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I had an interesting email from an ecommerce site owner in Texas over the weekend, wondering why mobile outperforms desktop on his site for conversion rates.
The site in question is discgolfstation.com, and owner Clint Henderson tells me that mobile conversion rates are twice that of desktop, which is obviously unusual.
While the mobile site isn't bad at all, it seems the problem is down to poor desktop performance.
Here, I'll suggest some possible reasons, but it would be great to see what suggestions you have for improvements as well...
Reasons for lower conversion rates
While Clint understandably did not want to reveal all the numbers, I did clarify a few things with him.
For example, I wondered whether he was looking at mobile and tablet together, as the tablet conversions may be pushing the overall mobile numbers up. According to Clint, while tablets have decent conversion rates, mobile is still higher than tablet.
Also, there is a roughly even split between new and returning customers. I did wonder whether returning customers with saved details were pushing the numbers up.
According to Clint:
Unfortunately, mobile is normal and desktop is simply abysmal. I'm talking well under 1.0%, which for non-mobile just shouldn't be the case. Now, one thing to note is, we do have a lot of traffic coming in to resource-type pages, pages that this disc golf course locator, where you'd expect a very low ecommerce conversion rate.
That said, when I segment people landing on good money pages where the conversion rate should be decent, it's still just terrible. I'm talking people looking for things like 'disc golf bags' (we're on the first page of Google for this) so lots of traffic coming in to shop our 'disc golf bags' - and still, very low conversion rates. I just don't get it.
As mentioned in the intro, I think the issue is poor desktop performance rather than excellent mobile results, though the mobile site does have a few advantages.
The calls to action on product pages are below the fold (and so is the price), and therefore not immediately visible:
It's not the clearest CTA either:
Call to action buttons should jump out at the shopper and, crucially, should leave them in no doubt about the next step they need to take to make the purchase.
I'd suggest testing variations, as factors such as placement, size and colour can all make a difference.
Errors on product pages
Error messages can be conversion killers, as they are not only frustrating, but they also undermine the customer's trust in the reliability of the website.
Here, if you click on 'add to cart' before selecting a size and colour, you get this error message:
You then need to click on the green button to return to the page, which isn't the best user experience. Error messages should be displayed on the page where the mistake has occurred, while sites should do what they can to avoid customers encountering these messages in the first place.
In this case, if it's necessary to select colour / weight options, then make this unmistakably clear to customers. Highlight the drop down box more clearly, or add text to explain what is required.
If you do have to show an error message, do this where the error has taken place, as this will make it more likely that the customer will take steps to correct the problem.
This example from TopShop is how it should be done. The message is clear, and just under the size selection box:
Also, where only one size is available and therefore no selection is required, as on this page, the customer shouldn't have to select a size.
No delivery charges on product pages
This is something that annoys web users. Shipping charges are part of the purchase decision for customers so clear and upfront info on product pages is the best method.
The site does have a link to 'shipping policy' in the footer, but this is small and easily missed. Customers may be abandoning due to lack of info here.
In addition, the site offers free shipping for orders over $45. This is a great way to encourage sales and increase basket values, but the site doesn't make this clear at all.
It should be displayed prominently in the header, on product pages, and customers should be prompted on the basket page to spend a little more to qualify.
Coupon code box
This may be a small problem, but adding a coupon code box to the checkout or basket page is effectively inviting consumers to head to Google and search for codes.
It tells the customer that discounts are available, and that other people are getting them. This may prompt them to abandon as they feel they aren't getting the best price, or they may head to Google to search for codes.
If they find some they may come back, or they may find codes from a competitor. Either way, it's taking customers away from the checkout.
There are a number of possible solutions to the coupon code problem, including showing codes only to customers arriving from affiliates or emails, making it less prominent, or offering a basic code to any customers that arrive at checkout.
Registration at checkout
Making customers register before checkout is a proven barrier, and one which should be avoided.
Of course, registration should be an option, and there are benefits to customer and retailer, but it shouldn't get in the way of making the sale.
Checkout not enclosed
Enclosing the checkout means removing main navigation, the search box, and other links which may distract the shopper from the task in hand (paying) and take them away from the checkout.
Here, there are various elements on view which may distract shoppers:
Checkout error messages
Error messages during checkout can be a real conversion killer, perhaps more so than on product pages. Not only are they irritating, but they can also undermine customer confidence in the security of the process.
Here, I think I've made an error entering card details, but the message doesn't make that as clear as it could and, as with the product page error, it dumps me on a separate page.
Without full knowledge of and access to the site analytics, as well as running various tests, we can only guess at the reasons for the poor desktop performance of this site.
However, the problems I've mentioned here will undoubtedly be contributing to the problem, and fixing these issues should improve conversions.
I'm sure I've missed things our smarter readers will have spotted, so please leave your comments below...