You have plenty of people visiting your website, looking at your products, and even putting items in their carts. BUT (you knew there was going to be one) for some reason a lot of these “browsers” don’t seem to be turning into customers. They’re not crossing the finish line and completing your checkout.
Sound familiar? That’s because it is. Shopping cart abandonment is a major problem in ecommerce. There have been lots of studies done, and while the percentages may vary (anywhere from 55% – 80%), the message is always the same; an incredibly high proportion of online shoppers are bailing and heading out the door before they hand over their money. Here’s one such study by the Baymard Institute, and some more stats provided by barilliance.com.
But rather than viewing this as a major problem, look at it as an opportunity. Ask yourself “why customers abandon shopping carts?” If you can reduce the number of people abandoning their carts and convince them instead to go ahead and buy, you can generate more revenue for your business without driving any additional traffic to your site. What’s not to like?!
If you have no idea of where to start or you feel like nothing you’ve tried so far has made much of an impact, don’t panic. There are lots of different factors that can cause visitors to turn into cart abandoners, and we spoke to 36 ecommerce experts to hone in on the top reasons for cart abandonment you should be looking at, as well reveal possible solutions for each of these problems.
How to Reduce Cart Abandonment and Make More Sales: An Overview of the 36 Causes
- The Wishlist Basket – People using the cart as a wishlist
- Cart doesn’t show sufficient product info (sizes, colors etc)
- Not enough delivery options
- Customers that are researching now to buy later
- The customer doesn’t trust you
- Lack of gifting options/controls at checkout
- No option to checkout as a guest
- Ignoring store data and not tailoring your design to what it’s telling you
- Unavailability of stock
- A shopping cart that is difficult to edit
- First Name/Surname Vs Full Name
- Customers leaving the website to look for promos
- Getting distracted by something offline
- Form fatigue caused by long checkout forms
- Shopping charges that are either unclear, unexpected or expensive
- No shipping options or high customs duties for international customers
- Discount codes that don’t work
- Customer Address Information Form is Below Par for Today’s Shopper
- Fear and sense of risk causing the potential sale to be lost
- Fraud screening process causing false card declines
- Complex buyer questions that haven’t been answered on the website
- Long and/or complicated registration process
- Price promoted is not the price that is later displayed at checkout
- A lack of confidence in either the product or retailer
- Concerns about payment and data safety
- Customer thinking that they may be able to get cheaper or faster shipping elsewhere
- A lack of user reviews
- Complicated or unclear return policy
- Worried about getting the best value available
- Insufficient payment options
- Your checkout funnel not being properly optimized
- Ambiguous delivery timeframes or delivery options that are simply too slow
- International taxes and duties not being communicated before checkout
- Fantasy shopping – a form of 21st century entertainment
- No 3rd party validation for the store
- A checkout experience that is waaaay too cluttered
What the Experts Said: Solutions for Each Cause
Each ecommerce pro that we spoke to outlined one cause of cart abandonment that they’ve encountered, and also shared some strategies and ideas that you can implement to overcome it. There’s some absolute gold in there! Take action on what you read here and you’ve got a good chance to improve cart abandonment metrics and close more sales.
Use the filters below if you want to skip to a specific cart abandonment cause.
- Ambiguous or Slow Shipping Timeframes
- Bait and Switch Pricing
- Checkout Funnel is Not Optimized
- Cluttered Checkout Experience
- Complex Buyer Questions
- Complicated or Unclear Returns Policy
- Complicated Registration Process
- Concern About Getting the Best Value
- Conducting Research to Buy Later
- Customer Address Form is Below Par
- Discount Codes Not Working
- False Declines
- Fantasy Shopping
- Fear and Risk
- Fear That It Is Cheaper/Faster Shipping Somewhere Else
- First Name / Surname vs Full Name
- Form Fatigue
- Getting Distracted By Something Offline
- Inability to Easily Edit Cart
- Insufficient Payment Options
- International Customers: Retailer Doesn’t Ship or High Customs Duties
- International Duties & Taxes
- Lack of 3rd Party Validation
- Lack of Confidence in the Product or Retailer
- Lack of Delivery Options
- Lack of Trust
- Lack of User Reviews
- Leave to Search for Promos
- No Guest Checkout Option
- Not Collecting or Making Decisions Based on Data
- Payment or Data Safety Concerns
- Poorly Implemented Gifting Experience
- Poorly Structured Data
- Shipping Costs
- Stock Availability
- The Wishlist Basket
Inability to Easily Edit Cart – “Often when shopping visitors will add multiple items to their cart in order to make a final decision on checkout. If your cart doesn’t allow a user to easily add quantity, delete items, and change size or color, you risk losing taking them out of the checkout flow and potentially losing that order.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “When enabling cart edits (size, quantity, color), you keep customers on a forward path trajectory, and I have seen this increase cart conversion by as much as 10% points on various clients.
You’ll also want to make it as clear as possible what items may or may not be covered under a promo code – especially when there is a spend threshold to reach a certain discount. Make it as clear and upfront as possible how much a customer is saving and what a great deal they are getting!”
- Complex Buyer Questions – “Complex Buyer Questions that haven’t been resolved on the rest of the site. As I run a business in a complex e-commerce space, the customers have a lot of questions, and the answers aren’t readily available on the site. Sometimes, it’s almost impossible to have all of the answers.”
- Ideas on How to Solve It – “We use a layered approach of aggressive live chat, both facebook messenger and our site, as well as retargeting on cart abandons.”
The Wishlist Basket – “When you look at abandoned carts the range of potential reasons very much relates to the products or services that you are selling.
In many cases, I’ve seen with my customers at the moment – High Value Purchases (above £2000) having a high abandoned cart rate as they are looking to check the prices both online and offline or do not have enough information immediately to make a purchase..
So the question is WHY? – simply; many sites are not making full use of the “Wish-list” functionality that is available in most, if not all, eCommerce platforms. The Customer knows that in most cases a basket will persist for a period of time, allowing them to move around, even sometimes for days at a time (thanks to cookies) – to be able to find the best deals, read reviews, and make the final decision.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “So what can we do to help?
- Provide a Wish-list functionality
- Where possible, allow comparison to related products
- Allow communications to remind customer of the basket
These 3 items are merely the simple solutions that you can implement to be able to solve the top level problem. Where the root of the problem lies is to be discovered from your analytics and looking at your customers journey.
A number of root causes on your site could be:
- Lack of product details
- Lack of user generated content (customer reviews)
- Supporting content
While we all fuss and worry over how many carts are abandoned in our monthly or weekly reports – and we try and remedy that – if you see a continual trend in this area, you need to look further at the reasons – first looking at the display of the content of the product, but also look at the competition and what it is that makes the difference.
Always remember any eCommerce is a connected ecosystem and every part of content and product detail, imagery, and tone of voice is connected – therefore the make sure there is synergy throughout your journey – this leading to a supportive customer journey and higher conversion rates.”
