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What Are The Biggest Killers Of Online Footwear Conversion?

Posted by Matthew Howarth on Jul 16, 2019 5:36:39 PM
Matthew Howarth

It’s an exciting time to be in footwear. With the global market predicted to hit $371.8 billion by 2020, if you have a shoe brand, you’re in a great position.

So why are online footwear companies failing to maximize on this potential market growth? 

Picture this. Your shoes are excellent. Your branding is on point. Your e-commerce store looks great, and your marketing rocks. So why are you failing to convert website visitors into customers? 

In this piece, we’ll take a look at why you’re seeing a mismatch between visits and sales. We’ll explore how you could be harboring a well-known conversion killer in your site, without even realizing…

6 main reasons for low footwear sales conversion rates

Killer 1 - sizing options

bad sizing options - biggest killers of online footwear conversion - shoesizeme

Let’s get to the point. That notorious conversion killer we mentioned? It’s sizing. 

People aren’t buying your shoes for two simple reasons: First, because they can’t figure out what size they are likely to need. Second, because they don’t want to run the risk of choosing the wrong size. 

Like clothing brands, there are no standardized shoe sizes - across brands, models, countries, and more, sizes can vary and customers hate it. So why is sizing so complicated? There’s the lack of consistency between brands, but beyond that, there’s the fact that around the world, people are measuring their shoes on completely different sizing systems. 

Frustrated by struggling to find the right shoe size, customers either abandon the purchase altogether or they solve this issue with one of the following methods, none of which is particularly good for your business: 

  • They buy offline, just to be sure
  • They try on multiple shoe sizes in a physical store and then order the correct size online
  • They buy two or three different sizes online and then return the ones that don’t fit

Realizing that sizing is a major problem in ecommerce, brands and retailers have been experimenting with several solutions. One of those is multi-step sizing charts to indicate which size customers should choose. However, these charts, along with foot measurements instructions are not only ineffective and hard to fathom but also definitely don’t offer the best UX to online shoppers.

Is there a better and more modern alternative? Sure there is. In fact, our data and experience show that implementing a proper and user-friendly sizing solution like ShoeSize.Me, an AI-based shoe size advisor, increases conversion rates by 9 percentage points on average (not to mention the decrease of return rates by 13 percentage points on average!). So if you’re looking for an instant boost in online footwear profits, investing in a modern sizing solution is the way to go.

Killer 2 - payment options

bad payment options - biggest killers of online footwear conversion - shoesizeme

Even if your customers make it through the sizing dilemma, the sale still isn’t in the bag. Another certified conversion-killer is a less-than-ideal payment option or gateway. Paying online is second-nature to many customers, but there are several issues that arise that can put people off the sale. 

Firstly, make sure you’re offering a variety of appealing payment options - enabling global, reputable providers like Apple Pay, Google Pay, Stripe, and Square should keep everyone happy.

Once people can pay with a provider they trust, make sure they don’t have to jump through hoops to do so. Keep your payment process as short and simple as possible - and you’ll get extra points for “one-click” options like you find on Amazon. Instant death? Forcing users to leave the website to make a payment, or not allowing frequent fliers to save their card details. 

Killer 3 - shipping options

Not only do sub-par shipping options increase the risk of basket abandonment, but they can take chunks out of your reputation. A (slightly terrifying!) study from Pitney Bowes in 2018 found that 91% of shoppers would leave a website if fast, free shipping isn't available. You might have to strategize hard to make it profitable, but customers want fast, free, and international delivery no matter where they are. 

You’ll also keep customers happier if delivery and return policies are clearly explained. It’s a key part of effective UX (user experience) - investing time and effort into developing informative and easy-to-read FAQs. They should include a reference to all the “administrative” parts of shopping on your website - shipping, delivery, returns, complaints, etc. It takes a surprising amount of skill to write good FAQs, so get practicing or consider handing it over to a professional.

Killer 4 - bad UX

bad ux - biggest killers of online footwear conversion - shoesizeme

There isn’t a human alive that won’t thank you for paying more attention to UX, and the shoe buyer is no exception. The more common online shopping becomes, the lower our tolerance for bad performance and less-than-delightful UX. Slow load times, confusing design, bad product descriptions, and poor trust indicators are just a few of the things that top the UX sin list. 

UX problems are magnified on mobile, but mobile is where the future is. In fact, it’s estimated that more than 50% of searches are made through smartphones already and this number is expected to increase to 70% by 2020. Google is aware of this, so if your website doesn’t work well on mobile, not only do you risk alienating your demanding customers, but you are also endangering your SERP with undesirable SEO indicators. Invest in ensuring both mobile and desktop customers can navigate your site with ease. 

Killer 5 - low stock

As you can see, there are a number of online shopping potholes that could mean losing a potential customer on their journey through your site. As a savvy e-commerce retailer, the more you can do to smooth the road before the buyer has a chance to stumble, the better. One place it’s easy to do this is when planning your stock levels. Imagine this - your customer has found his or her way to your store, browsed what’s on offer, chosen the right category, filtered for style, and finally found a stiletto - or flip flop - they absolutely love. You’ve probably been in this position yourself, so you know how disappointing it is to finally discover that your size, for example, is nowhere to be found. 

Although it makes things more difficult for you, customers expect a full selection to be on offer. Avoid this by trying to have healthy supplies of at least the most popular models, make sure your site is always up-to-date with available products and sizes, and make sure you have a solid system in place for allowing users to get a reminder when stock has come back in. It’s a touch the customer appreciates and does double duty as a handy minor marketing tool

Killer 6 - cart abandonment

cart abandonment - biggest killers of online footwear conversion - shoesizeme

Sometimes, even though your sizing is perfect, your mobile site gleam and your payment options are bountiful, you’ll still lose a conversion. A certain level of abandonment rate is normal: competitors might be simply scanning your prices, users might be just looking for gift ideas or consumers are simply in a rush and can’t complete the purchase at the moment.

So, what can you do if you start hemorrhaging sales? Well, one of the most effective methods is having the event trigger a cart abandonment email funnel to see if there’s any chance of getting them back. One step better is a personal email, reaching out and taking a more intimate approach to see if you can salvage the sale or find out what went wrong in the process. Besides emails, retargeting cart abandoners via ads can also be an effective way to boost conversion rates.

Summing up...

Although it’s not the only culprit, sizing problems are indeed the biggest killer when it comes to footwear conversions. That’s why companies like ShoeSize.Me have stepped up to create accessible solutions that take a totally new approach to size. 

When brands deploy ShoeSize.Me’s Size Advisor tool, they see an average conversion increase of 9% and a 13% reduction in costly returns! Overall, brands using our Size Advisor see an increase in total revenue of between 4 - 6%, a significant figure when it comes to profits. 

Interested to see how that works in a practical example? See how footwear brand LLOYD increased their conversion rate and netted an extra $70,000 in revenue after using machine learning to bring chaotic, unpredictable footwear sizing to its knees. 

Download the case study

Topics: shoe shopper experience, online shoe shopping, footwear conversion rate