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15 Most Common Conversion Killers in Ecommerce

Do you know what it takes to get people to buy from you?

I am sure you occasionally visit your own site and while browsing through the pages wonder, “why do so few people buy from me?”.

Why there aren’t there more conversions? Why there aren’t there more orders?

There could be many reasons for this. From the fact that the market is too small, to your store being too young to attract more orders, to technical problems making it hard for visitors to buy.

Or perhaps, you just have some conversion killers on your site. Simple.

A couple of weeks ago I posted a lengthy introduction to conversion optimization, today I want to expand on one particular aspect of the whole process: identifying website elements that prevent visitors from buying from you.

Before we do that though, let’s discuss one more thing.

What Is a Typical Ecommerce Conversion Rate

By far, this is one of the most common questions I get asked. However, it is also one for which there is no straightforward answer. Too many different factors can affect a conversion rate to be able to identify a most typical rate.

Having said that, as a rule, we usually estimate a typical conversion rate of an ecommerce website to be at approx. 1% – 2%.

I have seen websites with a higher conversion, and I have seen it dropping below one percent. On my own site, I usually start to worry if my conversion rate drops below 1% for a longer period of time.

Your conversion rate will fluctuate, therefore you need to observe it for some time to be able to assess if there is a problem. Things like market seasonality, time of the year, source of traffic and many other things might affect the conversion rate, and neither of them will suggest there is a problem with your site.

15 Most Common Conversion Killers in Ecommerce

There are probably an unlimited number of conversion killers. Pretty much anything can become an obstacle on the customer’s journey to a purchase. Below I list some of the most common ones, however, even if you rule some of these out, keep searching. There might be something else causing a problem.

  • Poor Layout And Typography

I guess this one speaks for itself. If your website sports a poor layout, with unreadable text, blurred images, information scattered around the page, unorganized, then there is no surprise that visitors prefer to leave the site instead of making a purchase.

  • No Whitespace and Formatting

By its nature, the Internet is a source of information and the information you provide is what many of your visitors will base their buying decision on.

However, quite often that information is presented in the most unapproachable way. Text contains no white spaces, paragraph breaks, margins and is not formatted in any way. As a result, the visitor is presented with a blob of text they can’t quickly skim to assess if it contains the information they are looking for.

In order to improve that, ensure that you have a properly formatted text, plenty of white space around it and that you use easily skimmable elements like headings and lists.

  • Slow Loading Time

Nobody likes to wait. We are so accustomed to getting what we want in an instant these days that even a slightest delay causes irritation.

If your visitors have to spend even couple of seconds waiting for the page to load, they are gone.

Ensure that your site loads fast and visitors don’t have to wait before they see your content.

  • Too Many Items Above The Fold

A fold is a term describing a portion of a screen that can be seen without having to scroll. However, today it seems more of a myth of the old internet. Back in the day, everyone was obsessed with not having to scroll to reveal more content. These days however, with the advent of blogging, scrolling has become a natural way of browsing the web.

Yet, for many, the fold is still that mythical area dividing what the visitor will definitely see and what he or she only might see. As a result, top of the page gets crammed with objects and information, placed there in hope that it will appear above the fold.

In reality, there is no data to suggest that such actions can increase conversions. In fact, most research shows otherwise.

  • Weak Testimonials

This can be a quite surprising one, given the fact that we all know of the power of testimonials. The problem is though, that sometimes those testimonials are weak and work against us. A 2–3 word ones, such as “Great product, Beth” don’t reveal much. In fact, they look as if they were fake and certainly, don’t give the impression you would hope they would.

In such a case, is it better to have no testimonials at all? I would argue that yes. If your testimonials are weak, hide them and try to gather a more powerful ones in the meantime.

  • “Empty The Cart” Button

I have to say that it always makes me laugh when I see a site featuring “empty the cart” button. It is usually placed in the checkout and becomes a panic button to the visitor.

