Five steps to optimize your eCommerce site


An eCommerce site is your business’ gateway to an audience without geographical limits. While a physical store provides a presence in your local area, with the right SEO and some savvy digital marketing, you can engage potential customers wherever they are.  

It is also an opportunity to automate sales, payments, inventory management, and other operational processes. As well as reducing labor and real estate costs, while optimizing your ability to sell.  

If you have decided to make the leap and launch your eCommerce store, the next step is evaluating performance. Is your eCommerce website optimized to drive traffic? And are you maximizing your conversion rate? Let's dive deeper.   

What is a competitive conversion rate?

 Looking across all industries, the average eCommerce conversion rate is about 2%. A quarter of eCommerce sites convert close to 5%, and the top 10% of eCommerce sites are converting at 11% or higher. 

The business performance percentages for your industry may vary. For example, fashion and apparel have higher average conversion rates than software websites

Five steps to optimize your eCommerce site

No matter the sector you are in, here are five simple steps to optimize your eCommerce website and attract and convert visitors into paying, returning customers. 

1. SEO – help people find you and your products 

At the core of eCommerce SEO is your site’s architecture. It is important to have a distinct hierarchy of navigation and shallow site structure — from homepage to product category pages to product pages — with no duplicate content pages. A clear and simple internal linking structure helps search engines — and customers — find your pages and products.  

Each product should be only a few clicks from the home page. Three is the golden number. Plus, giving each page a unique URL and target keyword phrase ensures every page will be indexed, and shoppers can find the product they want. 

Top tips to optimize your site pages: 

Title tag: In less than 70 characters, include the name of your brand (homepage) or your product (product pages) and include any relevant key words. Your title tag should appeal to your audience and be descriptive and accurate.  

Meta description: A 160-character description of your business (home page) or your product (product pages). This description will appear under your title tag on search engine results pages (SERPs).   

Content: Content should be clear, informative, and concise. Too much content can confuse customers — and search engines — so keep your copy targeted and don’t be afraid to get specific about what you offer.  

Image optimization: Images sell. They are also great for search optimization. Start with the file name: include the product name and keyword. Think about how people will search for an item. For example, adidas-running-shoes-black-orange.jpg. The name and keyword should also be included in the ALT text.  

Keywords: When choosing keywords for individual product and category pages, do your homework. What’s the search volume, how competitive is it (check cost-per-click (CPC)), and research what people are looking for when they use that search term. The most competitive keywords — those with a higher CPC — are not always the best. Consider a long-tail alternative.   

2. Give customers a personalized experience

There’s a reason a personalized experience increases conversions — buyers like it. Eighty percent of online shoppers are more likely to buy from a brand that offers a personalized experience, and 83% will share their personal information with them. 

Product recommendations are an effective way to optimize your eCommerce site. Fifty-six percent of buyers will return to a site that uses their browsing history to recommend products. User data such as geographical location, traffic sources, preferences, and purchase history help you highlight products at the top of your customers' minds. 

3. Is your shopping cart persistent?

In today's world, distractions are plenty, and an abandoned shopping cart can represent your potential customer's unfinished business. No one wants to repeat work they've already done. A 'persistent cart' helps shoppers complete the transactions they started by saving their shopping cart for their next visit. 

This is established with a long-term cookie to keep added cart items in subsequent sessions for a given period. Fifty-six percent of visitors tend to save their carts to complete their purchase, so ensure their carts are intact when they return. 

4. Be upfront with shipping charges

Anyone who doubts that free shipping motivates consumers should look at Amazon's growth after adding free shipping. High shipping charges are one of the primary reasons shoppers abandon their carts. 

Free shipping isn't an option for every business or every product. If you charge for shipping, display the cost upfront on the product page. If you avoid unpleasant surprises during the checkout process shoppers will complete more transactions. 

5. Reduce visitor anxiety with social proof

Nothing positively influences your potential customers, like reviews and testimonials. Even negative views help customers more confidently make a purchase decision

According to the Spiegel Research Center, a product is 270% more likely to be purchased when it has five reviews. 

Reviews have an even higher impact with more expensive purchases. Reviews added for higher-priced products saw a conversion rate increase of 380%. The reviews displayed for lower-cost transactions also went up by 190%. 

 Data drives smart optimization

Refining the customer journey to minimize pain points increases the ROI (return on investment) of your marketing dollars. 9Spokes Track — our business dashboard — provides a data-driven platform to give you an overview of your business across all areas from marketing and social media to sales, finance, HR, and inventory. 

By connecting the apps and software you use to run your business to the 9Spokes dashboard, you get business performance insights in one place. Including how you can improve your eCommerce site's performance.  

For example, if you use a point of sale app such as Shopify and a reporting tool such as Google analytics, connecting them to Track lets you quickly assess your combined sales, product, and website performance.