Cart abandonment is a huge problem for small e-commerce vendors, and with more options to choose from every day, the average rate or cart abandonment has increased 10% since 2006. For an e-store owner trying to make it in the digital market place, reducing the cart abandonment rate can be the difference between thriving and failing as a business. This isn’t just a problem for SMEs either. Major sites like Amazon, Wayfair, and Crate & Barrel do extensive research to optimize their checkout systems and reduce the number of lost carts. Recent studies by Statista and by the Baymard Institute have independently identified a number of reasons customers tend to abandon their carts. Here is a list of some of the most common, and our insights into preventing them in your e-store.
1. Unexpected Shipping Cost (or other hidden fees)
Any e-commerce businessowner knows the long list of costs it takes to get an item to a customer. There’s packaging, shipping, sales tax, and if the product is shipped internationally there can be import fees and exchange rates as well. But if you’re a customer, you probably aren’t considering that. If you only see the item price when adding items to your cart, there are few bigger turn-offs than discovering the great deal you found actually costs $10 more due to shipping and handling fees. Only revealing the full price a customer will pay on the last screen can feel misleading or dishonest, and cause a potential buyer to abandon an e-store entirely. According to research by Statista, 25% of abandoned carts were due to unexpected costs, and research from the Baymard Institute put the number at a whopping 60%.
The simple solution is transparency. Make sure the customer knows exactly how much they’ll be charged, and where any extra fees come from. Amazon is a shining example of pricing transparency. Every product lets you know where there’s free shipping, where there are import fees, and how the speed of delivery effects cost. Of course, a small e-commerce business won’t have the same resources and organizational complexity as the largest online retailer in the world, but implementing some of their best practices can help avoid cart abandonment.
Beyond just showing all costs upfront, another best practice is to provide different delivery speeds for different rates. Being able to accommodate a customer’s timeframe can give you a leg up on competition, even if they have to pay more for it. Again, making sure all this information is available from the start is crucial. Additionally, offering free shipping above a certain price can encourage customers to spend more in order to save. The sense of winning a good deal will make it less likely for a customer to abandon their cart.
2. No Guest Checkout
Marketing is one of the most important aspects of running an e-commerce business. It is not, however, more important than getting a customer through the final stage of checkout. Requiring a store account to check out is an excellent way to build your email list while also making a profit, but if your customer doesn’t want to give out their personal information you risk losing both. In the surveys conducted by Statista and the Baymard institute, 22% and 37% of respondents respectively named no guest checkout as a reason for cart abandonment. Remember, you can always ask for the email and address afterwards, so don’t demand them upfront.
The solution to this problem is remarkably easy, especially if your digital storefront is on a platform like WooCommerce or Shopify. All you need to do is go to settings and enable guest checkout. Depending on your business structure you can also choose the option to eliminate accounts entirely. Creating a guest checkout might be slightly harder if you have a custom site, but a good web developer should be able to add it in quickly.
3. Overly Long or Complicated Checkout
User experience is incredibly important in preventing abandoned carts in your e-store. In the Statista survey 9% of respondents cited excessively long or complicated checkout processes as their reason for cart abandonment, and in the Baymard survey that number was as high as 28%. Having an easy-to-use, streamlined checkout lets your customer know that you value their time, and adds to the overall professionalism of your business. When it comes to checkout, less is more.
One way to help speed up the checkout pipeline is allowing your site to autofill the customer’s information. Reducing the number of fields to fill means your customer spends less time in the checkout, resulting in a faster sale. Auto-filling is also another sign of site sophistication, which inspires confidence in your brand.
As for layout, make sure every section of your checkout process is clearly labelled, and easy to understand. Many sites have a map at the top, describing how many steps there are to complete, which the customer is on, and what each step entails. Five pages is generally a hard maximum for the checkout process, with any more becoming overwhelming. Also, make sure moving between the steps in any direction is simple and intuitive. Loosing your buyer in the home stretch is a terrible waste of a carefully planned pipeline, so make the last steps quick and painless.
4. Payment Security Concerns
Especially when dealing with sites that aren’t well known or hosted on a reputable platform, customers are often rightfully wary about giving up their credit card information. The Statista survey found that security concerns are responsible for 17% of abandoned carts. That’s a lot of business lost. For these small e-stores, the best way to make up for the lack of name recognition is with transparency and professionalism. Having a clean, glitch-free layout, a strong social media presence, and good reviews will inspire confidence in your business, and avoid cart abandonment.
One simple and easy mark of legitimacy is a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. This shows up as a little lock icon before the URL on your webpage, and means that credit card information, usernames, and passwords sent over the internet are encrypted and secure. Websites without the certificates are marked with a warning sign, and will likely scare off most potential customers. The way to get a certificate for your site, is by visiting SSL.com.
Another way to increase the professionalism of your site is to include an ‘about us’ section. For those who are on the ledge about trusting your business, seeing a small blurb with a picture of your face can really make the difference in trusting you with their money. Even just seeing the section on your site proves a level of care to customers, and fostering that impression is vital for small e-commerce businesses.
Everyone at one time or another has probably had the experience of looking at items on a site, deciding on something to buy, then tabbing away and forgetting about it entirely. Unfortunately for e-stores, a customer having an item in the cart doesn’t automatically mean a purchase. Especially if they’re shopping as a guest, leaving the cart can result in the loss of a sale. Keeping those impulse buyers on the hook can be vital for small online businesses competing with internet behemoths.
A great way to counter this is with a checkout timer. Many different services use this technique or a variation of this technique to encourage customers to buy quickly and not abandon their carts. Even though the product itself will not disappear, the urgency of the timer activates a potential buyer’s fear of missing out, making them more likely to finish the buying process. Amazon goes one step further with a deals section full of hundreds of timers constantly counting down until sales expire. The attractiveness of a deal mixed with the imperative of the timer makes for a potent tool against cart abandonment.
Another way to work around a distracted shopper is to send abandoned cart emails, reminding shoppers of the items they haven’t purchased. If the customer was truly interested in your product and just got distracted, this could be an easy (and automated) way to close the sale. A less direct version of this is ‘remarketing’, where the items left in the cart are used to inform targeted adds at the customer. Depending on how you design your conversion pipeline, either of these techniques could be successful in salvaging abandoned carts.
Delivering a focused, clean, and comprehensible user experience is invaluable in the world of online business. Across the e-commerce industry, it’s been estimated that checkout optimization can result in a 35% increase in conversion rates. Keeping these tips in mind, you can radically improve your user experience, vastly increasing your cart retention rate. Even small changes can make a big difference, so don’t hesitate to do the extra work that will maximize your e-store’s conversion rates.