Conversion Optimization

Why Is Your Conversion Rate Dropping: 24 Possible Causes

See why your eCommerce website's conversion rates are low—and some tested hacks to go along.

Why Is Your Conversion Rate Dropping: 24 Possible Causes

While the average eCommerce conversion rate is a lowly 2.3%, the top 10% of websites convert at an impressive 11%. 

Why the huge difference? The best sites don't make the same mistakes as the average ones.

Here is a roundup of the most common problems we’ve encountered—while helping businesses around the world:

1. Your homepage has a high bounce rate

One problem to solve before solving checkout abandonment is shoppers not adding to cart. 

The core problem in most cases is a homepage that doesn’t do enough to persuade shoppers to browse, explore and finally, convert.

The hack:

Highlight benefits through a welcome pop-up

Do you have an accessible free shipping threshold?

Have you begun to ship to some international locations?

You can convey these minute details through a small welcome pop-up.

Sort out possible navigation & search issues

Is your navigation hidden within a hamburger menu?

Does a shopper need to keep scrolling to see all your categories?

Do you have frequent zero search results pages?

If you want your conversions to show an upward trend, you'll have to resolve friction areas like these.

Feature persuasive social proof 

Betterhelp brings in numbers to drive audience confidence––and a dynamic ticker shows real-time numbers.

Betterhelp features dynamic numbers in their homepage social proof

Feature the live chat option on the homepage as well

This can reduce the time the customer spends looking for support if they need to ask some immediate questions, clarify doubts, etc.

2. Shoppers often drop off from the first fold

Given how much competition there is in eCommerce, shoppers need very good reasons to stick around and shop from a specific brand. 

The idea then is to make your first fold more engaging – if you want your conversion rate to improve. 

The hack:

Quantify the USP in clear words

For example, superfood brand Realm talks about their 15-second smoothie.

Feature your best-selling brands instead of offers

And offer manual scrolling for shoppers to discover more brands.

Tell a compelling story

It could be about your brand or a new line of products––when you make shoppers think or imagine, it’s likely they won’t drop off. 

Beardbrand does this effectively on their homepage. 

Beardbrand tells a compelling brand story in the first fold of the homepage

3. Your store doesn’t have a clear USP

An unclear USP will typically not convey how the brand and its products will impact shoppers and create a positive difference in their lives.

(And why they should choose you over your competitors.)

The hack: 

Craft a USP that drives value for the customer

If you’re struggling with a vague USP, ask two pointed questions:

- What problem is my target audience grappling with?

- How can I solve it better and faster than others?

One of our favorite USPs happens to be body & skin care brand Burt’s Bees - By Nature, For Nature, For All. 

And this USP reflects across all their pages––despite slight variations in messaging. 

Ensure your USP is more than a bunch of words

What we mean is that it will need its essence carried into the way you do your pricing, draw up offers and even offer customer support!

4. Your website copy is not persuasive

Consider this: 72% of marketers are of the opinion that persuasion is invaluable for boosting sales––and that emotionally engaged shoppers are 3 times more likely to buy or recommend a product.

And a lot of persuasion is driven by the kind of copywriting you use on your eCommerce site. 

The hack: 

Put the focus on how your brand can help customers

In the absence of in-person customer support, your website copy seeks to handhold the shopper towards better decisions.

Like Pipcorn, you’ve got to tell them what you offer differently and how!

Pipcorn describes their brand USP to persuade shoppers

Incite curiosity first

Before a shopper acts, they must want to act!

Hence, creating curiosity around the value the product drives can be crucial (for example, in Pipcorn's case it's "heirloom knowledge" that drives authority).

Pull the shopper into the way you innovate & create

Offer them BTS glimpses without revealing the secret sauce, of course.

5. Your product pages have too much information

While it may be all necessary and helpful product information, too much in an unspecified flow can be highly distracting & annoying to shoppers. 

The hack: 

Create bite-sized content blocks 

Here’s a look at how neatly Pact Clothing does it. 

Pact Clothing features easily scannable product page information

Limit text, use more images

Apart from a quick loading speed, your mobile site will need to run on limited text with clear messages. 

Introduce designed icons

This can work well when you're trying to highlight the most important product/brand takeaways, along with minimal text.

Collapse what you can into bullet points

It's easier on the eyes, you see––or bring in the collapsible content section format that is easy on overall product page design space. .

