January 3rd 2017

Conversion Rates and the Online Shopping Experience

Treat people like people.

Consider this scenario. You’re strolling down the street in a city you’re visiting. There’s a clothing store that looks interesting, so you pop in to browse.

Two steps inside, a worker with a headset smiles and asks if there’s anything they can help with. You politely say no thank you.

As you peruse, store employees eye you while they fold clothes. You kind of want to leave, but there’s a shirt you really like.

When you check out, the cashier asks for your zipcode. Then they ask for your email address, which you have to spell letter by letter. As you leave, they tell you about an online satisfaction survey.

Is all of this a good experience? No. Not for anyone, including the workers.

However, this is the same kind of experience that a lot of online stores create when they try to optimize their website for conversions.

The pop-up that covers your products right after someone lands on your store… that’s the worker in the headset asking if they can help before you even know what they sell.

Workers glancing at you while you shop are suggested products and mediocre attempts at personalization.

The zipcode, email, and survey are extra fields in your checkout process.


All of these things will probably make you more money... but it’s cheap money.

It’s money that doesn’t tell its friends about you, and it’s money that won’t follow you online because it’s scared you’re going to sell at them in the future. Most importantly, it’s money that will go to your first competitor who treats people like people, not conversions.


Here’s my idea. Make shoppers fall in love with you before you ask for anything from them. Instead of seeking their email address before they know what you’re about, ask them to check out what you’re doing on Instagram, and keep it subtle.

Instead of suggesting additional products in the middle of checkout, make the checkout process so insanely fast and simple that it’s a joy to give you money.

Instead of fitting all kinds of keywords and sales copy into your product description, pull out a phrase from an exceptional testimonial and let that speak for you.

If you want to get more value out of each customer, give them equivalent value in return. Make them feel proud to be associated with your product, and make them love interacting with you every time.

The world is shifting towards authenticity, transparency, and respect for time and attention. Those who don’t notice will be left behind.

• • •

I’ll leave you with this. Amazon is the highest converting ecommerce site on the internet. All the garbage you see on those pages is intentionally made that way by experts. But no one uses Amazon because they have a great time browsing and buying. People use Amazon because they send anything you need in two days without charging shipping. That’s what makes people come back and spend more money over and over again.