UK retailers are losing more than £8 billion ($12.6 million USD) per year due to website inefficiencies, according to research by data and analytics firm QuBit. Using its Exit Feedback technology, QuBit collected more than 18,000 comments about a range of UK retail websites and analyzed the data to discover the major issues that these sites face.
Mashable spoke with QuBit CEO Graham Cooke about the company's research, and what it means for businesses. We look at the top 10 reasons website visitors don't convert to paying customers on retail websites and offer a few tips for businesses that face these problems.
Here are the top 10 website issues that hinder retail website visitors from converting to customers, according to QuBit's research:
Pricing was the leading issue for consumers in their online purchase decisions. Transparency and accessibility are key for the online retail world, since comparative shopping is drastically easier on the Internet as compared with shopping in the real world. QuBit recommends crossing out previous prices or focusing on a "deal of the week" to satisfy price-conscious consumers.
2. Product descriptions
More than 12 percent of feedback was related to the lack of clear and complete product descriptions. Descriptions must be thorough enough to replace the knowledge of a sales associate. This is especially important for fashion retailers, as "the vast proportion of feedback found on fashion retail sites blames lack of sizing information as a primary reason for exiting the site," the report reads. Materials used, origin of goods and sizing information are just a few details that retailers should consider listing.
3. Stock information
It is important that availability of products be communicated to website visitors early on in the purchasing process. If a product is out of stock, timely information about when it will be available is also important. Otherwise, users should be given the option to be notified once the product becomes available, or the site should recommend related goods that are in stock.
4. Site functionality
Users are frustrated when they enter a site with expectations of how it should function and are utterly disappointed. Key missing functionalities cited in this research included wish lists, in-store pick-up, personalized recommendations, guest checkout and product filters.
5. Shipping information
Shipping prices and times should be readily available. Lack of this information is likely to cause checkout drop-offs and complete abandonment of the site, the report explained. Offering international shipping and displaying shipping prices in destination currencies are two features likely to improve this problem area.
People like to see what they're buying before they make a purchase. High quality photography from multiple angles and with zoom capabilities is important for converting shoppers into buyers.
Commenters point to not being able to find where to enter discount codes as a big problem when shopping online. Likewise, consumers seemed confused as to whether offline discounts could be applied online, and if so, whether the discounts applied to their demographic or purchase. We've all been there—exclusion lists are lengthy and can include details on countries, states, brands and even particular items.
Consumers are accustomed to visiting large commerce websites, such as Amazon, that feature clear navigation—and they expect that same level of quality across all retail websites. Broken links within the shopping cart, lack of category pages in the main navigation and broken browser functionalities (such as the back button) were key issues cited by consumers.
Product videos can add flare to a product page, and apparently consumers expect them, as the lack of videos was expressed as a major problem area on retail websites. QuBit pointed to Burberry as being a trendsetter in this area, as the retailer's website presents a seamless experience of videos and photos.
10. Website speed
Slow loading times are of huge concern to retailers, as consumers simply hate waiting around for a website to finally show up. Retailers should benchmark their load times against those of their competitors and act accordingly.
Tips for improvement
QuBit CEO and ex-Googler Graham Cooke told us that there are three main things that a retail website owner needs to look at in order to improve conversions:
1. Product information
"Are the descriptions on your site clear, concise and engaging? Do they tell the user what they need to know about a product? Have you got great images on the site and do you let people zoom in so they can really get the detail? The product information on a website plays the role of the store assistant in an offline store, so you want to make sure its performing at its best."
2. Payment processes
"The checkout is one of the most likely areas where you're going to lose customers, and there are some simple things you can do to make this work better. Lots of retailers ignore simple things, like enabling the display of payment information in multiple currencies or making sure that people have clear information about shipping costs."
3. User experience
"We've all known for years that user experience is key to successful online retail, but it still pops up all the time as a major issue. Again, this can be [narrowed] down to relatively simple issues such as slow page loading speeds or site search, but they're all costing you valuable sales."
How does your business optimize its website for conversions? Let us know your strategies in the comments below.
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