Top 7 Reasons Behind High Ecommerce Bounce Rates (and How to Address Them)

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You’ve worked hard to get people to visit your online store, but are you inadvertently sending them packing? Do you find that while shoppers are checking out your website, a good chunk of them leave without buying anything? If you’re nodding your head to the questions above, keep reading.

Today we’re demystifying the top reasons behind high bounce rates on ecommerce sites. Go through the points below and if any of them apply to you, follow the tips in this post to address them.

 

Poor navigation and layout

The navigational components and links on your site are meant to direct people where they need to go, so their wording, positioning, and appearance must all be clear and straightforward.

Here are some tips on improving your navigation and layout:

 

Don’t use flowery words

Use clear and simple words in your navigation links. Don’t try to be clever. For example, instead of naming links after, say, collections (e.g. the “Monica” or “Victoria” collection) just stick with words like “dresses” or “shirts”.

 

Keep your store familiar and organized

“Don’t challenge a well-established design principle just for the sake of creativity or gimmick,” writes Ian Lee on Techwyse. For example, people are accustomed to seeing navigation links either at the top or at left-hand side of the page. If you suddenly position your navigation bar on the right, you’ll end up confusing shoppers, and that could cause them to leave your site.

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It also helps to put products in different categories (i.e. tops, bottoms, outerwear, etc.) to make it easier for people to find their way around your site. Check out what Vend customer TopShelf Style is doing. Products on the site are placed in neat, easy-to-understand categories, so shoppers can quickly find what they need.

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Compare that to Argren.net, a site that’s so messy, it gives shoppers a headache. The navigation links don’t make much sense and products are literally all over the place. Needless to say, this is a prime example of what NOT to do.

 

Your site doesn’t look credible or trustworthy

“Unless you’re a nationally recognized brand, you need to prove to prospective customers that you’re a trustworthy vendor before they’re willing to give you their credit card information,” says Hafez Adel, Head of Marketing at Combatant Gentlemen, an online menswear company.

He makes a very good point. No one wants to buy from a shady (or shady-looking) company, so be sure to add trust signals on your site to make people more comfortable about handing out their payment information.

Here are a few ways to do this:

 

Get the necessary encryptions and certifications

According to Adel, “the use of on-site encryption, security certifications, and 3rd party verifications like TRUSTe and VeriSign help alleviate customers’ uncertainty and improve on-site conversion rates considerably.”

So if you haven’t done so yet, get yourself the needed security certificates. You can acquire them from providers such as GeoTrust, Comodo Group, VeriSign and others. Once you have your certification, be sure to display its badge on your website.

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Have a look at what e-tailers such as Autozone and L.L. Bean are doing. Both retailers are displaying their verification badges at the bottom of their sites, to ensure customers that it’s safe to shop with them.

 

Flaunt your press mentions

Got quoted in the press? Is anyone famous wearing your merchandise? Be sure to let your site visitors know by displaying logos of publications that have mentioned you.

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Clothing company SCOTTeVEST does this well. Their homepage has a special section that lists the reputable publications that they were mentioned in.

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Another thing you can do is to have a special press or media page. Take for example, Citizens of Humanity, another awesome Vend customer, which has a press page that has magazine covers, screen grabs, and even pictures of celebrities wearing their products.

 

Display social proof

Ratings and reviews are some of the strongest forms of social proof, and they can increase your credibility dramatically. Plus, in this day and age, ratings and reviews aren’t just nice to have; they’re practically a requirement. According to PowerReviews, a whopping 94% of shoppers consult reviews, and that their very presence on a website is the third most important factor in consumers’ buying decisions—behind only price and the product itself.

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Adding testimonials or even photos of customers using your products is also a great way to add social proof on your website. Check out what Aussie Supplements, one of Australia’s leading supplement stores (and awesome Vender), is doing.

Aussie Supplements displays photos of their patrons on their website, demonstrating just how much people love them.

 

The website is too slow

KISSmetrics has found that forty-seven percent of consumers expect a web page to load within two seconds or less, and that “40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.” This means that you literally have only a couple of seconds to get about half of your visitors to stay before they get impatient and leave.

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This is why optimizing your site’s load time is critical. Check your ecommerce store’s speed using Google’s PageSpeed Insights, a free tool that analyzes your site’s speed and lists the things that are slowing you down. The PageSpeed Insights tool will help you pinpoint site speed issues (both for desktop and mobile), so you’ll know exactly what you need to fix. Consult it regularly, or whenever you make any changes to your ecommerce store that might affect its load time.

