Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment This Holiday Season

According to multiple online sources, the shopping cart abandonment rate this year topped 75 percent. If you run an e-commerce site, you’re probably seeing evidence of those numbers yourself. With holiday shopping in full swing, you’ll be glad to hear that you can improve the percentage of carts that make it all the way through the checkout process.

SeeWhy recently quoted a Forrester report on the top five causes of shopping cart abandonment. These included too-expensive shipping and handling; not being ready to purchase the product; a desire to compare prices on other sites; the product’s price being higher than the shopper was willing to pay; and a desire to save products in the cart for later consideration. While you may not be able to address all of these issues, you can address many of them (and others) with proper shopping cart design and layout.

Monetate posted an awesome shopping cart abandonment infographic that Search Engine Land picked up and posted. I’ll be covering the points mentioned on the infographic here. You can think of it as a checklist for your site’s shopping cart – a tune-up for the holidays, as it were.

We’ll start with thumbnails. When a visitor puts something in their shopping cart, they want to make sure they’re purchasing the right item – and a lot of items have similar titles or descriptions. Including a thumbnail of the product in the shopping cart can help your customer make sure she purchased the dark purple blouse, and not the bright pink one, for her Wednesday Addams-admiring daughter.

The next feature your shopping cart should include is a progress indicator. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at the top of a shopping cart and been relieved to see exactly where I am in the purchase process, and how much further I need to go. Think about the process of making a purchase at a brick-and-mortar store: you choose an item from the shelves, go to a cash register, hand over your credit card, collect your receipt and purchase, and take it home. From the buyer’s point of view, the store does a lot of the work. Compare that to shopping online. The buyer clicks on an item they want to buy, and brings up a shopping cart. They then need to input their payment information (when they’d just hand over their card before) and shipping information (when they’d just take it home before) as well as their email address (so they can receive the receipt they’d just be handed before). They also need to pay for shipping, which isn’t an issue with brick-and-mortar retailers.

In other words, while many aspects of shopping online are much easier than shopping through a brick-and-mortar retailer (especially at this time of year!), it’s very detail-oriented, and easy for potential customers to lose their place. If you show them exactly where they are in the process, you’ll keep them on track.

Now let’s talk about your calls to action. These might include links to express checkout or rush shipping, for example. Monetate recommends that you keep them concise, consistent, prominent and color contrasted. Also, make sure that a fumble-fingered move won’t cause frustration; specifically, Monetate advises that  you “Never place the ‘checkout’ button next to the ‘remove from cart’ button.” These days, many people use laptops as their main computers, and may even do their online shopping on smaller mobile devices. Small mobile devices usually mean small user interfaces. Think about how many people you know who have large fingers, and you’ll understand why this is an issue.

If you ran a brick-and-mortar store and you had customers who kept putting more items in their shopping cart, you wouldn’t dream of asking them to check out until they were ready, right? So why not include a link on your online shopping cart that lets your customer go back to shopping? It gives them more freedom, which helps them feel comfortable with buying from you.

Speaking of customer comfort, you’ll still find some customers that don’t feel entirely secure using their credit cards online. Don’t judge them; cater to them. Include a toll-free number through which they can talk to a human about any concerns they have, or complete the process of ordering. Monetate also recommends allowing these customers to fax in their orders. You might even consider adding a click-to-chat feature that allows customers to text with someone who can answer their questions. Incidentally, some companies that market this add-on can arrange for it to pop up automatically after the shopping cart has been dormant for a certain amount of time, so you can proactively offer to help customers that might have gotten stuck somewhere in the process.

Now let’s talk about cross-selling. Amazon is famous for it with their “Customers who purchased this product also bought…” feature. Many companies include a small area on their shopping cart that shows items the customer may also like, based on what they’re buying. Monetate advises that you need to use the amount of money in the shopping cart already as a guide for your cross-selling offers. If someone is buying inexpensive plastic beads, don’t hit them with your fancy Swavorski crystals.

What if your customer decides that they like the item you’re cross-selling better than the one they originally put in their cart? Or what if they like what you’re cross-selling, but think it goes better with another product you sell that they were considering anyway? Or what if their daughter wanders in and dramatically announces that purple is totally passe? Give your customers an easy way to edit the items they’ve put in their shopping cart. It can be as simple as a button under the thumbnail that says “edit item” in bold letters. Don’t make them do extra work to find what they need.

Speaking of making your customers do extra work, let me bounce a scenario off of you. Say you’re a customer looking for a digital camera. You’re just about ready to buy one – in fact, you’ve put one in an online shopping cart – when you decide you want to do one more comparison. So you leave the cart, hit your favorite search site (Yahoo has an excellent shopping filter set up for the season), check two other cameras side by side, and decide your original choice was best. You go back to your shopping cart…and it isn’t there anymore. You have to go through the checkout process all over again, from the very beginning, with finding the item.

I don’t know about you, but I’d give up in frustration at that point. As I noted earlier, lots of shoppers like to save items in an online shopping cart for purchasing later. Why not make it easy for them by including a “save cart” button on your shopping cart? After they click the button, you could display a simple “thank you” message that tells them how long you will save their cart and information (30 days is a good number). While they’ve saved their cart with you, you can even send them a reminder e-mail once a week so they don’t completely forget about it.

Finally, we come to payment. There’s at least two points you need to address here. You need to make sure your customers are able to pay you, and that they’re comfortable with paying you. This means that your shopping cart should be able to accept multiple different forms of payment. Not everyone wants to pay directly with their credit or debit cards; likewise, not everyone likes using PayPal. Give your customers options and let them pay the way they prefer. That’s one way to make them comfortable. Another way is to display third-party logos, such as VeriSign, that reinforce the security of your website in the mind of your customer. Monetate advises that you test the placement of these logos for differences in conversion rates.

That’s all I have room to cover today, but it’s a good start. Check your shopping cart page for these important features. Tomorrow, I’ll cover some things you should and shouldn’t do if you want to reduce your shopping cart abandonment rates this holiday season. Good luck, and happy holidays! 

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