Shopping Cart Abandonment Demystified. Part 2 – Minimizing shopping cart abandonment.

- June 12, 2008

In the previous blog I discussed shopping cart abandonment and its causes. Listed below are some tips to help minimize that problem.

1. Don’t make customers register on the site before they buy – move Member Registration to after the sale is completed.

Many checkout processes require a visitor to register as a new member before they begin the actual checkout process. This means customers have to take an extra step which could cause them to abandon the cart before they buy. Allow guests to check out first and give them the option to register after they have already bought. Since you have their personal information from the purchase, you can pre-fill the information (or request less of it). This enhancement removes the visitor’s buying barriers and enables them to perceive the registration as a value-added customer benefit.

2. Keep checkout process short and user friendly, include progress indicators and avoid distractions.

Clear and friendly navigation is the key. Don’t let users get lost in your checkout process. First, let visitors know how many steps there are in your checkout process and show progress as they work through it. Make sure that you provide visitors the opportunity to review what they did in previous steps without erasing the information they had already entered. Make it obvious where the visitor should click to move forward in the checkout process and keep it consistent for every step. Add “call-to-action” phrases to all checkout buttons: Continue with Checkout, Final Step, Finalize Purchase, Complete Purchase, etc.

Second, use a readable and clear font size and color and keep customers on track by eliminating distractions. Don’t put advertisements or any information that’s not important to the sale either.

Third, cut down the current amount of steps within the process or offer a one-page check out. Don’t bombard visitors with page after page they have to fill out. If possible, set up shortcuts: for instance pre-populate billing address based on shipping information, automatically select shipping method, etc.

Finally, analyze the checkout process for its user-friendliness. Make it easy for your consumers to add to and edit the contents of their shopping carts. It should be simple to change quantities or options, or delete an item from the shopping cart. If a product comes in multiple sizes or colors, make it easy to select or change values in the shopping cart.

3. Clearly identify rates and fees, show shipping costs and other costs early in the process

As early as possible in the ordering process, the client should be made aware of all costs. If the customer expects to see the fees before they initiate the check out, they will probably not leave for that reason alone. If you offer multiple shipping methods then default the shipping cost to the most popular one. If you apply taxes for certain States then communicate this early in the checkout process.

4. Build confidence and trust throughout the checkout process

Clearly state policies & terms – In addition to properly displaying information related to shipping and handling charges, it’s equally important to clearly state store return policies, guarantees, user terms, and privacy statements. Place them in visible and relevant areas throughout the entire checkout process next to fields asking for personal data.

Also, show visitors that you’re a real entity by giving your full contact info during the checkout process. Add your physical address and other contact information at the bottom of every web page, and an “About Us” and “Contact Us” links to your navigational structure.

Another way to build trust is to put third party logos like VeriSign, Better Business Bureau, or credit card logos on your site and use a secure server address (https). Customers expect to see security certificates, trust badges and other forms of identification to let them know it’s safe to enter their personal, payment information in your store. Not having these identifying labels in place could mean lower sales, less page views and a higher cart abandonment rate.

5. Provide multiple payment options

Allow visitors to pay by credit card, check, PayPal, Google Checkout, or any other means you can. Try to offer as many options to your customers as possible so users do not have a reason to abandon the cart once they have added the item to buy.

6. Provide purchase options – Phone, Fax & Email Ordering as well as customer support via phone, chat or email and easily accessible FAQs

As with multiple payment methods, it is equally important to offer multiple forms of ordering. Some online buyers prefer to email ahead or order over the phone once they have discovered your store and the product(s) they wish to purchase. At the very least you should consider offering orders by email, but you will almost certainly see an increase if you begin to offer ordering by phone, fax and email. Clearly state the different ways a potential customer can order within your store policies and pages.

Clearly present your 1-800 number and/or online chat support and FAQ link on every page within your checkout process. A live help feature on your cart pages may encourage clients who are confused to ask for assistance, thus helping you to close more sales.

7. Friendly error handling

Be Sure Your Cart Is Bug free and ensure the software you are using has friendly, descriptive error messages and that when an error is detected, that the client does not have to start the ordering process all over again. They should be able to fix the error and pick up from where they left off. If information is missing or filled out incorrectly during checkout, give a meaningful error message that’s obvious to see. It should clearly tell visitors what needs to be corrected. Have your checkout process remember visitors correct information and identify the missing information clearly. Do not make people repeat an entire step because of a missing field.

8. Add images of products and links to information inside the basket

When an item is placed in the shopping cart, include a link back to the product page. Shoppers can then easily jump back to make sure they selected the right item. Just as adding a link back to the product details page inside the checkout process reduces abandonment, placing a thumbnail image of the product inside the basket can increase conversions. The image should link to a new window with summary information about the product. The use of images can help maintain orientation and ensure the client that the product they want is the one they are ordering.

9. Show stock availability and delivery time on the product page.

Shoppers should not have to wait until checkout to learn if a product is out of stock. Also, provide estimated delivery date. Let them know when they should expect to get their products.

10. Provide possibility to create “wish lists”

Customers sometimes use shopping carts to save items that they aren’t ready to buy. It’s good idea to have wish lists on your site. This way shoppers can return at a later date provided the cookie is still present on their system or they are logged in to the account where the shopping list was saved.

11. Currency conversion feature

It’s important to remember that the US dollar is not the only currency in the world. While it has pretty much global acceptance, converting currency can be a mathematical nightmare for some. Even if you can only accept US funds via your payment gateway arrangements, consider providing a currency converter feature to save your non-US clients the effort of making the calculation.

12. Cross-sell, Up-sell & Group Products

A lot of shopping carts get abandoned when a customer finds that they cannot easily edit the cart or that they get redirected back to the home page once they add an item to the cart. This means the customer has to perform another search query or navigate to the page or similar page that they were viewing before the redirect or mistake that would need to be edited. Some merchants have found that directing customers back to the page they were previously on, or allowing them to add accessories or similar items to the cart during checkout helps lower abandonment rates. This strategy works particularly well if the customer sees the item groupings or option to add similar items right before they login or enter their payment information.

13. Use an exit survey

If visitors abandon checkout, offer an incentive to complete an exit survey. They may tell you why they didn’t complete that order.

14. Use Analytics & Data Tracking:

Analyze your store check out to see if there are any steps you might take to make the process easier for your users and more effective for you.

Get to know your shopping cart abandonment rate and the reasons for which prospects leave your site, and start implementing the above improvements accordingly. Most importantly, test different strategies and track which ones produce the greatest increases to your sales conversion rate. Every site is different, with its own environment and issues. Remember that many people use shopping carts as place holders for items they are considering. Help those who want to check out and may have questions, doubts, or obstacles holding them back.

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