How to Balance eCommerce Conversion Optimization Against Transaction Risk
There are a million different concerns fighting for your attention when you’re running an eCommerce business. You have to engage in product research, marketing and SEO, loss prevention and risk management, A/B testing, logistics…all on top of the basic practice of serving your customers. But, even with all those forces demanding consideration, you should rank eCommerce conversion optimization near the top of the priority list.
Of course, optimizing conversion is not as simple as enticing shoppers to click through and complete a purchase. There are plenty of “dos” and “don’ts” to consider; taking the wrong approach can create problems you never anticipated.
Whether you’re launching a new business, or just looking to streamline existing processes, here are some of our top tips and best practices for eCommerce conversion optimization.
Defining your Objectives
You need to define your target conversion rate. However, it’s important to be conscious of the factors influencing this calculation.
While averages can vary quite a bit based on different factors, the average eCommerce conversion rate in the US sits at right around 2%. This means that getting people to complete a transaction will still be a struggle, even in product categories that see above-average conversion rates. Most of your site visitors will leave without making a purchase; you want to be realistic about this before deciding on a target.
Next, you need to identify the factors that will have the most influence on your conversion rate. Some of these may include:
Some products have significantly higher conversion rates than others. This could be because buyers only browse these products when they’re serious about their intent to make a purchase. Examples of high-converting product categories include electronics, publishing and entertainment, and business services.
The offer needs to be relevant to your target customer. What is the value proposition you’re conveying to your audience? Does that proposition come across effectively in your content? Are your pages optimized so that your customer can find you via search?
User Experience (UX)
Is your site responsive? Do pages take too long to load? Site speed, responsiveness, and other facets of UX are essential to keep potential buyers on your site. If customers find your site too frustrating to use, they will not convert.
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Calls to Action
The calls to action (CTAs) you use must convey your value proposition as tightly and succinctly as possible. You have just a few words to directly address the customer and explain why they should make a purchase, so spend time refining your language to optimize the messaging.
The style of content you deploy to attract customers needs to appeal to your target audience. Different situations call for different approaches: in-depth, written content might be best in some cases, while video would excel in others. Podcasts, whitepapers, blog posts…a variety of approaches will cast the widest net.
How much do your goods cost? This will help shape reasonable expectations for how many of your shoppers will ultimately buy. This will go hand-in-hand with your target customer: selling fewer high-dollar products could be offset by having a more affluent target customer.
The device used by customers plays a role, too. Although the gap is narrowing, the data from Smart Insights cited above finds that desktop still has a much higher global conversion rate than mobile. However, tablet conversion rates lead over desktop by a notable margin.
Country of Origin
Conversion across different devices varies widely based on country of origin. During the period highlighted in the data, the eCommerce conversion rate in Germany was more than double that of other countries like India or Italy.
Some Conversion Optimization Practices Can Lead to Chargebacks
As we see, eCommerce conversion optimization is a tricky calculation. The key is to identify a target conversion rate that makes sense for the unique dynamics of your business. But, eCommerce conversion optimization is important, you have to look beyond simply getting shoppers to complete purchases. You need to account for risk, too.
Some points of friction in the transaction process are useful barriers that are in place to minimize the threat of chargebacks. Without these barriers, you could end up facing payment reversals tied to a number of loss sources:
- Account Takeover: This occurs when a fraudster gains access to a legitimate buyer’s account and submits unauthorized purchases.
- Synthetic Fraud: The fraudster uses stolen information from multiple individuals to “invent” a fake user.
- Buyer’s Remorse: A legitimate buyer regrets making a purchase, and views the chargeback process as an easy way to recover funds.
- Dissatisfaction: The buyer believes that the goods or services received failed to live up to their expectations.
- Family Fraud: A relative of the cardholder completed a purchase without the knowledge, or authorization, of the cardholder.
These are some examples, but there are other issues that might arise as well. This is why it’s important to balance eCommerce conversion optimization against chargeback risk.
Optimize Conversion Without Causing More Risk
Fortunately, there are some best practices that can help you optimize eCommerce conversion and control chargebacks at the same time.
Craft Good Product Descriptions
Give details that provide the customer with a reasonable and realistic impression of what to expect. You should use high-quality, high-resolution images on your product pages (video is also recommended when feasible). Of course, you want to emphasize the benefits of your products; remember, though, not to make promises that you can’t keep.
Live Customer Service
Make live, responsive customer service available as many hours a day as possible. This should be across all channels of communication (phone, email, social media, etc.). You can also deploy automated chat software to immediately resolve easy-to-answer questions in real-time, while automatically filing more complex questions to a human representative.
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Solid Return Policy
Your return policy should be fair, yet flexible. You need customers to believe that requesting a return through the right channels will be easier than a chargeback. Also, make your return policy easy to find from any page on your site. Ensure that it’s written in plain language so that customers can understand the terms easily.
Make Contact Information Easy to Find
As we alluded to before, customers often file chargebacks out of convenience. You can avoid many of these chargebacks if you make contacting you as easy as possible. Publishing your contact information on every page (and making it highly visible) will both prevent chargebacks and instill buyer confidence, leading to a positive impact from an eCommerce conversion optimization standpoint.
Adopt New Practices
Look for ways to increase conversion rates without increasing risk. For example, you can entice buyers to complete purchases by offering free shipping, providing limited-time coupon codes, or allowing guests to check out without creating an account. These can improve the customer’s impression of your brand, without significantly increasing the likelihood of cart abandonment or chargeback issuances.
Evaluate & Adjust
Finally, it’s important to review your success from time to time and consider areas in which you might improve.
Trends in product, device, and checkout preferences change constantly. So do payments industry rules and the protocols governing transactions, fraud, and chargebacks. To keep up with these changes, you must gauge your success at eCommerce conversion optimization on a regular basis.
The most obvious indicator: does your conversion rate increase or decrease over time, as compared to risk? Examine your stats on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis to try and identify trends that develop over time. If you notice something questionable, like a creeping uptick in chargebacks, look for ways to address the problem.
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What is eCommerce conversion optimization?
eCommerce conversion optimization refers to the process of improving your customer’s shopping experience for the purpose of increasing sales. This can involve optimizing landing pages, category pages, or other points of customer contact.
How do you optimize for eCommerce?
The key to eCommerce conversion optimization is defining your objectives, then identifying facets of your business that impact conversion the most. Some of these include product category, customer experience, location, content, and average ticket value.
How does eCommerce conversion impact risk?
There’s a close relationship between conversion and risk management. Adopting practices that are too aggressive at capturing buyers can cause your fraud and/or chargeback rate to spike.
What is the most used testing method for improving conversions?
A/B testing (creating two separate destinations on your site, then sending different customers to each of these destinations) is generally the best way to gauge the effect of any changes.
Can you improve conversion without causing more risk?
Yes. There are numerous eCommerce conversion optimization practices that have a positive impact on your general risk. Examples include crafting good product descriptions, making returns easy, and providing live, round-the-clock customer assistance.