Online shopping has been a godsend for consumers. It offers convenience and saves them precious time. Just as people can book their Uber or Airbnb in advance, they expect that same convenience when booking rental gear online.
For that reason, online bookings are an essential component of the modern rental experience. An online rental store allows you to establish an online presence, connect with customers more efficiently, and receive more bookings. However, you will only get results by sticking to a few basic ecommerce rules.
Not only does your rental website have to look nice, but it also needs to persuade visitors to take action and, you know, book your products. How do you do that? How do you create an intuitive rental website that converts visitors into customers?
Here are our top 6 tips for turning your existing rental website into an online booking machine.
1. Make your website look professional
Websites are the primary way businesses communicate with their customers. If you want your rental website to connect with your audience, you need to think like your audience. What do they expect to see?
Ultimately, web design is all about making sure that potential customers can browse your site without any obstacles. They want the on-site experience to be as simple as possible, so finding the information they need is no trouble at all. Additionally, your website should provide a sense of trust and professionalism. After all, you’re asking people to leave their payment details during checkout.
The way your website looks, the layout, and the content and photography all affect how people perceive your business, directly affecting your conversion rates. Notice how Cycle Sierra Nevada does a great job at this.
How can you improve your website’s design?
People are bombarded with distractions every second of their lives, so less is more when designing a website. By keeping your layout simple, you reduce clutter and make your products easier to find — and keep the focus on driving sales.
Having a simple layout means your website has all the elements you need without unnecessary distractions, making for a pleasant browsing experience and less friction on the path to conversion.
Choosing which colors to use for your rental site is about more than picking your favorite. Each color triggers a different emotional response, which you can use to your advantage (and get more bookings in the process). Check out this article on color psychology and how colors affect our buying decisions.
However, the color schemes of most ecommerce sites are pretty straightforward. The usually have a primary (and sometimes secondary) color, a neutral background, and contrasting text colors for good readability. Notice how Apple uses blue as the primary color, orange as the secondary, and dark text against a contrasting background. Pretty simple, right?
Buttons with Rent Now, Book Now, Request Quote, or Add To Cart indicate the actions you want people to take on your rental website. Ultimately, you want people to take action in the form of booking your rental equipment or requesting a quote.
This is where your primary and secondary colors come in. Using contrasting colors for buttons is great for drawing attention to your call-to-actions. It makes your buttons stand out and guides website visitors towards the next step. With the right colors and texts, people won’t be confused about what you want them to do.
However, don’t go overboard with colors. It’s essential to stick to a consistent palette (your primary and secondary colors) and keep your design on-brand.
2. Make your content scannable
You might be spending hours crafting long descriptions for each product listed online, but studies show no one will read the entire description anyway. However, this doesn’t mean product descriptions aren’t important; you still need to get your point across.
The best way to do that is by making your content scannable. For example, to make your descriptions more readable, you can break up your content into bite-sized pieces. This advice applies to all content on your website, whether you’re writing copy for your homepage, product descriptions, or the “about us” section.
How to improve the content on your rental website
Together with the checkout page, product pages directly impact your conversion rates. If these pages look clunky and don’t provide information in a scannable way, people will have trouble finding what they need and progress towards the checkout.
So, how do you optimize your product pages? For the optimal experience, use short sentences where possible and keep your paragraphs concise. Use bullet points to highlight key features, and add headers so readers can quickly skim your content.
High-quality product images are essential in the age of online shopping when customers can compare and purchase almost anything from the comfort of their own homes.
Showing professional images of your rental items goes a long way. And including shots from different angles helps you showcase unique features, which might be that extra nudge your customers need to click the Rent Now button.
Here’s another reason why professional images are important. If your website visitors know what they’re going to receive, they’re more likely to pull the trigger. Low-quality images have the opposite effect and make people feel more hesitant.
3. Make your website easy to navigate
Now that we know how important product pages are, we need to make sure people can find them without much effort. You don’t want visitors clicking around to find your rental items, or else they’ll leave your website and go to your competitors.
Luckily, most website builders offer ecommerce templates with pre-built layouts and pages. These templates are a great starting point and give the building blocks you need to provide a user-friendly browsing experience. However, rental websites often require more functionality than the average ecommerce store, such as date selection, location selection, and inventory availability.
How to improve your website’s user experience
Make sure your categories and product pages are easy to navigate. Finding the desired category has to be effortless. And to make browsing even easier, you can offer sorting options. Let your customers sort by price (low to high and vice versa), by newest products, and other options depending on the items you rent out.
The faster people can navigate, the easier it will be for them to find the rental equipment they’re looking for—and the easier it will be to place a booking or request a quote.
