Ways to Combat Shopping Cart Abandonment

Imagine if shopping in the real world were the same as shopping online. You walk into a supermarket or a department store, start filling up your shopping cart, only to be suddenly distracted by seeing a friend that you haven’t seen in a long time.You promptly forget about whatever it is you were thinking of buying, speak with your friend and make a date to get together to catch up, then walk out of the store.

This scenario is or others much like it happen all the time. More especially,in the world of e-Commerce, where distractions happen, especially when your sitting at your home’s computer. Despite your best-laid plans, users visit your site, start shopping, then close the tab so they can watch the latest trailer from Game of Thrones, never to return.

Shopping cart abandonment is one of the most crucial problems for online businesses to overcome. Unfortunately, it’s also impossible to mitigate against entirely – some people will inevitably abandon their carts before crossing the line and making a purchase. That said, it’s definitely not impossible to improve your e-Commerce experience to reduce and combat shopping cart abandonment, and we mention several ways to help this abandonment NOT happen.

Establish and Build Trust in Your Transaction Forms

Some online retailers see transaction forms as a mere formality in the sales process – they’ve already tempted you with their specials or discount prices, so why wouldn’t you fill out a lengthy form without question? However, this is most definitely not the case, and your transaction forms are just as vital a tool in establishing and building trust in your site as any other part of the process.

Remember that, by asking your customers to fill out a transaction form, you’re essentially asking them to trust you with their personal information. This goes far beyond just their contact details; you’re asking for their credit card details, something many people are (understandably) hesitant to part with.

To offset the hesitation of handing over their hard-earned money – and financial identity – use your transaction forms as an opportunity to build and establish trust. Include trust signals such as security logos in a prominent position somewhere close to your transaction forms.

Also, make sure the logos are recognizable and commonplace (such as the “Norton Secured” logo, which replaced the commonplace “VeriSign Secured” logo). Data cited by Shopify indicates that almost 61% of consumers had not purchased something online because trust logos were missing, but also that more than 75% of consumers had chosen against making a purchase because they didn’t recognize the trust logos.

Remember, nothing is a sure thing, you may want to conduct some metric tests on how well these badges perform on your own store. Create some product pages with and without Trust Badges and weigh the results with GA to see which out-performs the others. You may also want to create an email blast with this in mind and send out a portion of your list with the link to one or the other test pages, again to measure the ‘Open-Rate” and Clicks. Performing market tests like this are generally known as performing an A/B Test.

Include a Progress Indicator on Checkout Pages

You know when you’re standing in line at Target and the cashier asks you for your zip code, or your phone number, or your star sign? Whether you have a rewards card? Whether you’d like to save 10% by opening one? All of these things are irritations that prolong the checkout process – and should be avoided in any ecommerce experience. One of the best ways to do that is by including a progress indicator on your checkout pages.

By clearly showing customers where they are in the checkout process, you’re eliminating the potential worry that actually buying something from you is going to take more time than the prospect is willing to commit. It assures shoppers that they’re almost done, and they’ll soon be able to get back to looking at their favorite social platform, or whatever it is they’d rather be doing. It also helps eliminates ambiguity and makes the process clearer and easier for customers to understand. Several studies have shown that a majority of consumers prefer having a clear indication of their status in the process of completing a task, and eCommerce is no exception.

Shopping cart abandonment progress indicator

Ideally, a progress indicator should have as few steps as possible. The example above makes it clear that this three-step process is all customers have to do to finish up, making the experience more straightforward and less intimidating. As with anything else, it’s worth A/B testing variants of your progress indicators before making any firm decisions. What works wonders for one site might not necessarily work for yours, so be sure to base any decisions you make on actual data based on your site users’ behavior.

Include Thumbnail Images of Products Throughout the Purchasing Phase

Most people aren’t going to forget what’s in their shopping cart (unless they’re on a serious shopping spree), but like a progress indicator, including thumbnail images of the products they’ve placed in their cart can be another “grounding” technique that reassures the customer of what they’re purchasing.

When you buy something in an actual store, you can see whatever you’re buying right there in front of you. This might not necessarily be the case in an ecommerce experience. By including thumbnail images of products in the customer’s cart, you’re not just helping them remember what they’re actually doing – you’re eliminating the possibility of distraction, specifically of the hesitation a customer might experience if they can’t immediately remember what they’re buying.

Optimizing any ecommerce checkout experience is all about minimizing friction and making it as easy and comfortable as possible for customers to buy things. Including thumbnails of purchases in customers’ carts helps ground the visitor throughout the process and greatly reduces the risk that they’ll abandon their cart in a moment of apprehension or hesitation.