6. Your product descriptions are not compelling

Research has proven that insufficient or improper product descriptions create misplaced assumptions in the minds of shoppers, and this leads to an overall poor purchase experience. 

The hack: 

List out features & benefits

Help shoppers become aware of the technicalities of a product (like ingredients) and benefits (how the ingredients improve health, let’s say). 

Here’s a quick look at how crisp Beyond Yoga is in balancing product specifications with uses and benefits. 

Beyond Yoga balances features and benefits in their product description

Help, genuinely

This can be about how to use, when to use, with which of your products this specific product goes well & why, etc.

Answer customer objections

Ask yourself: what might make them drop off? Is it missing info on the material? Is it the size? Is it transparency around shipping etc.?

7. Your brand narrative is not creating trust

To put their faith into your products, a big chunk of your shoppers will want to align with your brand story. 

And if they don’t, it’s very likely that they may not want to buy from you at all!

The hack: 

Bring in factual BTS snippets about the journey of the brand

Talking about the people behind the business and the way they created the brand typically strikes a chord with target audiences. 

Here’s an example from Yellow Leaf Hammocks. 

Yellow Leaf Hammocks builds their brand by talking about their team

Introduce reviews, testimonials and press mentions

Highlight specific testimonials and bring in press mentions and features across well-known publications to drive your brand’s worth further. 

Modkat, the cat accessory brand, ensures a mix of reviews along with a verification badge.

Feature third party certifications

It’s important to showcase third party proof especially on certain pages like the homepage, product pages and checkout page. 

Introduce more content focused on learning

Like underwear brand Third Love ensures they talk about fit issues, size charts etc. to educate customers.

8. Your "search" is not intuitive

If your site search function is not enabled to be intuitive about users' queries, then that can be a big reason for shopper frustration. 

Shoppers expect to be shown the right or near-precise results even if their queries don’t exactly match the keywords in the product name they’re keying in.  

The hack: 

Bring in autocomplete

By tapping into data focused on user intent, you can get your eCommerce engines to offer up varied search results when a shopper starts typing. 

This results in the shopper being able to single out the result that is closest to their need and click on it. 

Here’s an example from Urban Outfitters. 

Urban Outfitters uses autocomplete to enrich their search results

Ensure high error tolerance at the back-end

You don’t want missing out on suggesting the right categories/styles just because the shopper mistyped a word.

Show alternative results if the search says “no results”

This can improve the chances of your shoppers looking in other directions from what they’d pre-decided.

9. Low engagement on product pages

Shoppers want the ease of exploring multiple product options without putting in much effort. 

Alongside, they also want enough information each to be able to make an informed purchase decision. 

And if this expectation is not met, expect more of them to fall off your category pages. 

The hack: 

Introduce “quick view”

The middle ground between the category page and the product page is the “quick view” feature. 

It’s an option where you don’t have to fully describe a product but just offer the major highlights.

Sephora, for example, calls this feature “quicklook”. 

Sephora uses the quick look feature on category pages

Use the best product image as the feature image

We all know that a great visual can often persuade shoppers to click an associated CTA.

Highlight deals with labels

For example, if certain products carry “free shipping”, ensure they carry that label.

10. Your shoppers are experiencing choice paralysis

Even if a shopper is sure about the category they want to purchase from, the sheer number of options might overwhelm them. 

This is especially true for those who don’t exactly know what they want and those who may be engaging with your brand/products for the first time. 

The hack: 

Add urgency prompts under individual products in the search results

Adding a label like “selling fast” or “just a few left!” can trigger a purchase decision instantly. 

Reduce the number of product recommendations

Whether you go strictly by purchase history or what shoppers have browsed repeatedly before, ensure the number doesn’t exceed 5 to 6 at any given point in time. 

Highlight a product recommendation 

How you separate one over the others is a call you’ll have to take – you could offer it at a lesser price, apply an additional discount advantage etc. 

Bring in filtering & sorting options across category pages

This can help shoppers see choices that are closest to what they’ve searched for, reducing confusion and the need to keep scrolling without making a decision.

Check this out: 13 Brilliant Ways to Overcome Choice Paralysis in eCommerce (2023)

11. Shoppers are dropping off after adding to cart

Cart abandonment often happens because they reconsider their decision to purchase given the total cost of the product(s). 

The more shoppers fall prey to this problem, the more your conversion rate suffers. 

