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HOW TO: Reduce Your Ecommerce Bounce Rate

The Top 10 Reasons Visitors Leave Your Site Before Buying & What You Can Do About It

So you’ve spent thousands of dollars building an ecommerce website, submitted your site to all the major search engines, created some interesting content, populated your online store with your products and services and started promoting your site on the big, popular social networking sites.  You’re getting plenty of traffic and you’ve got some products you’re sure people will love if only they’d give them a chance.  Just one problem – no one’s actually buying what you’re trying to sell.

So what’s the problem?  If you’re happy with your traffic numbers but not so happy with your sales, then the number you’re looking for is Bounce rate.  You look at your bounce rate and see a solid B and wonder what the problem is.  Unfortunately, with bounce rate, 85% isn’t a good thing for you.  In fact, the smaller this number is, the higher your conversion rate is going to be.  If you find that your prospects are abandoning their shopping cart before clicking the submit button, don’t worry.  Instead, roll up your sleeves and get to work fixing these 10 most popular reasons people leave your ecommerce website before they make a purchase.

Reason #10 – Checkout process is confusing (27%) – Many ecommerce websites make the mistake of being too complex.  Instead of trying to “wow” your visitors with details, remember that visitors like simplicity.  If your checkout process raises even one question in the prospect’s mind, that could be just enough to lose the sale.

How to fix the problem:  Get as many of your friends, family, employees and past customers to go through your checkout process and make a list of the things they like and don’t like about it.  Chances are you’ll discover a few things that repeat over and over on each of the lists.  Are you requiring too many clicks to get through checkout?  Are your call-to-actions clear and easily visible?  Are you telling your visitors exactly what you want them to do next?  Go through the feedback you’ve collected and fix the problems that come up most often and you’ll see your conversion rates start too improve in no time.

Reason #9 – Site is unstable or unreliable (31%) – With thousands of ecommerce options to choose from, how do you pick the one that’s right for your business?  All too often, business owners choose the lowest price alternative without doing their due diligence.  Many of these ecommerce options are unstable, unreliable or downright untrustworthy.  Before you put your business in the hands of an disreputable vendor, do yourself a favor and get some feedback from some past and current customers.  More than likely you can find good and bad reviews of just about every ecommerce platform, but with a little work, you’ll soon notice which ones are most likely to do the job you expect.

How to fix the problem:  Not many topics concerning your business deserve more due diligence than choosing the ecommerce platform best for your needs.  Do some searches on Google.  Browse some forums.  Find past and current customers and ask them questions.  Call up customer service and see how they treat you?  Is there even a live person available to answer your questions?  Depending on your needs, not having a live customer service agent could be a deal breaker. The right ecommerce software could be a part of your business for many years to come.  Don’t you think you owe it to yourself to spend a few hours figuring out who the right one is?

Reason #8 – Site requires registration before purchase (34%) – One of the most common mistakes ecommerce websites make is requiring visitors to register with them before allowing them to make a purchase.  This is akin to requiring a customer in your store to give you their personal information before accepting their payment.  Put in the same situation, wouldn’t you just leave the items you wanted on the counter and walk out too?

How to fix the problem:   Don’t make your visitors jump through hoops to give you money.  Again, simplicity is king when it comes to checking out.  Amazon revolutionized the ecommerce landscape with their patented 1-Click Checkout.  The fewer clicks you require your visitors to go through before they can give you their hard-earned case, the better.  Sure it’s nice to increase your registered user numbers, but not at the risk of losing sales.  If your customers want to just get in and get out (and they probably do), let them!

Reason #7 – Checkout requires too much personal information (35%) – Have you ever tried to buy something, but during checkout, it felt like an inquisition?  No one wants to feel as though they are putting their identity at risk by providing information their family doctor doesn’t even know.  Ask for just one wrong piece of information and you could be offending a huge portion of your visitors.

How to fix the problem:   Ecommerce has been around long enough that in general, online shoppers have been trained to provide certain pieces of information.  Any more than that though, and you risk losing the sale to a competitor after you’ve done so much to get the visitor through your door, put a product in their hand and convinced them to buy it from you.  If possible, keep required information to their purchaser’s name, billing and shipping address and credit card type and number.

Reason #6 – Checkout process is too long (41%) – Once again, the fewer the clicks (and pages), the better.  This simple concept is ignored by far too many ecommerce websites who are all too willing to sacrifice sales in the name of “talking too much”.  Much like a good salesman, your ecommerce website needs to learn to shut up when the sales has already been made.

