Shopping Cart Abandonment: The Bane of eCommerce
If brick-and-mortar shoppers ditched carts full of stuff the way online shoppers do, most big box store checkout lines would be a deserted, impossible-to-navigate mess. Around 70% of eCommerce shopping carts with products in them are abandoned by shoppers before checkout.
Why do shoppers do this, and how can your store make them more likely to buy what they put in their carts?
8 Tips to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment
Here’s a checklist of improvements that can make more of those loaded carts convert.
1. Invest in a great mobile customer experience.
More than half of the web’s traffic comes from mobile devices, and consumers are getting comfortable with shopping on their phones. Or they would, if it were easier.
Why? Pop-ups, slow page load times, and requirements to key in lots of personal data—these are all hassles even for desktop shoppers who have a mouse and keyboard and no data plan limits to deal with.
For mobile shoppers, those hurdles are often roadblocks. Find out how to make your online store more mobile-friendly.
2. Make your product pages work smarter and harder.
Customers who are ready to buy right away tend to search for specific products rather than particular stores. That means when they click on a search result for “alligator dog costume,” they’ll go straight to your product page without ever seeing your homepage. But if all they see on that page is a pup in a gator suit, they make not follow through on their intent to purchase.
To build trust and make their decision easier, include a simple summary of your shop’s shipping and return policies, a link to live help, and related products so they can get in, get their gator costume, and get back to their busy lives.
Chewy.com does this by promoting a shipping deal high up on its product pages, just below the product photo and price. When users scroll down, they also see a short written description, a horizontal slider gallery of related costumes, reviews, and finally, a customer service number and email link.
3. Make returns easy and free.
Customers are more likely to buy if they know they can return it easily. That’s especially true for clothing, shoes, and expensive items like jewelry. Tiffany & Co. tops each page on their mobile site with a note about their “complimentary shipping and returns on all orders.” That reassures customers that they can go ahead and make that splashy gift purchase; if it doesn’t work out, they can always return it.
Small store owners sometimes say they can’t afford to offer free returns, but as more e-retailers get on board, sellers who don’t offer free returns will be at a competitive disadvantage. A better approach is to figure out how to adjust your product pricing to factor in the cost of return shipping.
4. Make live support easy and immediate.
Sharing your customer service phone number and email addresses is always a good idea, but navigating back and forth on a smartphone between a product screen and a phone call or email is a hassle.
If customers have questions about something while they’re shopping on their phones, an on-screen live chat is easier than a phone call and much faster than email, meaning customers are more likely to get the info they need before they leave your site and their cart behind.
Pura Vida Bracelets does a good job with live CS chat. Shoppers can tap the chat bubble that floats on product screens to ask questions and get answers.
5. Automatically apply promo codes.
Don’t make your shoppers backtrack during checkout or navigate away to an aggregator site looking for coupon codes. That’s how you lose conversions as people get frustrated, get distracted, or find a better deal somewhere else.
Instead, try an approach like Vistaprint’s. Mobile shoppers see that the current promo code has been applied to their purchases as soon as they land on the site, with an option to shop with a different promo code also on the landing page.
6. Make checkout ridiculously simple.
Give shoppers the option to check out as guests, rather than forcing them to create an account.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve been stopped from making a mobile purchase with a new merchant at the mandatory “create an account” step. That’s when I remember that Amazon already has my info and probably also the item I’m trying to buy, so I’m gone.
Letting your shoppers validate their identity and pay with a few taps or swipes raises the likelihood of closing the sale. Consider allowing shoppers to sign in with Facebook or importing their PayPal shipping information to save time.
Anthropologie’s mobile site, for example, lets shoppers opt into the full mobile checkout process or just go directly to PayPal:
7. Follow up on abandoned carts.
A ditched cart doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Sometimes shoppers intend to follow up but get distracted. A reminder and an offer can bring them back.
You can do this through ad retargeting, follow-up emails, and Facebook Messenger if you’re using it for customer service. Choose only one method per cart, though, and limit the number of follow-ups per cart. No one wants to be stalked by a garden shed or pelted with multiple emails.
8. Track your results.
How will you know if your plan to reduce cart abandonment is working? Metrics! Get a benchmark average for daily or weekly cart abandonments versus completed orders before you begin.
Then continue to track those numbers as you make improvements to your site, product pages, policies, support, promo codes, checkout process, and follow-up efforts.
Over time, as your store experience gets easier for your customers, you should see fewer deserted carts and higher conversion rates.
Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.