Make Navigation Between Cart and Store Easy
Consumers rarely decide on a purchase, efficiently and quickly find and select it, and check out in a single streamlined experience. Just like in a real store, shopping online can be indirect and far from the straight path from the asile to the supermarket register. The easier you make it for customers to move between their cart and your store, the more likely they are to stick with it and actually check out.

However, while making navigation between a shopping cart and an ecommerce store is one of the most effective ways of reducing friction during the checkout process, it’s also one of the hardest to get right. Even gigantic ecommerce retailers like Amazon are constantly experimenting with checkout flow to precisely optimize the checkout experience and make it easier for consumers to buy more product for increased order value.

Many of the same principles of web navigation that apply to the rest of your site also apply to your checkout pages. The old web design adage of “the Back button doesn’t exist” rings especially true for your checkout process. If you force your visitor to click “Back” (or commit other crimes against web navigation) you need to rethink your navigational flow.

Make it effortless for customers to save – and later return to – their carts-in-progress, and help them to navigate your site by offering logical, intuitive navigation options between your checkout and product pages. The more work you force your prospective customers to do, the less likely they are to cross the line and convert.

Offer Multiple Payment Options – (Really a NO Brainer)
When designing your e-Commerce checkout pages, you don’t want anything – anything – to come between your customers and making a purchase. However, if you’re only offering a single payment option, you’re putting unnecessary obstacles between your prospects and your sales.

Credit card payment options are a no-brainer, but today, consumers have more choices than ever before of how to pay for goods online. PayPal is still going strong, but mobile payment systems such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet are becoming increasingly popular, particularly among younger demographics.

Offering more payment options minimizes – or eliminates – another potential reason a customer has to abandon their cart and take their business elsewhere. Sure, the more payment choices you provide, the more hassle it is for you as a business owner (and the higher your merchant services fees may be), but you’re giving your customers what they want, and that’s what it’s all about.

Include a Strong Call to Action on Checkout Pages
Many sites fail to include any calls to action on their checkout pages whatsoever. The “logic” behind this seems to be rooted in the assumption that if a prospective customer has added something to their cart, then they no longer need any incentive to actually buy it – a fatal flaw in the marketer’s mindset. On the contrary, checkout pages are the perfect place for strong, clear calls to action that strengthen the resolve of the prospect to complete their purchase.

While it’s important to include strong CTAs on your checkout pages, it’s equally important to ensure that the messaging of these CTAs is consistent with others across your site and marketing materials. Remember that you’re aiming to provide a seamless experience from entrance through purchase. If you suddenly change the tone of your CTAs on your checkout pages, this might seem a bit odd to your shoppers – even if they don’t immediately grasp why. It’s also important to make your CTAs as clear as possible.

Keep the messaging consistent throughout your CTAs, right through to your checkout process. If you favor friendly, connective language in your marketing material, maintain this tone during the checkout process. If you’re leveraging urgency or another incentive, keep this pressure on during checkout. Also be sure to use appropriate and consistent CTAs depending on where the prospect is in the process, especially if you’re using a progress indicator – don’t jump the gun and make assumptions about users’ understanding of where they are in the process.

Make Saving Carts Effortless
When shopping at a brick-and-mortar store, you either commit to buy something or you don’t. You can stand in line and wait to pay for whatever’s in your cart, or you can leave the store with nothing. Shopping online isn’t as straightforward, however. Consumers expect to take advantage of the benefits of shopping online, including the ability to return to an ongoing order – sometimes repeatedly. To improve your conversion rates, make it effortless for users to return to carts-in-progress.

Saving a shopping cart should be as easy as clicking a single button. With so many potential distractions (both in “real life” and online), you should almost expect disruption in the checkout process, which is why it’s crucial to allow shoppers to return to their carts later to complete their purchase at a time that’s convenient for them.

There are several ways you can help users save a shopping cart. You can require that users sign into their accounts or you can use browser cookies to “remember” customers’ carts without forcing them to log in (which can be either incredibly helpful or a serious invasion of online privacy, depending on the perspective of the user). Most browsers offer users the option of remembering login credentials for sites such as Amazon, reducing the friction of demanding repeated sign-ins and making it easier for users to temporarily abandon their carts and return to them later, a convenience that most online consumers have come to accept and even expect.

Ideally, saving a cart for later completion should be as easy for the user as possible – or even literally effortless. You might want to test whether saving shoppers’ carts by default helps your conversion rates, as sometimes even the most determined bargain hunter won’t think to manually save their cart. However, you choose to help prospects come back to ongoing purchases, be upfront about it. Don’t creep your customers out by saving their data without their knowledge or permission.

Offer Guest Checkout Options – Again, this should be a no-brainer.
You might see the checkout process as an invaluable opportunity to collect data about your users – and it can be – but forcing customers to create an account with your store can be a major deterrent to completing a purchase.

