Five e-commerce best practices to stand out from a saturated market

ecommerce sales

Marie Despringhere, UK Country Manager for Optimizely, explains how e-commerce websites can increase their conversion rates and run better A/B and multivariate tests with these five top tips.

Keep shoppers focused with a prominent breadcrumb

Shoppers frequently move from an exploratory (evaluating what the website has to offer) to a task-oriented (such as adding products to the basket and checking out) mind-set as they progress through e-commerce websites. The product page is a key middle ground where shoppers are exploring their options, but will need to focus their decision-making attention before they add their product(s) to their basket and move on to checkout.

One device for keeping shoppers focused is a site breadcrumb on all product pages. The breadcrumb gives users guidance on how to explore a set of products they’ve already shown interest in. Users that lack a focused path through an e-commerce site are less likely to convert to purchases so remember to test navigation methods like these at key points in the user journey.

Confirm when shoppers add a product to their basket

Capitalise on your visitors’ interest and help them stay focused on the task at hand by making the next step obvious. One way to guide shoppers from product pages to checkout is to show them confirmation after adding a product to their basket. Showing a preview of the current basket alongside a checkout call to action reduces the effort required to take the next step and begin the checkout process.

Prioritise your A/B tests wisely

There are dozens of factors to A/B test in order to influence your conversion rate and generate more value from your digital customer experiences. Traffic, or the volume of visitors to your site, is a finite resource that can dramatically influence how you plan to A/B test, and should be factored into the prioritisation process for organising experiments.

Plan to execute a good mix of tests on different types of pages: the homepage and category pages, as well as product pages and the checkout funnel. Top of funnel tests, for example, will provide good insight on how changes along the path influence behaviour down-funnel. Likewise, tests that are closest to your primary conversion event give value because the goals assigned to such tests will most likely be aligned to key success metrics, and will enable you to more accurately communicate how variation changes create business value.

Don’t just redesign; iterate and test

“Redesign” is a word that carries enormous weight, loaded with both optimism for a better user experience and increased conversions, as well as a tremendous investment of resources. Should you test small changes, or a completely redesigned experience?

To streamline the tedious process of testing element variations one-by-one, consider grouping related elements in a multivariate test. The elements that you group should all have the same goal on the page (i.e. drive CTA click, encourage form complete, etc.). A multivariate test will run all possible combinations of variations to provide very specific insight into how elements do or don’t complement one another.

Test when visitors need to register

An email address is key to extending the customer relationship beyond the time on your website or mobile app, be it through remarketing when a shopper abandons their basket or emailing a promotional offer to bring them back to your site.

A trend currently being witnessed in e-commerce is requesting the email address at multiple stages of the funnel, including at the end when a user has advanced to checkout. Email credentials are then requested to create an account instead of letting visitors complete a purchase as a guest. Additionally on mobile, try to avoid many steps or modals layered on top of your site experience. Instead, direct users to a page that has only one task: registration.

It’s important to note that every funnel stage, across every device, should be taken into consideration when optimising an e-commerce site. When executed correctly, optimisation can increase conversion rates and enable better and more effective A/B and multivariate tests to be carried out.