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5 Simple Ways to Reduce E-Commerce Shopping Cart Abandonment (and Why You Must)

| September 15, 2017 | Business Strategy

You’ve gotten a visitor onto your website.

After browsing your selection of products, they’re ready to whip out their credit card and buy.

Some do. But a great many of them don’t. They slip through the cracks during the checkout process.

What went wrong?

Shopping cart abandonment is an issue for e-commerce businesses large and small. Fortunately, there are plenty of practical steps you can take to minimize the problem, satisfy more customers, and make more sales.

Keep reading to find out how.

A More Serious Problem Than Most of Us Think

For every person who lands on your website and buys, how many others make it all the way to the checkout process before changing their minds?

The Baymard Institute, a research institute focused on web usability, reports that a staggering 69 percent of visitors abandon their digital shopping carts during checkout. And that number isn’t a fluke; it’s actually an average based on statistics from 37 other reports.

Of that astonishing 70 percent of visitors, some will come back later and buy. But most of them won’t. Life’s distractions, forgetfulness, or some other reservation gets in the way, and they end up moving on.

That’s a lot of missed opportunities!

You were this close. If you could decrease your abandonment rate by half, or even just five or 10 percent, it can lead to tremendous benefits for your small business.

How to Turn More Shoppers into Buyers

Now that we’ve touched upon the severity of the shopping cart abandonment problem, let’s talk about five simple steps to fix it:

 1. Be Transparent about Pricing as Early as Possible

How many times have you been excited about buying something, only to end up extremely disappointed once you saw the shipping costs?

It happens all the time. Most of us hate paying for shipping already. It only makes matters worse when e-commerce sites spring it on us at the last possible second – right when we have our credit cards out.

A whopping 25 percent of all e-commerce shopping cart abandonment comes after receiving unexpected shipping costs. It’s not so much that people had to pay for shipping; it’s because they didn’t find out about it until the last second.

Some businesses offer free shipping, although for others it might not be feasible economically. In either case, transparency is key.

You can create a better experience for would-be customers by displaying estimated shipping costs as early as possible. This helps set expectations, so by the time shoppers reach the checkout stage, they’re fully aware of what they’re getting into.

Adidas clears this up quickly, by informing shoppers that the shipping will be free before they even add the item to their cart:

Adidas - Image 1

See how that works? Customers still have to pay for shipping, but they’re able to gauge the amount before going through the tedious process of entering all their payment info. All in all, this results in a better experience – and more sales.

 2. Allow Shoppers to Buy Without Creating an Online Account

Your would-be customers are on your website to shop. The last thing most of them want to do is experience the painstaking ordeal of creating an account.

A survey from Visual Website Optimizer found that nearly a quarter of e-commerce customers – 23 percent – had abandoned shopping carts after learning they had to create a user account.

This doesn’t apply to everyone. Some repeat customers will prefer to go ahead and create an account, but most people just want to complete their orders as quickly as possible. Especially if this is likely the only time they’ll buy for you.

Forcing everyone to create an account helps marketers because it gives them access to more customer data. But it places data collection before the needs of the most important person: the customers themselves.

Instead of making everyone create an account, you can give people an option to complete the transaction as a guest instead, like The Gap:

The Gap - Image 2

This saves visitors time and trouble, resulting in more orders. While it might not be that much of a bother to create an account, in the e-commerce world, every second counts. Every hurdle visitors must clear to give you their money causes a few of them to fall.

 3. Give People an Option to Save for Later (or Add to a Wish List)

We all have a friend or two who buys things whenever the whim strikes them. But most of us aren’t impulse buyers. We want to explore our options, and do enough research so we’re confident in our decisions.

A good number of these people will end up abandoning your shopping cart. Some people just quite aren’t there yet, for whatever reason, and they won’t buy on their first visit.

That’s life. But where e-commerce websites get themselves into trouble is letting these people leave without a single record of the interaction.