- Poorly Implemented Gifting Experience – “With Father’s Day fast approaching, I’ll be purchasing my gift online, but trusting a site to deliver a decent gifting experience is a big ask and one where many sites fail. Users infrequent use of gifting and the lack of GUI conventions, means many gifting experiences are poorly implemented. Often gifting is a neglected feature of the checkout flow which can have a detrimental effect for both purchaser and recipient if the site does not perform well. One reason for abandonment is the address field, if the user has specified the order as a gift, then the billing address should not default to auto-fill the shipping address with the same details, as this can frustrate the user.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “I encountered a similar issue with GAP, who allowed me to select a gift message but little else, and it was within the context of the standard checkout flow, so there was no true personalisation or gift receipt options. Whereas Etsy, have thought about the user flow and include a gift checkbox explaining that prices will not be shown on the packing slip and upon selection of this checkbox allows the user to enter a free gift message.
To help resolve this issue, I would ensure that the gift flow includes the following conventions: Billing address should not default to the shipping address, you should provide descriptive text explaining the gifting options and process and make the process more convenient by providing personalised gift options (message, receipt or wrap service). This should ensure a smoother more convenient gifting experience.”
- Concern About Getting the Best Value – “Online shoppers are savvy and are looking for the best value. Big-store sites have conditioned the shopper to expect low prices and quick shipping and so other online stores need to make sure the value is communicated through checkout.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “While it is easy to say to provide value outside of product price, let’s assume your store positioning is well defined and your customer focus top-notch.
If you use promotions, it should not be a game to apply them during checkout. If the traffic was served a coupon before or during their site visit, consider investigating ways to capture and apply the coupon during checkout. Another option is to communicate available coupons based on what is in the cart.
If you are facing a high abandonment rate and you are in a competitive space, there are tools & techniques available depending on your store platform to address this, including:
- Countdown clocks: offer a nominal promotion that is only good for a few minutes if the checkout stalls
- Mouse/tap-triggered light-boxes: Offer a promotion when the traffic attempts to navigate away from the cart. These can also be used to “email my cart for faster checkout in the future” and helps create a specific segment.
- Abandon cart audience segment: Remarket & Email specifically to those who left the cart, coupled with a dynamic product feed to resurface their products, leverage their visit to bring them back. Remember to set your cart page as the landing page.
- *To avoid:* Surveys: Checkout abandonment is not the time to try and gather additional data from the traffic, it is a distraction from the task at hand and will most likely not be as insightful as surveying site browsers or completed sales.
Ultimately, it is best to address any value concerns prior to checkout, though the reality is that it is a consideration throughout the purchase and addressing it head-on can help drive some of those who would have jumped through to the confirmation page.”
Payment or Data Safety Concerns – “Slow page loads, freezes, glitches, and even cheap-looking design elements can lead buyers to a change of heart after they’ve placed items in their carts and are ready to check out. In my experience (as both a consultant and a buyer), skepticism plays a strong role. Data security has become an area of focus for modern consumers, and people in general are far more savvy about breeches and mismanagement than they were even a year ago. Anything that triggers an alert signal can upend a sale.
A flashy pop-up promotion that interrupts the flow of the checkout process can send customers out the door. A stray typo can do the same. Anything that suggests a fly-by-night operation that might sell, store, or otherwise abuse data or credit card info sends a clear message: better to buy your socks, event tickets, or service subscription from someone else.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “To prevent this kind of nuanced misstep, you’ll need to place yourself in the buyer’s position at every stage of the process. But general empathy isn’t enough; you need a professional marketing pro to review your entire sales process from end to end if you’re seeing too many abandoned carts.
Strong analytics and tracking can also help. Are the abandonment rates increasing? When did the increase start? Are the increases correlating with high cost totals? Is the checkout process too complicated? Do you explain what you do with customer data and how you dispose of it at the completion of a sale?
Have you taken a hard look at site elements that may come across as spammy or unprofessional? Customers worry about several things when they make an online purchase, including shipping times and the accuracy of product descriptions, but in 2019 we can add data security to the list.”
- First Name / Surname vs Full Name – “Perhaps the most interesting cause of abandonment I’ve seen over the years came about from a split test we conducted where we looked at conversion rates when we asked for first name & last name in separate boxes vs one box for the full name.”
- Ideas on How to Solve This – “If one box was used for the full name the conversion rate for the checkout improved. Amazing but true and reducing the number of required fields is always a winner. I’ve experienced +3% in conversions from this small change.”
- International Customers: Retailer Doesn’t Ship or High Customs Duties – “International customers can be a source of cart abandonment on your site. Consider the scenario where you’ve found a product on Instagram which you LOVE and just have to have it. You go to their website, you add a few things to the cart to get over their free shipping threshold and then you go to checkout. You go to put in your shipping address and it either doesn’t let you select your country or when you do, the shipping costs change and all of a sudden you are whacked with customs and duties (if they are disclosed). You have invested all this time and effort to put together your perfect order to find out you can’t order. This negative experience is far greater than landing on the site and being told up front that they only ship to certain counties (Glossier does this well). Even if you open up shipping to other countries in the future, it is unlikely they will come back.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “Set up segments in your analytics for customers from countries who can get their orders delivered and those who can’t. Compare the bounce rates, conversion rates (some will order through forward shippers or friends) and key exit pages. Look at the percentage of traffic coming from outside your current shipping areas. This will help you quantify the issue and potentially identify an opportunity for where you could open up shipping or another third party channel like an Amazon US store where you can use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) to handle local distribution, shipping and customer service.
Then make sure the messaging is clear on your website upfront for all customers, way before they get to the cart. Ideally use a personalization tool to display different content to users based on their geo-location such as “Now Shipping to Canada. Flat Rate Shipping $9 For All Orders”. This way you are not compromising the experience for your local customers, but you’re also making it much easier for your overseas customers. Always ensure you have an International delivery page in your footer as well, even if you don’t offer it so the information is easily accessible.
One last thing, which will impact returns more than cart abandonment, but ensure whenever the international customer will incur duties and taxes this is clearly marked. Think about adding a check box so they need to acknowledge they understand this, and aim to provide links to third party pages with more information on likely costs. If customers are rejecting orders at customs due to the additional costs, not only is it a bad experience, it’s also going to cost you more money in the long run.”
- Lack of Delivery Options – “Delivery options at checkout are a massive determining factor as to whether a purchase crosses the line or not. Shoppers have the power to compare price, speed and convenience across multiple sites so if the types of delivery services and costs on offer aren’t satisfactory, buyers will abandon carts and find more suitable options elsewhere.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “Today’s consumer has higher service expectations requiring shorter and more convenient delivery times and options as a standard. Experience is king and retailers need to invest and innovate to stay ahead of the competition by offering a wide range of choice including same day, next day, free delivery or collect from store. Amazon are leading the way in this field offering delivery within 2 hours in major cities and GPS real time tracking.
Brands that raise the standard of delivery service in this way, will retain their edge and future proof their business by reducing cart abandonment, increasing conversion and attracting and retaining customers that might otherwise shop with their competitors.”
Bait and Switch Pricing (Price Promoted Not Same as at Checkout) – “The other day I was looking to buy two tickets for a local concert. Once I found the concert tickets on the website, I added them to my cart. As you can see the price is $15 per ticket as seen in the cart. I clicked on checkout and I realized that instead of paying a total of $30, I had to pay $42. How did this happen? All along the price was advertised as $15 per ticket. This is a typical approach seen on many websites selling concert tickets online. Why not disclose the price of the processing and service feels ahead of time. Needless to say I abandoned the cart and ended up getting the tickets at the door where I did not have to pay those additional feels.”
