Editor’s Note: Trying to avoid doom scrolling? This article is around 1780 words long, basically around 20-22 scrolls. Happy reading and converting!
Infinite scrolling is addictive. For everyone, including your customers.
However, does infinite scrolling kill conversions?
TL;DR - the verdict is infinite scrolling is not suitable for every online store.
TS;WM? In this article, you’ll understand the following:
What’s infinite scrolling?
Infinite scrolling is a UX technique where content loads continuously as you scroll down a webpage.
Let’s explore the pros and cons of infinite scrolling, and understand if infinite scrolling does kill conversions.
Pros of infinite scrolling
Infinite scrolling is a widely used UX technique on social media apps and now on eCommerce websites. However, many eCommerce business owners often ask us ’Does infinite scrolling kill conversions?’.
While it does kill some conversions, there are also some benefits to infinite scrolling.
1. Replicates a habit
When shoppers land on any website or app, scrolling is the first action. It’s become an instinct.
Worldwide, people spend an average of 2 and a half hours per day on social media. This means, there’s a high chance that customers are coming to your online store from social media through a link, post, or organically.
Enabling infinite scrolling in an online store takes advantage of the instinct to scroll and saves time as shoppers know what to do, instead of floundering about.
2. Increases session duration
The main benefit of an endless scrolling webpage is that it keeps shoppers engaged. In online stores, shoppers are constantly engaged as they scroll through and keep getting new content.
This increases a shopper’s engagement rate with the brand’s website and improves the session duration per shopper.
3. Improves mobile experiences
You already know that infinite scrolling is instinctive, especially on mobile and touchscreen devices.
Unlike desktop eCommerce experiences where experts have debated for decades whether the scroll is dead or not, mobile has been designed for scrolling.
On mobile and touchscreen devices, infinite scroll creates a more seamless experience for shoppers. Moreover, mobile shoppers also instinctively use swipe and button features.
Alternatively, pagination can limit and interrupt a mobile shopper’s shopping experience.
Don't forget to read Science-backed Mobile Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) Ideas
4. Makes an impact through visuals
Infinite scrolling is useful when you have high-quality visuals.
You can also complement the lazy loading of images, where the images load as the shopper scrolls down.
On eCommerce stores, you can display products on the product listing pages. However, you don’t have to copy exactly how Amazon does it. Instead, list products in different sizes so they come together like a puzzle to provide an interesting aesthetic (Pinterest style).
Cons of infinite scrolling
So, does infinite scrolling kill conversions? As we said, it depends. There are various reasons why infinite scrolling is harmful to your online store. Let’s dive into the cons of infinite scrolling.
1. Decreases impact of store SEO
SEO-wise, infinite scrolling has a negative impact.
Google does index infinite scroll. However, there are certain limitations. Google does not crawl all of the content on a webpage because the crawler has a limit called a crawl budget. If there are more web pages on your store, then it takes more time to index them all.
2. Hinders UX and causes a shopper to lose their place
As a shopper scrolls down, they might be attracted to a product but scroll down nonetheless to see other options. However, if they scroll too far, they might find it difficult to find the product again.
Infinite scrolling takes more time to load and causes website crashes and errors. It can also stop working if shoppers scroll indefinitely.
Shoppers can’t bookmark particular search results page to come back to later or share with their friends.
Furthermore, when a browser presses the back button, it doesn’t go back to the previous segment of results — it goes back to the previous page.
3. Makes it tough to gain shopping insights
It’s hard to encode Google Analytics codes or add navigational links to pages with infinite scrolling. Online stores find it difficult to track any analytics or gain any real insights.
Instead, eCommerce stores will need to write their own codes that will track any new content. However, this increases costs and makes it time-consuming to maintain and test.
4. Loses out on footer content
A truly user-friendly footer offers closure to a shopper’s journey. It also works as a bottom navigation tool.
Common footer content includes customer profiles, product categories, social media buttons, trust badges, return policy, data protection, and contact details.
However, with infinite scrolling, it can be difficult for shoppers to find the above information.
3 alternatives to infinite scrolling
Fortunately for online stores, there are some SEO-friendly solutions to implement instead of infinite scrolling. Here are three ways to implement an alternative scrolling strategy to your eCommerce website.
