Ecommerce conversion rates dropped by -3.5% last year. We explored what might be behind this decline in a recent article. But enough about the problem; let’s talk solutions.

We’ve seen the three eCommerce conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategies featured in this article work wonders for the conversion rates of leading retailers (we’ve provided links to their stories throughout).

Combined with the general tips for conversion rate optimization and guide to becoming a strategic CRO specialist we provide elsewhere on our website, these CRO strategies will help you grow from strength to strength in 2023.

And this despite the troubling signs of an eCommerce decline found in our 2023 Retail Digital Experience Benchmark report.

For this year’s report, we’ve analyzed 20 billion user sessions from 1,493 retail sites, operating across seven retail sub-industries and in 26 countries to bring you a truly comprehensive picture of the state of digital customer experiences in retail last year.

The strategies in this article are all informed by that analysis. You can find more insights and strategies for digital customer experience success inside.

See how your digital experience stacks up.

Download the 2023 Retail Digital Experience Benchmark Report for the metrics that really matter.

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1. Fix user frustration (it’s killing your conversions)

The first step to ensuring eCommerce conversion rate optimization is to minimize bounces. Bounce rates rose in retail last year, increasing from 46% in 2021 to 47% in 2022. Fashion had the lowest (‘only’ 44%), while Consumer Electronics had the dubious honor of achieving the highest with a bounce rate of 57%. All sub verticals, however, saw an increase.

Our report also reveals that bounces were highest on product pages (with checkout and cart not far behind): 59%. That’s unfortunate, because product pages were also the most popular pages, with 68% of shoppers reaching them.

So what can retailers do to stop site visitors bouncing? Priority number one should be to scour their customer journeys to find and eliminate friction.

User frustration impacted over one in three (37%) retail sessions last year, and frustration factors are doing serious damage to eCommerce conversion rates.

Sites that fell prey to slow page loads (2022’s leading frustration factor), for example, had a 3.9% higher bounce rate than fast loading sites.

Friction is sabotaging 37% of sessions, damaging eCommerce conversion rate optimization

Delivering friction-free user journeys is about identifying precisely where in your journeys users are getting frustrated (which isn’t always easy), and understanding exactly what’s causing users to feel frustrated (which isn’t always obvious).

To understand both the ‘where’ and ‘why’ of user frustration, you need a digital experience analytics (DXA) solution. A solution like ours: Contentsquare’s Digital Analytics Cloud.

Our platform will not only enable you to track and measure every stage of the customer journey, leveraging AI to alert you to the presence of points of friction (and delight), but also empower you to dig behind the metrics and understand why visitors are behaving as they are.

Clarks’ CRO strategy: removing a friction point from product pages

Using Contentsquare’s Customer Journey Analysis tool, the digital team at shoe retailer Clarks noticed a significant drop off in visitors adding products to baskets via its product details page. Deciding to investigate further, they applied Zone-based Heatmaps to the product detail pages.

Almost immediately, they noticed that (see screenshot below) more visitors were interacting with Size and Add to Cart buttons than with the Width selector feature. And this was a big problem, given that selecting width is a required step to take to get to checkout.

Screenshot of Clarks' ecommerce conversion rate optimization strategy: Using Zone-Based Heatmap to analyze product page click rates

Based on this insight, Clarks decided to try pre-selecting widths for items when only one width-fit was available, thereby removing unnecessary friction from the shopping journey.

This increased the Add to Cart rate, driving $1.1million in annual revenue.

Harrods’ CRO strategy: creating a friction-free checkout process

Any technical or user experience (UX) related issues on your checkout page need to be detected and dealt with fast. After all, you don’t want to fall at the last hurdle—and a surprising number of businesses do exactly that.

Reducing friction at the checkout page can pay big dividends when it comes to conversion rates. Just ask the digital team at luxury department store Harrods.  They used Contentsquare to uncover and resolve numerous issues affecting their site’s check-out process.

As a result of these fixes, Harrods saw an 8% decline in cart abandonment and an increase in conversions.

2. Encourage user activity to lift conversions

Securing conversions isn’t just about removing friction from the path of site users. It’s also about persuading them to move further down that path.

Retailers therefore need to ensure their customer journeys aren’t just friction-free, but also highly engaging. Thanks to our 2023 Retail Benchmark report, you can now put a number on just how valuable user engagement is. The key is user activity, or ‘activity’ for short.

