Conversion Rate Optimization University

Conversion Rate Optimization University: Shopping Cart Analysis

After 3 months of testing, conversion rate up 64% and value per visitor up 22% — see how!

I just completed a conversion optimization review of a customer’s ecommerce store. Currently, we’re only selling a single item as either a one-off or a monthly subscription plan. Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools and Analytics conversion tracking are already installed — so this client is way ahead of many stores out there.

It’s a pretty typical shop built on WordPress, with a WooCommerce back-end. Most of the optimization suggestions I made are universally applicable to every ecommerce cart. Furthermore, these suggestions are all based on proven conversion rate optimization best practices — thus, they’re the best suggestions we can make without a deep-dive into the client’s analytics and a full, detailed investigation of the conversion funnel.

I wanted to share this list so that you can review your own ecommerce presence and make sure you’re in line with the conversion rate best practices listed below. There’s also documentation provided for most of the suggestions. So settle in and get ready to do some reading…


  • “Order Now” should be highlighted in CTA color

Optimizing your shopping cart conversion rate

  • Shipment options: In your store, change the subscription plan name. “Autoship” doesn’t sound very customer-friendly… Remember that product names are a key component of your marketing.
  • You might also consider adding a package offering 3 or 6 units for those who want to order more than a single unit, but don’t want to sign up for a subscription. (I’ve found that many customers are leery of subscriptions and having a multi-unit option can really increase your average ticket, especially for reorders.)
  • Typically, the average value of a subscription customer far exceeds the average ticket of a one-time customer. If your data reflect this, consider adding a small discount, free shipping or some other incentive to push customers toward a subscription rather than a one-time purchase.
  • Shipping costs: $10 flat-rate shipping seems very expensive, adding 33% to my total cost for a single unit. Shipping costs are a major contributor to shopping cart abandonment — see
  • Consider shipping via USPS Priority Mail flat-rate for $5.05 (online price)
  • Cart page: the “Proceed to Checkout” button should be higher on the page, “above the fold” — meaning the customer should be able to see it, and click it, without scrolling down. I also recommend changing the call-to-action here to something more customer-oriented, or less process-oriented: “Continue” or “Next Step” or “Let’s Go!”Additionally, the button should probably be orange.

Interstitial for auto-ship upsell

  • In headline use $sku_descrption instead of Auto-ship (we don’t want to distract the customer by presenting them with a product name they didn’t add to the cart!)
  • Revise text
  • Revise Yes and No colors as specified

Checkout page

There are lots of little changes you can make on this page to increase your conversion rate. Generally speaking, form length and conversion rate are inversely correlated, so the fewer fields you have customers fill out, the better your offer will perform.

  1. ​”Ship to a different address” should be unselected by default.
  2. Avoid multi-column form fields if possible: 
  3. Orient form fields and labels vertically: (a great overview of conversion-optimizing your forms!)
  4. You can add a GeoIP detection script to detect the customer’s zip code, city and state based on IP — this can dramatically increase conversion rates. 
  5. Eliminate navigation from shopping cart pages — you don’t want a customer to get this far and then click out of the cart!
  6. Add “trust marks”: to increase conversion rates. Norton Secured is the best.
  7. “I’ve read and accept the terms & conditions” checkbox should be checked by default.
  8. Include your customer service telephone number on the shopping cart pages, to make it easy for customers to contact you if they have questions or concerns during checkout. (You may also want to install a chat script to field customer questions during checkout. You want a customer to be able to reach you immediately at this point — their credit card is in their hand! — if they have any issues.)
  9. Unless you’re actively promoting coupons for your store, remove all coupon code entry fields. Seeing an empty coupon code field often makes customers STOP the checkout process and search for a coupon. See
  10. Increase size of order buttons about 2.5x — we want mobile users to have a nice, juicy touch target.

When these fixes are implemented, I’ll report on the impact to the client’s conversion rate. Until that time, let me know how these tweaks and recommendations perform for you!

Update: after 3 months of testing, conversion rate up 64% and value per visitor up 22%.

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