Five Techwe are
Jul 8, 2014

Conversion Optimization Guide for eCommerce Shopping Carts

eCommerce websites come in all shapes and sizes, but they do all have one thing in common: the shopping cart. For something that is so easy to do in real life, the online shopping experience is usually done poorly sometimes that there are too many shoppers turning away. What should your company be doing to increase conversions on your eCommerce site?  John Paul Maines, column writer for, a website on all things Internet marketing related, gives us some helpful suggestions.

When 1% Means 6 Figures

You need to create a better picture of your average online purchase transaction, minus the taxes and shipping, no matter what the customer is buying. This metric will give you a good starting point to determine what a customer is worth. As you dig deeper into your analysis, you can do this same thing by product category, but first start out with the average transaction price. So, how can even 1% improvement in your visitor to transaction rate impact the business? Maines gives us a good example. Let’s say your average transaction is $100, and you have 10,000 unique monthly visitors. If 1% of those visitors make a purchase while on the site, this means on average you are selling $10,000 in product monthly, which comes out to $120,000 per year. If you can move that 1% to 2%, that doubles to $240,000. Small improvements in conversions can drive big dollars in eCommerce.

Measure to Find Your Problems

For shopping carts, there are some standard metrics you need to create and track on a consistent basis to see how your improvements are working. Most shopping cart processes include 5 primary steps:

  1. Add to Cart
  2. Shipping
  3. Credit Card Entry
  4. Confirmation
  5. Order Processed

Obviously, there are many different types of checkout procedures for shopping carts than just the standard. Assuming you have a standard cart or something similar, Maines also provides us with some metrics we’ll want to watch.

  1. Add to Cart Rate — The number of visitors that added items to the cart, divided by the total number of site visitors for the same time period.
  2. Finished Cart Rate — The number of people who added items to the cart and clicked the button to take them to the shipping page, divided by the  number of people who added items to their cart.
  3. Finished Shipping Rate — The number of people who filled out shipping information and submitted the form, divided by the number of people who visited the shipping page.
  4. Checkout Rate — Assuming your Checkout is the last step and confirms payment, then this is the number of people who purchased product divided by the number that submitted shipping information.
  5. Total Site Conversion Rate — This is the total number of site visitors relative to the total number of purchases in the same time period.

These are your starting point metrics for determining how your shopping care is performing. The basic idea is to create a conversion rate for every step you have.

Get Rid of Roadblocks

The reason you want to measure the performance of each step is to determine where the greatest amount of drop off is occurring. Also, you’ll be able to better monitor the results of any changes you make on a given step in the cart. Each step of a shopping cart is an opportunity to lose a customer, so knowing each conversion rate will give you insight into the user experience.

Make it Fast

This is common sense, but make you shopping experience simple, obvious, and fast. The more steps you put in a shopping cart process, the lower the number of sales you will make. Every step a person has to make is an opportunity for them to change their mind. Even if they have to scroll down the page to get the form, this is an unnessesary step they have to take. Again, remember to remove roadblocks to make the user experience efficient and simple.

Don’t Forget to Re-Engage

As we all may know, cart abandonment happens and it happens at every single stage of the checkout process. Knowing where an individual abandons their cart will help you craft automated messages to these visitors if you were able to capture his/her email some way during the checkout process. Using email to bring people back to their cart is one of the best tools for speeding up a possible sale when people are checking other prices or becoming distracted. Knowing the point at which they left will be a big help to crafting the most appropriate email responses. If your eCommerce website needs improvement for better conversion rates, let’s talk! We’ll help you with all of your eCommerce website needs. Read the full article by John Paul Maines.

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