Five Ways for Manufacturers to Improve Conversion Rates
by Kevin Heisler
Your marketing team has been busy getting traffic to your eStore. Now the real work begins. How do you translate traffic to transactions that generate revenue? The process of converting traffic to sales depends on several factors including the usefulness of your product, the pricing of your product, and overall quality of the traffic to your site. While some of the success of converting traffic to sales is due to the nature of your product offering, conversion can be significantly influenced by the features, functionality, and quality of your eStore.
Manufacturers have a significant opportunity to strengthen conversion rates of their site due to the nature of their products. Manufacturers can have complex products and unique parts which allows for opportunities to better market the product offering than the competition.
A nearly endless list exists of ways that a business can enhance their site to help conversion, but below are five key examples of ways you can improve the conversion rate of your eStore.
1. Improve Search Functionality
From searching on Google and buying on Amazon, B2B buyers have an expectation of search tools offering accurate and relevant suggestions. Accurate search increases the opportunity for customers to quickly find what they are looking for and speeds up the shopping experience. Auto-complete or type-ahead search functionality is important for a site’s search as it helps customers quickly find what they are looking for by finding accurate product matches. This functionality is very important for manufacturers, especially when selling parts to customers. The buyer might not have the product number available or might not know the accurate name of the part. Using search functionality that can suggest the right part or product can greatly enhance the buyer experience and directly impact site conversion.
2. Enhance Product Descriptions & Add Images
Providing sufficient product data to customers is one of the most common issues for manufacturers. The products sold by manufacturers can be very complicated. Customers need precise sizes and specifications of the products they are seeking and getting the right product in front of the buyer is critical. Product data should include a complete product description and all relevant product specifications, as well as a thorough list of the features and functionality of the product. Manufacturers should also consider adding rich media to their product descriptions including instruction manuals, product images, or even product videos. The more information the customer has on the product, the more likely they will be to purchase the product as it allows for a full understanding of the product and customers can more confidently purchase.
3. Allow Visibility to Inventory & Allow Pre-Ordering of Out-of-Stock Items
In an ideal world, your eStore will always have enough inventory of the products that every buyer wants. Odds are though that you will run out of inventory at some point or you will intentionally keep low inventory levels of certain products as a conscious strategy to manage business costs. Manufacturers can take a number of steps to keep the customer engaged in the purchase, even if out of stock. One tactic is to allow for pre-ordering of out-of-stock items. This allows for a sale to be completed in the situation where the customer does not immediately need the product and contributes to customer loyalty. Also, showing various inventory messaging can help conversion of product sales. Simply displaying the quantity of inventory items available on certain products is a way to improve the buyers experience. Showing inventory levels with labels such as “Only 3 Left!” can motivate a buyer to make a purchase as they may not want to risk waiting to order before the inventory is not immediately available.
4. Simplify the Shopping Cart Experience & Reduce Cart Abandonment
You should not celebrate quite yet if a customer adds products to their shopping cart. One important step remains: finalizing the purchase. The best way to convert as many sales as possible once a customer adds items to their cart is to make the shopping cart experience as simple as possible. What makes the experience simple? An eStore can take many steps to improve the cart experience such as limiting the number of screens to get through the process, pre-populating purchase and shipping information based on previous purchases or accounts, or offering multiple payment options. Any steps to reduce friction during the check-out process should positively impact conversion and lead to additional sales. Additionally, marketing to buyers who have abandoned their cart can be a powerful tactic. They may just need a reminder to complete the sale, or you can incent a buyer to make a purchase by offering a discount to complete the purchase.
5. Optimize Page Load Speed
A customer’s patience is quickly tested if the pages of an eStore are slow to load. Slow pages can hurt a site’s SEO rankings and cost-per-click campaigns. According to research by Pingdom, a three-second page load time leads to a 11% bounce rate, and a five-second load time leads to a 38% bounce rate. Continually reviewing page load time is a best practice. Many tools exist to help analyze page load speeds such as Page Speed Insights by Google. Reducing redirects, leveraging browser caching, and optimizing images are a few ways to quickly increase page speed.
Putting it Into Practice
As a manufacturer, many ways exist to improve site performance. Having a digital sales channel requires continual testing and learning and using the learnings to optimize site performance. The ideal conversion rate significantly differs across different businesses, industries, and product types so it is difficult to set conversion rate goals. The leaders of an eStore should monitor the trends to get insight on what is driving conversion rate changes, both positive and negative. Actions can then be put in place to continue the actions that are driving positive performance and to pivot from activities negatively impacting conversion rates.