Conversion Rate Optimization is a process that involves creating & testing content, measuring & analyzing results for insights, and implementing those insights in the next round of tests.
Asking people to look at your website and give opinions and advice is not CRO. While it might be better than doing nothing, it falls far short of the benefits you get from the discipline of CRO.
One thing you might consider is that your lower conversion rate on the superstore might have more to do with poor targeting practices than the website design itself. The paper lantern website, being a micro-niche, may have influenced your targeting methods to the point that your traffic is more precisely targeted to the micro-niche. I can imagine how the superstore concept would allow for less precise targeting and lower conversion rates.
One of the most important key principles of successful marketing is a concept known as segmentation. You stated that your conversion rate on average for the superstore is around 1%, right? Well, that stat alone tells us very little. You need to segment your data and compare various market segments to see which segments are performing well and which are not. One thing is almost certain and that is your various market segments will each have their own unique conversion rate and some will be better than others.
You might find segments within your data that convert at 10% while others do not convert at all. Comparing the best performing segments to the worst performers will likely provide some insight that will guide you in what to do to improve the results of your marketing.
A significant portion of your conversion rate success lies within the marketing side of your business, the targeting of market segments and positioning of your products before they arrive at your website play a crucial role in winning conversions, so look there as well as the content on your website.
Using marketing data is also one of the best shortcuts to optimizing your website content. By testing specific selling points in your advertising you can learn what your targeted audience finds most compelling and can then implement content changes that communicate those most effective marketing messages.
The answers to your questions can be found in your marketing data, start there and make comments about your website design with a grain of salt, for opinions matter little compared to what hard data can reveal.