Over the past two years, Three29 has conducted dozens of in-depth audits on DTC eCommerce brands in the United States and Europe looking to improve revenue and profitability. These companies together generate over $1B in eCommerce sales. Through our comprehensive analysis, we have been able to delve into the core components of these brands and identify crucial areas that directly impact eCommerce conversions.
We discovered that there are five core items that can greatly influence the success of a DTC eCommerce site: page speed, checkout flow, shipping policies, ad continuity, and product detail pages.
Let’s dive in with page speed.
1. Maximize Page Speed
Overall, we found that eCommerce marketers are leaving a lot of money on the table just by not maximizing their mobile site page speed.
Our research focused on eCommerce platforms primarily operating on Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce. We found that the average PageSpeed score on mobile was 18/100, with the most common First Contentful Paint being 6 seconds. This indicates that, on average, visitors had to wait for 6 seconds before being able to interact with a website. Although this may not appear to be a significant delay, most people do not want to wait for 6 seconds for a page to load.
In fact, more than half of online shoppers expect a page to load in 3 seconds or less, and 27% will abandon a page by the 3-second mark. At 6 seconds, you’ll lose more than half of your users.
When considering the average number of pages a user visits before making a purchase through eCommerce, customers end up waiting for about a minute just for the pages to load.
To put this into perspective, imagine this waiting time as standing in line at a coffee shop. If each page load adds one person to the line in front of you, there comes a point when you would no longer be willing to wait. We have all experienced waiting in line at a coffee shop that simply takes too long to serve customers. The longer the line, the more customers that will be unwilling to wait. This real-world example demonstrates the impact of page speed on your customers. By improving page speed, you can shorten that line and increase the likelihood that customers will make a purchase.
According to research by Google, decreasing page load time by just one second can result in a 27% increase in conversions, while decreasing page load time by even 0.1 seconds can boost revenue by up to 1%. Additional studies have also shown that even minor improvements in page speed can significantly affect website performance and revenue. A GTmetrix study found that improving page speed by 5 seconds can lead to a 25% increase in website traffic and a 7% increase in conversions. Another study by Radware discovered that a 2-second delay in page load time resulted in abandonment rates of up to 87%.
Brands that prioritize improving their page speed can reap significant rewards in terms of increased conversions, enhanced user experience, and higher revenue. Assuming a 3% conversion rate. The table below outlines potential revenue gains from just 1-2 seconds of page speed increase.
|Annual Revenue||Revenue Gain @ 3% CVR|
2. Enhance Checkout Flow
In our work with these eCommerce brands, we found that the majority did not employ a multi-step checkout or provide multiple payment options, which could be detrimental to their conversion rates. Our findings showed that the default checkout systems in Shopify and WooCommerce rely on a one-page checkout that is disconnected from the rest of the shop. This means that if a user wants to go back and continue shopping, they have lost navigation as well as easy access to their cart. This translates to increased cart and checkout abandonment as well as lost revenue.
We found that for the majority of these brands, the single-page checkout could have been broken into three to four easy-to-complete steps. This could significantly improve the user experience and increase the likelihood of completing the purchase. For instance, for a company doing $25 million a year in sales at a 3% conversion rate, a 25% increase in conversion rate could equate to up to $182k in additional sales.
Our research shows that optimizing the cart and checkout flow should be the second biggest priority for eCommerce brands. By iterating over the course of time, many brands can see an increase in sales just through cart optimization. This underscores the importance of a streamlined checkout process and multiple payment options.
Our general recommendation for all eCommerce brands is to ensure your checkout process uses a simple multi-step solution with information siloed such as Cart > Personal Information > Shipping > Payment.
3. Make Shipping a Benefit, Not a Deterrent
It’s no secret that customers don’t enjoy paying for shipping. In our recent analysis of various DTC eCommerce websites, we found that the majority of them were utilizing default themes provided by platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce. Although these themes allow for a quick and hassle-free setup of an eCommerce website, they often overlook how users actually shop and what factors can drive or impede a successful conversion.
Three of the main issues with shipping that can make or break a customer’s decision to purchase online are shipping cost, method, and transparency. Owing to Amazon’s influence, most consumers nowadays expect free shipping when shopping online. However, the reality is that the average eCommerce store might not have the product margins to cover shipping costs. This creates a stalemate between what the customer desires and what the brand can actually afford to offer.
A simple yet effective solution to this predicament is to establish a minimum order value for customers to qualify for free shipping. For example, most eCommerce brands know that shipping a $100 order would cost them around $10, and their profit margins can cover this expense. It’s crucial for every online store to determine their own specific metrics in this regard.
Once you have a clear understanding of your brand’s shipping costs and margins, the next step is to effectively communicate this information to your customers Here are some best practices for promoting your shipping policies:
- Display your free shipping threshold prominently on your website, ensuring that it’s readily visible to potential customers. If you’re going to display it in a thin banner above the menu, it needs to be eye-catching.
- Offer a shipping calculator or estimator during the checkout process, so customers know exactly what they’ll be paying for shipping before they finalize their purchase.
- Display the additional amount needed to qualify for free shipping at time of checkout.
- Be transparent about delivery times and any potential delays, keeping customers informed and setting realistic expectations.
- Consider running promotions or offering discounts on shipping costs for first-time customers, or during special events and holidays.
- Highlight customer testimonials and reviews that emphasize the efficiency and reliability of your shipping process, building trust with potential buyers.