The hack: 

Feature discounts in the mini cart 

One way out is to make it easy for them to access applicable discounts – showing them in the mini cart is ideal. 

Just like Torrid does. 

Torrid displays applicable discounts in the mini cart

A “create a new account to buy”

Instead make it easy through the OTP-driven guest checkout option.

Send abandoned cart nudges over email

If it’s a registered shopper, then a cart reminder and an additional discount nudge can be helpful.

Make it easy to save the cart

And make sure an email action is triggered once the customer clicks on "save the cart"––you can later send a relevant nudge using this as an anchor point.

Here's an example from Sears.

Showcase your loyalty program

The idea is to get them to buy in the short term, and get them to continue their engagement with your brand in the long term.

12. Your shoppers are unclear about the final cost

Research has proven that among the topmost reasons for shopper frustration, is the lack of knowledge about the total cost to be paid before checkout. 

The hack: 

Introduce an order summary

Ensure your order summary covers the following:

  • the total price
  • any applicable taxes, and 
  • shipping rates (based on what kind of shipping options are available)
  • Editable quantity buttons

One brand that gets this right is Bare Minerals. 

Feature applicable coupon codes within the mini cart 

This can make it easier for shoppers to apply the code and then see the price that follows. 

Featuring a shipping rate calculator on the product page

Instead of waiting to show it on the checkout page, like many businesses do.

Keep reading: How do I increase my website’s checkout rate? (26 proven ideas)

13. Your shoppers are not happy with the shipping time

Research has proven that almost 74% of shoppers believe that shipping is the main driver to a great shopping experience. 

Under such circumstances, as a business, you may have to explore various shipping options if you don’t want a chunk of your shoppers to feel shipping speed is slow. 

The hack: 

Introduce express shipping at extra charges

Expediting shipping is always one way to retain, delight and convert shoppers. 

Explore shipping options with your delivery partner to understand what will work well for the target audience(s) of your brand. 

ASOS, the British online fashion & cosmetic brand, for example, offers the standard delivery option and the express delivery option at an additional fee.

Highlight faster shipping on your membership plan 

Harry’s offers us the right cues. 

Harry's premium membership program

Offer in-store pickup as a backup

This is a great option if you aren’t just an online brand––easily offers more control to shoppers.

14. Your shoppers have no way of filtering through reviews

When shoppers scour through reviews to decide on a purchase, they’re looking for great reasons to buy or concerning reasons not to. 

So, if they have to look through your reviews page by page, it could become a long-winding exercise leading to first frustration and then most probably, drop offs. 

The hack: 

Offer the filtering option with the most relevant markers

This is the approach outdoor gear brand Patagonia takes––bringing in fields like “rating”, “size” and “activity” to make filtering more precise.  

Other brands like Burrow focus on “most votes”, “least votes” and “with pictures”. 

Highlight review images & make them clickable

So that someone looking specifically for visual-driven reviews don't have to spend time searching.

15. No shopping assistance

While browsing or shopping on your site, if shoppers have a tough time, it might be an instant put-off. 

The situation is worse if they’ve added to cart and have an intention to buy but their experience leads them to jump off, possibly never to return later. 

The hack: 

Introduce a customer feedback link across all pages

Introducing a clickable “feedback” icon is a great idea. 

Feature it across your site, irrespective of the page, so that shoppers can access it readily. 

Bed Bath & Beyond offers this feature. 

Bed Bath & Beyond offers shoppers the choice to give feedback

Maintain the live chat button as a sticky feature

Using a contrasting color that makes the icon stand out without being distracting, is a good idea.

Collect feedback through an exit-intent popup

Asking up to three targeted questions with multi choice answers and an open field for each, can be helpful.

16. Checkout takes "work"

Repeat customers expect auto-suggestion of details such as address, email, phone number etc.  

When checkout becomes repeated work, shoppers can feel the urge to opt out - in fact 17% of customers are known to abandon their order for this reason. 

The hack: 

Enable autofill & autocomplete in your forms

This offers your shoppers the option to access their browser settings and avail this advantage to autofill name, email address and payment details for repeat transactions. 

If they’re wary of browsers caching their sensitive data, they can always deactivate this feature on their own. 

Here’s a look at how Zara offers autofill around address suggestions:

Zara enables autofill for address filling in their forms

Offer an account log-in prompt

This way, they can log in, and their information will anyway be saved for your backend system to pick up.