- Ideas on How to Solve It – “This website could have eliminated abandonment by clearly stating the cost of the ticket (including the fees) ahead of time so visitors are not caught by surprise. Another annoyance was the fact that they had a timer on the site, so by the time I thought of it and was ready to pull my credit card out the timer had expired and I had to start all over again. Just a bad experience all together.”
Price at Checkout…
- Cluttered Checkout Experience – “I’ve seen my fair share of cart pages that are cluttered with header and footer navigation. Even though there have been a lot of studies and testing done, there are still ecommerce businesses that have not taken the step to clean up their cart pages. This causes the shopper to click away from the cart and wander off back into browsing mode, instead of checkout mode.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “The way this can be handled to improve checkout conversions and reduce cart abandonment is to look at your cart page, and remove ANYTHING that can be a distraction to your shoppers cart funnel. It’s one of the changes that is simple and can yield incremental sales for your business.
Don’t underestimate this small adjustment. In ecommerce, the smallest changes can bring the highest return.”
Lack of User Reviews – “As humans, we want to be liked, be a part of ‘the tribe’.
We look to others to see if it’s safe to go there, and then, will it be a good experience.
It’s no coincidence that there are ‘like’ buttons all over! Who doesn’t love the addictive dopamine rush of an ego-boost whenever we learn of someone liking one of our posts!
In the online world, Customer Reviews are an easy indicator to first-time shoppers to let them know if this is a ‘tribe approved’ road worth travelling or not. Reviews help answer our monkey-brain’s question: ‘Will I be liked if I shop here?’
No wonder studies show 55% of online shoppers expect customer reviews.
Often a shopper will arrive at your site as a result of a specific product search. Shopper sees the product is what they are looking for, into the cart it goes and then off to checkout.
But wait…is this product any good? What about this site I’m about to buy from for the first time — can I trust them? Oh, let me take a look at the reviews…”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “Solicit both product and overall site experience reviews. When I was running my online store, every customer would get an automated email a couple of weeks after delivery asking for two reviews, one of their overall shopping experiences, and then another about the specific products they purchased. This enabled us to show an overall review score front and center as an item in our header menu, as well as individual product reviews. Two different ways to reassure shoppers.
Don’t edit out negative reviews — they lend authenticity to the positive ones. Negative reviews actually make your positive reviews look even better! And when a visitor sees only positive reviews, eyebrows get raised as to whether or not you’re hiding something; after all, no one — and no shopping experience — is always perfect. These days, transparency is crucial.
Take the opportunity to turn negative reviews into positive ones. By reaching out to each negative reviewer, you not only let them know that you actually care about them and what they think, but often you can resolve the situation to their satisfaction and then get them to post an update to their review, which lets others know about how you turned lemons into lemonade. These can be among the most powerful and impactful reviews, even more so than the positive reviews!
Make sure your site’s reviews are front and center on your home page, and on every page. Your happy customers are your best promoters, make sure to show off your best reviews as high up as possible on the home page. On other pages, make sure there’s a link in the ubiquitous menu, and don’t forget to include specific product reviews on product pages.”
Lack of Trust – The Easiest Way to Lose a Sale – “We know there are a million reasons why a customer might not complete their purchase. This article offers lots of valid causes of abandonment from a bunch of really smart ecommerce experts. Some solutions are metrics-driven, some require UX adjustments, and some are as simple as clear expectation management.
But the one cause that I always obsess over is a toughie – it’s a broad and nebulous idea, which makes it harder to identify and therefore more of a challenge to address: LACK OF TRUST.
The struggle is bigger for relatively small or less-well-known sites. A customer shopping on Amazon knows the retailer and has some idea what to expect. They’re skipping the courtship and going straight to meeting the parents, because there is already established comfort and history.
But if a customer stumbled onto your site from a search result or found you from a link or ad, you’ve got an uphill battle ahead of you. Because you’re not as well known as your larger competitors, you need to convince the customer that you can be trusted – and you’re starting from square one. Even if they’ve been on a few dates with you, how can they know it’s safe to trust you?”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “Your mission is to prove that…You’re legitimate, reliable, and safe. You will deliver as promised, both in terms of the product’s details and quality, and the delivery of the item itself.
You can be trusted with their personal information (you won’t spam them or otherwise abuse their data). You stand by your product and your promises, and your customer care staff are trained and equipped to make it right if you fall short.
What does this look like on site?
1. Start with the basics! Ensure the website looks clean and current. If it looks frequently maintained and not neglected or out of date, it instills confidence in legitimacy. This has become easier than it used to be. There are now very affordable ecommerce platforms with free themes and upgrades that make it simple to continually adjust to changing consumer expectations.
2. Have a secure website with an up-to-date certificate so the browser will show that it’s secure and won’t pop up warnings (which are a giant off-ramp for customers).
Above: Browsers have some version of these icons next to website URLs. A fully secure site is basically a requirement these days (Google won’t like it otherwise) but especially on pages where personal information is being entered, it really is necessary. This is one small step toward seeming trustworthy to your customers.
3. Demonstrate history to make it clear you’re not a fly-by-night operation. Do this by using blog posts and other content that you add over time. Speak authoritatively about your products and services, and make it clear you’re an expert, not just a storefront.
4. Be very consistent with your brand voice. Just like people, a brand is judged by how consistent and genuine it is. This should cross over into every touch point, from ads to on-site copy, to the call center.
5. Make it easy to get in touch. Whether or not they take you up on it, feeling like there are real people available to help and an actual company behind the website will absolutely build that trust. Want to seem sketchy? Avoid all contact information, offer no support, and cause your customers to wonder whether you’re maybe just a fake website designed to take their money and never deliver. (That was sarcasm. Please don’t do that.)
Above: Link to support and phone number prominently displayed at the top of the website, just above the cart – in the top-right corner, where users’ eyes naturally go.
6. Include guarantees, display them prominently, and follow through on them. You might have a guarantee of quality, of shipping delivery times, or of satisfaction in general. Be clear about how you’ll correct these issues (free returns? Replacements? credit?) and again, deliver as promised.
Above: A brand that uses its real estate to hammer home its commitment to quality is one that consumers will want to trust. It helps when it’s a known brand with a history of providing good value, of course. The website also has a page with details about the guarantee that are easy to understand.
Above: Left side of cart page has links to these policies in a very clean layout. It also shows the shipping options clearly, including the automatically-applied free method.
Make your offers clear and easy to apply. Free shipping over a certain amount? Don’t require a code, and do make sure to put this offer right up front. It breaks down a major barrier to purchase (paying shipping costs) and can increase your average order value as the customer is incentivized to reach the threshold for free shipping (if it’s within reason). Great offers that apply only to a small subset of products and don’t make this very clear up front only create annoyance, which whittles away at trust. Make it painfully clear and extremely easy what the deal is and how to get it if you value your customers’ trust.
Above: Free shipping offer front and center at the top-center of the website, on every page. No gimmick, no catch, no code required – what you see is what you get. The offer is clear and easy to receive.
Above: Note the discount code field. It is not hidden, collapsed, or otherwise hard to find. Your discounts are out there. Don’t deter your customers from using them – they’re much more likely to complete the purchase if they have an offer to use! Extra Credit: publish your own perpetual (or constantly changing!) discounts on sites like RetailMeNot so that customers have something to find and apply if they’re looking.
