Posted in How To on October 30th, 2013
The homepage of an eCommerce website is a lot like prime-time television slot. Every sitcom is vying to be there, but only the very best gets the slot. The homepage is the store front, the entry-point of your site. This is where you allure, mesmerize, convince, coax or seduce the visitor down the funnel. How you welcome your visitors here will decide whether they bounce off or make it to the checkout stage.
Here are 21 tips on how you can make your eCommerce homepage a conversion magnet.
1) Give them an ever-present search box
Make your search bar omnipresent. Make it unashamedly tag along the visitors as they explore the hidden corners of your homepage. If they are at the bottom of your page, don’t make them scroll all the way up to find the search box. Feed them with a spoon the way Flipkart does above. If you don’t have enough space to give prominent display to the search box, take a cue from allrecipes.com. When a visitor clicks the site search box on their homepage, it dynamically becomes bigger.
2) Organize the navigation bar
Suppose you go to a shop to buy a 34-waist slim-fit blue denim for men. You head to the male section, stand in front of the 34-size counter but are told that denims of all fits have been stacked together. What will you do? Painstakingly segregate the slim-fits or head to the adjacent shop? Most probably the latter.
Online shoppers don’t behave any differently. One of the major reasons for high bounce rate is poor navigation. Make sure your visitors easily find their way around your website. Place the navigation bar at the standard positions where visitors expect to find them – horizontally on top and vertically on left. You could also make your navigation bar persistent like Kipling did here.
Here, the bar remains fixed on the top of the screen even as you scroll down the site.
3) Use browsing history for personalization
As you can see in the screenshot above, I checked out Dan Ariely’s book on behavioral economics and Amazon is making no two bones about remembering my search and making recommendations based on the same. A colleague, who checked out watches for women on the same website, got a completely different recommendation list.
Creating a personalized customer experience is the next big thing in eCommerce. Metrics such as location, traffic sources, what customers bought and what pages they viewed can greatly improve customer service and foster loyalty.
4) Have a persistent shopping cart
Do you see that widget on the right bottom corner of Jabong’s homepage? Yes, that’s your persistent shopping cart. I took this screenshot on Monday for the purpose of this post. I opened the website just before posting this blog (on Wednesday) and my cart is still intact. What do you think happened here?
A long-term cookie was established when I opened the site on Monday. Now, I will be able to view my cart during subsequent sessions for a given period of time. Having a persistent shopping cart can go a long way in checking cart abandonment as 24% of customers leave shopping carts so that they can come back and purchase later.
5) Announce location and phone number
No matter how strong your credentials, a first-time visitor will always eye your website with a hint of suspicion and apprehension. Prominently display your board line number or physical location of the company if you don’t want them to think you are a crook, a thug or will misuse their credit card information.
6) Flaunt popular partners and associates
If you don’t have an awesome tuxedo, borrow your friend’s. If you are not a name to reckon with, flaunt your famous partners’ names (yes name dropping it is). This will be another exercise in increasing your credibility.
7) Give the rotating carousels a break
They have been moving for far too long and far too fast for anyone to actually understand them in one go. Yes, we agree carousels help you show off more products, more offers and promotions. But what they also do is annoy users. Go for the good-old static images for some meaningful communication.
Target.com has broken out its offers and promos on different sections of the homepage, doing away with a slider.
8) Have an easily identifiable sale section
According to an E-tailing Group study, 47% of online shoppers want to buy only discounted products, except under exceptional circumstances. It also found that 62% of buyers are looking for a separate section of products on sale. So do yourself a favor. Fish all the discounted products on your homepage, line them up in a separate section and then dedicate it to the discount seekers.
9) Declare free shipping
Declaring on your homepage that you are shipping free is like extending a hand for a warm handshake but getting a high-five in return. High shipping charges is the leading cause of cart abandonment and no shipping charges is what beautiful shopping dreams are made of.