And, hey, nothing works better at scaring customers away as giving them an easy way out.

But, is removing such a button being too pushy about the sale? Of course not! Your visitors can still leave anytime they want, however, products they added to the basket will remain there and be waiting for them next time they come back to the site.

  • Unclear Value Proposition

To put it in the most simplest terms, your value proposition is what sets you apart from your competitors. It is the additional value that a customer perceives when buying from you.

Quite often that value is unclear. It might be obvious to you, but your clients might not actually even notice that there is one. Yet, without it, you become almost identical to your competitors.  That’s not a great place to be when it comes to convincing customers why they should buy from you.

Check out my detailed post about developing value proposition for ecommerce.

  • Too Much Perceived Risk

Seemingly, purchasing from you might be perceived as too risky. This can be due to many factors, from security to trust to added costs like shipping etc. Yet, if customers realize (regardless of whether this is true or not) that there is too much risk in buying from you, they will abandon their shopping process, most likely never to return.

  • Lack Of Security Assurance

These days, customers are very weary of security risks online. They won’t pull out their credit card unless they are absolutely certain that it is safe to buy from a site.

A lack of any form of security assurance, from simple security accreditation logos to SSL certificate and more is a serious conversion killer for any website.

  • No Easy Way To Reach You

Customer service is one of the things that can make or break your conversions. Your visitors might have pre-sales questions, and quite often whoever answers them quicker gets the sale.

Therefore, incorporating as many ways you can be reached by certainly helps with increasing conversions on the site. Live chat, phone, email, social media and more are by far the most popular ones but have a look at my post where I discuss the whole issue of providing customer service online.

  • Visual Distractions

Sometimes it can be hard for customers to find that “Add to Cart” button. And what do you think happens then? Naturally, they don’t buy.

If a customer gets distracted from completing the main objective you have for them, which in a case of an online store can’t be anything else but to make a purchase, then you can be 100% certain they won’t complete it.

A clean and distraction-free design will send them right down the funnel to complete their purchase.

  • Sidebar Clutter

Seemingly, a sidebar can provide quite a lot of distraction that can take away the visitors attention from buying. All those latest posts, additional products, sales etc. can grab their attention and send them away from the product they were looking to buy.

  • No 404 Page

Sometimes we get the page address wrong, no big deal. But what happens if we do can have a great effect on conversions.

A proper 404 page, giving all the right information that can help the visitor to find out whatever they were looking for can go a long way when it comes to keeping them on a site and, ultimately getting them to buy.

  • No Social Proof

I am not a great fan of a social proof. Yet, to many people it is an indication of the popularity of a website. A lack thereof might send a message that this isn’t a site frequented by customers.

Of course, the problem with social proof is that it can be gamed (and that’s one of the reasons why I don’t like it) but overall, to many people it is a metric of a popularity of a website and thus, something you should consider working on for your store.

  • Too Many Options

This is a mistake I am guilty of. And, it’s not only me who thinks that presenting a customer with many options such as product comparison, additional ways to inquire about a product and so on, enhances their customer experience.

Nothing is further from the truth though and I can personally attest that presenting a customer with only the basic options is the best way to increase your chances of them buying from you.


One of the problem with conversion is that it can always be better. And there is always at least one conversion killer on your site. Therefore, make sure that you have strategies in place to constantly monitor and work towards improving your conversion rate.

TIP: Just make sure that you always test one element at a time. Otherwise, you will never know what has actually worked.

Your Turn

What conversion killers did you identify on your site? How did you tackle them and to what result? Share your experience with us in the comments.

Pawel Grabowski

Pawel Grabowski is a copywriter and content marketer and the founder of, the content marketing agency helping SaaS companies grow the user base and generate quality leads with targeted content strategies.

Find out more about Pawel at and connect with him on Linkedin.

2 thoughts on “15 Most Common Conversion Killers in Ecommerce

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