How to fix the problem: Go through your checkout process and on each page, ask yourself if it’s necessary.  Can it be merged with the previous or following page?  Visit Amazon, find a product, put it in your shopping cart and go through the checkout process.  How can you make your site more “Amazon-like”?  For each page that isn’t necessary, eliminate it.  If it’s important to you that your customers get that information, include it in a link on the thank you page after they’ve made the sale.

Reason #5 – Total cost of items is too high (43%) – Much like your brick and mortar colleagues, defining the right price for your products seems to be more art than science.   Obviously the numbers you come up with are specific to your business and need to make enough sense to make you enough profit, but making your prices too high is almost always going to drive away more customers than it attracts (the exception might be for luxury items, but in this tough economy, even luxury items are competing more on price than ever before).

How to fix the problem:  Visit ten of your biggest competitors and see what they are charging for the same items.  Then figure out if you are providing more, less or the same value.  If you’re providing more value, then it may be appropriate to increase your prices a bit (no more than 10%).  If you provide less value (less customer service for example), then it becomes even more important that your prices reflect this position.  Lastly, think of other ways you can provide more value or justify higher prices.  Can you deliver purchases for free?  Can you include coupons for future use?  How about providing information that helps customers have a better experience with the goods or services they buy from you?

Reason #4 – Saving items for later purchase (51%) – Just about every consumer “window shops” from time to time.  Have you ever found a product you really wanted, but either didn’t have the cash for it or a good enough reason to buy it right now?  It’s your ecommerce website’s job to give your visitors better excuses to make the purchase today rather than tomorrow.

How to fix the problem:  Write better copy that illustrates benefits for the buyer, not just product features.  Keep in mind that consumers don’t want to buy a drill with 50 different drill bits and nine separate speeds.  All they really want is the hole the drill creates so they can complete their projects.  Spend more time discussing the hole, and less time discussing the drill bits.  You can also use “cookie” to remind the visitor next time they stop by your ecommerce site that they still have items in their shopping cart.

Reason #3 – Changed mind (56%) – Similar to the reason above, every business owner knows all too well the tug of war that goes on in a shopper’s mind.  Should they or shouldn’t they?  How else can they put their money to better use?  Is someone else offering the same products or services for less?

How to fix the problem:  One of the best ways to make up a visitor’s mind for them is to provide as many risk reversal ideas as possible.  Allow free returns in the event they aren’t completely satisfied with their purchase.  if a competitor offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, offer a 60-day money-back guarantee.  The less risk your customer’s feel they are taking on when shopping with you, the more likely they are to keep their mind made up after deciding to buy from you.

Reason #2 – Comparison shopping or browsing (61%) – Similar to reason #4, a large percentage of visitors are start out just comparing prices, features, benefits and delivery costs and times.  Many of them don’t actually intend on making a purchase, but find something they like so much, it actually ends up in a shopping cart anyway.  The fact is, people make many of their purchasing decisions impulsively.  Depending on your industry, this could be a good or a bad thing.

How to fix the problem:  Again, it’s your job as a business owner to provide as many compelling reasons and benefits as possible to convince your visitors that you have the answer to their needs.  Through a combination of better copywriting, timely reminders, point of purchase offers and limited-time offers, you can increasingly reduce the amount of comparison shoppers to your site and turn browsers into buyers.

Reason #1 – High shipping prices (72%) – One of the biggest hurdles to selling online is finding a way to compete on price once you’ve factored in shipping costs.  If your visitors can get the same product locally and save a substantial amount of money by eliminating shipping costs, they’ll probably do so.  On the other hand, if you can sell them the same products for less and have their purchases delivered straight to their door, there isn’t much reason for them to get up off their butt, get in the car and drive somewhere.

How to fix the problem:  The fact is, you should be able to sell your products for less than a brick and mortar, local business.  Why?  Because you should have far less overhead.  If less overhead doesn’t translate to lower prices for your visitors, maybe you need to rethink your business model or accept a lower profit margin.  Can you offer free shipping to local customers?  Are your prices low enough to start with that you can include shipping prices in your product pricing?  All things being equal, shoppers are going to choose the seller that offers the lowest shipping prices.  Use your imagination and find a way to deliver your products as close to free as possible and you’re bounce rates will substantially decline.

Fixing these problems isn’t all that difficult, but they will take time.  It’s important not to make too many changes all at once or you won’t know which changes are responsible for the changes in your bounce rate.  Realistically you can make one of these changes each week and in less than three months, completely transform your ecommerce business by reducing your bounce rate incrementally.

What other reasons can you think of that your visitors are leaving your ecommerce website before making a purchase?