10) Bring all ‘ways to save’ under one roof
If there are multiple ways to claim discounts or freebies on your website – through coupon codes, loyalty points and newspaper cuttings – then create a one-stop bar or menu for them. The bargain hunting mamas will drop a tear or two out of sheer gratitude and will always love you the best for your considerate behavior.
11) Make use of a cool modal box
Homepages are usually a cluttered lot and have different elements fighting for real-estate space. Modal windows allow you to drop off a big element and instead make it float above the page. It saves the user the trouble of loading a new page and offloads some burden off the shoulders of the main page. A win-win deal indeed.
12) Launch a live chat widget
Investing in a live chat software that helps you know how long visitors are staying on a page and where they have come from can help you handhold them down the sales funnel. Your support staff can guide that reluctant visitor who has been confusedly hovering over various elements by initiating a chat session.
13) Use life-size background image
Sometimes a single image conveys a lot more than a dozen elements put together. This appealing image exudes high-quality, care and aesthetic sense.
14) Don’t blindly trust the trust badges
Trust badges work like ice-breakers. It’s upon seeing these badges that a first-time visitor seriously starts considering a purchase. House of Kids put a trust mark to its advantage by using Visual Website Optimizer to run an A/B test and saw 32% increase in conversions. But don’t just blindly hoard up all the badges on your homepage, else they will start looking like brainless diploma courses on an undergraduate’s portfolio.
According to this Actual Insights study, 75.66 shoppers say trust logos affect their sense of trust for a specific website but the same percentage of respondents also say they once did not purchase a product as they could not recognize any of the trust logos.
15) A/B what products to display
Coming back to our prime-time television slot analogy, only the most popular or the most desired products make it to homepages. You could run A/B tests to choose if new products or seasonal products do better than bestsellers. See how Walmart cashes on the Halloween festivities to display special products.
16) Create scarcity to get them hooked
Now this kind of a tactic is usually reserved for the category or product pages. But Sohofixed here reversed the trend by displaying a beautiful bike on its homepage and writing an apologetic “Sold” under it to get the visitor interested. See that sad emoticon? It almost makes you feel sorry for yourself for not being able to possess that bike.
17) Convey value proposition straight up
What a visitor sees in the first few seconds on your homepage is very crucial. It’s important that you establish your logo and communicate your value proposition instantly and don’t come across as any other mom & pop store. In the example above, Oakstreet establishes its competitive edge by saying “Designed for Longevity” and “Handcrafted in America” – both statements signifying premium quality. Check out this article to find out how a good value proposition can boost conversions.
18) Encourage sharing
Around 39% of digital marketers around the world believe social sharing is very effective in boosting conversions. According to another survey, 84% of online shoppers use at least one social media site. Now this is no hard science, just add the two up and spruce up your social sharing widget or go arty the MumMade does above.
19) Give important info in top line banner
See how at the very top of the Zappos homepage, it says “Order before 1pm PST for FREE Next Business Day shipping on all Clothing”. This is a cool way to say something important as the top bar catches the attention of the visitor. The green color stands out in contrast to the blue theme of the page.
20) Answer frequently asked questions
No matter how simplistic your website may be or how awesome your navigation bar might be, there are always some takers for FAQs. Don’t overestimate the customer’s understanding, spell everything out the way you would to a 5-year-old. You can include information on return policy, warranty and shipping duration under this section.
21) Tell them you’ve been in news
Nothing fosters credibility like positive press coverage. If you have been featured by some media houses, homepage is your place to scream it out to the virtual world. The right way to do it? Display the logos of the media outlets the way Joe Button does.
Did I miss something?
I originally planned 25 points for this post but some of them got merged in the research process while others started seeming less important. But I am sure more tips could be added to this list. So do me a favor please, tell me what I missed out in the comment section below!
More optimization awesomeness
Know all that you need to get started:
- What is A/B Testing?
- Is it compatible with SEO?
- How to start your first A/B test?