One of the biggest challenges in eCommerce today is converting a visitor into a customer and with the busy Christmas period just around the corner, taking action on your checkout page could help increase revenue throughout the festive period.
What is cart abandonment? Cart abandonment is when a visitor adds products/items to their shopping cart but leaves the website before finishing their purchase. As they have shown an intention to purchase by adding items to the cart, these visitors are some of the most valuable can potentially lose.
Too many webmasters overlook the checkout procedure, leaving it to blind luck whether or not their prospective customers who initiate a purchase follow it through to the end. An astronomical 68-70% of all prospective customers abandon their shopping cart, some simple maths can reveal just how much you could be losing annually. In a hypothetical situation, an eCommerce website turns over £6 million a year, how much have they lost through cart abandonment?
£6,000,000 / 0.30 = £20,000,000
Potentially £20 million a year could be lost. Now we know not all of that can be recuperated, there are many reasons why a prospective customer could abandon their cart and even the most optimised checkout procedures still lose sales to abandonment. Having said that, there are ways to improve conversions and lower that abandonment.
Optimise their experience before they get to the checkout
Optimising your customers online checkout experience starts before a user even gets to the checkout. If a customer is struggling to add items to their cart, navigate to the checkout page or doesn’t trust the website, why would they put the time and effort into making their way to your checkout? Simply put, they wouldn’t.
Offer a clear “add to cart” button
In order for your prospective customer to purchase from your eCommerce website, they need to be able to add products to the shopping cart with ease. If a visitor struggles find an add to cart (or similar) button, they will more than likely leave the website and look elsewhere, effectively handing a sale to another business.
Looking at Watch Shops product page you can see their “add to shopping bag” button is clear and prominent on the page. Following best practises with the button just below the price, it is also the company’s brand colour with a clear shopping cart icon helping users to instantly recognise the function of the button. This is a great example of how an add to cart button should be.
On the other hand looking at www.arngren.net (click to enlarge the image) you struggle to see an add to cart button function. Even if you don’t speak/understand Norwegian an “add to cart” button should clear and prominent on the webpage, for Arngern it’s the “Kjøp” link with the green background.
Allow users to “save for later” and share their shopping list
Just like in the high street, some people like to walk past shops and see whats in the window. Some may even want to take a closer look at a product in order to see if it suits their needs or just to see how much it is. Some even go to the extent of taking a picture in order to show their friends or remind themselves of what they have seen. eCommerce now has the option to offer a digital version of this and it’s something most businesses, especially retail related should take advantage of.
The ability to save a customers cart for a later date allows them to do all the necessary window shopping they like and on a day which suits them best, they can return to purchase everything they’ve saved without the hassle of going through the website again. You can also send them reminders of what’s in their cart on key dates such as national pay dates, when you’re holding an event or when an item becomes available, encouraging the customer to purchase. Offering your visitors the opportunity to save a shopping list opens up a whole new opportunity for marketing campaigns and helps recuperate some of those cart abandonment.
Just like saving your cart, sharing it via social channels encourages new customers and interactions with other prospective visitors who may not have known about your brand previously. It also encourages direct sales, a visitor could have a wedding coming up or house move. The saved shopping list they then share offers gift ideas to their network for friends and family, allowing them to directly purchase what it is your customer wants.
Checking out as a guest
Presume a customer wants to make a singular purchase, something quick that they only want once and your eCommerce website was the first one they found. All the boxes are ticked so far, the right, trustworthy images on display and a referral from a friend. So far it’s looking promising, they are there to purchase and want to do so quickly. After getting to the cart and proceeding to checkout they are greeted with a registration form wanting to know all their personal details and then some.
Not every user wants to sign up and register to a website. The process often takes time to complete and if the user is on a mobile device, that registration process becomes all the more longer regardless of how fantastic your mobile/responsive website is. Allow your customers to checkout as a guest and if they want to register then they are more likely to purchase again in the future.