17. Shoppers dropping off from checkout process

50% of American shoppers agree that they’ll be less likely to complete a purchase if checkout takes more than half a minute. 

From a business standpoint, this means a huge loss. 

The hack: 

Use a progress indicator to show how much time is left for completion

It’s not a tall order and what you can easily do to combat several steps to checkout is to bring in a progress indicator. 

This shows shoppers how far they’ve come and how much longer they’ve got to go to say “ta-da! done!”

Just like Mulberry does. 

Mulberry uses a checkout progress indicator for an easy experience

Feature a one-page checkout

The broad sections can come one by one as the customer fills each one up––also limit the form fields to absolutely necessary.

You might like: 35 Stunning Examples of Checkout Pages

18. Your product bundles aren’t selling

So here’s another scenario––your target audience seems to be exploring your product bundling options, but few or none are actually taking them home. 

This is an issue because this can impact your overall sales considerably.

And getting different aspects of your product bundling strategy right is crucial because effective bundling has shown to improve conversions by 10-30%

The hack: 

Offer the option of creating their own bundles

Shoppers enjoy the freewill of creating their own bundles. 

And because they’re adding multiple products to go into the bundle, it’s even better if you can serve up a decent discount. 

Jigsaw Health offers the choice of mixing up quantities of the products featured in a bundle, for example. 

Jigsaw Health lets shoppers create their own bundles

Enable shoppers to buy the products independently

To prevent shoppers turning away from the inflexible nature of a fixed bundle, enable them to pick and choose. 

Here’s how Aesop does it. 

(They have incorporated checkboxes into their design––and when a shopper unchecks an option, the product image also vanishes––try it!)

Aesop makes it easy to shop for bundled products separately

Promote your bundles through special discounts

This way shoppers will be convinced that there’s added value in snapping up a bundle.

19. Your mobile CTAs are not working

The reasons for fewer visitors converting through mobile could just be because you haven’t built your storefront FOR mobile.

Sometimes, the challenge is with CTA’s – they may not look clickable or they may be difficult to tap and go to the next level of action. 

The hack: 

Design CTAs that pass the “thumb test”

It’s been found that 75% of all mobile users depend on their thumbs for the actions they take on their mobile devices. 

This is why your CTAs need to pass the “thumb test”: they need to have a gradient or shadow for increased salience, feature more imperative words than descriptive and with enough white space around them.

Have the surrounding copy & micro copy lead towards the CTA

Sometimes this context-building is necessary to nudge shoppers towards taking action.

Check how your website scores on mobile-friendliness

Use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test Tool to gather important data, such as: 

  • if your site is mobile-friendly
  • how your site looks on mobile devices
  • if there are any mobile usability issues

20. Your email campaigns are generic & salesy

Generic and salesy email campaigns are the death knell for conversions. 

The reason is simple:

Every shopper is at a different point in their customer journey. 

So when you send them generic communications, they’re not able to relate to it and engage with it. 

The hack: 

Create deep personalization through customer segmentation

Create multiple buyer personas to get as close to the subsections of your larger target audience as possible. 

This will allow you to look at their preferences and behaviors, which in turn will inform you to narrow down on what kind of deals, rewards and information they might like. 

Nurture shoppers all through the year

This way your in-season efforts to create more sales will be more fruitful.

Balance transactional with information-rich content

Shoppers take to businesses kindly that support their purchase journey through educational & awareness-related support.

21. Competition is way ahead of you

It’s easy to think that your competition will be ahead of you only in terms of product quality or marketing strategy. 

The hack: 

Monitor your toughest competitors through Google Alerts

When signing up for Alerts, edit settings to track any number of competitors or keywords that are important to you. 

You’ll be sent a notification every time there is a match. 

The possibilities of what you can track are endless, and it doesn’t take long to set up.

Focus on building an engagement strategy with your audience

Some brands do it through their blog and other organic content across social media, some bring in expert advisors to increase a sense of the brand’s worth etc.

Build on your branding & follow up promises with great CX

Right from how you personalize & recommend products to what you offer as rewards & discounts––it all comes under how shoppers perceive your brand in the long run.

22. You’ve been selling to the wrong target audience

Here’s something that may not come to you intuitively: most websites are selling to their target audience, but those people aren’t the ones buying from them.

Let that sink in.

Very often, you may have this idea of your target audience in your head BUT sometimes, those people aren’t the ones buying from you.

