I spend a lot of time talking to companies that sell on the web big and small. One of the recurring themes of those conversations is, I wish I could get more shoppers who put items in their cart to actually buy! eCommerce is a multi-step process. First, you jump through hoops to get people to your website, and then you use creative merchandising techniques to get them to put items into their cart. After all that, you really want them to make a purchase. You deserve that, right? But then they leave they abandon their cart midway through the checkout process. Knowing why this happens and how to avoid it is a skill every online seller should have.
Why Shoppers Leave
The industry average for shopping cart abandonment is in the 60% range, meaning 6 out of 10 buyers who put items in their shopping cart do not make a purchase. Studies suggest several reasons as to why this is such an epidemic:
- Shipping costs were listed too far into the process
- Shipping costs were too high
- Wanted to compare prices to other sites
- Checkout process was too complicated
- Decided to wait for a sale, discount or coupon
- Did not want to register or create an account with the seller
- Needed more/different payment options
- Didnt trust the site enough to enter payment information
- Decided to purchase from a store instead
Fifth Gear created a great infographic that summarizes the issue, while an article by WebStrategies takes it a step further by quantifying the benefit of reducing the rate of abandonment. Given an average conversion rate of 1-2%, the author suggests that a 25% reduction in abandonment can yield an increase in gross margin by as much as 40%.
How to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment
A few key changes to your checkout process can make a big difference in the number of shoppers that complete their purchase. Here are few tips:
- Offer coupons and discounts often both before and during the checkout process
- Present shipping options and fees before the checkout process begins
- Better yet offer free shipping
- Allow guest checkout
- Clearly display trust icons that verify the safety and security of your website
- Communicate your return policy inside and outside of the checkout process
- Make your checkout process as short and simple as possible
- Add a progress bar so customers know where they are in the checkout process
- Save the customers cart so they can come back and complete it later
- Make sure there are no errors throughout the checkout process
- Include a thorough FAQ section covering the purchase process on your website
If all of those strategies still fail, you can always go back to the customer and try to persuade them to complete their purchase. This remarketing strategy is typically executed via email or through targeted online ads. If this strategy is used, it should be executed immediately after the cart is abandoned. The message should be short and subtle and include a quick link back to your site or their saved cart. If the process is too complicated, the customer will be gone forever.
Shopping Cart Abandonment Solutions
There are dozens of eCommerce solution providers that can help you evaluate your online store and help you design an effective checkout process. Options include full service eCommerce solution or service providers, email marketing specialists, and retargeters (companies that display ads to visitors of your website). Ive listed a few of these providers here:
- Rand Marketing Group
- Fifth Gear
Other Cart Considerations
An article by eMarketer gives a slightly different perspective of shopping cart abandonment. The author claims that the rate itself does not tell the whole story. Buying habits and purchasing paths are more complex than ever. So instead of assuming that abandonment equals lost sales, you have to look at other possibilities for why shoppers are leaving before a purchase is made. For example, some shoppers use their carts as a comparison tool simply to compare total prices across several sites without ever having any intention to buy. Others use their cart as a shopping list but prefer to ultimately buy the items in a store.
The article also identifies the rise of mobile commerce as another contributing factor to high abandonment rates. While people often put items into a cart on their smartphones, many prefer to make the actual purchase from a computer or in a store. Some shoppers find it difficult to navigate the checkout process on their phones, while others may not trust the security.
The bottom line is that shopping cart abandonment is a force to be reckoned with and you must do three things to avoid losing sales. First, understand your buyers behaviors and preferences. Second, identify the weaknesses of your checkout process. And, finally, arm yourself with a good strategy and the right tools to:
- Keep shoppers engaged enough to convert them from browsers to buyers
- Simplify the checkout process
- Encourage shoppers to come back if they have orphaned their cart