E-commerce has taken “window shopping” to a whole new level. It’s become so easy for shoppers to compare products by skipping from one online store to the next that getting them to stay on your site and actually make a purchase is becoming increasingly more difficult. Here are five tips to help customers stay on your site and convert from shoppers to buyers.
    1. Include compelling images and videos. It’s common sense, but countless studies have also proven that shoppers are more likely to connect with a product – and make a purchase – if they can interact with it online. People want to feel like they know everything possible about a product before making the decision to buy, and as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Striking images can go a long way in drawing in a customer, so you should make sure to include a number of them on product detail pages – from all different angles and levels of detail, and even shots of the product in use. Taking this a step further, video is a great option and is becoming easier for shoppers to view as broadband and mobile speeds get faster. Investing the resources to create videos, or working with a manufacturer or supplier to include videos they already have, could be well worth your time.
 
    1. Design for mobile. According to comScore, consumers spend more time browsing online retail sites on mobile devices than they do on desktops – 62 percent of their time to be exact – and that number is only expected to grow. Retailers need to make sure that shoppers who visit your site have a pleasant experience, no matter what device they’re using. This can be complicated because there are so many variations of mobile operation systems, device manufacturers and screen sizes, but you have to account for all of them. Responsive Web design is a good place to start, but sites should also be adaptive so they can recognize a device profile and adjust how they serve content to create the best possible experience
 
    1. Optimize the funnel. Nobody likes to have their time wasted, especially online shoppers who are looking for ease of use and convenience. Try to minimize the number of clicks they have to make and screens they have to view before checking out. The shorter the process, the less chance they have to abandon their cart in the process. This is becoming even more important as mobile becomes the most prominent channel. A customer may be on-the-go and looking to make a purchase quickly, but no matter where they are, remember that they could be on a device that has a small screen size and no keyboard. Because of this, the steps from product discovery to checkout must be quick and seamless. Retailers can minimize clicks by doing things like allowing frequent shoppers to create accounts on their site that stores shipping and payment information.
 
    1. Address shipping & delivery details up front. One of the best things you can do is offer free shipping. This has become so common for many of the major online retailers that customers have come to expect it. In fact, not offering free shipping can be a major cause for cart abandonment. But remember, free shipping is not really free for the merchant and the money has to come from somewhere, usually an operations or marketing (promotions) budget. Offering free shipping with a national carrier is far too costly for many merchants, but solutions like Newgistics can offer more competitive pricing on delivery and returns, and even offset those costs by improving efficiencies in the process. For example, insight into what’s returning and when it will arrive can help optimize staffing and inventory management, and minimize call center requests. When customers see a shipping and returns policy up front – especially if that includes free shipping and returns – they’ll be more likely to continue to checkout.
 
  1. Speed it up! Getting back to people’s valuable time, no one likes to wait. If a site takes too much time to load, it’s going to lose shoppers. Retailers need to test site performance to ensure it’s tuned-up, especially for the busiest times of the year. Last month, a post on The Gist provided some tips about making a site peak performance ready, and it’s a good place to start if you’re looking for tips on how to optimize a site for speed.