Sealing the Deal: 12 Steps to Reducing Shopping Cart Abandonment

Reduce Shopping Cart AbandonmentIt’s perhaps the metric with the most daunting-sounding numbers:  Shopping Cart Abandonment.  Most studies estimate the average site to see abandonment rates of 70%-75% or even higher.  If your site’s shopping cart abandonment is in this range—there is probably some good news.  There’s a good chance you can reduce that pretty quickly by giving your shopping cart system a quick little tune up.  Here are a dozen things to look for and consider implementing.

1.     Don’t allow unavailable items to be added to the cart – If you have items that are sold out, coming soon, or unavailable for some reason and your customer is able to add those to their cart, you are effectively forcing them to abandon it once they learn at checkout (or worse, later) that they can’t order those products.  On top of that, it hurts your online reputation.
2.    Make your shipping costs easy to estimate, and known from the beginning – A top reason for abandonment is shipping costs being more than expected.  Use a simple shipping cost methodology—not one based on things like weight of the order or what ZIP code it will be shipped to.  Allow your customers to quickly form an accurate estimate of what their shipping costs will be before they enter checkout.
3.    Adopt a customer-friendly returns policy and make it easy to find – When you’re ordering something online, you can’t pick it up and feel it to know what you’re getting.  Most people want to be sure they can return it without hassles.  Adopt a “no questions asked” policy and have a prominent link to it right on your shopping cart page and during checkout.
4.    Prominently display alternative contact & support options – If someone is having troubles in the checkout process, or deciding if the product they have added is exactly what they want, give them a toll-free number—on every page—that they can call for questions or help.  This can be the difference between them finishing the order or moving to a new web site.
5.    Add product pictures to your shopping cart – It’s a simple step that has proven time and again to increase conversion and reduce cart abandonment.  Just a simple thumbnail of each item assures your customers they have what they intended.
6.    Include reviews and/or testimonials with the product information – You might think of this as contributing more to conversion, but many people quickly add something to the cart, only to deliberate if they really want it just before or during checkout.  Testimonials or product reviews can help them confirm their original decision.
7.    Build your customers’ trust – I say it over and over: there’s more “risk” perceived shopping online.  Whether your site visitors are concerned about security of the site, if their product is really what they want, whether you’re a real store, or other things, you need to alleviate those concerns.  Things like security seals, detailed information and pictures about your business, hassle-free policies, and more can help do this.
8.    Make sure yours is a simple, short, bug-free checkout process – Try to get your checkout process to four steps or less.  Show customers a process bar so they know the steps and where they are in the process.  Don’t distract them in this path with obtrusive upsell offers, those should be focused before the checkout process.  And of course, eliminate any technical glitches.  Make sure all pages work properly and load quickly.
9.    Do not require an account registration to complete the checkout – This used to be the “marquee” hurdle in preventing a completed checkout, but it’s still a problem on many sites.  Far too many people do not want to add yet another login/password to their portfolio.  If you want to give customers the option to create an account, it should be done after the order is completed.
10.    Try to control whether customers see a Coupon Code box during checkout – If someone sees that box and does not have a coupon, more often than not they leave the site to go look for a coupon.  (Admit it, you’ve done it yourself!)  See if your system allows you to only show the box if the visitor has come because of an offer, such as an email where you sent them a code.  We’ll do another article soon to go into this more.
11.    Keep your customers’ carts active if they do leave your site – Many customers shop and order over the course of multiple visits.  For many sites, it can take three visits on average for a customer to complete an order.  Don’t make it harder on them (or easier for them to go elsewhere) by making them refill their cart each time they come back.  Keep your carts active for at least 30 days.  Six months is probably better.
12.    Consider retargeting – “Retargeting” involves marketing back to someone who started an order (or even just visited the site) with follow-up ads or emails.  This has proven very effective recently.  But use good judgment in how you do it.  Follow-up emails should be more about asking if you can help rather than pestering them to come back.

There are of course more things to look for to improve this metric, and some tactics will work better on some sites than others.  Each site and industry is different.  If Cart Abandonment is really a problem with your site, contact us.  We’ve had many successes improving this and other metrics for web sites and would love to help you as well.

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