More traffic, more sales, or what?

Often, Yahoo Store merchants come to me and ask me to help them bring in more traffic because their sales are down. I frequently find that what they really need is not traffic but better conversion rate. Although traffic, sales, and conversion are related, they are different issues and require somewhat different approaches.

So before you hire someone to bring you more traffic or to do a redesign if sales are down, determine this: do you get enough visits and do your visitors actually buy something. To see the visits, go to the Store Manager and click on "Graphs", then view the "Customers" graph (that's yahoo's way of saying "unique visitors".) What you'll see there, of course, is relative. 1,000 visits per day for one store could be plenty, for another it could be absolutely nothing. What you should see, though, is that the number of unique visitors should show an upward trend. If you don't see this, then it may be time for some SEO work on your store, or you may want to start (or optimize) a Google AdWords and/or Overture campaign.

Now if you look at the "Orders/Customer" graph, that tells you how well your store "converts". This graph is the number of people who buy versus the number of people who just browse. If the average you see there is between 1 and 2% (0.01 and 0.02) then that is, well, average. For all online retailers the average is between 1 and 2%. A site redesign ties in with the conversion issue, so to increase your conversion, you might want to consider either a redesign or just some tweaks. Here are a few things you should consider:

  • Moving the order block (price, options, add to cart button) closer to the top of the page
  • Adding a "You save..." feature
  • Possibly changing your order button to "Add to Cart". Usability studies show that "Add to Cart" is the best phrase for an order button.
  • Make the add to cart button larger, and include the wording "You can always remove it later" or something similar.
  • Getting an 800 number seems to help with conversion.
  • Displaying the phone number more prominently also helps, especially on the shopping cart page.
  • If you have a money back guarantee, display that prominently as well (linking it to the guarantee page.)
  • If you offer free shipping (whether free shipping period, or over a certain amount spent), display it prominently throughout the site.
  • The new single-page checkout which yahoo is scheduled to roll out in November of 2005 is a biggie. The legacy checkout has, what, 3 or 4 pages? With the new checkout, you can turn your shopping cart page into a checkout page. So they put something in the cart, then fill out the shipping and billing info, click "Send Order" and be done, all on one page.

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