Common ways to divide products into categories are:
- Product types: Mountain Bikes and Road Bikes for bike rentals, and Photo and Video for camera rentals, for example.
- Gender and age: Women’s Bikes and Kids Bikes, for instance.
- Brands: If your customers care about specific brands, and this category makes sense to your business, you may want to create categories for each brand.
- Bundles: If you bundle products together into packages, listing them as a separate category makes them easier to access.
Deciding which categories to include on your website is an often-overlooked part of building a rental website. The larger your inventory is, the more carefully you need to pick your categories.
Depending on your business type, you may even need subcategories to keep things organized. For example, a camera rental store might add DSLR and 4K as subcategories under the main Video category to make finding the right equipment more intuitive.
Search is a powerful tool for visitors to filter your product range and categories quickly. Note that the quality of your search function will depend on the quality of your content.
For search to work optimally, make sure your product names, descriptions, categories, and tags include the correct keywords. These are the words your visitors will likely use in their search terms.
Date and location picker
The main difference between rentals and regular commerce is that people must select a date or date range. Date pickers should be suitable for the context in which they appear on your website, and ideally, take into account the availability and location of your inventory.
The date picker should indicate important dates, such as the selected pickup and return dates, and if you have multiple stores, the pickup and return locations. Navigating to dates in the near and distant future needs to be simple as it’s one of the final steps before checkout.
Note: With Booqable, your customers will already select their rental period before they proceed to checkout. This reduces the number steps they need to take, removing yet another barrier from the checkout process.
4. Make your checkout fast and frictionless
Remember how we said that clunky product pages negatively affect your conversion rates? Well, the same goes for your checkout.
After a customer adds products to the shopping cart, they use your checkout to enter their contact information and payment details before placing the order. If this process presents too many obstacles, you’re going to miss out on potential customers.
How to optimize your checkout process
Just as navigation should be easy, you also need to make the checkout process as smooth as possible.
Keeping it simple is your mantra when designing your checkout. Give your customers the option to create an account or continue as guests, and make your checkout pages free from clutter by removing unnecessary information.
Now that your checkout is clean and simple, it’s good to be crystal clear about the actions people need to take:
- Filling out the information you need to prepare the order, such as contact details or any other information required to prepare the order for pickup.
- Selecting the desired payment method and entering payment details to capture (partial) payments and, optionally, a security deposit.
- Showing your newly acquired customer a Thank You page to let them know the order went through. Additionally, you can send order confirmations with more details about the order and further instructions for the pickup and return process.
5. Use social proof
Another way to make your rental website look professional and trustworthy is by showing social proof. Social proof doesn’t just increase conversions but also adds a human touch to your website.
How to use social proof to establish trust
Social proof is one of the most effective ecommerce best practices, and taking advantage is simple. Maybe you’ve got some five-star reviews or received some kind words from your customer base. Use these as testimonials, where you show quotes from real customers about their rental experience — preferably accompanied by a photo.
People need confirmation from others that the website they’re on is trustworthy and legitimate, especially when you’ve just started your rental business. Showing positive rental experiences makes sure you establish trust among new visitors.
6. Make your website responsive
We’ll keep this last one short and sweet. If you’re planning on running a successful rental store, you must optimize your website for mobile users. Today, virtually all websites scale down nicely from desktop to mobile, but it’s crucial to get this right.
A mobile-friendly website doesn’t just ensure that visitors will have a pleasant experience browsing your site. Google is also moving towards mobile-first indexing, which means they judge websites primarily on how well they perform on mobile devices. That means the mobile-friendliness of your website will largely determine your ranking on the Google search results page.
How to make your website mobile-friendly
Fortunately, website builders like WordPress, Shopify, and Squarespace know what they’re doing. Pretty much all templates are responsive and adapt to different screen sizes.
Note: The rental system you’re using on your website should also be responsive to ensure visitors are getting the best experience on any device.
What else can you do? You can optimize your website content for mobile, which is a good idea anyway, as mentioned at the beginning of this article. Short paragraphs look better on small screen sizes and are easier to read when space is limited. Mobile commerce is on the rise, so optimizing your website for small screens is time well spent.
Conclusion: Wrapping things up
If you want to increase conversions on your rental website, make sure people can easily find the information they need and book online without any obstacles. By sticking to a few ecommerce best practices, your site will be intuitive to browse and optimized for conversions.
To recap, these best practices are:
- Making your website look clean and professional
- Ensuring your product pages are scannable with clear call-to-actions
- Making the checkout and payment process fast and frictionless
- Using social proof like testimonials and reviews to establish trust
- Ensuring website visitors get a consistent experience on any device
Contact us today if you have any questions or would like more advice on how we can help boost the success of your rental store.