Imagine a woman who is interested in your product. She adds it to her shopping cart, before ultimately deciding to talk it over with her partner first. When she comes back to your website a week later, she can’t find the exact item she was interested in earlier. After scouring the selection, she ends up frustrated, leaves, and doesn’t come back.

Now, consider how much easier you could have made this for her if she had the option to add the item to a wish list or save it for later. She finds the product in seconds. You rack up another customer.

Nordstrom gives us the option to add items to a wish list, making it more likely for browsers to become buyers:

Nordstrom - Image 3

We can’t expect interested prospects to remember our website, the exact product that caught their eye, and expect them to come back all on their own. The burden is simply too high. There are too many other websites and distractions.

Address this issue by accepting that most people won’t buy the first time around. Make it easy for them to go right back where they were, and you’ll create a better experience.

 4. Optimize the User Experience

Imagine everything from when a visitor first lands on your website to when they complete checkout is a path. Not everyone will make it all the way to the end, but we can help our cause by making this path as smooth as possible.

Unfortunately, a lot of e-commerce businesses are unwittingly placing obstacles for their target customers along the way. Every little inconvenience or delay is another opportunity to “trip” on that path, and, eventually, lose their way.

We can remove these obstacles by optimizing the user experience. Here are a few ways how:

  • Accept multiple forms of payment. We’ve covered this many times here on the blog. The more forms of payment you accept, the easier you make it for more customers to buy.
  • Confirm expected delivery date. Some purchases are time sensitive. No one wants a package arriving while on vacation. Show visitors when they can expect products, and you’ll help ease any last-second hesitation.
  • Show checkout progress. When we shop at the mall, we know how much longer until we’re done because we can see the length of the line. Put visitors’ minds at ease by indicating their progress through checkout.
  • Use fewer form fields. Do you really need to know someone’s income level before you sell them a pair of shoes? We’ve all seen these onerous forms. Every required field creates friction between the visitor and potential sale. Using only what you truly need (and having forms remember info visitors already submitted) will keep things as streamlined as possible.

Take a look at this great example from Crate and Barrel, which combines several of these techniques to create a multiple-page checkout process.

Crate & Barrel - Image 4

 5. Use Checkout as an Opportunity to Build Trust

Although people are getting more comfortable banking and buying online, many still have concerns about security. It’s one thing to hand over your credit card to a sales clerk with your purchase in hand; supplying the number via a digital form is quite different.

The checkout process is the perfect opportunity for us to reassure visitors that their information is secure.

Take a look how Nike does it on the bottom of their checkout page:

Nike - Image 5

Notice the logos? This helps ease any last-minute doubts. Companies like MasterCard and PayPal are associated with trusted companies with a reputation for security. And the SSL Verify badge reassures visitors that their information is safe.

An A/B test discussed on the Get Elastic blog showcased the importance of this. Version A of the checkout page didn’t include the McAfee security badge. Version B did. Version B increased sales between four and six percent – just by adding a single graphic.

This is such an easy step for us to take as small business owners. We’re already working with reputable payment processing companies and banks. Simply adding graphics that remind our visitors at this crucial time can increase conversions.

Drive More Sales – While Creating a Better Customer Experience

You can’t eliminate shopping cart abandonment completely. There will always be a portion of would-be customers who simply change their minds at the last second.

With that said, applying these tips will help you minimize the problem. Your e-commerce website will make more sales while delivering a better experience for customers. Win, win.

Which steps have you taken to create a better checkout experience for your e-commerce customers? Do you have any revenue leaks you still need to fix? Leave a comment below and share your experience!

Corey Pemberton
Corey Pemberton
Corey Pemberton is a freelance copywriter and blogger who helps small businesses get more attention and customers online. He's captivated by storytelling's power to build strong emotional connections between brands and customers – regardless of the industry. When he's not pounding away at the keyboard, he loves training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and getting outside to explore nature.

See all posts by Corey Pemberton

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