9. Never bait and switch offers. There’s nothing worse than a giant “80% OFF” when the fine print says “up to” above it and “one item” below it. I’ve even seen scandalous ads like “FREE SHIPPING ON EVERYTHING” and it wasn’t until optionally clicking into the details to find that they meant “EVERYTHING over $200.” People might be drawn in by the over-promise, but the switcheroo doesn’t make them want to stay. It’s the best way to destroy trust and lose a customer in frustration. Even with the best of intentions, a poorly worded, unintentionally misleading, or difficult-to-qualify-for offer is a bad move. It’s all too easy to offend and annoy online shoppers with click bait. Don’t do it.
Because trust is an emotional feeling, it’s impossible to pin down every little thing that might instill it or shake it. This list is a good start, but if you think like a consumer and continually evaluate, you will certainly find more ways to build it.
Spend time browsing your website with your “I’m a first-time customer” glasses on. Look at other sites to see how they make you feel by comparison. Make no assumptions, and think like a nervous shopper. Evaluate that first impression and the ongoing experience and make sure a new browser to your site has every opportunity to feel comfortable enough to become a buyer.”
Stock Availability – “Over the years I have discovered that the single biggest driver of Abandoned Carts (other than product + shipping price) is stock availability.
Let’s think about a real life example.
I go to website A and want to buy products B, C & D. Products B & C are in stock now, but D is not. On some websites I can place the order and D goes on back order, while B & C ship immediately, but on many sites you simply cannot place items on back order or complete an order with out of stock items in your cart.
Let’s say site A is a site where I cannot place anything on back order.
Now, of course I want to qualify for free shipping thresholds, product/cart level discounts, loyalty incentives and other bonuses on offer if I buy products B, C & D together/at the same time.
So, I am faced with a dilemma:
- Do I remove item D from my cart and potentially lose some of my bonuses but complete the purchase anyway?
- Do I wait until the item is back in stock (assuming the site offers back in stock notifications and if not, I’d have to check back frequently to even know) to complete my full order?
- Do I abandon my cart and shop somewhere that has ALL of the items in stock and available for immediate shipment (assuming their prices are competitive)?
I know what I do in these scenarios and I know what most people do too. They abandon their cart and purchase elsewhere. No amount of Abandoned Cart emails or workflows is going to prevent this!”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “In other words, one of the biggest levers you can pull (other than product + shipping costs) to reduce abandonment is to ensure you have most of your catalog in stock and immediately available at all times.
The higher the frequency or volume of out of stocks you have as a % of your total catalog, the higher your Abandoned Carts will be and the lower your conversion rate overall.”
- Getting Distracted By Something Offline – “Let’s admit it, we all get sidetracked by our family members, friends, business associates, cold callers, our favourite TV show and even our pets :o), and sometimes this happens while we’re in the middle of a checkout process of an e-commerce site on our phones or desktops. You may then close that window and not even recall you were about to buy something.”
- Ideas on How to Solve It – “Unfortunately, there’s no way to mitigate that kind of user behaviour. However you can always run win-back campaigns by sending a cart abandonment email once or more with an incentive such as a coupon code to get free shipping or a discount. You can also run advertising campaigns on Google and Facebook to a segmented list of cart abandoners, whether it’s done via cookies or with email list uploads. I would suggest not doing it for longer than 7 days post abandonment.”
Ambiguous Timeframes for Delivery or Delivery that is Not Quick Enough – “One of the great challenges, and opportunities, for retailers is the growing demands of consumers. The challenge is that the last ‘wow’ experience for a shopper becomes their new baseline. The opportunity exists for retailers who can cohesively bring technology and process together for an innovative proposition – they get to lead the expectation wave, driving loyalty and further acquisition in the process. And we know that people buy experiences, not just products … experiences that add value, and experiences they can share with others.
It’s no surprise then that post-cart in the online shopping journey, when the next consideration for the consumer is “how will I actually *get* my purchase”, that many will decide not to progress if the fulfilment options don’t meet their expectations, and this is particularly the case for younger generations. In fact, according to a Neolane study in 2018, up to 97% of shoppers born after 1995 abandon their carts over order fulfilment woes and two out of five would cancel an order if the shipping was going to take too long.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “This is not necessarily a quick or easy fix. It’s not like adjusting the CX of the checkout. Shipping different order types and sizes to different geographies with different services and couriers can lead to a large logistical matrix that needs to be represented to the consumer in a simple fashion. Adding to that different stock locations and ensuring inventory is visible in as real-time as possible brings complexity in logic and systems integration. Then adding again a variety of different sales channels such as marketplaces, call centres, apps, from which orders need to be consolidated before fulfilment and the level of rocket science goes up a notch!
Typically, order management systems are used to alleviate this challenge. Integrating with sales channels and fulfilment channels and providing logic to optimise the order distribution. It’s particularly useful for retailers with a distributed store network, which can operate as a fulfilment channel as well as sales, allowing for additional fulfilment options including BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-up In Store), ship from store and ship to store. This provides additional options to the consumer as well as speedier delivery, but also efficiency across fulfilment costs for the retailer as well. An OMS can be implemented at any point, but it makes most sense to do so when designing the systems architecture to minimise duplicated effort in setting up logistics.
However, the hard work under the hood is not the only consideration. Presenting the options to the consumer in a clear and concise way is critical, and making this accessible to them throughout their shopping journey including at checkout is also key. Happily though, this is simpler and often works well when the customer can dynamically enter their location for a list of fulfilment options and shipping services to choose from. One site that does this well is Mr Porter in the UK, where the page is presented in a separate window that doesn’t take the consumer away from the page they are on – simple but effective.
A further tip, that I don’t see too often, is to use photos on the shipping info page. Product photos are important for convincing the customer to add to cart, and including a packaging/unboxing photo can enhance the service proposition that a customer looks for when deciding to complete the purchase, and increase conversion.”
Customer Address Information Form is Below Par for Today’s Shopper – “This cause of cart abandonment comes early on in the checkout where customer and address information is requested. There are 12 guidelines for this area to prevent a shopper’s doubt or frustration and to provide what they need to confidently complete the element and move forward to finalize the order.
Here are some of the usability issues at this point in the checkout:
- Explain why seemingly unnecessary personal information is needed
- Use “Shipping Address” as “Billing Address” by default
- Auto-detect city and state immediately after Zip code is provided
- Have a single phone field and avoid asking for phone type
- Use a single “Full Name” field
- Use IP geo-targeting to pre-select the user’s country
- Consider hiding “Address line 2” behind a link
- Avoid or clarify “Business address” selections
For one client I could see that their cart completion rate was average, between 30-35%, and as I looked at their checkout process I knew it could be better.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “Baymard Institute has researched shopping cart abandonment and compiled their findings into 134 guidelines based on usability reviews of 50 leading ecommerce sites.
I acquired the research and scored my client’s checkout. It revealed 35 guidelines that were either not acceptable or broken.
As I went over the specific elements of my client’s cart that cause shoppers doubt or frustration and showed them what to do to fix these issues, they agreed that the customer and address form could be better.
Next to the Phone field: “Just in case we need to talk about your order.”
By the Email field: “We’ll send you a confirmation email later.”
