4 reasons why online retailers fail to convert visitors

As a Developer here at E Fundamentals, I’m obsessed with technology; experimenting with the latest, using the best and in particularly obsessed with developing some pretty cool solutions for eCommerce clients, showing them how they can do what they do faster, better and bigger than their competition.

My love affair with technology is strongly tied to photography. I update my kit every two years or so. I have a Panasonic Digital SLR and usually just upgrade the body, although every so often I trade in the whole lot and start again (I just like new stuff).

So when I decided to have a look at upgrading, I went to one of my favourite gadget websites, PC World, and I have to be honest, I was let down by the whole experience. And going by today’s standards, I don’t think I’m being too harsh...

Setting the scene

PC World homepage

To start with, the welcome page isn’t encouraging. I’m looking for high end equipment and the site looks like a garage sale with no evidence of any real interest in selling me a camera. I spot the TV, Audio and Photo tab and open it up.

PC World TV & audio tab

You need to know your way around cameras to know where to go next, fortunately I do and select DSLR Camera. I’m presented with 56 results which sounds promising except that the side bar tells me they are all either Nikon or Cannon, I want a Panasonic.

DSLR online shopping camera page

I don’t believe this so I try another tack and search for Panasonic Lumix. I’m offered 35 results and the product I want is not on the first page and I determinedly scan the second page where I find it! It’s sitting between an out of stock compact camera and a DVD player. When I follow the one deal available link, the £100 cashback is confirmed. Actually, now I look at the compact and it looks pretty good: 18.1 megapixels versus my camera’s 16. It’s a pity that PC World doesn’t mention my preferred camera’s 4K video capability.

I decide to check if this is the most recent model but I have to go to Panasonic’s site and I find out that the new model will be launched early 2017… I think I’ll wait.

The verdict

I've walked away feeling...indifferent. That whole experience has been forgettable and with this standard of retailing online, the market is crying for a specialist retailer who can deliver relevant services and products; so who can blame manufacturers for being attracted to direct selling?

There were four key changes that could have changed my experience, if only slightly, and derail me from now going back to Panasonic’s website in early 2017 instead of PC World’s:

1.       Homepage doesn’t show diversity

You might be running a campaign or focusing on pushing one category over the other, but there is the danger of alienating the people who don’t want to buy from what you’re choosing to advertise, and in the process creating a lacklustre brand image that pigeonholes itself. That doesn’t mean to say your homepage should display everything, but it does mean that retailers need a more agile approach to ensure that their main (and high value) product selections are within arm’s reach.

2.       You don’t have a category strategy

Or you’re executing it pretty poorly. If Panasonic wasn’t listed on the side bar, then it most definitely should not have come up when I searched for it because that then makes me question, what else do you have available that I can’t get access to? Does this mean I should continue browsing other websites instead of committing to buying something from there? Many people experience this frustration because to be honest, you just don’t know what you don’t know. I had it easy because I went in knowing what I was looking for, but what about the browsers? The impulse buyers? These are potential customers who are slipping through because without the right tools, as a brand owner, account manager, eCommerce analyst, you also don’t know what you don’t know which leaves you in the dark about how retailers are marketing your product.

3.       There is a lack of product information

The most common culprit. I had to veer away from PC world’s website and go on to Panasonic’s to get information about updated models. Ok I get that you may not be able to provide me with all the information, but then as a retailer you will have to understand that you’re playing in a disruptive landscape where brands, products and services are becoming fast disposable and out beaten by the competition over details like this. If one of your priorities isn’t to track and ensure that the right information is presented at point of sale, it will not be surprising that your customer will start website hopping and eventually close the deal with no real trust or emotional investment with the website they purchased from. Which later translates to losing a potential repeat customer and advocate.  

4.       There are no thought out alternatives

I know my stuff when it comes to cameras so I have a rough idea about what to expect and where to start browsing. For the novice or the nonchalant, it won’t make a difference whether at point of sale what is being presented to is from the same brand or not, or even if it’s the latest technology or not, but the casting decision will be largely down to the relationship between value and benefits. With the right intelligent eCommerce analytics tool, you can target exactly what kind of alternatives you want to present in accordance to your digital strategy; should you be pushing for higher prices with lower volume, or older models with lower prices? Beyond just eCommerce tracking, your eCommerce solutions should also introduce various other options in line with the multiple scenarios that your customer might find themselves in.


The above pointers are what we call fixing the basics; granular, insightful changes that will make all the difference between converting a customer or waving goodbye as they walking away. And even if your customer chooses to walk away, what will remain is the user experience and the (lack of) impact it had which is exactly what the CEO of P&G was referring to regarding what it takes to win with consumers and shoppers here. What’s more, the time taken to make these simple fixes can be lengthy, especially if you don’t have an established process and are doing it manually (I really hope you're not doing this manually).

The latest eCommerce analytics platform should be able to present this information in a few simple clicks so if you don’t know what you don’t know, get in touch with Scott and he’ll be able to lend a helping hand at skipling@ef.uk.com.

Aymeric Boyer, Junior Developer

Aymeric is a Developer who works with the latest technology and does front end and back end development. When he's not working on the E Fundamentals platform, he's either swimming or coaching swimmers professionally of all ages and at all levels. You can usually find him at his desk often consuming 6,000 calories a day.