Online shoppers have high expectations. Just ask any e-commerce store owner or marketing manager. They expect your website to be fast and intuitive on all devices, to have clear product descriptions, amazing imagery and an easy checkout process. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Driving qualified traffic to an e-commerce store is expensive business requiring significant investment and resource. So paying for visitors who never go on to become customers is frustrating.

Online shoppers have more choice than ever before and they're savvy. So even if you think your product is great, your service is exceptional and your website is perfect, the chances are that you still have room for improvement.

While there's no quick and simple formula to a perfect product and a USP to set you aside from the competitors in your marketplace, I'd hazard a guess that there's plenty of room for improvement with your online conversion rate.

The impact of improving conversion rates can be incredible. Going from a 1% conversion rate to a 1.5% conversion rate could add 50% to your revenue figures. So an on going process of improving your conversion rate consistently over time has the potential to yield fantastic results.

The First Step is Understanding What Your Users are Doing and Why

Google Analytics is great for understanding what your conversion rate is. It also provides some really basic user interaction statistics like bounce rates and page exit rates. But it doesn't give you a full picture of what your users are actually doing on your website.

That's where these 4 alternative checkout analysis tools come in. 

1. Hotjar

Hotjar offers users a huge and affordable suite of tools and features. These range from heat mapping, highlighting where users scroll and click, through to video playback. By watching actual user sessions on your website, you get a more thorough understanding of the parts of the browsing, searching and checkout process that are slowing them down or putting them off altogether. The tool also has a form analytics offering and user survey feature.

With limited features (that would perhaps suffice for a small ecommerce website), Hotjar has a completely free offering. If you need a little more from the system, packages start at around $30/month.

 

2. Silverback

Silverback is an OS application that allows you to simultaneously record a user's session and their face via their computer's webcam. So you can carry out comprehensive testing where you invite users to carry out tasks on your site and talk you through what they're doing. This goes a level deeper than merely screen recording, as you get the insight of the user as they're trying to carry out certain tasks.

Version 2.0 of the app is available as a free unsupported download on the website, with version 3.0 expected out any time now. This will most likely come with a fee, but when 2.0 was a paid download this was priced at an affordable $50 or so.

 

3. Clicktale

Clicktale has a similar suite of features to Hotjar in many ways, though each has very different ways to displaying the data.

With real time data available too, Clicktale can (if you have sufficient traffic) supply quick insights about user behaviour on your website. 

The heat maps and scroll maps are particular features Clicktale does well, with incredible accuracy.

4. Usertesting.com

We all know the value of having people we don't know test our website. And Silverback, mentioned above, comes into its own when you have users you can call on to test something. But when you don't have your own panel of testers, Usertesting.com might be just what you need. You can essentially buy a panel of testers from Usertesting.com and receive written, verbal and video feedback on your website.

Some Rules that Apply Across the Board

Understanding what users are doing on your website is the first step towards making your browsing, searching and buying experience better for your specific users. And of course, every set of users is unique. There are some things you should ensure you have in place on your e-commerce site regardless of your target market though. 

Kevin Jones, CEO of Shopblocks, explains:

There are hundreds of user experience considerations when you set up an e-commerce website. But two of the biggest are multiscreen and site speed. How quickly your website loads will often be the difference between making the sale and losing a customer. And with a third of online sales now taking place on mobile devices, there's really no excuse for not ensuring the same quick, user friendly experience for your customers on mobile, tablet and desktop.

 

 

Published on: Jul 27, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.