This change impacted my client’s checkout completion rate, but it wasn’t the only factor. There were a number of changes made all at the same time from other areas of the checkout like credit card form, order review, validation error and persistence, etc.
But, as soon as the changes to the checkout were implemented, their checkout completion rate went from 30-35% up to 40-45% and they still have a number of recommendations to implement.”
Unclear, Unexpected or Expensive Shipping Costs – “Just about every report/study I have read on the topic of cart abandonment lists unclear/unexpected or expensive shipping costs among the top three reasons. It’s usually the leading cause.
People have become accustomed to free shipping. It started with Amazon Prime. Free 2-day shipping has always been one of Prime’s key differentiators. It’s one of the most important moves Amazon ever made and it changed ecommerce forever.”
Ideas on How to Solve It– “If you have an ecommerce site selling physical goods and charge for shipping, you’ll want to take a look at your analytics data. Odds are that it’s driving a high abandonment rate. If so, do a deeper dive on your data to determine exactly where people are dropping off. If you find shipping to be the issue, there are several strategies you can employ to reduce your abandonment rate.
I recommend taking a phased approach to tackling the issue, as you might find that what customers are reacting to is confusing shipping terms/costs vs. the fact that shipping isn’t free.
Customers want to know what their total cost will be before they spend a lot of time filling information out. Take a look at your checkout process. If you can’t get to an all-inclusive total until a customer has reached the final step, you’re likely losing a large percentage of people before they’ve even seen the shipping cost. Try displaying an “estimated shipping rate” on the basket/cart page. The simple step of displaying an estimated total can significantly reduce your abandonment rate.
If free shipping is really what your customers are after, but your business model doesn’t support it, try one of the following:
1) Offer “free shipping” by building the cost of shipping into the price of your products.
Assuming you have a clear understanding of actual shipping costs, you can test offering free shipping by building the cost of shipping into the price of your products.
2) Offer free standard shipping but incentivize paid/premium shipping.
One approach I have found to be quite effective is to create a tiered shipping model. For example, offer free standard shipping with a longer lead time, and faster shipping for a premium. Many customers will opt for the faster method if the cost is reasonable.”
- Form Fatigue – “Particularly on mobile, folks do not love filling out all the required information when they can checkout on Amazon with just one click.”
- Ideas on How to Solve It – “One of the easiest ways to help solve this issue is to add alternative checkout and payment providers (e.g. Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, Amazon Pay). A combination of these four typically leads to a 15-30% increase in checkout completion (especially on mobile) and is relatively easy to implement on most eCommerce platforms.”
Fantasy Shopping – “Does anyone remember the last time they used the wish list functionality in your account? Does anyone remember even seeing it recently? I don’t. I wouldn’t use wish list anymore because my cart is just as good a wish list as any, since most carts are persistent. Many consumers use the cart in the same way.
Fantasy shopping is a sport, a way to kill time, another form of entertainment. You fill your cart with no intention of checking out, basically using the “add to cart” button like you would a ‘like’ on social. Given this behavior change of the last 5 – 7 years abandonment rates are up significantly, and it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with your checkout or cart functionality. It’s just a change in consumer behavior.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “So what to do about it? In-cart promos that speak to hitting thresholds help. Cart abandon emails and targeted display ads help. Payment options and delivery options help.
An example of a payment option is Afterpay. The total price in the cart may say $39 total price, but isn’t it more attractive / a bigger conversion driver to pay only $9.75 today, get and enjoy your product and pay the rest in 3 installments of $9.75 later on? An example of a delivery option that helps is Postmates. As you are considering buying items in your cart, you see you can have the items delivered for $9 flat fee to you in less than 2 hours. These tactics all help drive conversion and decrease cart abandon.”
Lack of Confidence in the Product or Retailer – “Being confident in the product and the company selling it to you is key to any purchase decision and online retail significantly magnifies this factor, way beyond any face-to-face interaction where the tone of voice and body language also play a big part. Humans are naturally suspicious, they seek out value, they like their ego to be stroked and our decisions are based on emotion as often as logic, so you need to cater to many personality types to be successful. A website is attempting to communicate all the required information at once and customers can struggle to absorb this information in the way it was intended. This means helping the customer to make the emotional connection required to purchase is not so easy via a screen.
The psychology of buying, how people make purchase decisions and what influences their choices are not limited to buying online or limited to products that are delivered to their homes. Buying psychology affects every purchase we make – from pens and printer cartridges to food, clothing and furniture, right up to the largest purchases most of us ever make, vehicles and houses; we will not buy if there is a lack of confidence in the product or the person selling it to us. Don’t get me wrong, the PC, smartphone and tablet are fantastic platforms to reach a far wider audience than ever before, but simply presenting your products is no longer enough – your customers need more from a retailer to feel confident. They need help, expert advice and reassurance in the service to really feel confident in spending their money.”
Ideas On How to Solve It – “How does a retailer cater to the needs of a customer who wants to engage at key stages during the shopping journey and how do they know the ideal moment to help? In my experience, the best results are obtained with a mix of AI + messaging + humans. These elements can come together in a seamless combination, providing a retailer the opportunity to influence the purchase decision at the optimum moment for the customer, boosting satisfaction levels and revenue simultaneously.
Artificial Intelligence alone can become frustrating, as chatbots are nowhere near as capable in a pre-sale environment as we had once hoped. Humans in contact centres taking one call at a time are expensive and eat into your margin. However, combine the two options and add real-time messaging, where AI handles the FAQ type questions and each live agent can handle 2-3 messages at once when the chatbot escalates them. Now efficiency is high, NPS scores are rising, Lifetime Customer Value is increased and AOV goes up because the customer has a new level of confidence that the products will satisfy their needs and the retailer is there to help when they require it. AI can achieve great things, but just remember the human touch is essential to truly understand the emotional beings that are your customers.”
False Declines – “Most conversations with merchants around the topic of cart abandonment rarely include fraud screening considerations, but this problem is real and extends beyond the initial cart abandonment. When a customer’s payment card is rejected by a merchant, more than 40% ditch the cart without trying another payment method. Worse, about a third of falsely declined customers say they never shop with that merchant again. So not only do false declines lead to cart abandonment, they also drive up customer churn rates and drive down the lifetime value of those customers.
This is a huge problem, because false declines are so common. They cost merchants far more in lost revenue than completed fraud does. Thirty percent of shoppers say they’ve been wrongly declined, and false-decline loss estimates range from $118 billion (according to Javelin Research) to $300 billion (according to Aite Group). Shoppers who’ve had a negative experience are more likely than customers who had a good experience to talk to friends about it, in person and on social media, which can damage the merchant’s reputation.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “Reducing false declines can reduce cart abandonment, customer churn, and brand damage. And it’s possible to drastically cut false declines without experiencing more fraud. Here are the steps we help our clients put into practice:
First, know your false decline rate. Many merchants don’t track this data, and their third-party fraud solution may put false declines and stopped fraud into the same bucket for reporting. Next, implement manual review of all flagged orders by fraud analysts instead of automatically rejecting them. If you don’t have the resources to do this in-house, you can outsource it, either year-round or during sales peaks. Then, feed the data from these reviewed orders back into your machine-learning program so the fraud-detection algorithm gets smarter and flags fewer good orders.
