How eCommerce industries boost their conversion rates

Achieving a strong eCommerce conversion rate is essential for online businesses. This shows how many potential customers turn into actual paying customers, which enables you to measure how successful your business is. What counts as a ‘good’ conversion rate for an online shop varies, depending on your industry. That’s because some product types are better suited to eCommerce than others. Here are some tips to help you boost your shop's conversion rate, no matter what industry you operate in.

What a normal conversion rate for eCommerce in your industry looks like

We can find out what’s considered a ‘good’ conversion rate by studying average conversion rates among industries. Most published studies focus on the American market, though many also focus specifically on the UK. When taken together, the results of this research can serve as a useful guide for figuring out how your conversion rate stacks up, depending on which industry you’re in.

The table below shows some average conversion rates for various industries in the UK and compares them with conversion rates in Germany, one of Europe’s largest eCommerce markets after the UK.

Average conversion rateUK (2020)Germany (2017)
Home & Garden1.37%2.4%

Source: IRP Commerce (UK) ; Statista (DE)

These studies show that if your company specialises in furniture, electronics or fashion, you can set your sights on a benchmark conversion rate of about 3%. Your goal should be to always keep driving conversion higher and higher. The table below shows how online conversion rates in the UK have risen in each of these industries over the course of one year (source: IRP Commerce). As you can see, there is plenty of room for optimising your shop’s conversion rate, no matter what industry you operate in. 

IndustryAugust 2019August 2020Difference
Home & Garden1.15%1.37%+0.21%

Why are conversion rates higher in some industries than in others

More people shop for fashion and electronics online than other types of products. They are less likely to buy small items over the internet, like pens, paper and office supplies. However, there has been an increase lately in online sales for those kinds of products too. Fresh foods and other perishable products are now increasingly sold online. In 2019, even before the COVID pandemic, online grocery shopping had already become a fast-growing trend in the UK. Now, online foods sales are skyrocketing.

The question is why do some industries still have higher conversion rates than others?

Reason #1: Lack of effective marketing

Your online shop’s conversion rate says a lot about how well your company’s marketing activities are working. Are you managing to persuade people to buy the products and services you advertise? A high conversion rate is a sign that your marketing is doing the trick. It means you’re appealing to the right target group at the right time and through the right channels, with a product that satisfies their needs. That’s easier to accomplish in some industries than it is in others. The table below shows the different types of advertising options eRetailers in the fashion and electronics industries have at their disposal:

**Characteristics**Sold all year longNot subject to seasonal trends
**Characteristics**New trends and seasonal items come out every few months, making advertising easierA few high-sales days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which generate a lot of revenue in a short burst.
**Characteristics**Frequent seasonal sales (end-of-summer/end-of-winter sales)
**Best time to advertise**AnytimeLeading up to holidays and sale days
**Best time to advertise**More intensively when seasons are changing and new trends come outNew product launches (for example, when a popular manufacturer releases a new smartphone model).

Reason #2: Differences in target groups and channels

Every business has a specific target group, which also varies by industry. For instance, shops selling fresh food online, the target is adults with a fixed income; retailers specialising in video games tend to target a younger market. It’s important for companies to pick the right channels for reaching their target groups, depending on where those groups spend their time. Take some time to study where most of your site’s traffic is coming from, so that you can focus your marketing campaigns more effectively.

Reason #3: Competition and the need for information

Some products require more explanation than others. For example, in the electronics industry, an online shop must explain all the features and technical specifications of each of its products to convince customers to make a purchase. There are also plenty of competitors on the market, and customers often compare different sites before deciding which one to buy from. This is less of a problem in the fashion industry. People shopping for clothes online usually prefer certain brands of apparel and don’t spend as much time comparing clothes made by different brands or sold through different shops. That means the decision-making process is quicker for them, so conversion rates are higher than in other industries.

How your online shop can achieve the best conversion rate possible within your industry

There are many recommendations for how to set up your online shop so that it meets the expectations of shoppers in your industry. For example, you can try lots of options for reducing your bounce rate and boosting conversion. Here are ten tips for getting the best conversion rate out of your checkout process.

Plus, there are some industry-specific tips and tricks for helping your e-commerce business boost its conversion rate.

