There is a very useful article on www.searchengineland.com which gives some examples of things that you can do to your Ecommerce Website to improve conversion rates. The article lists 4 areas:
1. Call to action button
These are the 'add the basket' type buttons that allows people to select products on your ecom website to purchase. Variations on the size, colour, style and placement of these buttons can have a significant influence on your conversion rates.
2. Pricing, discounts and shipping options
Its a no-brainer that making products cheaper improves conversion rates. Having the shipping costs included in the product price, or having different shipping options, or even perceived discount levels can also affect conversion rates. For example, a product that is priced at £10 might have a lower conversion rate than the same product that is shown as £20 with a half price offer. Psychologically, people think that they are getting a better deal, even though they are buying exactly the same item at exactly the same price. This is why a lot of 'discount' websites list a high RRP (recommended retail price) next to their products which are priced significantly lower.
3. product display and search results
The products that are on your home page greatly influences click throughs - after all, your home page is the equivalent of a shop front display of a physical store. So it is vital that what goes on the home page of your site maximises the clickthrough rates. Also, the order in which products are displayed, and the ease by which people can search for products, are important factors.
4. Checkout Process
At the end of the online shopping experience comes the dreaded checkout process. This is something that can make or break your ecommerce website. If the checkout is simple and easy then the chances are that there will be fewer cart abandonments, and more repeat custom. Take a look at Amazon's one click checkout as an extreme example of how to make the checkout process easier - although I find it a bit too easy and can end up ordering products that I still haven't quite decided whether I need to buy it or not.
There are many more factors that influence conversion rates - some obvious ones like size and quality of product images or site loading speed and some not so obvious ones like the weather, or time of the month (generally people are more likely to buy at the end of the month when most people get paid). I'll be writing an article on factors that influence conversion rates shortly.