According to Formisimo, 23% of all cart abandonment’s are directly attributed to forcing users to sign up during the checkout process. Granted collecting user information is great, especially for remarketing to them in the future but you shouldn’t compromise sales in order to gain this information. Allow users to check out as a guest, give them the option on how they want to handle their sensitive and personal information. If you want them to sign up, offer a first purchase discount code for registered users or some benefit to registering, a user will be more willing to receive marketing materials and return to your website if they register on their own accord.
Make key pages easy to access
It’s happened to me a few times before, I’ve gone to order something and want to find out about their returns policy or delivery information but I can’t find any links. I have to resort to the old ctrl+f typing “delivery” just to see when I would expect my order to arrive. Some people may not have the patience or eCommerce understanding to do this and could leave your website.
Offer publicly accessible voucher codes on-site
If you offer voucher codes or coupon codes, make sure you have a reference to them on your website. You don’t need to plaster a large pop up on every page throwing discount codes left right and centre but you could have a blog page you update on a monthly basis. You could even tie other channels into the mix, have a voucher codes page on your website which encourages a user to like your Facebook page for a 10% discount or subscribe to your email list and receive an instant discount code as a thank you.
When done right voucher codes can be a fantastic source to encourage a user to purchase and from the above pie chart, 8% of people who abandoned their cart from the survey carried out, did so because there was no voucher codes. The never ending battle of the pizza behemoths, Domino’s vs Pizza Hut is a fantastic example;
When comparing the two results, Domino’s not only ranks higher in Google for their branded voucher code term but it also offers a page dedicated to their voucher codes. Pizza Hut don’t have a voucher codes page, instead their “deals” page appears in the SERPs and anyone who orders the occasional take out will vouch, these aren’t the same things.
So, what’s the big issue here? Well when a customer goes to google to find a voucher code and is then sent to a voucher code specific website, there is a high chance any and all links to that website will be affiliate links. Depending on the affiliate programme in place, it could result in a further 5-20% of the sale being squandered elsewhere, lowering profit margins. Not only that but a lot of voucher code websites have display advertising which could be one of your competitors, possibly sending that user elsewhere.
Give customers a sample of something else
We all love a freebie or a sample, nothing beats going to an aftershave/perfume shop and getting a load of testers for free when you spend x amount. The beauty of this is we end up appreciating the samples more than what we actually purchased because it’s unnecessary, they don’t need to give away free samples but they do. eCommerce can work in the same way.
www.sephora.com do this very well. When browsing there website and looking to purchase something, in their cart page they offer you 3 free samples on all purchases. This not only helps increase conversions but it also cross sells products, builds trust around your brand and a customer is more likely to return again, especially if they liked one of the samples they received for free.
This obviously won’t work across all industries but you can always do something different. If you’re an alloy wheels website, why not offer a free car freshener of their choice at checkout? If you sell office furniture you could offer your customer x amount of free stationary. The list goes on and it all encourages users to purchase, especially if it makes your brand unique to others.n
Remove additional and hidden costs
Again referencing the pie chart above, 28% of users surveyed abandoned their cart because of unexpected shipping costs. It’s not just shipping costs though, some website display prices excluding VAT and then in the checkout process add VAT and delivery to your shopping bag, taking your £100 order to £120 + £5.99 delivery. These added costs heavily impact conversion rates and should be removed or at least incorporated into your products if you can’t afford to subsidise them.
Here we have Sports Direct, one of the largest sports retailers in the world. When go to their website to purchase however many products you wish, they force you to pay added delivery costs even though it’s only 4-5 days standard delivery. For a company of their size not subsidising standard delivery costs will have a massive impact on their cart abandonment rates, if you can’t subsidise delivery costs for small purchases you can at least offer free shipping spend is £x or more.
Free delivery is something a lot of prospective customers look for, making the message clear from the start will encourage users to stay on the website. A lot of eCommerce website advertise this in the header of their website ensuring no matter what page you’re on, you know when you get to the checkout there will be no extra costs.
