10 conversion killers for your e-commerce site (part 1)

Posted in  Blog   on  August 25, 2016 by  Marc

Every e-commerce site is different: a different target audience and different reasons why visitors don’t convert. That’s why research at the beginning of a conversion optimisation project is necessary. It’s the only way for you to discover the reasons why your visitors don’t convert… and what you can do about it.

Even so, there are a few things that you can take on immediately, things that are real conversion killers for your e-commerce site. I’ve put together a list—in random order—of 10 real conversion killers for e-commerce sites. There are more, but if you fix these 10, you’ll notice the impact on your conversions.

1. Required account creation

I see it over and over again: you go from your shopping cart to the checkout process, but you’re first asked to make an account. I can be very brief about this: Don’t do it!

Take a close look at your funnel in Google Analytics. Notice that you see a big drop-off on the account creation page?
As many as 1 in 4 leave the checkout process if they’re required to make an account, according to a study by E-consultancy. Yes, you read that right: 1 in 4. That’s gigantic.

And why do you miss out on these conversions? Because you want to know too much. You want to create a profile and collect data from your customers. I’m completely in support of collecting data, but if you have to choose between less data and more sales or more data and fewer sales, then I choose the former. And I assume that you would too.

Never require your visitors to make an account. They’re on your site, after all, to buy something. They have absolutely NO interest in starting a relationship with you. Only you have that. But what you want doesn’t matter—only what your customer wants.

There is an alternative: You can offer them the chance to make an account, but only after the sale is completed. On the thank-you page. You have already collected all the data from the customer at that point, because you can’t process the order without that data.

Give your visitors a clear reason on the thank-you page why they should enrol, for example, by giving them a 10% discount on a subsequent purchase. Because you have all the data, you only have to ask them to fill in a password. Done. Easy for your customers, easy for you. You won’t scare them off, and you offer them the chance to make an account, without being pushy.

Account creation on thank-you page

2. Small pictures

Pictures are often one of the most important elements on which a shopper bases a choice—certainly when it comes to clothes, shoes, jewellery, etc. Make your pictures big enough. Not only on the product page, but also on the category page. You do your visitor a big favour with this. And not only that: you’ll convert better. Don’t believe me? Test it!

What do you find it easier and nicer to choose from? This?


Or this?


Yep, you’re right! The second one!

In addition, make sure that your pictures are not only large enough, but that they are also relevant—certainly on a product page. In other words: make sure that your visitors can view all the pictures they want to see in order to be able to make a decision.

If, for example, you sell laptop bags, and you don’t show any photos of the inside of the laptop bag, then the chance is good that a lot of visitors will drop out. They want to see what the inside of the bag looks like: Is there, aside from a space for my laptop, also a pocket for other things I want to be able to stash in it?

Think carefully about which pictures you should place on your site. One of the best ways to discover whether all the desired pictures are included is with user testing.

The chance is good that testers will expose these kinds of shortcomings during a user test. They review your site and your product with a ‘fresh’ pair of eyes. And they thus see things that you no longer see because you’re familiar with your site.

3. Unclear or missing information about delivery costs, delivery time and returns

Shoppers always ask at least 3 things before they decide to buy:

  • How much will be added to the advertised price for delivery costs?
  • What’s the delivery time?
  • What if I’m not satisfied, can I make a return free of cost?

And yet, a great many e-commerce sites do not clearly answer these questions. Yes, it’s somewhere on the site, but you either have to go looking for it, or it’s presented well into the checkout process.

It’s crucial that you answer these questions. But especially: that they’re answered at the right time.

What’s the right time? Simple: the time when the shoppers ask. Usually, that will be on the product page, when they see the price, so you certainly have to include it on that page. But in addition, it’s advisable to repeat this in the various steps in the checkout process. You thus reassure the buyer, and you benefit.

Now that we’re talking about delivery costs, delivery times and policies, I want to give you one more tip: don’t charge delivery costs, however small.

If you sell your product for 50 EUR and add on 5 EUR delivery costs, you will typically sell less than when you sell your product for 57 EUR and ship for free. Of course, each situation is different, and you should certainly test whether this also applies for you, but typically, you’ll convert better with free delivery.

4. Insufficient information to be able to decide

This conversion killer in a certain sense connects the previous two. Yes, we live a Twitter world in which 140 characters is the norm. Yes, we prefer to keep it ‘short & sweet’. And that’s good, but there’s a danger that you’ll therefore throw essential information overboard because you want to limit the copy—information that your visitor absolutely needs to have in order to make a decision.

Do you know, by the way, that IDC has done a study from which it appears that 50% of non-completed purchases are caused by a lack of information? You read it right: 50%.

Only 16% of all visitors will completely read your copy, incidentally. Granted, that’s not many. But those are your motivated visitors, for whom the chance of conversion is greater. And they must certainly get enough information in order to be able to make a decision, because if they don’t have enough information, then you have a big problem. Then the other 84% don’t have enough information either.

But how do you know which information your visitor needs to have? Simple: do conversion research. With user testing, some of this will surface. But you can also learn a lot from other research methods.

If, for example, you sell laptop bags, and you only give the measurements of the bag in centimetres, then you have a problem. Why? Because your customer doesn’t just want to know what the measurements are in centimetres, but whether a 15-inch PC will fit. And thus, that information has to be there as well.

Good product descriptions can also make the difference. You can’t just throw a list of features on the page and expect your visitor to buy. Warm up your visitor to your product. Sell your product.

Isn’t that what you do in a (web) store: sell?
Don’t stop with product descriptions and features. Translate those features into benefits. The customer thus better knows concretely what those features mean for him. You thus make it a bit easier for the buyer to choose.

5. No or a poor search function

Searchers are buyers. Shortly before the turn, maybe, but there’s a kernel of truth in it. Just look your Analytics: what’s the conversion ratio of searchers vs the conversion rate of people who don’t search on your site? (Tip: exclude the bouncers when you create a segment of non-searchers, otherwise the difference between searchers and non-searchers is even greater, and you don’t want to include the bouncers in the comparison anyway.)

On a lot of sites, searchers convert 2 to 3 times better than non-searchers. That’s huge. In this example, the conversion ratio is even nearly 4 times as high for searchers as for non-searchers:

Searchers often convert better than non-searchers.


What does that mean concretely for your site? It’s in your best interests that your search function works well. Just look in your Google Analytics: which search words do visitors/searchers use on your site?

Throw yourself into the search function. Are the results good? No? Then you know that you need to work on your search function. Try the same while making spelling errors on popular search terms. Are the results still good?

Make your search function bigger. Don’t hide it on your site. Put it in a prominent place, a place where people expect it to be: at the top right, or in the middle at the top.

Automatically completing the search terms is often a good way to improve your search function. If you can add images in drop-down box, then you do a big favor for your visitors/searchers.

auto search
Auto-complete search function with images

That’s it! You can now go and take action and then check out conversion optimisation killers part 2 here.

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