4. Optimize Ad Continuity
Ad Continuity means creating a seamless and consistent user experience between product pages and the advertising campaigns that direct users to them. A cohesive blend of visuals, messaging, and overall design elements between ads and their corresponding product pages helps build trust with potential customers, reinforce brand identity, and ultimately, boost conversion rates.
To achieve this, you can follow a set of best practices that include utilizing consistent fonts, colors, and images across both ads and product pages, maintaining a uniform tone and messaging, and prominently displaying unique selling propositions (USPs) as featured in the ads. Regularly tracking key performance metrics, such as click-through rates (CTRs), conversion rates, and average order value (AOV), can help you evaluate the success of your ad continuity efforts and refine your product page design as needed.
To ensure a seamless experience for customers who arrive at your site via paid ads, consider implementing the following best practices:
- Conduct a comprehensive audit of your existing ads and product pages to pinpoint discrepancies in design, messaging, or overall user experience that may negatively impact ad continuity.
- Develop a detailed style guide that outlines the fonts, colors, and other design elements used in your ads to maintain consistency across your product pages.
- Utilize heatmaps and user session recordings to identify areas of confusion or friction on your product pages that may stem from a lack of ad continuity.
- Regularly review and update your ads and product pages to maintain consistency, accounting for changes in product offerings, branding, or promotional campaigns.
- Create tailored landing pages for your ads that maintain the same look and feel as your ads, ensuring a smooth transition for users from ad to website.
- A/B test different variations of your ads and product pages to determine which elements contribute most to a consistent and engaging user experience.
5. Make Product Detail Pages a Smooth Gateway to Purchase
For most eCommerce brands the product listing and detail pages are the workhorses of their website. Retargeted ads link directly to product listing and detail pages, providing customers with quick, direct access to the product they were looking for.
In our research we found that the majority of brands rely on canned product pages that aren’t tuned to sell their unique products. For example, many product display ads used fun lifestyle product photos. Imagine a golf polo where the ad imagery is a man golfing. This person is on the course, having fun, and drinking a beer and laughing with their friends while wearing their favorite polo. A user clicks that ad and lands on a product detail page with a simple image of a polo shirt on a white background, with the add to cart button and size selection buttons hidden off the screen. This creates friction for the user, because they’ve gone from a lifestyle-focused ad to a page with a lifeless shot of a folded up shirt, and no clear call-to-action (the sizing and “add to cart” buttons).
Product detail pages need to allow a user to quickly and easily add the product to the cart and to move on to a frictionless cart experience as outlined earlier.
Designing an effective product detail page on a Shopify site is crucial for providing a seamless user experience and driving conversions. Here are some best practices to consider when designing your product detail page:
- High-quality product images: Use high-resolution images that showcase your products from multiple angles, and in real-world use. Include zoom functionality and image galleries to allow customers to examine the product closely.
- Consider using video to highlight size, style, features and appearance, especially for apparel and related goods.
- Clear and concise product titles: Create product titles that are descriptive, easy to read, and contain relevant keywords for SEO purposes.
- Engaging product descriptions: Write compelling product descriptions that highlight key features, benefits, and use cases. Keep your target audience in mind and use language that speaks to them.
- Price and availability: Display pricing information prominently and clearly, including any discounts or promotions. Also, include stock availability to create a sense of urgency and encourage immediate purchases.
- Product variations: If your product comes in different sizes, colors, or styles, provide a straightforward way for customers to view and select their desired options.
- Call-to-action (CTA): Place a prominent “Add to Cart” or “Buy Now” button near the product description and price to encourage customers to make a purchase.
- Social proof: Include customer reviews, ratings, and testimonials to build trust and credibility with potential buyers.
- Mobile-friendly design: Optimize your product detail page for mobile devices to ensure a smooth browsing experience for users on smartphones and tablets.
Summing it Up
Following these 5 DTC eCommerce conversion steps can help increase revenue and profitability without having to do anything else so that you don’t leave money on the table:
Page Speed: The average page speed for eCommerce platforms was a mere 18/100, with a 6-second First Contentful Paint time. By improving page speed by just one second, conversions can increase by 27%.
Streamlining the checkout flow, specifically by implementing a multi-step checkout process and offering multiple payment options, is essential for boosting conversion rates. A 10% increase in conversion rate for a company generating $25 million a year in sales can translate to roughly $2.5 million in additional sales.
Checkout Flow: Breakout the checkout process into four seamless steps (cart, personal information, shipping and payment) to facilitate continued shopping and decrease cart/checkout abandonment to enhance conversion, AOV and revenue.
Shipping Policies: Shipping policies play a pivotal role in customer satisfaction and conversion rates. Brands should establish a minimum order value for free shipping and effectively communicate their shipping policies to customers throughout the entire checkout process
Ad Continuity: Ad continuity is crucial for a consistent user experience and higher conversion rates. Aligning ad visuals, messaging, and design elements to landing pages,will improve CTRs, conversion rates, AOV and CLTV.
Product Detail Pages: By providing high-quality images, detailed descriptions, and user-generated content, brands can improve the customer experience and increase the likelihood of conversions. It’s also important to ensure that product pages are easy to navigate and display all relevant information, such as price and shipping options.
After implementing these steps, continually evolve and optimize your eCommerce site and user experience to seamlessly integrate new products, pricing strategies, promotions, market dynamics and technology updates. After all, your site is your store so routinely ask yourself one simple question: “Is the store helping or hindering our customers?” If it’s hindering, go back in and re-evaluate and update one or all of the 5 conversion steps we/ve discussed.