Improving the checkout page
The checkout page is possibly the most crucial part of the checkout procedure, this page is where transactions happen and it provides the last opportunity a visitors has to abandon their cart. Because of this, eCommerce businesses should optimise their checkout page to stand the best chance of converting a visitor into a customer, neglecting this page is effectively throwing money down the drain.
Make sure the process is fast
How fast can a user go from the checkout page loading to a page thanking them for their purchase? Could it be any faster than it currently is?
The people of the internet don’t like to wait around. The above image shows cart abandonment dramatically increases once a page has taken longer than 2 seconds to load. The target for any checkout page (or any webpage for that matter) should be 2 seconds or below, otherwise you risk loosing upwards of 25% of your sales before your page has even rendered. To make matters worse, mobile search has overtaken desktop meaning load speed becomes all the more valuable, especially as mobile takes longer to load.
It’s not just about page speed though, the checkout process needs to be quick. If a user has already filled in their billing address, why make them repeat it for their shipping address? More and more website have implemented a button saying “Is your shipping address the same as your billing address?” which helps to speed up the process but it takes more than just that. Shortening the checkout process as much as possible will decrease the time it takes to purchase leading to less cart abandonment and more conversions. Every second really does count.
Show the users progression
You know those irritating sales calls you get where someone recites a spiel, never seeming to end and you completely lose track of what’s going on. That’s what a checkout page is like without clear navigation and progression bars.
By clearly displaying the progress a user has made through the checkout journey, you’re reassure them that there isn’t page after page of sign up details, data gathering and other things that could be perceived as a waste of time. The above progress bar displays all the information a user would need to complete the checkout process and for added usability, the numbers and page title can be clicked to go back and make amendments such as delivery address or shipping method.
Offer multiple payment methods and reassurances
One way to help lower cart abandonment is to offer more than one payment method. Customer may not want to pay strictly by credit or debit card, they might want to purchase their items through a trusted payment gateway like PayPal. As PayPal is a massive company which is estimated to handle over $800 billion a year, customers instantly recognise their brand and associate a level of trust with your checkout. Not only that but PayPal now offers PayPal credit, a facility which allows your customer to purchase over £150 and pay it off interest free over 4 months.
As well as offering multiple payment methods, you need to display them clearly along with any logo’s or security seals that come with them. Either in the footer across the website or a specific area of the checkout, displaying these logo’s and security seals makes the user feel more at rest, removing any doubt that your website could be fraudulent or untrustworthy.
Auto lookup address
The checkout page is all about speed, convenience and asking for as little user generated clicks as possible. Taking that into consideration, automatically pulling up your customers address from a previous page or the ability to lookup their address based on the postcode they enter seriously saves time.
The screenshot above is a demo of the popular address validation tool by pcapredict.com which allows a user to select there address by entering part of it, any part. This cuts down the time it takes to fill in a custom form with your address details and allows the user to swiftly move onto the next stage of the checkout procedure.
Purchase test items over and over and over again
Test, test, test. As is most things within the eCommerce industry, constantly test your systems. Purchase a test item and experience the checkout procedure first hand then ask yourself, “what could be improved?”. Don’t stop there either, purchase a different item on mobile, then a different browser, then on a tablet. Keep testing your checkout process and ensure there is nothing wrong. Some of the really common mistakes eCommerce sites make are;
- Broken form fields – Either their website developer hasn’t ensured the form works for all browsers or there is an error but broken form fields on the checkout lead to very high cart abandonment
- Poor mobile checkout – There is a big difference between mobile and desktop, if mobile hasn’t been considered during the development process then your mobile checkout will more than likely be bad. Load a different checkout which is optimised for mobile or trim some of the unnecessary fat. If you struggle to make a purchase on a 3G connection then it needs revisiting and improving
- Clear error messages – Someone may go to purchase from your website but they haven’t put their full card details in, accidentally missing a digit and not able to process the transaction. Instead of the standard error message’s shown, make custom ones that explains what went wrong. Let the user know why you wasn’t able to process their transaction and they will be more likely to try again
What happens if they still abandon their cart?
