Ecommerce Growth

18 Brilliant Ways To Convert First-Time Visitors Into Buyers (eCommerce)

To find those loyal customers, converting first-time visitors is crucial—here are 18 ways we've tested on client storefronts across the world.

18 Brilliant Ways To Convert First-Time Visitors Into Buyers (eCommerce)

According to a NASDAQ forecast, 95% of purchases will happen through eCommerce by the time it’s 2040.

And this means just one thing: how easy and attractive you make it for first-time visitors to buy will decide how well you’ll fare retaining them.

In this piece, we’ll explore methods that we’ve applied to 500+ customers across the world to elevate conversions, consistently.

Let’s go!

How To Convert New Website Visitors Into Customers


1. Start a conversation

Since eCommerce shoppers are getting more and more reluctant to share their private information, even an X% discount for the first purchase does not work as well anymore.

The antidote is to use the reciprocity principle, and give them a little extra before you ask something from them—since the usual first-time visitor is likely visiting multiple stores simultaneously, engaging them at an added layer becomes important.

Notice how Feel Goods engages the first-time visitor by not just citing a 25% discount but also asking them what problems they want to solve—

Feel Goods email sign up pop up for first time visitors

2. Initiate live chat from your end

Research points to the fact that visitors who access live chat are 2.8 times more likely to buy than those who don’t.

So, instead of keeping a passive sticky live chat button, it’s ideal to trigger a conversation from your end within 2 to 3 seconds of a first time visitor landing.

At least that’s what mattress brand Heveya does—and we can ascertain that it can be very reassuring for someone visiting their site for the first time:

Heveya initiates live chat for first time visitors

To make it more effective (even if you don’t have a human right away to answer):

3. Make it easy for them to discover your storefront

Discovery is amongst the primary anxieties for a first-time visitor to any eCommerce—even if they’re casually browsing, the first question they ask is: will I find something worthwhile?

One brand that does a great job in clearing the way is Bed, Bath & beyond—from the season’s special sale to the categories a visitor can look up to decorate their home to even trending searches.

Bed Bath & Beyond homepage discovery example
Bed Bath & Beyond homepage discovery example

4. Make navigation super easy

Bring in a pop-up that narrows down the most relevant categories, a second or two after a first-time visitor shows up.

eCommerce outdoor brand Patagonia features this as a way to funnel visitors even before they get an opportunity to get distracted—even if you’re not running a sale, you can always ask, “What are you waiting to discover today?” and then follow it up with “Some of our most-loved categories are: X, Y, Z…”

Patagonia popup for popular product categories example

5. Create a clear content hierarchy

Make your homepage about the best categories & subcategories, displayed in the order of importance—like Lush Cosmetics does:

Lush Cosmetics homepage content hierarchy example

And create each section with a singular intent—like LARQ highlights recommendations, social proof and the company’s mission in easily discernible sections:

Larq homepage content hierarchy example

6. Clarify the typical user journey

This is especially important for subscription businesses that are either nudging shoppers to build a box or customize their meal plan—here’s an example:

Cat Person explains the user journey to first time customers


7. Create faith in your brand

Especially for smaller brands, coming forward with the reason behind being in business becomes a future conversion driver—if the customer can trust you in their first visit, there are higher chances of them buying then and there or in the next visit:

Pretty Litter brand promise example from eCommerce

8. Offer help / resources

Many first time visitors will not hesitate to convert if you can convince them that:

  • It doesn’t involve them spending anything right away
  • It helps them make up their mind

However, even if offering a free consultation isn’t up your sleeve, create content that create awareness and better buying choices like Etsy does:

Or for that matter how Sephora features separate buying guides for different categories and products:

Sephora offers informational guidance for separate categories

9. Use social proof—at the right places

It’s one thing to highlight customer reviews—and quite another to pull out a review from an authority brand and highlight it.

As first-time visitors, when we were checking out Plantrise’s product pages, we noticed how the health brand has created snippets from well-known publications—they feature these right at the top of their product pages:

Plantrise authority review at the top of the product page

Don’t wait for the checkout page to get those trust seals in—we’d say use them more prominently on the homepage, category pages and (goes without saying) product pages—just like prenatal vitamin brand Belibaby highlights the most important aspects of their product range (and the process behind):

Belibaby trust seals example

10. Create a sense of value

It’s not just about the discounts you offer but what you include within the price you offer that drives first time visitors to consider you over competitors.