Optimising conversion rates: tips for online fashion retailers

Optimising conversion rates: tips for online fashion retailers

Here’s how you can boost your conversion rate if you’re operating an online clothing store:

Tip 1: Help your customers find the right size

When customers leave an online clothing shop without buying anything, it’s often because they’re uncertain whether the clothing sizes are right for them. Be sure to include a size table that gives precise details about the measurements of each garment type. For example:

  • Pants: Waist size and leg length
  • Outerwear: Arm length, chest and waist size
  • Shoes: Sole length and in-step size
  • Gloves: Hand size

It’s also helpful to specify whether a particular item is designed for a loose, normal or tighter fit. Try including the height and weight of the model shown on the product page, as well as which size they’re wearing. This helps your shoppers to visualise how the clothes will fit them.

Tip 2: Join the sustainability trend

Sustainability is a growing concern in many industries. For fashion, sustainability is not just about using environmentally friendly materials; it’s also about ensuring fair working conditions for those who make the clothes. Shoppers want to be sure that the clothes they buy are not manufactured under harsh labour conditions in countries that do not protect workers.

The way you deliver your shop’s clothes is another important sustainability topic in the online fashion business. Even though most shoppers prefer free shipping and returns, this has a significant impact on the environment. Consider phasing out plastic packaging materials. The size table also helps cut down on unnecessary return shipping: if shoppers know exactly what size to expect, they will be less likely to order the same item in multiple sizes and then return the sizes that don’t fit. This helps you not only to protect the environment, but also to reduce your company’s return shipping costs.

Tip 3: Use social commerce

New online clothing shops are popping up every day. You need to raise your shop’s profile in order to increase the conversion rate for your clothes. Social media is perfect for this. Try advertising on relevant social media platforms and try to get some fashion bloggers and well-known influencers on-board with your brand. They’ll generate a lot of traffic for your shop.

It’s also a good idea to connect your fashion label’s social media account directly with your customer service. Many potential customers use the comments section under your social media posts to ask questions before they visit your shop, like:

  • ‘How long does it take you to deliver?’
  • ‘Is this jumper also available in blue?’
  • or ‘Where can I buy this outfit?’.

Monitor these questions and answer them regularly. That way, you’ll build trust amongst your potential customers and encourage them to buy from you.

You should also keep in mind that so-called m-commerce is increasingly important for online fashion stores. This means your online shop needs to be just as user friendly and interactive on a mobile device, and built to work quickly, like an app. That’s because more and more die-hard shoppers are buying through their smartphones now. Use progressive web apps (PWAs) to create a user-friendly mobile site that minimises cart abandonment and boosts conversion.

Boosting your conversion rate for online electronics retailers

Boosting your conversion rate for online electronics retailers

Here’s how you can boost conversion if you’re operating an online consumer electronics shop:

Tip 1: Take part in sales days and special holiday promotions

There are plenty of international sales days throughout the year when shoppers hunt for bargains on electronics, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Electronics are also popular presents during the holiday season. Find out which items are really popular right now among your business’s target group and be sure to advertise those items in particular during sales and holiday periods.

Tip 2: Offer a warranty

Many shoppers still prefer the security of buying their gadgets directly in a store rather than online. Conversion rates for electronics lag often behind high-street shopping because eCommerce retailers are less likely to offer warranties. Customers like the idea of having a ‘real-life’ person they can return to in case their electronics break down and need a repair. Strong customer service is the best way to build trust among your shoppers. Offer them a warranty and make it as easy as possible for them to return items to you in case anything goes wrong. 

Tip 3: Choose the right shop system

Online electronics shops face specific challenges. These include the many different shipping methods and costs that electronics retailers have to offer. For example, while it’s possible to ship a microwave as a parcel, a refrigerator has to be delivered by a transport company. Plus, it’s common to offer customers additional shipping-related services, such as:

  • disposal service for old appliances
  • in-home delivery
  • installation service.

Depending on which shipping methods you use, you’ll also have to offer different return shipping options. A good shop system helps you to overcome the challenges you face as an electronics retailer. That’s why it’s important to find a shop system that lets you group products into different categories. After that, the system takes care of everything for you. Based on a product’s category, your shop system will automatically select the right shipping methods and additional services to offer the customer. 

Selling food online: How to increase conversion

Selling food online: How to increase conversion

Here’s what you can do to boost conversion if your online shop specialises in selling groceries and food items:

Tip 1: Offer flexible delivery windows

Increasing your online food business’s conversion rate starts with precisely defining your target group. There are lots of different types of buyers in the eFood market, such as: 

  • double-income households
  • seniors
  • families
  • businesses
  • childcare facilities.

