Trying to figure out why your store’s conversion rate is so low? The order in which products are displayed on categories is a major culprit.

While “relevancy” is a common default sort for product listings on search results, there is usually more liberty with the order of items on categories. Most online stores rely on a default sort of best selling items listed first. Unfortunately, this typical display could not only cost you sales, it could be contributing to high exit and bounce rates on particular categories.

The exit rate is the percentage of visitors who leave a website from a specific page. The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave a website after viewing only one page. High rates for either of these contribute to loss of conversions.

Google Analytics chart - exit rates for an online store
This chart in Google Analytics shows the exit rate of category pages. These represent the last page of the session — where the shopper left the site.

Most online shoppers look for three things when perusing categories of products: product ratings, price, and visual affirmation (the product appears to fit their needs). When one or more of these is absent, the motivation to stay and shop is diminished. Worse, when the shopper is presented with bad choices right out of the gate, he’s apt to bail immediately.

Take, for example, the Steel Wall Pools category at In The Swim, a retailer of swimming pool supplies. By default, the page is sorted by best sellers. This is a big problem.

An online store category that shows the best selling yet lowest rated products first.
In The Swim’s default sorting shows the lowest rated products first.

The most apparent issues are that the best selling steel wall pools are the most expensive and the lowest rated. There is one pool that has a four-star rating, starting at just $699, but it’s listed at the bottom of the page.

Default category sort on mobile shows lowest rated items first.