Finally, track your false decline rate and cart abandonment rate changes over time to see the impact of more comprehensive fraud screening. Whether you want to tweak your current process, or overhaul completely, a large library of industry resources around fraud can be found here:
Poorly Structured Data Leads to Confusion and Doubt – “Online shopping can be rather addictive due to the dreamy hypnotic state we find ourselves experience whilst doing it. The fluid journey through search engines, marketplaces and websites on the quest for material satisfaction is only possible when the information upon which that journey is based is carefully optimised and structured. It’s the unseen side of ecommerce that customers never think about, and frankly shouldn’t have to. The effort required to structure and optimise data properly can be onerous and time-consuming, but it is something that merchants overlook to their peril.
Cart abandonment is nothing more than getting cold feet at the last minute. So what makes us chicken out of something we at first thought was worth devoting attention to? If the website looked dodgy in the first place, we wouldn’t have even reached the Cart at all. So it’s fair to assume the website design was pleasant enough for us to press on.
We’ve found the perfect product, just what we were looking for, and at a fair price, so we select the colour or size variant from the product page and add it to Cart before checking out what else might be worth looking at. The shopping cart is like a personal assistant holding all the stuff we give them just in case, so we can go through it all later and make our real decision. So when we go to check what they’re carrying for us and they can’t tell us the colour or size of some products, wouldn’t that make you a little annoyed?
The size and colour variants are typically crystal clear to understand and select on the product page, but if the child SKU data fields have not been optimised to display the attributes of each variant, then what’s displayed in Cart will be a vague reference to the product with no specific attributes. Would you buy a pair of shoes if the Cart didn’t display the size you’d selected? No, I wouldn’t either.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “Structuring and optimising product and category data requires a knowledge of how people shop online, how they search and browse, and how what they see sets unconscious expectations about what’s coming next. When those expectations are not met, confidence is diminished and confusion or doubt can take over very quickly. Nobody parts with their hard-earned money if they’re not feeling completely safe and assured. Arriving at a website Cart to be met with uncertainty is a pretty good motivator for walking away and shopping elsewhere.
Online retailers need to be willing to put in the effort to understand how customers think and react to what they see online. Curating that customer journey is no accident, and won’t engage or convert well if the data upon which it functions is flawed or incomplete. Don’t undercook your online business by ignoring product data. If you’re willing to put in the effort required to attract customers to your website, don’t sell yourself short by failing to address the quality of the data that will keep them there and entice them to buy.”
- Leave to Search for Promos – “Customers are smart and they abandon carts to discover promos offered by retailers to try and bring down the price of their shop.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “A way to counteract this is to A/B test your cart abandonment emails. You can run an A/B test offering an incentive a week after abandonment instead of immediately. You can also A/B test the different types of abandonment offers.
Discover if you need to offer an incentive. For example, a client we worked with, SKICKS, A/B tested Free Shipping vs FREE Shoe Laces & the version offering Free Shipping outperformed the version offering free laces by 49%!”
Conducting Research to Buy Later – “Research indicates that over 17% of people abandon their cart because they were simply conducting research to buy later. This is particularly true nowadays with omni-channel purchases on the rise, as well as the simple fact that people do exactly as the research states, RESEARCH.
They may come to your site to check out the pricing, color options, and even shipping options. I mention the last one because quite frankly if they have gone so far as to add an item to the cart they may very well be looking to get further details beyond that of something that can be found on a given product page. That said, however, people use the cart as a means of bookmarking products, and it makes sense.
I tend to focus efforts on the issues that can be solved at least in some respect from technology and tech intervention. Until recently I had not considered this issue to be something that could really be resolved in such a manner that could prove overly beneficial until…”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “I was thinking about when I used to work in retail and thought about how many people originally walked into a store only to tell me they were just browsing, then ended up buying something in the end. I then did a little digging and thinking about options to address these types of people so that you can CONVERT them into sales.
Some might tell you to add a countdown timer, and in some cases this may work, but beware as it may also anger more people then it does win you business. So this is not my suggestion.
I started thinking, if I already have pixels in place to track these people so that I can start targeting them with FB ads once they leave, then at least I am doing something, small win. MAKE SURE YOU’RE DOING THIS! Use pixel ads to re-target all your cart abandonment traffic, it’s a huge opportunity lost if you are not!
BUT there had to be something else!
How can I get them to buy while they are on my site, and not through offering discounts or anything of this nature. The answer to this is to increase the customer satisfaction. Ensure that you are using your onsite chats to answer any questions and to truly engage the customer in an experience that is second to none. Again this may have as much impact as changing a buy button from brown to beige. But who knows, at least its worth a try.
I came to the consensus that this is not retail, it is eCommerce and these people are doing what they said, researching to buy later. SO…
So here is my solution: GET THEIR EMAIL!
Use a custom script on the page that triggers a page-takeover when they are about to leave the site. This could specifically say something to nature of “Email me my shopping cart” (*We can do this for you, just hit our link and contact me).
There is evidence, albeit still VERY limited which indicates that these emails converted 22.73% of shopping sessions, and were responsible for 44.74% of triggered email revenues.”
Not Collecting or Making Decisions Based on Data – “Many online stores try to pack in offers, signups, share features, and a slew of payment and shipping options which is a problem so simplicity always has my vote. Unfortunately a simple checkout process always isn’t an option with all the type of online commerce.
My number one rule of thumb is to trust your data. I make the majority of my decisions for my clients based on an educated and informed source. If you don’t have the data in place to make an educated choice, hire someone to put that data in place. I cannot stress this enough, get your data to a place that you’re able to not only understand, but have the knowledge to make an informed decision. The right data will help you see a glimpse of the future for your checkout process.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “A great example is women’s clothing websites and who their audience typically is. If 70% of their website traffic is shopping on iOS devices by all means focus Apple Pay as the first option to check out. Apple Pay speaks for itself in terms of conversions, but will also help diminish the abandon rate (they also spend more). If your website traffic browses on mobile but checks out on desktop, then give your customers the option with dynamic payment method depending on the browser they are using.
The home improvement market can be a challenge. I’ll use a specific example for this, a tile company came to us with a range of issues that needed help and cart abandonment was one of them. Their customers would browse, add a few products to the cart and checkout with samples of the tile. The attribution window was upward of 3-4 months before checkout for actual product, which simply wasn’t doable for a number of reasons. In 3 to 4 months the product the customer may have added to their cart wasn’t in stock, no longer in production, or limited quantity. The result was a lost customer which is something no business wants. Tile is something that isn’t an impulse buy, so a long attribution window can be expected. The tile company’s checkout process was nearly perfect, so optimizing the cart or their checkout process wasn’t something that would help the abandon rate.
The solution was a strategic re-marketing plan that targeted shoppers using custom events. This means collecting specific website events before the checkout process starts. When a customer would calculate the price of tile (which is priced by the square foot) a custom event would trigger, putting that customer in a custom audience inside Facebook. After the event trigger Facebook’s ad network would do its job. The customer would immediately get ads about “limited quantity”, “limited stock”, “percentage off” or something directly relevant to that specific product and other product suggestions. This was one of many custom event triggers, but the example can be applied to virtually any areas of a website.
The outcome was less abandon carts and a shorter conversion window. Now, this setup was a little more advanced in terms of tracking custom events from Facebook, but it was discovered through website data.
