Navigating Through Challenges of E-commerce Conversion Rate Optimization

As a long term strategy, optimizing an e-commerce website for conversion is the most efficient and effective way to see the greatest ROI. But many e-retailers companies question the viability of significant increases in conversion rates. Ask yourself this:

  • What kind of conversion rate should you target for your e-commerce store?
  • Is a double-digit conversion rate unachievable?

Let’s break this down further: How many visitors enter your site with the intention of purchasing from you? If a 2.2% average conversion rate is an indicator of the number of visitor’s planning to make a purchase, and that the remaining 97.8% are there by mistake or merely browsing, then optimization is ineffective. Of course, it is not.

Consider an industry such as consumer electronics e-commerce, which reports an average conversion rate of 0.5%. Does this mean that for every 200 visitors to an electronics ecommerce store, only one person is there with an intent to purchase? Or is it the case that those stores are failing to persuade more visitors to convert? It’s clearly the latter.

If a 0.5% rate is consistent for every ecommerce store within that vertical, it is conceivable to conclude that there is little room for improvement. But when, a leader within that industry, reports a 12% conversion rate, we know that optimization is a viable option. Of course, Best Buy is not the only e-retailer within that sector that reports higher conversion rates.

And for every industry that reports a low conversion rate, there are leading sites that defy industry averages. Our clients have surpassed industry averages for years by achieving an average conversion rate of 14.56% in 2007 and 9.2% within the first 6 months of 2008.

Top Converting Website Compared to Industry Averages
Industry Av. Conversion rate Top Converting website Conversion rate of top site
Specialty 2.00% 35.7%
Catalog 5.70% Office Depot 31.4%
Apparel 1.80% Lands’ End 17.5%
Electronics 0.20% CDW 17.9%

Our experience in architecting, designing and leading the implementation of 22 of the largest e-commerce operations in North America has proven that when optimization is done utilizing a holistic approach, the results are increased tremendously.

The problems with E-commerce optimization

E-commerce companies face three major problems as a result of engaging design, marketing or very often other optimization companies:

1. Guesswork plague

There are a variety of design, usability and copy techniques you can implement to see small incremental changes in your average conversion rate. You can also rely on A/B and multi-variant testing methods to increase your rates. However, all of these approaches rely on a lot of guess work from designers, usability experts and marketers.

We are able to eliminate guesswork by employing the conversion framework, a guiding methodology for a repeatable, yet customizable, process. The basis of our approach provides a holistic view, which has been successfully tested on a variety of conversion optimization projects and deployed with clients across many verticals.

2. Unlimited Resource Assumption

Many consultants can come up with an endless number of scenarios to test on your website. Bear in mind that endless numbers of scenarios require endless amounts of time and money commitments. That wouldn’t be a problem if you didn’t work against time and budget considerations like every other successful company out there.
While we believe that testing is an important ingredient of any conversion optimization work, it should not be the only ingredient. We rely on both A/B and Multivariate testing on each project. However, testing software is not deployed until the last stage of the conversion optimization process.

3. Lack of Technical Knowledge

Another major problem with conversion projects is the optimization consultant’s lack of knowledge of the technical limitations of the e-commerce website. That inability manifests itself in recommendations that require high levels of effort (LOE) to implement with little impact on the bottom line.

The process of ecommerce optimization can be tricky. Successful conversion rate optimization requires a deep understanding of the site’s marketing initiatives, external market forces, underlying technical architecture and user motivations. Persuading a visitor to take an action on your website requires you to gauge who your target market is and how to better cater the site to meet their needs and demands.

Since 1995, our team worked on a wide variety of ecommerce technologies from custom developed platforms, hosted solutions and package implementations. We led the architecture, design, marketing and optimization of some of the largest ecommerce operations in North America.

We consistently help our clients see 35% average improvements in conversion rates. The combination of our deep understanding of ecommerce, experience with the largest e-tailer operations, and a unique methodology developed from the perspective of the user has paved the way for us to achieve such success.

Whether you are looking for a number of quick conversion optimization recommendations you can implement on your website, single landing page optimization, or for full website optimization, we can help. Contact us today to learn more.


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