According to data from Invesp, failing to offer a guest checkout option is one of the leading causes of shopping cart abandonment. Approximately 14% of online shoppers indicated that forcing them to log in to complete a purchase was sufficient reason for them to abandon the process – a more serious obstacle than asking for too much information and an overly complex checkout experience:

By virtue of the nature of e-Commerce, there is a great deal of trust involved in the transaction process. Users cannot “see” what they’re buying, only images. They can’t touch it, feel it, kick the tires – they only have whatever you give them to go on, and that’s before you even take the “sending credit card information into the ether” element of the experience into account. Sure, ecommerce has come a long way since Amazon started way back in 1994(!), but there’s still a great deal of hesitation and uncertainty for online retailers to overcome.

Do whatever you can to make customers feel better about buying from you. Zappos is famous for its service and generous returns policy (which includes 365 days to make a return and free return shipping), so be equally bold in your commitment to taking care of your customers. Even if you already have an awesome returns policy, don’t hide it in the depths of a terms and conditions page – put it front-and-center somewhere in your checkout process to offset potential hesitation in your prospects.

Be Crystal-Clear About All Costs Upfront – ESPECIALLY Shipping
There are few things more frustrating about shopping online than expecting to pay one price, only to discover you’re being stung with a whole mess of hidden costs, fees, and surcharges – and one of the worst costs to discover after you’ve begun the checkout process is outrageous shipping charges.

Data from UPS suggests that, of all the costs associated with online retail, shipping costs are can be one of the greatest reasons that a purchase will be abandoned during a checkout process. Consumers absolutely hate paying for shipping costs – so much so that it’s the single biggest reason for shopping cart abandonment.

Data via UPS
Not only will a majority of consumers go to great lengths to avoid paying shipping costs, they’re also highly sensitive to how shipping costs are presented. Data from KISSmetrics reveals that unexpected shipping costs account for almost one-third of all abandoned ecommerce shopping carts:

Another factor to consider with regard to shipping is delivery estimates. If you’ve ever been presented with a vague, indeterminate estimate of how long you can expect to wait before your package will arrive, you know how frustrating this can be.

Shopping cart abandonment Google Analytics visitor flow diagram
You probably already have a solid idea of where your traffic is coming from, but seeing how your visitors actually flow through your site to your checkout experience may be quite revealing.

This approach can also help you ask smart questions about your ecommerce strategy as well as answer them. Are your conversion rates being affected by traffic from foreign countries dropping off due to your shipping options? Is there a bottleneck you weren’t aware of in some of your product pages? Is your site navigation more confusing to visitors than you thought? These are all questions that can help you refine your ecommerce experience, and examining your visitor flow and conversion pathways in Google Analytics is an excellent way to identify these questions.

Optimize Your Page Load Times
According to Visual Website Optimizer, ecommerce shopping cart conversion rates drop 7% for every one-second delay in your page loading. Check out pages that are slow to load practically force impatient shoppers to take their business elsewhere, so optimize your checkout pages to be as fast as possible.

Some on-page technical elements are more easily optimized than others. For example, your images should be as optimized as possible to maintain that crucial balance of quality and speed. You can also limit the use of ad network trackers, poorly implemented tags, social plugins and other page load hogs, to increase your page load times.

Other elements, however, are farther beyond your control – such as the delay between a customer clicking “Place Order” and your financial institution/payment provider actually processing their payment. If you’re aware of an inevitable delay when processing payments, consider introducing a visual representation of the delay to assure customers that something is actually happening, such as a loading bar or progress indicator. The last thing you want is for a customer to not know if they were able to successfully place their order or not, so eliminate this concern by letting them know that things are indeed happening behind the scenes and that the process will be done momentarily.

Use Remarketing to Target Abandoners
Our best tip for combatting shopping cart abandonment is to accept that some customers will inevitably abandon their carts, and go after them with remarketing campaigns later. Remarketing is absolutely essential for eCommerce retailers, perhaps more so than for any other type of online business or advertiser. If you’re not remarketing to people who came close to crossing the line, you’re effectively restricting yourself to just one shot at getting visitors to convert in a single session – an almost inconceivable feat in today’s multi-device online environment.

Facebook remarketing is perfect for targeting shopping cart abandoners. As Facebook ads are inherently visual (limiting advertisers to just 20% of available ad space for text), they’re ideal for capturing the selling qualities of your products that attracted your visitors in the first place.

However you do it, you absolutely must remarket to customers who abandon their shopping carts. Although the previous tips can help reduce shopping cart abandonment, remarketing helps you win back the prospective customers that you will lose along the way.

Contact Black Arrow Marketing and let us provide you with a site analysis to determin just what course of action should be taken to help you turn those $0.00 sales into profits!