A few takeaways would be to make sure you have a Facebook pixel installed on your site and at a minimum, get familiar enough to understand what it can measure. Google Tag Manager can be your best friend to track and measure specific events so learn a little more on what it is and how it can be used, the same goes for Google Analytics and how it’s used. I always advise my clients to install some form of website tracking tool like Inspectlet.com. This give you the ability to watch recording of user sessions so you can see with your own eyes the success or failure of your website.”
- Lack of 3rd Party Validation – “Research shows that a lack of trust is the easiest way to lose customers on your ecommerce website. Simply put, people do not like to buy things from people or companies they do not trust. Trust is an interesting topic, as there’s a variety of ways to message, achieve and convey trust to new and existing customers.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “A quick, easy way to convey trust is through 3rd party validation and trust seals. At it’s core, the concept is to use a well known company or brand to “back up” your reputation as a trustworthy online retailer. Originally this idea has been pioneered by organizations like the Better Business Bureau and Norton Secured.
The goal of 3rd party validation is to convince potential customers that the they will have a safe, secure, and reliable shopping experience when buying on your website. During the split-second purchase decision, shoppers will look for this validation to give them confidence as they prepare to hit the “Complete Order” button.
The Norton Shopping Guarantee program achieves this validation by providing shoppers with Identity Theft Protection, a Purchase Guarantee, and a Lowest Price Guarantee. Here’s an example below:
The beauty of trust programs and 3rd party validation, is you can easily run A/B tests to measure the conversion rate impact. Don’t just take my word for it, let the data do the talking!”
International Duties & Taxes – “For businesses shipping internationally, it’s essential that shipping timeframes and costs are clearly communicated at key points during the online sales funnel. Depending on the shipping location of the end user, they may be subject to import duties and government taxes when the product crosses the border.
It’s a friction point that raises anxiety and uncertainty in the mind of the end user. “Will I have to pay for duties in addition to my shipping cost?”, they ask “Or is this incorporated within the product price?”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “If your business does ship internationally, we recommend solving this possible cart abandonment by;
1) Highlighting this on the Product Detail Page E.g. “All Import Duties are included”. Personalisation of this message using Geo-location will provide extra reassurance. E.g. “All Import Duties are included when delivering to *Country*”.
2) During Checkout: Provide a small line of copy adjacent to the “Shipping Address” when an “Import Duty” country is selected. E.g. “All Import Duties are included”.
- Long and Complicated Registration Process – “A long and complicated registration process is a major reason for cart abandonment. People often get scared when they see a long registration form and, to avoid the hassle, just abandon their carts.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “There are several ways to overcome this problem. You can simplify your registration process and reduce the number of form fields. You can also give them the option to register using social profiles like Facebook or Google, making it much easier to register.”
If you want to take it a notch higher and further simplify things, you can provide consumers the option to check out as guests. This would eliminate an entire step in the checkout process and enable people to make quick, hassle-free purchases.”
Fear That It Is Cheaper/Faster Shipping Somewhere Else – “OK – here is the situation – your customer has just dropped something in their shopping cart and they get nearly all the way through checkout. They love the product – that color is going to look GREAT on them. The price seems good. Shipping charges are clear. But before they click on “Submit Order”, they hesitate.
Somewhere in the back of their mind is fear that it is on sale somewhere else, or Amazon can get it to them tomorrow, or, or, or… These customers are so fearful that they didn’t get the best deal or the most convenient delivery option so they stop and check pricing somewhere else. And guess what happens when they look somewhere else – they buy there even if your original deal was a little better. They do that because they are tired. Shopping sucks, checkout forms aren’t fun.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “You know that I am right – you’ve done it too… There is a solution to the human proclivity towards “downside protection”. It isn’t a fancy shopping cart plug in, it isn’t a nifty graphics treatment, an it sure as hell isn’t a chatbot. The solution starts way before your customer gets to checkout. It starts back with your branding and messaging around customer satisfaction.
By messaging throughout the process (callouts in search ads, customer promise in your nav or on the product page, quality reviews from Google or Stella or whomever, and some checkout messaging) that show your commitment to making your customers feel valued and safe makes the “in the moment” fear of getting a sub-optimal deal drop dramatically. When the proof of your value as a great retailer is everywhere, and your commitment to servicing your client permeates their experience, that “Submit Order” hesitation disappears.”
- Insufficient Payment Options – “If your checkout only features limited payment options or payment options that are less common, this will undoubtedly increase the % of people that abandon your cart.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “In this day and age there are 100 and 1 ways to pay for anything from credit cards to PayPal to Venmo to Square cash to direct debit to Poli to Bitcoin! Now you don’t have to support all these options – there is definitely such a thing as too many payment options – but you absolutely want to include any that would be considered common payment options for:
- Your Audience: Younger audiences will favour mobile payment options and apps
- Your Market: Payment options differ heavily amongst countries (Poli from above is Australian) and this can have a huge impact if you are planning to sell cross border
So do your research on the groups and countries you are selling too, so that you can ensure you provide options to keep all your customers happy.”
No Guest Checkout Option – “The art of a fabulous website is to give the greatest number of options in the very simplest of formats.
Sure, we don’t have the same ability to smile at our customers, welcome them warmly or extol the value of our products as they walk through the store or engaging them with our wit and expertise at the check out counter as we would in offline retail but we do have online tools to do these things as brilliantly as possible online.
Often, eCommerce owners look to apps as their sole means to engage customers. This is not, though, the best or the most authentic methodology.
eCommerce is fundamentally no different to any other offline business; all business SELLS a product or a service to a customer or client who NEEDS or WANTS their particular offering and hopefully does so at a PROFIT. The equation is not rocket science.
When we sell online, we need to mimic the offline sales experience as closely as possible. Humans are still buying from humans, so…….be HUMAN in your website messaging.
There is competition everywhere – someone will ALWAYS be willing to sell the same or a similar product to your customer base (hello – China’s modus operandi) and therefore SERVICE, VALUE and ENGAGEMENT are critical in every transaction and especially in eCommerce as we basically remove the actual human element.
One thing that, to me, seems so incredibly elementary is the option at checkout of a guest checkout or to establish an account.
The stores that do not allow guest checkouts and virtually railroad you into setting up an account prior to payment are simply asking for cart abandonment issues.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “Of course, there are exceptions – for instance, if you are setting up a payment plan or a subscription then, of course a customer is going to have to establish an account because the transaction includes ongoing business, however in the vast majority of cases, the customer does not NEED to establish an account so, in these cases – give them the option.
I understand that, in most cases, accounts are infinitely easier for an eCommerce owner;
- they can give customers access to their invoices and tracking details and therefore save on the resources of customer service for everyday issues, leaving your savvy customer service team to handle only the important stuff.
- collection of data for further communication is golden
However, the brownie points (aka reduction in cart abandonment) that you will garner from offering the option of a guest checkout far outweigh the above.
The option of a guest checkout is also critical for the 3 aforementioned critical elements of eCommerce.
1. SERVICE – offering the guest checkout option sub-consciously demonstrates to the customer that they are King or Queen. They call their own shots, they decide on the option best suited to them.
A hint here would also be to reword the options such as “Checkout as a guest” and “Checkout as a VIP”. Think about it; which option would YOU choose??
