When analyzing your ecommerce site, make sure that all pages can act as both a destination and a gateway to what shoppers really want. Dead ends leave shoppers wondering what to do next. Confusion turns into frustration, which prompts shoppers to head back to the search engines and shopping directories.
Here are five common dead end practices that may be costing you sales.
1. ‘Add to Cart to See Price’
Even Amazon requires a cart add to display lower prices on some products. This is typically done to get around manufacturers’ minimum advertised price requirements, but it’s frustrating for shoppers. Some online retailers practice this to keep competition from getting pricing information automatically (by scanning pages). No matter the reason — and there’s a great deal of argument between retailers and manufacturers about the practice — it all boils down to the shopper, who doesn’t want to take action on purchasing a product until he sees all the facts.
When placed under price restrictions, use other methods to sell products at below minimum advertised prices, such as offering free shipping, instant savings, or coupon discounts. Remember that product listings in Google Shopping can include terms such as “Free shipping,” which can help direct traffic into the store.
2. Empty Search-result Pages
People make mistakes, and a well-designed online store will work around them. This can be tricky when shoppers spell product names and brand names incorrectly, but advanced search tools and services can help deduce one’s intent.
3. The Non-existent Page (the 404)
Years ago, the average 404 page shamed visitors for either incorrectly typing a URL, or clicking a bad link from another website. Then blame shifted to the site or company itself — storeowners started being accountable for all problems. It’s always best, though, to provide reasons for a 404 page, as well as provide other options.
When writing content for the 404 error page, consider the best way to convey the message. Since visitors will commonly read just the first line or two, you don’t want to give the impression the website is actually down, but rather that a particular link is not working. Also include links to popular items or departments, and, also, include a search input field prominently.
The most common reason for a 404 return on a product page is the discontinuance of the product. Rather than display an error, consider displaying a clear message that the product is no longer available, accompanied by related items the shopper should consider.
4. Categories with One or No Products
Unless they know exactly what they want, people like choices. Comparing products is just as common as comparing prices. When visiting a category, shoppers expect to see a range of items.
If you stock only one of a certain item that warrants a listing in category menus and navigation, change the link to load the product directly.
5. Contact Form with No Other Information
Contact forms are a good way to gather information into an easy-to-manage system, but some consumers would rather pick up the phone or write you a letter. Be sure to include alternative means of reaching out.
Find your store’s dead ends. Besides analyzing the store, study customer feedback and chat transcripts to find problem areas throughout the store. That, coupled with analytics — look for high bounce rates and little time spent on the page — can help identify pages that are not good gateways to the rest of the site.
Also, be sure to place test orders and study the final invoice page to make sure it also provides key information. The receipt page should include links to order tracking, support pages, and contact information, as well as a means to re-shop the store.