The hack: 

Deepen customer research & create nuanced personas

Study past buying behavior, understand customer analytics and follow the customers to see where they come from, what they do, and what you can do for them.‍

Track customer testimonials

Notice what changes genuine shoppers are asking for. 

If there’s a pattern, you’ll know which areas need fixing. 

Develop multiple overlapping buyer personas 

Leverage the keywords people use to search for your eCommerce store. 

Not only do they reflect their personality but also give you relevant content that you can sprinkle across your website to connect with them. 

23. Your SEO & site visibility are poor

If your keywords & content haven’t been updated for a while, this can lead to low conversions. 

Lack of updates can lead to SEO challenges that further contribute to lost rankings. 

The hack: 

Update content & catalogs at regular intervals

Alongside, update your brand keywords with Google Keyword Planner

Update your catalog to help customers discover products and categories. 

Also update your image file names and alt tags to improve SEO-based discoverability by search engines. 

Improve your presence across social media

So that the links you share get more attention and potentially more shares as well.

24. Your website is lagging

Research shows that:  

  • A load time of 0–4 seconds was ideal for conversion rates
  • The first 5 seconds were the most crucial and had the highest impact on web conversion rates
  • For every additional load time—between 0–5 seconds—the conversion rate drops at an average of 4.42%

The hack:

Run an audit on site navigation

From ensuring your menus aren’t hidden to highlighting parent categories and making sure sub-categories are laid out neatly, navigation is key to your website being at the top of its game.  

Check for browser compatibility

Run checks on whether your site loads faster and correctly on one browser more than another.

Or if it limits shoppers with older browser versions from accessing all the updated features of your site. 

Compress files with heavy coding

Minify files with Javascript, HTML and CSS to reduce the time they take to load from servers to browsers. 

Delay load time for images below the fold

This way you can reduce first server requests and boost overall load time. 

eCommerce Conversion Rate FAQ

1. What does 'conversion rate' mean?

The number of purchases is divided by the total number of sessions. 

While most website visitors will take more than one session to decide to purchase, this is the standard measure of conversion rate.

2. What is a good conversion rate in 2023? 

In the big picture, most eCommerce businesses end up with a conversion rate anywhere between 2% and 3%.

Research points out that the average conversion rate increased by 1.83% between January 2022 and January 2023: what was 1.71% became 1.74%. 

So while it's a healthy practice to aim for a rate of 3% +, businesses that do really well record conversion rates of over 10%, with some reaching a rate as high as 11.45%.

So to answer the question, there’s no ‘good’ or ‘right’ conversion rate.

Eventually, you’ll need to start looking at internal data rather than external data.

3. What causes low eCommerce conversion rates?

There are various reasons that affect the eCommerce conversion rate. Sometimes, these are obvious reasons. 

The average conversion rate can drop because of more obvious changes like tweaks to landing pages, pricing, discounts, etc.

So, it’s advisable to review the last few activities you did on the website. 

Research shows these are the top reasons why customers abandon carts and decrease conversion rates: 

Why is your eCommerce conversion rate low (& 20 ways to fix it)

Check out these *underrated* conversion rate optimization ideas for eCommerce 

A low conversion rate can be caused by all or a mix of the above points, so we suggest you go through your data to identify exact drop-off junctures. 

4. How can you improve your website's conversion rates?

Even if the average conversion rates are lower in your industry, the top advertisers are outperforming you by 3-5x or more.

And while there’s no one answer to improving your conversion rate, we’ve seen how crucial it is to focus on understanding your customers' psychology. 

Here are some ways to increase conversion rates:

Focus on micro conversions to begin with 

Yeah, we’re talking about that popup to encourage email signup or automated email confirmation for product delivery. 

Offer hyper-personalized recommendations

Because an overdose of choices leads to decision fatigue.

Introduce the guest checkout option

A study shows that 23% of buyers will abandon the cart if they have to create a new account.

Make reviews a must-have

Online buyers trust product reviews 12-times more than the product description and sales copy.

70% of teens trust influencers over traditional celebrities and 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations.

Ensure speed at every touchpoint

Offer shoppers instant gratification through mobile app-enabled shopping, instant downloads, a fast-loading website, and responsive and fast customer support.

How we can help:

98% of visitors who visit an eCommerce site—drop off without buying anything. Why: user experience issues that cause friction for visitors. 

And this is the problem we solve. We've helped 500+ eCommerce stores (in the US) improve user experience—and 2X their conversions. 

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