2. VALUE – When the difference between the two is clearly explained, you have another golden opportunity to demonstrate the after-sales value that you offer to the customer.
For instance, the fact that I can track my package is a HUGE plus on a checkout page – maybe stipulate that this service is only available for account customers. Maybe offer an incentive to people to sign up as an account customer, for example, $10.00 off their next purchase from your store (emailed or messengered to them immediately after finalisation of this transaction.)
3. ENGAGEMENT – when offering the option, you allow those who may be purchasing a one-off or simply not interested in keeping yet another password to checkout simply.
However, the copy used in the explanation of the two options can make a customer feel part of a tribe, a community, an online family if they choose to establish an account.
It is true that there are many ways to run an online store however, if we all understand that the HUMAN element in all transactions is the key, we see the common sense in offering very simple options such as a guest checkout as just one way to keep a customer and to avoid cart abandonment.”
Your Checkout Funnel is Not Optimized – “The checkout funnel is all the steps from Shopping Cart to the Thank You page after purchase. Many eCommerce sites have several steps for checkout. Usually it goes something like this: Cart > Customer Information > Shipping Method > Payment Info > Purchase
Most eCommerce sites tend to build in these steps by default. This is because there are a lot of fields to be collected in the process of making a purchase and having more than 1 step makes it feel simple and less overwhelming for the visitor. There’s also the advantage of capturing that customer email first so you can re-market to them.
I’ve also seen some clients have just one step/on page to checkout. This can work too, especially if the product is less expensive or something your customer has purchased before.
Regardless of your funnel, there is almost always something you can do to improve and optimize. So, as with everything in digital marketing, you need to test to find out what works best for your customers and product.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “Why should you optimize your checkout funnel? Think of the checkout as a huge lever in your sales (check out this article). The closer you optimize to the bottom of the funnel, the bigger the impact. For example: If you can decrease your abandonment from the payment page by just 25%, this will bring a 25% increase in sales (on the same ad spend). Think of what this would do to your ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend) and ability to scale your marketing!
How to Decide What You Should Test?
If you’ve configured enhanced eCommerce tracking for google analytics, the shopping behavior report can be helpful to see where the drop off is happening so you can hone in on a couple of ideas. Here’s where you can find this report in Google Analytics: Conversions > eCommerce > Shopping Behavior report.
Collect Feedback from Website Visitors:
As a site owner, you are too close to your product to really view it objectively, so it’s a great idea to have some outside eyes help you with optimization. There is software for this, like Hotjar or Crazy Egg. Or you can just ask a few friends to go through your checkout process a few times (don’t forget mobile!) as if they were a customer. Have them take notes during each test on where they had questions or what they found difficult or confusing and how long it took them to make a purchase.
Here are some simple best practices I’d recommend in optimizing your checkout funnel:
- Have clear and concise button text i.e. ‘proceed to checkout’ ‘proceed to payment info’, ‘add shipping info’ ‘place order’
- Add notes of reassurance where necessary, like ‘You will have a chance to review your order first’ or ‘no hidden shipping fees’.
- Show the progress to checkout with labeled steps, highlighting where they are in the process.
- Remove excess: fields, navigation, wordy text, anything that doesn’t NEED to be there can be removed.
- If you have something important you want to note with your customers, don’t invoke fear, just state clearly and concisely. It doesn’t need to be a pop up or big red text.
- Add an exit popup to bring back those trying to abandon with a simple incentive.
- Mobile first! Do what you can to improve the experience and increase mobile conversion.
- Test, Test, Test, don’t assume you know what will work best for your customers, always use data to guide your decisions.
Complicated or Unclear Returns Policy – “Acquiring new and loyal customers is challenging and often costly, but once you’ve driven a qualified customer to your website, your hope is that they’ll make their first purchase and begin the journey towards becoming a loyal customer who purchases from you regularly.
One thing that will prevent a customer with the intention of purchasing, from completing their order, is an unclear returns policy or one that has a returns fee associated to the return.
In the world of apparel, customers who have never purchased from you before, often won’t be sure of what size to purchase, even when you have a size chart that is easily accessible to them. Customers will often buy 2 sizes of a particular style with the intention of returning the size that doesn’t fit. This isn’t always the ideal scenario for retailers, but if it’s the first step to a customer becoming loyal to your brand, the return is merely a drop in the bucket and is easily absorbed.
With this in mind customers will often abandon their shopping cart if the following criteria are not met:
- The customer can’t find the return policy on your website
- The customer finds the returns policy but is unclear what steps need to be taken to complete the return
- There will be a charge such as a restocking fee or the customer will be charged for shipping to return the item
80% of shoppers will not make a purchase unless there is a hassle-free return policy.*”
Ideas On How to Solve It – “Make your returns policy accessible and visible throughout the site. There should be a link to the returns policy in the footer. As well, consider adding it on your product page.
Within the returns policy, be clear, what the steps are to complete the return. Does the customer need to contact your customer service department first or not? Do they need to access a link for a free return shipping label? Are returns in store possible, assuming you have a brick and mortar store and if so, what documentation is required to support the return?
Lastly, and this may be painful in the short-term; don’t charge customers a restocking fee and if possible provide a free return shipping label. The increased cost to the retailer in the short-term will break down barriers to purchase for the customer and help generate the initial sale and future sales.
Remember, when it comes to returns, make it as seamless as the purchase experience and you’ll have loyal and dedicated customers.”
- Fear and Risk – “Purchasing is an emotional experience, and whilst for some this can be an exciting and addictive experience, for others it can trigger emotions of fear and risk – there have been a lot of studies into the psychology of online buying.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “To help stop your potential buyers from “bottling it” I’d suggest that you look at a few key things. Firstly convey that your product is wanted, and is high demand – that will give you social proof that your customer is going to fit in with the crowd. We’re tribal beings so this will go a long way into the process.
We love choice, but too much choice can bring indecision and “analysis paralysis” – do you really need to offer that T-Shirt in 24 different colours, or will just six options do?
Both of these areas are tied together with creating a feeling of urgency and demand for your products. Using widgets that say “Somebody from Manchester just bought this product” on your website is a great way to show people are buying your product RIGHT NOW and if you only have five left show that on the site, people will be more likely to snap it up!”
Discount Codes Not Working – “In recent years, one of the primary reasons that shoppers abandon their carts is when discount codes don’t work at checkout. In fact, in the United States, 46% of shoppers according to Statista reported that they’ve abandoned a shopping cart because the discount code they had didn’t work.
With more and more ecommerce stores using discount codes to drive shoppers to their website, it can be a huge disappointment for shoppers when they think they’ve been promised a discount and the code doesn’t actually work. This can create distrust in the brand and can deter the shopper from ever coming back to the store.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “Luckily, this is usually a pretty easy problem for most ecommerce stores to fix: Make sure your discount codes are always working! Whenever you share discount codes with your audience or include ones in your ads, diligently monitor them on a regular basis to ensure that they never expire or accidentally get turned off.
Don’t forget to also make it super clear where shoppers can input their discount code in the checkout process so they don’t have to search around to find where to put it. The easier it is for shoppers to use their discount codes, the more likely they are to follow through with their purchase and possibly even purchase from you again.”
About Chris Herbert
Founder & Chief Question Asker @Whatsaytheexperts.com. I'm seriously passionate about publishing content that helps. I also love a good coffee!