How Top eTailers are Reducing Their Bounce Rate

Bryan GudmundsonBounce RateLeave a Comment

Bounce rates can be the most depressing metric for online marketers. Before your site visitor was ever given the opportunity to consider a conversion, they’ve abandoned your website. Monitoring and optimizing your site bounce rate is a crucial component to any successful website.

If you’re even half as passionate about site abandonment as we are, then you’ve likely come across the Baymard Institute’s articles. The E-Commerce Checkout Usability Benchmark Database ranks the top 100 checkout flows. In this series, we’re going to analyze Baymard’s top 5 checkouts from the perspecitve of site bounces, product abandonment, cart abandonment and checkout abandonment.

We’ll examine the usability, presentation, flow, and focus of each stage for the following sites:

  1. Crate & Barrel
  2. Symantec
  3. AutoZone
  4. U.S. Auto Parts
  5. Cabela’s

In each category, we’ll highlight particularly smart tactics from these vendors and pick a winner or two.


The Bounce Rate

The average bounce rate for ecommerce sites is 37%.

Immediately upon landing on a website, customers begin the evaluation process. The quality of those first few interactions with the customer are extremely important, as a bad impression can result in inflated bounce rates and lost sales.

Let’s take a look at the strategies these five companies incorporate to reduce bounce rates and engage users.


Reducing Bounce Rates with Good Usability

Load Times. The reason most often cited for high bounce rates is long load times. Straight away, we tested the speeds of each website’s index page to see how they compare against each other and the industry average.
Site bounce load times

According to a study of 500 retail websites from Radware, the median load time is a shocking 8.56s. In this regard, all 5 of our subjects outperform the competition, with topping the charts with a blazing-fast 1.561s load period.

However, according to studies from Akamai, consumers begin to drop off after approximately 3 seconds of loading. From this perspective, only one of the top 5 succeeds on the first visit, which is an alarming notion.

Mobile Compatibility. As smartphone adoption rates rise and mobile commerce gains traction, the growing segment of shoppers using mobile devices is quickly becoming a priority for retailers. Mobile sites with low bounce rates maintain the same functionality as their desktop counterparts with a design that’s catered to smaller touchscreens.

To ensure that your website loads and displays properly on mobile devices, be sure to do some testing. Although there’s no substitution for the real thing, there are a few good emulator alternatives for viewing your site on mobile without having to own one of each popular device. These include:

  • is a great, clean, in-browser emulator for a few popular phone models.
  • Google Chrome has some built-in developer options that are flexible and powerful. Check out this guide for more.
  • is a powerful tool that supports a wide range of devices. It is, however, less consistent than Transmog.

mobilesites bounce rate

All five of the websites achieved this feat with some clever reorganization. With the exception of Crate&Barrel and U.S. Auto Parts, the websites kept all of the same images, scaled and displayed in different orders to accommodate mobile devices. Across all websites, all offered deals are consistent, making the two experiences identical in function.

The only minor snag was on Cabela’s mobile site–the carousel images here don’t move with a finger swipe and can only be activated by touching small, finicky radial buttons. Although this is a minuscule detail and won’t typically cause abandons, small defects can add to bounce rates, as malfunctions on the first page viewed never look good.

Usability Winners: Symantec and Crate & Barrel.


Reducing Website Bounce Rates with Presentation

Site Layout and Feature Placement.
Some users bounce simply because they don’t know where to start.
Websites must be intuitive from the very first visit. Even if a user has never seen your site before, they should know, generally, where everything is located simply from having shopped online before. Once again, each of the five websites does a fine job of putting everything in its expected place. Expanding menus run across the top of each page and a search bar sits in the top right.

AutoZone does an exceptional job in establishing immediate relevance with the shopper. At the top of the website is a “My Store” section that displays a nearby store, populated using geo-targeting. Although this store isn’t directly near to my location, I know the store and the area code, which immediately draws attention. Crate & Barrel has a similar feature, but it’s curiously nested within the footer of the page.
Trust/Recognition. Within their respective industries, all five of these companies are relatively well-known, making trust markers less essential than they’d be on a lesser-known site. Despite this, every website except Crate & Barrel has one or more security seals listed somewhere on site.

Presentation Winners: Cabela’s and Autozone


Flow – Starting Points and Bounce Rates

Navigational Elements. The entrance page is the passageway to all product pages. When there’s a distinct lack of navigational options, customers bounce because of frustration. To lower website bounce rates and give first-time visitors browsing pathways, all five retail sites included in this analysis used the same type of expanding categorical navigation across the top of the page.

The most impressive example was from U.S. Auto Parts, where they nested an additional search bar within the expanding categories. Just like the original search bar, the CTA is brightly colored and draws attention. This browsing technique might not work for all vendors, but for U.S. Auto Parts, it eliminates all ambiguity about how to proceed.

The browsing options from Cabela’s, however, were slightly weaker than the rest. There are simply too many subcategories under each section, which can easily put shoppers in “analysis paralysis.” With so many options available, it becomes difficult to choose just one way to proceed. The “Related Categories” seem a little unnecessary when the majority of the included items are just a single section to the right. Furthermore, there are so many items included in this list that the expanding menu collides with the image carousel beneath it, causing a strange graphical error.

Calls-to-Action. The science behind calls-to-action is delicate–changes as small as a single word can affect bounce rates. However, there are certain clear-cut qualities to a successful call-to-action. The button should stand out from its surroundings to draw attention and it should stand alone, to keep users’ focuses directed.

Surprisingly, three of the five stores’ CTAs fell flat. The calls-to-action on are the same vibrant orange as the rest of the site’s design highlights and simply do not draw attention. Both Crate & Barrel and Symantec opt for very subdued, easy-to-miss CTAs that are text only.

Cabela’s, however, excels here. Their website, as you might as expect from a hunting equipment retailer, is primarily decorated with greens and browns. However, all CTAs are bright oranges and yellows. Every warm color on the website is associated with a featured sale.

Flow Winners: U. S. Auto Parts and Symantec


Focus: Engaging the Customer

Customer Service Prominence. Ecommerce websites with low bounce rates place a heavy emphasis on creating a cohesive customer experience. They ensure that the features on-site are focused primarily on helping the customer move through the stages of purchasing, allaying any fears and answering questions along the way. Customers with unaddressed concerns are more likely to leave–making common answers immediately available is key to reducing bounce rates.

A website’s customer focus is evident by the prominence and number of customer service avenues immediately available to visitors. On all pages except for Symantec, a telephone number is listed on the header of the page, urging all customers to call with any questions or concerns. AutoZone and U.S. Auto Parts go a step further and offer live chat services to answer any questions as quickly as possible.

Focus Winners: AutoZone and U. S. Auto Parts.

From first moments on the entrance page, it’s clear that the teams behind these websites have put forth very conscious efforts to attract, nurture, and convert customers. By paying attention to the details, these five retailers actively work to reduce website bounce rates. Next week, we’ll move a step further and comb through examples of product pages to give continued analysis. For more information on reducing bounce rates, combating website abandonment, and optimizing traffic, get in touch with UpSellit.


Written by Bryan Gudmundson

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