How to Turn Website Visitors Into Buyers

The first step to ensuring a successful holiday sales season is to optimize your eCommerce site. But the next step – converting those website visitors into customers – is equally important and can be even more difficult to achieve.

A recent survey about holiday shopping trends by PriceGrabber found that 88 percent of respondents plan to research their holiday gift purchases in advance to find the best deals. Of those respondents, 38 percent plan to spend three to six hours researching holiday gift purchases online.

online christmas shopping

That means that, even if a customer visits your website, chances are they’ve visited many others as well. After working with more than 10,000 small to medium-sized merchants over the years, I’ve put together the following list of best practice tips to help you turn your website visitors into customers.

Design Promotions

It is important to design promotions that are consistent with and enhance the company’s brand’s image. Take time to review the success or failure of each promotion to determine the value and focus of future promotions.

Whether it’s free shipping, rewards programs, or special offers, sales incentives are necessary to compete.

Offer Free Shipping

Free shipping can be one of the best incentives offered by eCommerce retailers to increase online sales. The PriceGrabber survey found that 77 percent of respondents indicated that free shipping incentives will entice them to make purchases.  A great first step in offering free shipping is joining the more than 1,000 merchants participating in Free Shipping Day 2012, taking place December 17th.

Other incentive options include offering online coupons or partnering with a vendor to provide third-party authentication of your site. As a best practice, retailers drive the most sales with free shipping when they require a minimum purchase.

Prevent Shopping Cart Abandonment

Even after a potential customer has selected an item and added it to their shopping cart, that doesn’t mean the sale is complete.  A 2010 report by Forrester Research that surveyed online customers found that 88 percent have abandoned their online shopping carts without completing a transaction.

Simple things like making your website less noisy or switching your shopping cart model can make a huge difference.

By designing targeted promotions, offering free shipping and taking proactive steps to prevent shopping cart abandonment, you can ensure that you turn your website visitors into buyers and are able to take full advantage of the holiday sales season.

Online Shoppers Photo via Shutterstock


Fred Lizza Fred Lizza, Chief Executive Officer, Dydacomp, is experienced in bringing new technologies to market, driving rapid growth, building sustainable value propositions and competitive advantage. Fred previously held chief executive positions at Optiant, Avotus Corporation, Idiom Technologies, Inc., and Infinium. He received a BS in Accounting at Boston College and an MBA in Marketing at Harvard Business School.

10 Reactions
  1. Free shipping is a great offer, but remember that all promotions (free shipping included) need to add a benefit that impels the user to take action. Many sites with free shopping are giving away money (because free shipping isn’t viewed as a large benefit) while some need go BEYOND free shipping to get the sale. Best practices are handy, but every business needs to determine what is best for their customers.

    • We agree. Offering free shipping without a specific marketing plan rarely works for the small to mid-size merchant. The clients that we see make it work effectively tie free shipping to a specific behavior they want to encourage, such as a minimum size purchase or a time-limited offer or for a specific product or product line the merchant wants to move

  2. Great article, Fred. Offering free shipping, or anything free for that matter, is a great way to turn your visitors into loyal customers. Great way to build trust and longevity.


  3. Stats being what they are…abandoning a shopping cart before buying could have many causes. In my case as a potential customer on a shopping cart??? I’m likely trying to find out what shipping cost will be and if the shopping cart looks legit. I may come back to buy afterwards.

  4. Great Idea free shipping but for those that abandon the shopping cart usually means that they had trouble on the site, I usually will attempt to contact the customer offering any assistance if needed. If they had a technical difficulty I offer them a fee gift if they complete the sale. Or do the sale over the phone using credit card. You should alway verfify the transaction if if they do not have trouble to insure you have the correct shipping address because Christmas items sometime are shipped to a different address. It a chance also to increase the sale to more items you can recommend?

  5. In a consumer point of view there is a lot of chances for consumer/visitor to contact customer care.Right now there a lot of options for that like toll free numbers , click to call , live chat etc. But i don’t think any of these technology gives customer satisfaction.Could you suggest any such technology ?

    Thanks in advance


    • Hi

      I’ve recently added live chat to our website and I think it is helping clarify peoples queries instantly to help them with their buying decision. I’d like to think it does help with conversions.

      We offer free shipping on orders over a certain amount and we’re working hard to speed the site up with a view to a mobile friendly design in the future.

      What I need is a way to get messages to the customer without distracting them with annoying pop ups or such. Messages like free shipping if you spent x amount or order before 4pm for same day dispatch, etc.

      I’m interested in any ideas have that will help our visitor decide that our website has what they want at a good price and that we welcome their business.

  6. Good article. Antother option I have seen is not making a customer having to register, a shopping cart without having to make an account seems to seduce customer into buying more quickly!