May 14, 2009

Ten Ways to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment


Hostway Team

It's not enough just to draw visitors to your ecommerce Web site. Only slightly more than a quarter of your Web site visitors who add items to their shopping carts will actually buy them, according to data from MarketLive. You can lower your Web site's shopping cart abandonment rate and increase your revenue with these 10 tips:

1. Show shipping prices up front.

The number one reason customers surveyed by PayPal and comScore gave for abandoning their shopping carts was high shipping fees. These prices are typically displayed at the very end of the order process, and can significantly add to the price of the item.

You can eliminate this sales barrier by showing estimated shipping prices on the product page. If you can configure your Web site to calculate actual shipping costs based on zip code, that's even better. While some customers will undoubtedly decide not to buy the product based on the price, you will give them a good shopping experience and a reason to return in the future.

2. Allow the customer to see the price before selecting the item.

The Internet makes comparison shopping as easy as a few mouse clicks. If you don't post prices on your Web page, most shoppers will add them to the cart to see your prices. This drives up your abandonment rate when customers who were not ready to buy just wanted to check the price.

It also creates an extra, unnecessary step for visitors. No one is going to buy your product before finding out how much it costs. Show your prices upfront, and you'll make the overall shopping experience easier on your customers and lower your abandonment rates.

3. Allow customers to purchase products without signing in.

Asking your customers to create an account with you makes it easy for you to collect their information and provide a customized shopping experience.

However, customers may not want to create an account, or they may not have the time. If you want to collect information, give them the option of making their purchase without creating an account. This will help you keep customers who do not want to spend the time creating a profile on the path to the checkout page.

4. Make the checkout process as short as possible.

On the Internet, time is of the essence. A quick and easy checkout process lowers customer frustrations and gives them a more positive experience on your Web site. When the process becomes too long or seems more company-focused than customer-focused, shoppers may abandon their carts. Ask only for the information necessary for the purchase at the checkout. If you would like more information from the customer for marketing or other purposes, follow up with an email.

5. Make sure your pages load quickly.

Respect your customers' time. Ecommerce sites are typically loaded with images that may cause your pages to load slowly. Consider ways to make your Web site load quickly so that customers don't get tired of waiting and click away.

6. Protect your customers with a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate.

If you don't have an SSL certificate, be prepared to lose almost all of your site visitors before the purchase is complete. Customers want to feel safe when making online purchases and now know to look for the lock icon and https in the browser bar that goes along with having a secure checkout process.

7. Create helpful error messages on the checkout page.

Customize your error messages to help buyers figure out exactly what needs to be fixed on the checkout page. General messages that relate to missing information may not be as helpful as ones that say "please enter a valid credit card number." By directing customers directly to the information that needs to be changed, you streamline the process, giving them less time to click away.

8. Show contact information in a highly visible place.

If you offer telephone support for your online sales, your contact information should be prominently displayed throughout the entire shopping experience. This will help customers who have questions get the answers quickly and keep them engaged throughout the process.

Also, if it seems that you're hiding your contact information, you could lose your customers' trust. Remember that you're asking for sensitive financial information during an ecommerce transaction, so trust is very important.

9. Consider your international audience.

When you're selling online, there are no clear borders between countries. International customers are likely to visit your Web site. You can keep them from abandoning their shopping carts by listing the countries you ship to in a prominent place. Also, consider offering a currency converter on the Web site so they can quickly calculate pricing in their currency.

10. Send an email reminder to customers who abandon their carts.

Finally, don't automatically assume you lost the sale when someone abandons their cart. Send an email to customers reminding them of the items they placed in the cart. They may come back and make the purchase—especially if they abandoned because they ran out of time to complete the transaction.

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