After all, shopping from a computer screen means customers are never exactly sure if the expectation is going to live up to the reality — and if it doesn’t, will they be able to recoup their hard-earned money? To help convince your shoppers to click “Buy Now” and return as satisfied customers later, consider integrating these nine suggestions into your website today.
1. Optimize Your Website
You’ve got only one chance to make a good first impression with customers visiting your website. And let’s face it: You could have the best products and the most amazing customer service, but if your website isn’t optimized across devices or has a slow load speed, you risk losing those customers to a competitor whose website delivers it all.
Building a customer-optimized website isn’t just about choosing the right design or font or creating a well-thought-out layout (although these things certainly help). With more than 50% of a site’s visitors spending less than 15 seconds on a site — and 32% of mobile users abandoning a site if it when the page load time goes from 1 to 3 seconds — every second of your load time counts. You should aim for a loading time of fewer than two seconds. And this isn’t just to convert browsers to buyers, but it’s also to improve your Google rankings: Google has just announced that “Page Experience” will be incorporated into rankings sometime next year.
Once you’ve optimized your load time, it’s time to ensure your website looks functional across a range of devices, giving your customers the same exceptional shopping experience whether they’re on a smartphone or their desktop computer.
2. Provide Comprehensive Product Descriptions
Nothing is worse than receiving an order and then finding out the product you received is nothing like the one advertised. Not only are bad product descriptions a sure-fire way of losing future customers, but they also risk a rise in “Item Not as Described” chargebacks. Customers who receive products that are damaged, are a different color or look smaller in real life than they did in photos may seek recourse by filing chargebacks.
If you want to increase conversions and reduce chargebacks, don’t just include a stock product description on your website that you copy and paste from the manufacturer. Use your target customer data and how your customers think, talk, shop and search to create winning descriptions that sell products that customers love. That means including dimensions, materials, colors, defects (if any), care and storage instructions, seasonal information, and allergen information. When you really know your audience — are you selling to experts, or are you focused on accommodating a range of expertise levels? — you can write the customized descriptions that leave no doubt to customers that they’re getting exactly what they want and need.
3. Leverage the Power of Product Photos
Even the most amazing descriptions can’t always fully convey how awesome your products are and satisfy every client. Buying products sight unseen can be risky, which is why U.S. return delivery costs are estimated to reach $550 billion in 2020 — 75.2% more than costs in 2015.
But adding amazing product photos can take product descriptions to the next level while simultaneously reducing return and chargeback risk. Product photos from multiple angles can also eliminate confusion, helping show customers the size, color and quality of the items you’re offering.
While hiring a photographer can be a great way to get carefully curated photos, you should also consider adding user-generated photos to your site. Unedited photos of real customers unboxing, wearing, using and loving your product can significantly increase a browser’s confidence in making a product purchase.
When customers can see exactly what they’re going to be getting thanks to a gallery of images, there will be fewer surprises for them when they actually receive the order. And that translates to happier customers who are satisfied with their purchases.
4. Include Videos of Products in Action
Another way to simulate the in-person shopping experience and increase conversions and customer satisfaction is by including product videos alongside photos and descriptions. Customers who have their eyes on your products just might be swayed by seeing how easily your tent is set up by one person or hearing how quiet a treadmill is. Marketers agree: 88% of those surveyed said video marketing offers positive ROI — a dramatic increase from just 33% in 2015.
These same videos do more than just convert browsers into buyers. They can also improve your perceived trustworthiness and minimize returns and complaints.
5. Offer Shopping Assistance
If you’re concerned that product descriptions, photos and videos still aren’t enough to make sales and prevent chargebacks, you might consider adding virtual shopping assistants to your e-commerce store. Customizable avatars that let shoppers input their measurements and body shape can provide a more accurate view of how your clothing will look on them, while built-in recommendation systems can offer size and fit suggestions. Live customer service personnel can be just as helpful in making sure customers get exactly what they want by being available to answer product questions and review store policies.
6. Display Shipping Costs and Policies Prominently
Thanks in large part to Amazon Prime’s free two-day shipping, shipping costs and times have a big influence on purchase decisions and cart abandonment. Customers are easily frustrated by costly shipping and delayed arrivals, often leading them to seek out other merchants who can deliver the same product at a better price.
Instead of surprising customers with shipping details at the end of the checkout process, include them directly on the product page. And if you offer free shipping only above certain thresholds, include that as a banner on your product pages. It might just be the incentive customers need to place their orders.
7. Make Free Trials Free
There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but what about a free trial? Customers must often hand over credit card details before starting a free trial. And forgetting to cancel at the end of the trial period can turn in to a hassle. It can be enough for a customer to be unwilling to try your product or service at all — even worse, it can put you on the receiving end of chargebacks when customers decide it’s easier to file a complaint with their credit card company than to resolve the issue directly with the merchant.
To promote goodwill and avoid chargebacks, don’t require a customer to enter credit card information for the free trial. But if you feel you must capture that information to avoid missing out on a sale, make sure you tell them exactly how long the trial is and what happens after the trial period. As that trial expiration date nears, contact customers to let them know when their card will be billed and how they can stop that from happening. If a customer does decide to continue with the subscription however, you’re still not home free. Provide customers ample notice before a subscription renews and let them know what charges they should expect to see on their credit card statements.
And don’t make customers hunt for the fine print that describes cancellation and billing policies. Put a link in an obvious location on all website pages and in all customer correspondence.
8. Promote Return and Refund Policies
Customers occasionally file chargebacks because they’ve missed a return window or simply didn’t understand a merchant’s refund policy. That’s why it’s important for merchants to make their policies easy to understand and find. Consider adding these policies prominently on checkout pages or take it a step further by requiring customers to acknowledge during checkout they’ve read and understand the policies.
9. Facilitate Customer Communication
Customers want to feel they’re not just another number with you — that their business matters. And if they feel like they can reach out and get an answer, that can often make the difference between buying with you and another merchant or even filing a chargeback versus trying to work out an issue with you.
A Salesforce survey suggests that 80% of customers expect e-commerce merchants to respond to and interact with them in real time. That means it’s important to provide browsers and customers different ways to communicate with you. Whether you’re offering Facebook Messenger automated responses, website chatbots, or customer service lines and online chats answered by real people, customer communication demonstrates that you want customers to have an exceptional online experience and dissuades customers from filing a chargeback without talking with you first.
Providing an amazing online shopping experience is about far more than just offering the products customers think they want. It’s also about providing them the information they need to make an educated purchasing decision that results in them loving the product — and your business. Implementing these nine tips into your e-commerce website today can ensure you’re improving conversions while reducing chargebacks and delighting your customers.
Rafael Lourenco is Executive Vice President and Partner at ClearSale, a card-not-present fraud prevention operation that helps retailers increase sales and eliminate chargebacks before they happen. The company’s proprietary technology and in-house staff of seasoned analysts provide an end-to-end outsourced fraud detection solution for online retailers to achieve industry-high approval rates while virtually eliminating false positives. Follow on Twitter at @ClearSaleUS or visit http://clear.sale.