This is the kind of messaging eCommerce brand Warby Parker uses to great effect:

Warby Parker states what the product price includes

Include a piece of information that will make the shopper consider a product just a little bit more—just like Bellroy does to catch the shopper’s attention:

Bellroy offers deeper product information to help convert first time visitors

11. Seek feedback

Introducing a sticky feedback button that expands into choices that matter for customers across your conversion funnel is a great idea—here’s a quick example:

Crate & Barrel seeks feedback from customers across the conversion funnel


12. Highlight offers only for first-time buyers

Shoppers love feeling important. In fact, it’s one activity that can leave a shopper feeling a sense of achievement.

Now if this is how it is, imagine the mark you’d create on a first-time buyer by declaring an offer only for them—just like in the example below:

Or create a first-time purchase free delivery threshold like Chewy does:

13. Give them the option to “create your own bundle/pack”

Even if you’ve got the most amazing and relevant bundles on sale, first-time visitors don’t know what’ll work.

And that’s why if you have to convert them from being mere traffic to first-time buyers, you’ve got to let them create their own bundles.

Just like Setu Nutrition does—to make it more compelling, they offer a personalization test as well as a free consultation alongside:

Setu Nutrition build your bundle example

14. Offer a great incentive to subscribe

When your pricing strategy helps both the customer save money and help you make money, it’s a win-win.

So when you offer an “X% off when you subscribe” is a great hook.

Exactly what eCommerce coffee brand Death Wish Coffee hinges on to get those visitors to order their first shipment:

Death Wish Coffee offers a deep discount for first time subscribers

15. Use a product discovery quiz

By now, many eCommerce brands use the product discovery quiz as an email list building strategy.

However, we’ve seen with clients that with a short, highly specific quiz, product page visits by first-time visitors don’t just increase but many of them even buy.

Our only recommendation? Please don’t ask more than 5 questions or you’ve lost them.

eCommerce scent brand Dossier features their quiz in their primary navigation—and even mentions that it’s a “short” one. Helpful!

Dossier uses a product discovery quiz to help first time visitors

16. Trigger a well-crafted cart abandonment pop-up

Many eCommerce brands we’ve worked with are right in saying that earning the first customer becomes expensive.

But done well, which includes what products you recommend and how much savings you’re willing to let them enjoy, you can retain them for a long time.

For example, if your product’s already on sale and they’re still leaving, trigger a cart abandonment pop-up that lets them enjoy an additional 5% savings and ensure to throw in a countdown timer.

Lamin cart abandonment popup for first time visitors example

17. Throw brand benefits into your cart abandonment email

Just a reminder or a reminder combined with a small discount may not be attractive enough for a first-time visitor to convert through an abandoned cart mail.

Instead do what Pure Formulas does—talk about why choosing you is different from choosing another brand since such a visitor is still getting to know you.

Pure Formulas cart abandonment emall example

18. Create an impression with your welcome email

For first-time visitors to gather insights about your brand, it’s not enough that your welcome email carries only a good discount applicable on the first purchase.

Every smart eCommerce brand we’ve studied and worked with have a few things in common when it comes to the welcome email:

  • They talk about what the brand values
  • What next steps the subscriber can take, and
  • What membership/ reward benefits will enable more savings

This Allen Edmonds welcome email is a fine example:

Allen Edmonds welcome email example

Recommended reading:

23 Ways to Boost eCommerce Homepage Conversions (2024 edition)

21 Inspiring eCommerce Homepage Examples (not your usual brands)

8 Pillars of a High-converting eCommerce Homepage (+ Examples)

eCommerceProduct Page Guide

How about a conversion rate audit? (It's free!)

98% of visitors who visit an eCommerce site—drop off without buying anything.

Especially first-time visitors who have very little trust in the brand.

Why: user experience issues that cause friction.

And this is the problem Convertcart solves.

We've helped 500+ eCommerce stores (in the US) improve user experience—and 2X their conversions.

How we can help you:

Our conversion experts can audit your site—identify UX issues, and suggest changes to improve conversions.

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