Once you lure a customer into your online store, it would be nice if they went on to make a purchase. Unfortunately, getting customers into your virtual store is only half the battle. The term "shopping cart abandonment" exists for a reason.
“Having customers exit your web store before purchasing is frustrating but inevitable," says Josh Mutzebaugh, founder of Apex Gun Parts, which carries gun accessories and parts.
“A majority of customers abandon their shopping carts before making a purchase," he says.
How Common Is Shopping Cart Abandonment?
While shoppers in brick-and-mortar stores do sometimes abandon their carts, this phenomenon happens at a significantly higher rate with e-commerce, according to Joaquin Villalba, co-founder and CEO of Nextail. (Nextail is an AI and prescriptive analytics platform that automates buying and merchandising processes.)
“The statistics vary, but the average online shopping cart abandonment rate sits at a whopping 70 percent," says Villalba. “This causes lost sales for merchants and a dissatisfactory experience for customers."
Shopping cart abandonment can be costly, adds Terry Carter, CEO of the Travertine Spa Collection, an online and brick-and-mortar lifestyle brand of skin care and aromatherapy products.
“We review metrics as a part of our daily business practices," says Carter. “On some days, shopping cart abandonment amounts to less than $100, but others it may be as high as $3,000."
Top Reasons for Shopping Cart Abandonment
Knowing the cause of shopping cart abandonment can help you pinpoint solutions. Here are some of the top reasons why shoppers leave before purchasing.
Difficult User Experience
“One of the primary reasons for shopping cart abandonment is a clunky user experience," says Linda Pophal, CEO and owner of Strategic Communications, a traditional and digital marketing company.
With a lot of shopping activity occurring on mobile phones, customers prefer as short a checkout process as possible. Getting the checkout process down to one page can be a huge help in eliminating shopping cart abandonment.
—Ryan Knoll, owner, Civil Hair and Tidy Casa
“Shopping carts that make shoppers jump through too many hoops and feature difficult, confusing processes lead to cart abandonment," she says.
Slow site speed also makes the user experience difficult and is a deterrent to online sales. Many users may abandon their shopping carts if things don't load quickly enough.
“Shoppers are put off by not knowing pricing from the beginning. Systems that have the user enter a lot of information before getting to the pricing turn shoppers off," says Pophal.
“If the shopper makes it to the price point and considers it too high, he or she will abandon the shopping cart and is likely to have an unfavorable view of your company."
Shipping Charges and/or Unexpected Fees
The advent of free shipping has made many customers averse to paying shipping fees.
Additionally, some shoppers may abandon their carts if your company doesn't offer express shipping.
Shopping cart abandonment is also likely when unanticipated fees come up during the checkout process.
Customer Account Required
Many customers dislike being forced to create a site-specific account before they can order. This adds another step to the overall process.
Limited and/or Complex Return Policies
Confusing or limited return policies aren't popular, according to Villalba.
“Consumers are turned off by strict returns policies, both online and offline," he says.
Ways to Prevent Shopping Cart Abandonment
Shopping cart abandonment can happen for reasons that merchants can't do anything about, such as browser “window shopping" and credit card decline.
But there are other abandonment reasons that can be prevented with the help of the following tactics.
1. Increase site speed.
“The faster the site loads, the more likely a customer is to complete the checkout," says Ryan Knoll. (Knoll owns men's hair care company Civil Hair and Tidy Casa, a housecleaning service—both rely on completed checkouts.)
“A lot of times, site speed can be increased by setting up a content delivery network, [or] CDN," says Knoll. (CDN refers to a group of servers that allow for faster delivery of internet content.)
“This service is free for smaller websites and can be set up quickly," he adds.
2. Simplify the checkout process.
“Online shoppers have short attention spans, and every step in the checkout process gives customers another chance to leave," says Knoll. “With a lot of shopping activity occurring on mobile phones, customers prefer as short a checkout process as possible.
"Getting the checkout process down to one page can be a huge help in eliminating shopping cart abandonment," he continues.
Autocomplete can also help simplify the checkout process, adds Tim Trampedach, founder and CEO of Torqued, a motorsports parts retailer and distributor.
“For example," Trampedach offers, "hooking in Google Maps API to autocomplete addresses is particularly useful to mobile users."
Checkout should be easy and transparent, adds Villalba.
“This includes giving the customer the choice between guest checkout and customer registration," he says. "Forcing a registration can break the buying process, particularly when it's a first-time shopper. The aim is to encourage guests to create an account over time by building trust."
3. Offer ample information.
Villalba suggests adding a progress indicator on the check-out pages.
“Doing this eliminates concerns that the checkout is going to be a long and arduous process," he says.
"Show trust symbols on check-out pages to reassure customers that you care about user security," Mutzebaugh adds. “Also make discounts—if available—easy to find online."
4. Quickly reveal shipping costs or offer free shipping.
Don't let shipping be the downfall of your website, advises Trampedach.
“Often this is the last step before payment, and users get sticker shock there," he explains. "Try to ship for free—i.e. bake the cost into the product's price, subsidize the shipping or at minimum make sure you get the lowest possible rates from at least two carriers."
“Make shipping and handling costs crystal clear, and you'll prevent shopping cart abandonment," adds Mutzebaugh. “Whether that means providing the customer with a shipping calculator on your site or clearly disclosing the costs in the product description. Customers don't want any surprises in this area."
5. Offer a friendly return policy and warranty.
Make the return process as easy and inexpensive as possible for customers. That way they'll be more likely to buy when they're on your site.
For instance, provide a return label. That way, all your customer has to do is stick the merchandise back in the package, attach the label and leave it out for the mail carrier.
6. Send shopping cart abandonment emails.
“Some customers may have wanted to check out, but got distracted or had to leave for an unrelated reason," says Knoll. “A reminder email can bring customers back.
"We get about 15 percent of our cart abandoners to complete their checkout by sending email reminders one hour, one day and three days after they abandon a cart," he says.
In his site's follow-up email after cart abandonment, Carter offers a discount or reduced shipping charge if the customer completes the purchase.
7. Take advantage of retargeting ads.
“We've all been online looking at products we wanted but decided to wait on buying," says Knoll. “Then those products start popping up when we're browsing on the internet. These are retargeting ads, which I suggest using, because they work."
Read more articles on websites.
Photo: Getty Images