How to Fix Checkout Process Problems to Avoid the Abandoned Shopping Cart
In real life, an abandoned shopping cart isn’t that big of a deal – it’s just something to be swept up and put away, with forgotten products put back on the shelf for later sale. However, the abandoned shopping cart takes on much stronger meaning when it comes to e-commerce: It represents something faulty in the purchase funnel, as well as potential pain points that have caused your potential customers to stop the buying process. This can be a huge drain on your online sales, and a massive frustration if you can’t figure out why it’s happening.
Fortunately, there are many ways you can discover just what’s going wrong with the online purchase process. By using data to see where the drop-off happens, you can begin to apply solutions to help keep customers with their carts – and some of these solutions are easier than you might think.
Let’s examine some of the most common issues that lead to abandoned shopping carts, and then take a look at how you can hopefully fix them once and for all.
Why Customers Abandon Their Carts – and Why It’s an Easy Fix
According to an article at Inc., in 2014, it was estimated that four trillion dollars’ worth of online merchandise will be left in abandoned online shopping carts. The number may be astounding, but when you begin to examine some of the most common problems – and when you see how prevalent they are – it might not seem so far-fetched.
For example, take two of online shoppers’ greatest concerns: sticker shock and security. In terms of the former, it’s common for consumers to move down the purchase funnel, only to abandon the cart when they see the grand total after shipping and taxes; as for the latter, more people are becoming anxious about credit card data breaches, and so they are more cautious about giving out their financial information. But what you’ll find is that these two issues, as well as many others, can be mitigated by adding simple features to the checkout page – GoECart suggests a shipping cost calculator or an SSL certificate.
And those are just a few examples – with some easy fixes, you can provide reassurances to some of the customer’s greatest worries, and potentially keep that merchandise in the shopping cart right through the purchase process. Even the Inc. article takes a more optimistic stance: “Estimates based on real market impact of existing tools implies that 63 percent (or $2.52 trillion) of that $4 trillion in unrealized revenue is recoverable. This may sound too good to be true, but research supports a belief that the scale of the opportunity at hand may be even greater than what current tools have been able to demonstrate.” It goes on to note that research has shown three-quarters of consumers who abandon their shopping carts go back to complete their purchase, whether in-store or back online.
Sometimes it just takes some additional consideration on the part of the consumer; other times, it depends on the shopping experience itself. Either way, there are many tools at the disposal of the online merchant that can help them figure out how to nudge customers into purchasing – or bring them back after they’ve walked away.
Purchase Process Problems: How to Find and Fix Them
More often than not, the shopping cart tends to be abandoned because of a difficult checkout process – either the web-savvy customer doesn’t feel like security is adequate, page loading tends to take a suspiciously long time, or they realize that the item costs more than they thought. A suboptimal checkout page can make or break a sale, which is why it’s so important to get it right as soon as the e-commerce site is launched.
An infographic at the Monetate blog has some great suggestions for what makes the perfect online checkout experience, including the ability to allow for shopping-cart changes, a clear display of security measures, a progress bar, and a diversity of payment options, among others. They also list a few nice-to-haves, such as cross-selling (which, like up-selling, needs to be done sparingly and in a very targeted manner) and the aforementioned shipping calculator that will help prevent sticker shock. Providing additional contact information is also a great idea – especially a toll-free phone number that customers can call if they need support.
Here are a few more fixes you can employ to your purchase funnel to avoid the abandoned shopping cart:
Test the process: Do frequent QA testing to make sure everything is running as it should. Pretend that you are a customer and attempt to purchase the product yourself. According to the Monetate infographic, a loss in 44 billion dollars in potential revenue is caused by minor errors in the checkout process, so it’s good to check if it might be simple mistakes in the website that are causing abandoned carts. If it’s difficult for you, it’s difficult for your customers.
Keep the cart’s purchases saved: If the cart is abandoned because of something as simple as a person walking away from their computer or accidentally closing a browser, you’re going to want to remind them that they still have purchases waiting in their cart upon their return. You can even send email reminders that their cart is waiting – especially if the items they were seeking to purchase are almost out of stock.
Deploy targeted emails: As for email, it can be one of your most powerful tools in attracting customers back to their carts. “Targeted emails from businesses following up on abandoned carts have extremely high open and click-through rates compared to standard marketing efforts,” says the article at Inc. “Try experimenting by pairing test emails with bundled offerings to incentivize customers to complete a larger transaction.” You can use analytics to track the clickthrough rate on these emails to see how much engagement you’re getting, and if you should put a more refined effort into your outreach.
Tailor your strategy to specific consumers: The blog at Hubspot argues that targeting consumers should never be a one-size-fits-all strategy. “Online shoppers who abandon shopping carts after being surprised of taxes and shipping costs should not be contacted in the same manner as shoppers who simply walked away from their computer without completing the purchase,” advises the blog post. Instead, you need to focus on the potential reasons why they abandoned their cart. For example, if the price was too high, email them a discount code. It’s worth looking at the data, and the customer’s entire purchasing journey, to see if you can ascertain the specific reason why the cart was abandoned, and then follow up with a tailored incentive to bring the customer back.
When it comes to figuring out why customers abandon their shopping carts, the digital world has an advantage on reality in that there’s a wealth of trackable data available to help figure out the problem.
Why do you think consumers tend to abandon their carts before purchase? Tell us in the comments.
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