Pagination is a UI element in which the products are listed on separate product listing web pages. Once a shopper scrolls to the bottom of the webpage, they need to click on the next page number to see more products.
The clicking action makes a shopper feel like they are deciding to explore more. Pagination is also better for searching for a specific product and bookmarking a particular webpage.
See how Macy’s does pagination with some clever navigational cues.
The product listing page lets shoppers load more products by choosing specific pages from a dropdown and editing the number of products shown on each page. In this format, shoppers can also access the footer.
On the products themselves, the brand has enabled many features including a hover feature, highlighting discounts, product variant patches, and inventory information such as ‘LAST ACT’ for soon-to-be out-of-stock products.
Furthermore, to avoid duplicate content, make sure to properly format content across the product listing pages and proper robot.txt files to prevent a crawl from occurring on certain pages, which will save your crawl budget and allow your important pages to be crawled.
2. Load more button
One of the easiest ways to improve infinite scrolling is by implementing a load more button.
With a load button, online stores can show fewer products upfront, so that the results page generates quickly. Once a shopper clicks on the load more button, more products can appear.
Load more buttons also let shoppers gain access to the footer as well.
See how River Island adds a load more button with a progress bar to the product listing page. They also have an arrow so shoppers can navigate up to find products easily:
A final benefit of the load more button is that the product list grows rather than letting the results be replaced. Furthermore, in online stores shoppers can compare more products across an entire list, thus increasing the overall product discoverability rate.
It’s also more functional on mobile and touchscreen devices.
3. Slide with arrows
A great way to lend a unique website experience and decrease scrolls is by implementing slides.
Online store owners can group the products by categories and show products in a slide format. Arrows can be added as navigational cues.
Replicate what Waterstones does. See how they also display products in a horizontal slide format. They have created different category sections for easy navigation. A hover over a product feature makes the CTA pop up and shoppers can either pre-order or add to the cart right away.
When to use infinite scroll and when to use alternative design techniques?
Infinite scrolling usually works better when consumers have no specific task or goal. That’s why it’s so popular on social media and news websites.
Many eCommerce stores are implementing infinite scrolling as a differentiator amongst their peers, so it’s essential to apply this webpage design technique with caution.
Therefore, our final verdict to ‘Does infinite scrolling kill conversions?’ is that infinite scrolling is not suitable for every online store or every eCommerce webpage.
Remember: When to use infinite scroll and when to use alternative design techniques?
Before implementing any website design technique, including infinite scrolling, understand the following:
- What is the goal of your online store pages?
- Do you have a large product inventory or many product categories?
- Does your website feedback say shoppers often complain about navigation on product listing and search result web pages?
1. eCommerce stores can consider infinite scrolling for:
a. On product listing pages with products that are frequently uploaded or if you consistently release new products under a wide category. This way shoppers can browse different types of products at the same time and refine them through filters.
b. Miscellaneous web pages such as blogs (with product integration) where shoppers are trying to consume information and education for future purchases. This way you can establish authority through content and help shoppers recall your brand faster.
2. Definitely don’t apply infinite scrolling to the following pages:
a. Checkout pages are sort of like the end zone. Here you need to make a sale and get shoppers to make a purchase. Applying elements such as infinite scrolling can only distract shoppers from the main goal and decrease conversions.
b. Many brands love to add everything to the homepage. However, this only causes shoppers to either feel overwhelmed by choices or lose focus right at the start.
Missguided has only 3-4 scrolls on its homepage and makes use of categories and subcategories for better navigation:
3. eCommerce stores can consider alternatives for the following web pages:
a. Large inventory of products to be displayed on product listing pages (jump back to alternatives section for examples)
b. It’s tempting to add long product descriptions on product pages. Many online brands like to talk on and on about the product and its benefits. Some brands also like to cross-sell or upsell with product recommendations and enable infinite scrolling.
Krave Jerky has a straightforward product page that uses only 2 scrolls. It has a concise product description, drop-downs for product variants, and a horizontal layout for different product sizes:
Now that you know the pros and cons of infinite scrolling and other scrolling strategies, make an educated decision on whether to implement infinite scrolling or not on your online store.
Before you go, you might want to read: 19 Scientific Strategies to Increase your eCommerce Conversion Rate
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