 

Addressing slow site speed

While the fixes for slow sites speeds will vary from e-tailer to the next, some of the common action steps you take to improve load time are:

Optimize your images – You’ll want your images on your site to be “just right”. That is, their size and quality have to great enough to do your products justice and entice users, but they can’t be too large that they slow down your site.

Best practices when it comes image size, resolution, file type, etc. will vary, depending on your ecommerce site theme and platform, so check with your solution provider to figure out how to optimize images for your site.

Reduce the size of above-the-fold content – It’s recommended that you “structure your HTML to load the critical, above-the-fold content first,” so your site loads faster.

Get rid of plugins you don’t need – While plugins can help you publish special content types that can enrich the browsing experience, plugins, according to Google, are also “a leading cause of hangs, crashes, and security incidents in browsers that provide support,” which is why many browsers restrict them. They’re also not very mobile-friendly, so running them could diminish the shopping experience of mobile shoppers.

If you’re running plugins on your site, do an audit to determine if any of them are causing site issues. If you find that they are, remove or replace them immediately.

Minify resources – This pertains to “the process of removing unnecessary or redundant data without affecting how the resource is processed by the browser.” Minification could include removing unused code, shortening variable and function names, improving code comments and formatting, and more.

 

Your shipping policies are hard to find

Products aren’t the only things that people need when they’re on your site. Shoppers often look for shipping information prior to making a purchase. In fact, consumers appreciate knowing about your shipping policies before they hit checkout.

Unfortunately, many retailers bury this information or save it until later in the checkout process, causing users to abandon their purchase. Don’t be one of them. Be more transparent about your shipping policies by having easy-to-find links or by putting the information right on the product page.

Jonathan Spektor of LongLivetheInternet.com shares a story of how they helped an ecommerce merchant improve conversion rates by making their shipping and returns policies more visible.

“We were working with a particular client and they were having lower than normal conversion rates. From studying analytics we saw that many people were leaving the product page and going to the shipping and returns page. They would then abandon the site from there,” he said.

“We had them change their product page to include the most pertinent information about shipping and returns. Within weeks they had doubled their conversion rate.”

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One example of a retailer doing this well is Herschel Supply. Check out their product page above, where they include information on how much it would cost to ship the item, so shoppers know exactly how much they’ll pay at checkout.

 

The site isn’t mobile friendly

People are increasingly shopping using their mobile devices, so not providing a great experience on the small screen is a surefire way to send shoppers away.

The good thing is, it’s not that difficult to get on board with mobile these days.

Many ecommerce platforms, including Vend Ecommerce, offer responsive themes that are optimized to automatically look great on any device.

There are also services such as Mobify and Mofuse that can make your existing site mobile-friendly.

 

Your customers can’t get help while shopping

Some customers may need assistance while shopping online, and if your website can’t provide them the help they need, they’ll likely find another retailer who can.

That’s it’s important to ensure that your shoppers can get help and answers while they’re on your site. Consider setting up a FAQ page, implementing live chat, or at least prominently displaying your phone number so customers can get in touch quickly.

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Consider what jewelry retailer Blue Nile is doing. At the top of every page, Blue Nile has a live chat link that users can click on whenever they need help, and the e-tailer also displays its 24-7 hotline for shoppers who’d rather get help over the phone.

 

The checkout process is too complicated

Having too many hoops in your checkout process is another common reason for high bounce rates. Fortunately, simplifying checkout is well… pretty simple.  Below are some steps you can take to do this:

 

Let people checkout as guests

One of the biggest deal-breakers in ecommerce is requiring shoppers to create an account in order to buy from you. That’s why we recommend that you give customers the option to checkout as a guest.

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Take a look at what apparel retailer Sitka is doing. Rather than forcing people to register for an account, Sitka has a handy “Guest” option to allow shoppers to quickly complete their purchase with just a few clicks.

 

Only collect need-to-know information

Don’t ask people to give away information that isn’t necessary at checkout. At this stage, all you really need are your customers’ names, email, and their billing and shipping info, so try to stick to those fields.

Don’t ask for their birthday or gender if it’s not absolutely necessary. We understand that collecting data about shoppers is important, but don’t let it get in the way of a successful sale. Know that there other ways to obtain additional shopper information later on.

For instance, you can circle back via email and ask for their feedback (+ other info) through a survey, or you can send an invite to create an account together with their shipment.

 

Final take

We hope this post prodded you to take an honest look at your website and helped you see which of your site components (if any) are driving shoppers away. Needless to say, if you do find any of the above issues on your site, take action immediately. The longer you wait, the more customers can slip through the cracks.

Can you name other factors that send shoppers packing? Share them in the comments!

 

About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.

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