CX Insights

Design to Convert: 5 Ways to Improve eCommerce Conversion

9 min read

You’ve likely heard the statistics: 80% of companies believe they offer a “superior” customer experience, but only 8% of their customers think the same. Bain & Company calls this the “delivery gap”.

As a business, you have to step into your customer’s shoes and imagine a customer experience so seamless, your online users can’t help but convert and purchase your products. 

There are infinite ways you can design your customer experience. Do you have a hamburger menu or a heading bar? Do you use a carousel or whitespace to showcase your products? Is it worthwhile to invest in product videos or are customer reviews sufficient? No matter the questions you’re asking, if you want to design “superior” customer experiences, the key is to optimize design decisions with your customers in mind.

Forrester reports, “Unmet customer expectations are resulting in churn; the lack of digital transformation gains is translating to loss of market share; and longstanding, durable business models are failing.” Companies need to be creative in their approach to digital optimization in order to close the delivery gap and drive higher conversion rates.

Many websites have great content, nice photos, and a checklist of all the necessary UX elements – but memorable (and high-conversion) experiences are still hard to come by. The choices you make as a brand to design your customer experience have a direct impact on how successful your online business will be. How can you elevate your website design to one that customers adore?

With so many design options, redesigning or improving your website may feel like an overwhelming task.

Luckily, we looked at some of today’s top eCommerce performers and found 5 ways you can design to convert website visitors to returning customers:

Let’s dive in.

  1. Don’t Forget About Whitespace  

Needless to say, whitespace has done as much for design as conditioner has done for hair. Like conditioner, whitespace is an essential means to make your websites clean and shiny. It is the antithesis to overcrowded webpages.

Whitespace is the negative or ‘empty’ space surrounding your products. Why use it? It may sound pointless, but whitespace is the foundation of your design. It makes your website more usable and your content more readable.

Still, over-enthusiastic brands tend to cram the landscape and overload consumers with images, prices, texts and other visual distractions.

What not to do. 

When you effectively use whitespace, your customers feel a sense of simplicity in an otherwise content overloaded Internet.

High-end glasses brand, Oliver Peoples, beautifully uses whitespace. 

More often than not, whitespace is the foundation of a well-designed website that draws attention to what matters: your beautiful products! When users aren’t bogged down by overcrowded homepages and product listings, they can easily add items to their cart and checkout.


Beauty brand Glossier’s uses whitespace to create a beautiful and clean look. Not only is their use of whitespace on-brand, but it also makes their products pop.

The way you design your web layout has a huge impact on conversion rates, and so does your representation of the products themselves.

  1.      Harness the Power of Video

According to Ecommerce Nation,  product pages with video content contribute to a 157% increase in organic traffic from search engines. Similarly, product videos increase the likelihood of purchases by 85%.

Discount shoe online warehouse, Zappos, bridged the gap between online and in-store shopping by adding product videos to every one of their product pages. The videos feature a Zappos consultant who wears the shoe and tells you all about its properties. Integrating video into your digital experience recreates the feeling of trying on or holding an item in your hand.

With 1 in 3 millennials purchasing a product as a result of watching online videos, adding videos to your website is a surefire way to increase conversion.

You can get creative and integrate videos into a seasonal campaign or create videos as a part of an overarching product story. In fact, creativity goes a long way to increase eCommerce conversion rates.

  1.      Storytelling: Pathos at Work

Simple online business transactions are making way for personalized and curated experiences.

Global fashion powerhouse, Asos, elevates their online product experience by tying them in with various topics. They feature a “cult item” every few months with an accompanying article or story.  

Recently, Asos’ “cult item” was their fluffy cardigan. On their homepage, they combined the fluffy cardigan with an article on the pop-culture history of the cardigan and the famous people who’ve rocked it over time from The Big Lebowski to Kurt Cobain.


When you integrate storytelling into your product descriptions, a simple online exchange transforms into an almost life-like experience

Not only is the feature intriguing, but now I associate the cardigan with a much larger picture, and it’s likely this will stick with me far longer than a simple product description.

What if Asos had just said: “Check out our new fluffy cardigan, comes in sizes S-XL.” Boring. Instead, I’m ingratiated with the content, which could mean not only a conversion today but also coming back for more down the line.


Across the pond, fashion store Anthropologie featured their spring dresses in an emotional video campaign for Mother’s Day (celebrated in May in the US). They chose various mothers with interesting stories and made an accompanying video titled: A Story of Her.



