
- seasonal products and offers
The homepage of Target.com is full of powerful promotions. As you can see below, the main banner shows Target’s seasonal offer, their ‘summer stock-up’ sale.
Directly under the main banner, visitors can find the very best offers:
And the front-loading of the best-converting offers is not over yet. There is a third section on Target’s homepage that promotes some additional featured products.
7. Launch onsite retargeting campaigns
Onsite retargeting provides you a second chance to present a message to your visitors, effectively doubling your chances of conversion. It works by monitoring the behavior of visitors on your website, and when their behavior indicates they are ready for some additional message, it is displayed to them – usually on a popup overlay.
Typically, the message is shown right before visitors exit your site, but you can also monitor your visitors’ engagement, and program your popup to respond to it. Here are the three primary triggering options of onsite retargeting that can be used instead of exit-intent to respond to your visitors’ engagement:
- Timed-display control: You can time your popup to appear after X seconds of inactivity in order to grab the attention of your inactive visitors.
- Scroll triggering: The popup can be also displayed after a visitor has scrolled down on your page at least X percent. This shows whether a person has read an entire blog post for instance, or at least absorbed your main sales message before your present a secondary offer.
- OnClick triggering: You can display a popup when a visitor clicks on a specific part of your page – a button, box, link, or banner, responding directly to your visitor’s engagement with the site.
Some of the giants of ecommerce use onsite retargeting effectively for…
- driving sales
- building email lists
- reducing cart abandonment
- generating sales leads
- directing traffic to best-converting landing pages
Staples.com provides a good example of an effective popup campaign. The following time-displayed overlay is intended to build a strong subscriber base: the value is big ($10 off $50) and the ask is small: only an email address.
On the Staples site, you can also find a great example of how to use popup overlays for upselling. After adding an item to your cart, a popup appears promoting additional products that were bought by customers who also bought the same item in your cart.
And here’s another example of onsite retargeting at Staples, this time it’s a traffic redirection campaign:
In addition to traditional popup overlays, they also use a nanobar to generate more signups. The nanobar or ‘sticky notification bar’ appears at the top of the page after a visitor scrolls down on the site.
(Note: Would you like to learn how to create delightful shopping experiences for each customer? Click here and download our free eBook that contains over 70 pages of tips and best practices.)
8. Use proactive customer support
Even though your online store functions as a ’virtual salesperson’, don’t let it be the only relationship between you, as a seller, and your potential customers. Provide your prospects and customers the opportunity to contact you.
When visitors can contact you directly by phone, email, chat or even in person, you can decrease uncertainty and you can build trust. Some people will call simply to make sure you are reliable before they make a purchase.
Without an option to contact you directly, some of your prospects may leave your site without converting.
If you feel your product needs special expert support because it’s too complex and requires a detailed explanation or installation tips, it’s definitely worth offering as much help as you can. It’s also important to make contact options clearly available when you have a lot of ’last minute’ offers where every second count or your prospects can easily get uncertain.
Apple’s contact page is full of contact information and is easily accessible on every page through a link in the footer. Apple provides specific contact telephone numbers, live chat options, technical support links, their corporate address, a list of frequently requested information, and further options to leave feedback.
During the buying process, a thin information bar can be seen at the bottom of the page, which continuously offers live chat support.
Lead nurturing proceeds until the checkout. On the cart page, there is a great collection of the most commonly asked questions. All of these are powerful techniques to persuade your prospects to finish their purchase.
Importantly, Apple doesn’t forget to help its existing customers. They provide a well-structured, carefully designed support site that provides never-ending help for all Apple users.
9. Create a sense of urgency
When you give your prospects too much time to think, they’ll delay in making a purchase decision. Ultimately, they might not make a purchase at all. That means zero conversions for you.
There are many ways to make your visitors feel there is a ticking clock urging them to make a purchase now. Let’s take a look at some great examples from Groupon.
One of the best ways to create a sense of urgency in your customers is a product that is only available for a limited time. Limited quantity is a similar solution for this purpose – or you can combine them, as Groupon does so well. They encourage their visitors to buy a product before they run out of time or the item is no longer available.
In addition to limited-time products, you can provide special discounts that are only available for a limited amount of time. The following example shows how Groupon promotes a product at a discounted price and offers an extra discount that expires soon.
Another powerful way for creating a sense of urgency is by showing that the product a visitor is currently looking at is already in the shopping cart of another customer. Or, you can display how many people are currently viewing the item, how many times it was viewed today (see below) or in the past week. Simply presenting the number of purchases and remaining stock can be also effective to encourage your customers to make a purchase.
10. Highlight your return policy and warranty
Huge online stores perceive their return policy as important as price when it comes to competition. They emphasize their return policy on product pages and throughout their site.
Some customers won’t shop for certain products online because they can’t see them physically, they can’t touch them and can’t try them out. These customers are afraid of getting a faulty or inappropriate product that doesn’t meet the item description, and they’re worried about sending it back or validating the guarantee.
For this reason, ecommerce sites should draw their visitors’ attention to their return policy and they should communicate it throughout the buying process. (Advice: Before updating your policy, make sure that your product descriptions and product images are precise, true and correct. It ensures that after facilitating the product returns, the number of returns won’t increase significantly.)
Highlighting your return policy increases trust in consumers and persuades them to buy, ultimately leading to more sales and revenue.
Follow these tips to get the most from your return policy:
- make it easy to understand
- present it clearly on product pages and throughout your site
- ask for feedback about it to make improvements
- provide a longer return period than what is required by law
AtFlipkart.com, the return policy can be easily reached on all pages. The ’Free and easy returns’ banner is eye-catching and draws the visitor’s attention.
After clicking on that link, the ’Returns and Cancellations’ page appears which contains numerous commonly asked questions and carefully detailed answers to provide a detailed overview of the return policy.
Here we can see that Flipkart provides a good period of time for returning. Products are eligible for return within 30 days.
In addition to the ’Returns and Cancellations’ page, Flipkart provides a detailed description about their refund policy and their guarantees on the cart page as well. This is a powerful technique to decrease uncertainty at the last moment and persuade buyers to complete their purchase.
While there are many factors that determine the success of giant ecommerce stores, such as a lot of capital investment and strong human resources, their conversion optimization efforts offer lessons that ecommerce sites of any size can use to boost their success.
If you find an exciting tactic for conversion rate optimization above, let’s adapt it to meet your unique target audience, your website and your products, and start improving your conversions today. Meanwhile, please keep in mind that conversion rate optimization is all about testing, not guessing. So continue to test your ideas and take advantage of the best-converting solutions.
(Note: Do you know OptiMonk? It provides a powerful onsite retargeting solution that help you convert up to 15% of abandoning visitors to sales and leads. Let’s give it a try. Click here and create a free account now.)