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by Danny Wong February 25, 2016

Consumers are a fickle bunch.

According to data from Conversion Voodoo , the least engaging web stores have a bounce rate as high as 68%. The study also reveals the average ecommerce store has a 33.9% bounce rate and the best-performing digital storefronts have an enviable bounce rate of 14.3%. Of course, converting visitors who stick around into paying customers is still a huge challenge for store owners. Many sources agree that the average conversion rate among ecommerce sites is 2-3%. Even with an engaged audience, ecommerce stores struggle to convince an overwhelming majority of window shoppers to complete an actual purchase. In the rare instance an order is placed, store owners then agonize about ways to increase shoppers’ average order values.  

To help you optimize your bounce rate, supercharge your conversion funnel and dramatically increase your customers’ average order totals, here are nine important design tips that will transform the way shoppers interact with your website.

Subtle design strategies lower your bounce rate

1. Implement responsive web design.

Consumers are addicted to their smartphones and have developed quite the habit of shopping on their mobile devices. But they can’t be bothered to browse stores that do not yet have mobile-friendly layouts. To keep your mobile audience from abandoning your site upon entry, implement responsive design . Responsive design intelligently resizes and restructures your website to work seamlessly on smaller screens such as smartphones and tablets. This makes it easier for shoppers to view and scroll through your site so they have fewer excuses to leave. Econsultancy reports that when Skinny Ties redesigned its website to be responsive, the store’s bounce rate dropped 23.2%.

SkinnyTies responsive screens

2. Add exit intent pop-ups.

Do not let your customers walk away so easily. On their way out, give visitors an offer they can’t refuse using exit intent technology. Most exit intent pop-ups surprise shoppers with a quick and urgent offer. Typically, this comes in the form of an exclusive coupon, an offer to sign up to your newsletter or limited-time pricing on specific products. Using exit intent prompts, marketing expert Larry Kim managed to reduce his site’s bounce rate by up to 60%.

3. Design faster web pages.

Shoppers are impatient. As mobile data usage grows, consumers are increasingly demanding faster and more seamless web browsing experiences. In an infographic, Kissmetrics notes , "40% of shoppers abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load." One chart also reveals there is a direct relationship between page response time and page abandonment. For ecommerce sites, one way to reduce their bounce rate is by tweaking features behind-the-scenes so their pages load faster. Often, compressing your images can lead to a dramatic reduction in page load time which, in turn, lowers your bounce rate. Alternatively, you can disable or remove unnecessary apps from your Shopify store which may be slowing down your website’s performance.

Simple additions to improve conversions

4. Include positive and negative product reviews.

Third-party validation of your product can lead to a 11% increase in conversions. With user reviews, shoppers can discover what paying customers enjoy about your product. But instead of having only positive reviews, be sure to highlight negative customer experiences too. A survey by Reevoo found 68% of shoppers trust reviews more when customers share praise and criticism.

Amazon reviews

5. Insert mouseover effects.

Spoil customers with images, information and details that are accessible when they hover over specific products or text. Mouseover effects allow you to communicate more information to customers without having to clutter your store’s design. These shortcuts help make shopping easier. To improve their conversion rate, brands can use mouseover effects to provide :

  1. Add to basket or “quick-view” options
  2. Different product shots
  3. Product prices
  4. Alternative product colors
  5. Image zooming

6. Mention free delivery and returns.

Online shoppers frequent digital storefronts for the convenience. And like with the in-store shopping experience, they prefer to only be charged for the price of the product and any applicable sales tax. Generally, consumers are resistant to assuming shipping-related costs, especially on returns. One way to remove barriers to purchase is by offering a generous shipping and return policy. Zappos attributes part of its success to the fact that customers can freely purchase and return products risk-free because Zappos covers the cost of shipping both ways. Knowing that, many first-time shoppers have happily placed orders on the Zappos site with the guarantee that they could return anything they didn’t like without losing any money. Mentioning free delivery and return shipping is a powerful way to persuade customers to complete their first order with you and come back for repeat purchases, which increases your conversion rate. In fact, a study by the Journal of Marketing found that simply offering free return shipping can lead to a 58-357% increase in sales over two years. If your storefront theme offers a “promotional banner” area such as at the top of the home page, consider making use of this feature to call attention to any free shipping incentives.

Intriguing visual offers that boost average order value

7. Promote minimum order incentives.

Sometimes, shoppers need a nudge in the right direction. To convince them to add more items to their cart, you may feature ads throughout your site that encourage shoppers to increase their order totals in exchange for additional discounts, extra products or free shipping. G.H. Bass does this brilliantly. Online, the brand offers free shipping on orders over $50. When I last shopped with G.H. Bass, I only wanted to buy a $20 handbag as a gift. On such a small order though, there was a shipping charge of $5. I felt that money was better spent paying for more product than for shipping so I opted to add more items to my cart until I was eligible for free shipping. Within a few minutes, I had placed my order which included two t-shirts I didn’t need and two handbags that were going to be gifts for a grand total of $54.87. Since I was determined to earn free shipping, I bought four items instead of one and spent more than twice what I had originally budgeted. So, to boost your store’s average order value, offer customers coupons, gifts or free delivery on orders over a certain dollar threshold.

G.H. Bass homepage - free shipping banner

8. Provide product recommendations.

In some ways, customers are predictable. Using product recommendations, stores can promote goods that their customers may like based on their previous purchases and expressed interests. By tracking which products shoppers view or add to their cart, brands can make more personalized product recommendations to cross-sell and upsell their customers. Alternatively, without knowing a shopper’s interests, store owners can design category pages to prominently spotlight their best-selling and most popular products. Research from MarketingSherpa suggests the three most effective types of product recommendations fall under these categories:

  1. "Visitors who viewed this product also viewed"
  2. "Visitors who viewed this product ultimately bought"
  3. "You might also like""

9. Use price anchors.

When shopping, customers need a price reference point which they may use to decide if a product is cheap, expensive or a perfect value. Brands can use this to their advantage with price anchors. Ecommerce expert Alicia Doiron explains it this way, “People love to compare prices when shopping for products and having an anchor price allows them to do that. For example, if you are looking at two similar shirts, with one priced at $75 and the other at $150, the $75 shirt looks really cheap compared to the $150 shirt. In reality, the $75 shirt is still quite pricey. Stores know this so to sell it they put it near an even more expensive shirt.” Though price anchors may not necessarily help you sell your highest-priced products, they drive more attention towards your other products which suddenly seem like a good value, even if your prices are higher than the competition.

With any good Shopify theme , you should be able to easily customize its design and content so that it not only looks good but keeps visitors on-site long enough to complete a purchase with a full shopping cart.

Danny Wong
Danny Wong

Danny Wong does marketing at Receiptful, a platform to supercharge all customer interactions for eCommerce stores. Follow him on Twitter at @dannywong1190 or connect on LinkedIn.

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