6 Tips for Improving Low Ecommerce Conversion Rates

Conversion Rate Optimization, Ecommerce, User Experience, Web Design

A conversion is when a user on your website takes the desired action. In Google Analytics speak, this is called a “goal” conversion. It could mean a phone call, a form submission, a newsletter signup, etc. When we’re talking about ecommerce conversions, we’re talking specifically about purchases or transactions. Your ecommerce conversion rate is the rate at which users on your site complete a purchase. It’s calculated like this:

  • Purchases / total visitors * 100 = ecommerce conversion rate

What’s a low ecommerce conversion rate? 

This is a trickier one because every website, every product, and every industry has different norms. Even in the same industry, selling the same products, a low conversion rate might be low for you but high for someone else.

Here’s a breakdown by industry. I took 4 different tables from 4 different sources, which was about as exciting as it sounds, and averaged their reported rates:

  • Agriculture – 1.02%
  • Arts & Crafts – 3.96%
  • Baby & Child – 0.79%
  • Auto & Motorcycle – 1.34%
  • Electrical & Commercial Equipment – 2.6%
  • Food & Drink – 0.95%
  • Health & Wellbeing – 1.95%
  • Home & Decor – 1.50%
  • Kitchen & Appliances – 1.67%
  • Pet Care – 2.52%
  • Sports & Recreation – 1.18%

How to measure ecommerce conversions and rate

If you don’t already have Google Analytics properly installed, along with its ecommerce functionality, I suggest you do that right away and start collecting useful data. Google Analytics is our favorite, it’s free, extremely robust, and will integrate with just about any website’s platform. You can also find data within your website’s ecommerce platform, like Shopify, Magento, Wix, etc., and finally, you can purchase 3rd party tools to measure your performance. If you want to have a virtual coffee and just talk about Google Analytics, I’m down. I love it that much, and I’m fully aware of how cool that makes me sound.

Tip 1 – Lay a good foundation for your website

The “basics” of a strong site are fundamental to your ultimate ecommerce success. When your site has a strong technical foundation it allows search engines to crawl it and rank it so users can easily find it, it builds user trust, and it creates a better user interface. This could be its own series of blog posts, but for now, let’s cover technical optimization, user optimization, and product optimization.

A (non-comprehensive) technical optimization checklist:

  1. Your website MUST be secure. This means you have purchased an SSL certificate and kept it up to date, and your URL begins with “https” and not “http.” Security in 2020 is crucial for all sites, and even more so if you’re asking users to trust you with their payment information. You should also have a privacy policy on your site that covers how user data is collected, used, and protected.
  2. Your website is updated, including plugins.
  3. Your website and checkout process work without glitches.
  4. Your redirects are managed and 404 errors are monitored.
  5. Your site is very mobile-friendly.
  6. Your site loads quickly.

Delivering a solid User Experience (UX)

Again, there are entire books dedicated to this topic! For our purposes I’ll cover a few crucial points, and SpotStudio.net has an awesome longer-form article on UX design for ecommerce.

Ten minute UX audit for your site:

  1. Is the main navigation extremely easy to follow? Is it accessible from every page?
  2. Do you have product filtering?
  3. Do you have product page breadcrumbs? 
  4. Is your checkout experience extremely intuitive?
  5. Are your calls to action clear and prominent?
  6. Is your site mobile-friendly?

Awesome product pictures and descriptions

These are maybe the two most important pieces for nailing your ecommerce product page. 

Amazing product images

In short, your images need to be professional, staged, high-resolution, and edited. If it’s just not possible to invest in professional photography, there are still a number of crucial steps you can (and must) take to improve lighting, angles, and staging. The quality of your product images will literally make or break your ecommerce success.  If you want more detailed evidence to compel you to invest in your images, and a more thorough step-by-step guide, please check out Neil Patel’s article on taking and optimizing product images.

Great product descriptions

Be thoughtful, unique, and very detailed in your product descriptions. Not only will well-planned product-related content help your ecommerce conversion rate, it will help your entire SEO and user experience game. BigCommerce has a great article on how to do this to grow your sales.