As we’ve learned, a video is highly effective in catching a customer’s attention and persuading them to convert. By using their own products in the video, Anthropologie let their customers see their new spring dresses in action. On top of harnessing the power of video to showcase their products, the Mother’s day element also added pathos (appeal to emotion), that brought emotional relevance to the products.

Phrases like, “the woman who carried us, championed us, consoled us, and protected us,” evoked strong emotions and tied customers to the product in a way that made them feel they were a part of a larger experience.

As Seth Godin once said, “People do not buy goods & services. They buy relations, stories, and magic.” Whether out of love, envy, or pride – most purchases are emotion-based. By emotionally engaging your users, your conversions will naturally increase.


Pathos turns mediocre experiences into engaging and memorable ones.  Remember, your users are people too, so by telling stories and creating emotional relevance, you connect with your users and keep them at the heart of your website optimization.

  1.      Personalization: The Power of “Me”

Personalization is an effective way to increase eCommerce conversion. We wrote about personalization in depth in our recent blog.  

But, with GDPR and data-sensitivity concerns on the rise, designers might need to think outside the box when it comes to personalization.

One way to personalize without worrying about any GDPR related issues is with a quiz. In retail, quizzes usually entail answering questions about one’s personal style and lifestyle. Then, an algorithm tells you which products you might like according to your answers.


Foot in the Door

Quizzes are a micro-conversion.  The foot in the door technique (Freedman & Fraser, 1966) “assumes agreeing to a small request increases the likelihood of agreeing to a second, larger request.”. Once a customer answers a small quiz, the small conversion often leads to another, larger conversion. Once you’ve got your customer engaged, they’re far more likely to convert. Moreover, taking a quiz feels like a conversation. Your customer feels that you’re actively listening to and engaging with them.


Warby Parker, an affordable glasses brand, has a quiz featured on their homepage that helps you find the right glasses for your style, face, and prescription level. By taking the quiz, users feel engaged. And, in the end, the company has provided them with personalized products and a personalized experience.

As a customer, I now have a list of glasses that are “right” for my preferred style, face shape and needs, and the quiz produces that “juicy” feeling that the products I’m presented with are:  “just for me”.

Size Guide

A major reason users don’t convert on eCommerce sites is their inability to try on or hold items before they buy. Have you ever wanted to purchase an item, say a sweater, but were reluctant because you were not sure if their size “Small” would fit you? Fashion & apparel companies particularly struggle with this issue, as sizing greatly varies across brands and countries.

Patagonia combats this issue with their sizing quiz. If you’re unsure of your size for a certain product, Patagonia asks you to fill out a mini in-page survey answering questions about your height, weight, and body type. They also ask you how you like your clothes to fit:  are you someone who prefers things a little loose or a bit on the tighter side?


Patagonia eases any buying anxiety by making a smart guess about your size. As a user, you’re confident that you will receive the right size and are far more likely to convert because of the personalized and attentive experience.



Designing micro-interactions on your website that solve common problems engage your customers in ways that make them feel taken care of.

If you can design your website around the needs of the user, you’re far more likely to create that wonderful feeling where your customer leaves happy & satisfied, waiting for their package to arrive. 



  1. Always be testing

Lastly, if you want to increase conversion, you have to constantly be iterating your designs and testing different ideas and concepts. A/B testing is the go-to optimization process for most companies when they know they have to make an improvement on their website.  For example, from your analytics tool, you see a low conversion rate on a sign-up page and assume that it’s a particular element on the page that’s causing the problem.


A/B testing allows you to try out different variations of CTAs, images or copy etc., to improve the overall success of the page. It works by showing users different versions of the page randomly to determine which is more successful. The original is usually the control in the test with the altered version being the variation. By directly comparing the two versions, you can effectively determine what’s impacting the success rate. This is a great way to identify problem areas and can help to inform future design and UX decisions.


There are infinite ways to increase conversion on your website, but designing with your users in mind takes the lead as the most effective. Maybe use whitespace on your product pages to make your products pop. Integrate video into your eCommerce strategy, or try storytelling to relate to your users. Think outside the box with quizzes and personalization, and be open to new experiments with A/B testing.  

By ensuring your customers are at the heart of your design strategy, you will create unique experiences that make your users want to convert and begin to close the delivery gap.