Sometimes in life you just can’t win. No matter how much effort, hard work and investment you plough into your checkout procedure, there is still going to be a proportion of users who will abandon their cart.
Even when a user abandons their cart, it doesn’t mean the possible transaction is over. There are still some measures you can take to try and recuperate that user, not forcing them to come back and purchase but gently reminding them of what they left in their cart. After all, we don’t fully know why they abandoned their cart. It could have been something as trivial as a lack of time to place the order or some YouTube video of a fainting goat distracted them from the purchase.
Use email marketing to remind them of their cart
One of the most common ways to recover a cart abandonment is via email. A simple cart abandonment email reminds the user of the items they have left in their basket at a time that suits you best, prompting them of this reminder can lead them to purchase at key dates. They may not have provisonally purchased because of a lack of funds, sending this email towards the end of the month would be a good way to encourage the sale as this is when most people have supplementary income.
The email above sent by Fat Face is a fantastic example of a cart abandonment email. It shows the products which were abandoned, shows the price of items individually and combined, it’s personalised to the user (in this case, Hannah) and offers a clear CTA allowing you to complete your order.
As well as incorporating all of the essentials, they also state there is free delivery open when you spend £60+ which we know from earlier is an influential factor when it comes to cart abandonment and conversions.
Along with the standard cart abandonment email, you could offer your prospective customer a one off discount code. So long as the discount code is clear it could help sway a user to purchase and showing the discount they would save within the email makes their experience all the more greater.
Take advantage of remarketing services
Remarketing in it’s own right is a complex, time consuming topic and for good reason. You can have your ads on Google’s display network, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social medias. You can even target specific industries through Googles display network which would be relevant to your sector. After all, why would you want to remarket your product on websites which aren’t at all relevant?
You could go in all guns blazing and try to cover every ad space available for remarketing your products to previous visitors but what if several people live under one roof? You could be trying to resell something which isn’t completely relevant to who might be using the PC at that time.
Whilst performing research for this post, one of the websites I visited was Holland & Barrets as I thought they might have offered free samples like Sephora do. Unfortunately they didn’t but they do come in use here. Whilst browsing the www.joe.ie – The voice of Irish men I noticed Holland & Barrerts were trying to retarget a product I’d viewed. As you associate mass growth products with men and joe.ie is targeted for men, the remarketing ad suited perfectly. I even placed the Maxi product in my basket to view if their checkout and that’s one of the products they are targeting me with.
Monitor your cart abandonment constantly
With all websites and eCommerce sites you need a solid understanding of the data or analytics your website produces. Simple stats can tell you highly valuable information like an increase in organic visits would usually indicate an improvement in ranking positions across search engines, high bounce rates could indicate something is seriously wrong with your website and cart abandonment’s let you know if your checkout page is working or if it isn’t.
I could make this post agonisingly longer by including a walk-through on how to set up a cart abandonment funnel for Google analytics but I won’t. Instead you can always visit lemonstand.com post on how to set up an abandonment funnel which is as good a tutorial as any.
Monitoring your cart abandonment funnel will allow you to keep track of any sudden changes, improvements over time and allows you to see if the work put into improving the checkout process is paying off.
The underlining cart abandonment fact
You cannot prevent all users from abandoning their cart. You can’t please everyone and as a result, you wont recuperate that lost £20 million in revenue by optimising your checkout procedure but you can recuperate some of it and then work to retain those customers.
If you managed to get this far then thank you. You have heard our tips on how to improve cart abandonment but we would like to hear yours, do you have any cart abandonment tips that we haven’t mentioned? Also if you would be interested in seeing more articles like this and would like them delivered straight to your inbox, please fill the form in below.