Tip 2: Understand where you’re losing people

Also known as cart abandonment, exit rate, and bounce rate, and I’m sure there are several more terms. One important terminology distinction to know is that CART abandonment is not the same as CHECKOUT abandonment. The former happens whenever someone adds a product to the cart but leaves the site before purchasing. Checkout abandonment is specifically when a customer begins the checkout process and leaves before completing the purchase.

Basically, we need to know where customers are dropping off the site in their deciding & purchasing process, why they’re leaving the site, and how often. Here are some ways to tackle answering these questions:

Test the heck out of your check-out process. 

Make sure there are no glitches, lags, loading problems, or counterintuitive actions for customers to take. In this day and age, those issues will not only frustrate customers, but it will hurt your credibility.

Understand your analytics 

you can create a funnel and goals in Google Analytics to measure cart abandonment, and this article from Bolt has a ton of useful information on improving your abandonment metrics

Shipping prices

A final nugget on this topic. The number one reason customers leave during the checkout process is because of the shipping price. Big box stores that can easily offer free shipping have made it very challenging and competitive for SMBs. Here are some potential solutions:

  • Roll the standard shipping cost into the price of your product, then offer free shipping.
  • Offer a free shipping coupon to first-time customers or loyal customers.
  • Offer free shipping once a minimum is met, like free shipping off orders of $50 or more.
  • Communicate right off the bat, before or early in the checkout process, that you are a small business and can’t offer free shipping at this time. Online shoppers appreciate transparency and will often be happy to support a small business owner.

Tip 3: Optimize for mobile

It’s a mobile-first world, so for the sake of time I’ll assume that your website is already responsive and mobile-friendly. If it’s not, please get in touch with us today – we can give you some guidance and point you in the right direction. When we’re talking ecommerce specifically, there are some extra mobile-first tactics you can employ to improve your sales.

  • Load speed – I know I already mentioned it, but it’s that crucial, and especially on mobile devices.
  • Clickable elements – nothing too small. This is even more critical in a shopping environment where users are selecting sizes, quantities, shipping options, etc.
  • Make forms EXTREMELY easy to fill out, and use as few fields as possible.
  • Take advantage of digital wallets! Most users have at least one kind of one-touch payment option set up on their mobile device already, like Paypal, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, etc. 
  • Offer a guest checkout option, or let users register with one click and a password creation AFTER the checkout process. Don’t force extra steps!

Tip 4: Display product reviews 

According to a Spiegel Research Center report, How Online Reviews Influence Sales, a product with 5 reviews is 270% more likely to be purchased than a product with no reviews. Your ecommerce platform almost certainly has this functionality built in, or offers it with an additional widget or plugin. 

If you already have a way to display product reviews on your website, maybe your challenge is getting users to write them in the first place. The short answer is that you have to ask for them, and the tricky part is figuring out the right way to do that. Printful has a great article on the importance of reviews and how to get them.

Don’t fear negative reviews. A perfect set of positive reviews almost never happens, and it’s been proven that users actually trust you more if you have a score of 4.5 than a score of 5.

Tip 5: Build trust with your users

Brand recognition and brand trust take a long time to build, but there are some quick ways to build and reinforce that trust right off the bat.

Humanize your brand

The quickest ways to do this are to tell your company story, display your headquarters address, show your phone number and email, and make it easy to contact you. You’re a real business run by real people.


Reviews by verified purchasers are worth their weight in gold when it comes to trust and the purchase process. 

Social proof

Reviews are a form of social proof, but you likely have social profiles set up across the board, like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Your activity on those sites shows your personality and it also shows your legitimacy. Make sure to display social badges on your site, pull testimonials from those sites when/if appropriate. 


If you’re part of an association, accredited by an organization, loved by the BBB, make sure you have those badges displayed on your site.

Tip 6: Do some digital marketing

Finally, if you’ve done everything above, or even if you haven’t, you might just need more customers in general. An ecommerce conversion rate of even 50% isn’t that awesome if you’ve only had two users on your website in the last month. Getting the right message in front of the right people is our bread and butter, and it’s the best way to drive a great ecommerce conversion rate. Give us a call or send us an email and we can help you get on the path to where you want to go.

About the Author

Nick Footer

Nick Footer is an entrepreneur and founder of Intuitive Digital, a national award-winning digital marketing agency in Portland, Oregon. With over 15 years of experience, he has helped hundreds of businesses improve their online presence through search engine optimization, paid advertising, and website design.

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