This makes the delivery window an important factor. Double-income shoppers are often too busy working, so they don’t have time to go grocery shopping. They don’t want to have to plan their shopping to far in advance, and they don’t want to be stuck at home for hours waiting for a delivery to arrive. That’s why you should offer as much flexibility as possible for your shoppers to choose the delivery window that suits them best.

Tip 2: Offer click & collect

Not all customers prefer to have their food items delivered to their door. Some prefer the convenience of online shopping, but still like to pick up their order in person at your store. This enables them to scroll through your product range in the comfort of their own home. It saves them the time and hassle of searching through items on the shelf. It’s also beneficial for you, because it means you don’t have to have every single item in stock when your customer places their order, as long as you can fill the order on time. 

Tip 3: Simplify repeat purchasing

Many online grocery stores still require customers to start over from scratch each time to want to place an order. This is an unnecessary waste of time. Most people who buy groceries online will tend to order the same products over and over. There are certain items that almost always appear on a grocery shopper’s list, such as:

  • toilet paper
  • milk
  • bread
  • eggs.

People may still wish to go to a local shop rather than order online for less commonplace items that they need at the last minute. That’s why it’s important to give your customers an easy way to select common items that they’ve ordered in the past. This is a great way to boost conversion. Give your customers a one-click solution to reorder the same items as last time. Or offer them a list of suggested items based on their order history. It’s also helpful to let you customers save a shopping list on your site. Let them create multiple lists too. For example, one list for items they want to order every week, and another list for items they only need to buy monthly.

Optimising conversion for an online home furnishings store

Here are some tips for increasing conversion if you’re running a store that specialises in home furnishings and furniture.

Tip 1: Set the scene

When you advertise furnishings online, its a good idea to picture not just the item itself. Create a scene where you display the item alongside other furnishings. This helps your shopper visualise how the items will look in their own home. And it might even spark their interest in some of the other items you include in the picture. Be sure to also include links on the same page to the other items shown in the picture. For example, include a section under a heading like ‘Create the entire look’ or ‘Make the look complete’. Try also presenting the furnishings in different styles of decorating to appeal to a different range of tastes. This helps you adapt classic designs to new trends and increase your conversion rate using the same seasonal product range.

Tip 2: Show details

When people visit an online furniture shop, they cannot…

  • … feel the upholstery.
  • … smell the leather.
  • … identify the wood grain.

The colours shown on their screen may also appear differently than they do in real life. To increase your conversion rate, be sure to show your customers everything you can, right down to the finest details. Your shoppers want to know whether a piece of furniture has exactly the features and details that they are looking for. Especially with large pieces like a sofa, which often involve hefty shipping costs, so no one wants to have an item delivered only to find that it’s not what they had in mind… and then have to fuss with return shipping. Invest in some high-quality camera equipment to create detailed images. Show your customers the furniture from all different angles and at different distances, and zoom-in close so they can get a true sense of the texture of a fabric or surface. Product videos are also an excellent way to let your customers more fully experience your products.

Tip 3: Send samples

Shoppers like to know how a product really feels before they buy it. That’s why they want to be able to see and feel a fabric in real life before deciding to purchase an expensive item like a sofa online. The solution is to send them a free upholstery sample. This is a benefit not just to your customer, but also to your shipping department. It’s sure to cut down on the amount of returns you deal with because your customers have at least had a chance to check out the upholstery in real life before deciding to buy the sofa. And fewer returns also means a higher conversion rate for your business.

There’s always room for conversion rate optimisation, no matter your industry

eCommerce conversion rates vary widely from one industry to another. But all eCommerce retailers have one thing in common – their goal should always be to achieve the highest conversion rate possible. The main takeaways for eRetailers who want to boost conversion in the four industries we discussed in this article are:

  1. Fashion retailers should keep on top of the latest trends: sustainability and mobile shopping are the main focus areas right now. Try using PWAs to turn your online clothing shop into a mobile shopper’s paradise.
  2. Fresh food retailers should focus on optimising their delivery windows. Remember to account for the different preferences of your different target groups. Also make the shopping experience more convenient with easy repeat purchasing options and shopping lists.
  3. If you’re in the electronics industry, remember to take advantage of popular shopping holidays to raise your conversion rate. Extended warranties are another great way to boost your customers’ trust and persuade them to buy online.
  4. When it comes to selling furniture online, the way you present your merchandise has a big influence on your conversion rate. Highly detailed product photos and free samples of the materials you use are also great ways to convince customers that your products are right for them.

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