We measured activity on sites by dividing the sum amount of clicks, swipes, scrolls and typing users perform during a session by the amount of time their sessions last. We found that sites with the lowest level of user activity have an average bounce rate of 55.9% and a conversion rate of 1.98%. Sites with the highest level of user activity, by contrast, have much lower bounce rates (43.3%) and significantly higher conversion rates (2.79%).

See how your digital experience stacks up.

Download the 2023 Retail Digital Experience Benchmark Report for the metrics that really matter.

Get my free copy


Encouraging activity is essential to achieving eCommerce conversion rate optimization.

Retailers need to seek out opportunities to stimulate on-page activity. This is about being savvy about your UX design and copywriting. (On that note, here’s 5 tips to optimize your Calls to Action. But it’s also about detecting points in your user journeys where activity is minimal, and finding ways to stimulate activity, and—by extension—conversion. (And finding points where activity is high to capitalize upon them.)

Lovehoney’s CRO strategy: encouraging interaction to boost conversion

Increasing user activity can often be as simple as ensuring the elements users can interact with are accessible—and visible. Spotting these elements for yourself can be a little trickier—but DXA solutions can help.

When Lovehoney’s digital team wanted to assess the early performance of two Black Friday landing pages, they used Contentsquare’s Customer Journey Analysis tool to do it.

They found that less than 24% of users were getting from the landing page to a product description page—and 12.5% exiting the site directly.

Further investigation revealed that users who were filtering results were more likely to convert, but click rate on the sort and filter buttons was low. Lovehoney’s team responded by moving the three main categories out of the filter dropdown so users could click on these right away.

This resulted in more interaction (a measure of activity) on those filters, a 17% reduction in bounce rate and a staggering 30% increase in on-page conversions.

3. Make the most of mobile traffic (and don’t forget desktop)

Retailers need to make the most of mobile traffic for eCommerce conversion rate optimization, which drove 3 of 4 visits to retail sites in 2022

When it comes to traffic share, desktop is unquestionably losing out to mobile. Almost 3 in 4 (73.5%) visits to retail websites last year took place on mobile. Conversion, however, is a different story.

Our data shows us that in 2022, desktop achieved a significantly higher conversion rate (3.8% paid, 3.5% unpaid) than mobile (1.6% paid, 2.2% unpaid)—and, despite dominating traffic share, mobile captured only 54% of revenue for retailers.

Clearly, desktop still matters, particularly in sub-industries (such as Consumer Electronics, Grocery and Home Goods and Furnishing) where it continues to capture the majority of revenue. Retailers should, therefore, be wary of fixating entirely on mobile, and should seek to connect mobile and desktop experiences wherever possible.

That said, the increasing abundance of mobile traffic coming retailers’ way represents an as-yet largely untapped opportunity to drive more conversion. Retailers need to optimize their mobile experiences for conversion wherever possible—and again, DXA solutions can come in handy here.

De Beers’ CRO strategy: optimizing the mobile experience

In 2018, De Beers was set to launch a new website—and one of the digital team’s top priorities was to improve mobile conversion.

Zone-based Heatmaps showed them an unusual exposure rate on the product detail pages (PDPs) seen by mobile visitors. Despite an Add to Bag CTA sitting at the top of the PDPs, a large percentage were scrolling all the way to the bottom.

The team hypothesized that users were simply not seeing the button—it being easier to miss when scrolling on mobile. They decided to test to see what a sticky CTA on the PDPs would do to conversion rates.

Screenshots of De Beers' eCommerce conversion rate optimization strategy: Adding a sticky call to action button to product description pages for mobile users

What it did was lift those conversion rates—by a remarkable 10%.

Test your way to eCommerce conversion rate optimization

Hopefully, this article has given you plenty of ideas for making conversion-fuelling adjustments to your eCommerce experience.

Ultimately, however, while these strategic principles will help guide you in the right direction, you should be looking to test and experiment on your site as much as possible to find the strategies that work specifically for your business.

The behavioral data provided by a DXA solution like ours can take your testing and optimization efforts to the next level—and fashion retailer New Look can attest to this.

They used Contentsquare to monitor advanced behavioral metrics (such as click rate and conversion rate of specific elements on their site) when testing out placing user generated content on their product pages.

The results were spectacular, with New Look ultimately increasing their overall product conversion by an astounding 19%. Learn more in our New Look case study.

Check out our product demo today to get an idea of how Contentsquare could help you convert more customers than ever before this year.

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