How to avoid shopping cart abandonment

All e-commerce site owners will be familiar with this strange phenomenon. You have a beautiful, easy to use site, gorgeous products and your marketing has successfully driven customers to a product they desire, they add it to their basket and then…….nothing.
They have gone to all the trouble of selecting a product, as if to buy and then instead of checking out they just abandon their products.
Now you could argue, since well over 50% of consumers are browsing on mobile, those smaller screens mean it is easier to accidentally press add to cart when you didn’t mean to. However, according to the Baymard Institute for E-commerce research, the average documented percent of shopping cart abandonment is an astonishing 68.63%. This is calculated on 33 different studies.
That is a worrying figure, suggesting that more carts are abandoned than users actually fulfilling their purchase. It would also suggest that the issue is more complex than just accidentally clicking add to cart.
In the past e-commerce marketing was focused on attractive landing pages, ease of site navigation and well displayed products. This made sense as it is all about driving people to convert. That is why shopping cart abandonment is so frustrating, both to business owners and marketers, it feels as though you have done everything right and gained your conversion with all the right techniques but somewhere between selecting a product and payment you lose the customer. Now shopping cart abandonment analysis is an essential part of your digital marketing process.
There has been a great deal of research into the reasons for shopping cart abandonment. Although it will always be a factor there are ways you can reduce the likelihood of products being abandoned in the cart of your site.
Why Shopping Cart Abandonment Happens & How to Prevent It
1) Unforeseen shipping fees: Shipping fees are a common and expected addition to the cost of a product you order online. However, statistically products with free shipping do convert better and consumers do find free shipping a motivation to purchase if well informed about it and if they like everything else about the site and products. While you should seriously consider the appeal of free shipping from your customer’s point of view, sometimes it is just not practical. Users know this, they don’t expect free shipping on every purchase they make, but what really repels them is unexpected shipping fees. Particularly when ordering a product that must be shipped abroad, shipping fees can add a considerable amount to the purchase. Sometimes tracked shipping will cost even more.
According to Visual Website Optimizer’s 2014 E-commerce Survey 28% of shopping cart abandonment took place because of unseen shipping costs. This was the biggest cause of cart abandonment.
How to Prevent It
The best thing you can do is be upfront about shipping costs. Don’t wait until a customer has started the checkout process to learn about it as this is bound to put them off. Make shipping carts as obvious and clear as you possibly can on the site and the product. In fact a shipping cost calculator feature on each product is a great way to be honest and helpful.
2) Having to create an account: Don’t you hate this? You want to buy your items as fast as possible and then have to go through a lengthy registration process because the site wants to market to you as an individual.
The average end user just doesn’t care they want to buy now. Even customers who would be open to receiving offers etc hate having their checkout process lengthened. Many sites are too focused on grabbing a user’s details so they can market to them in the future with newsletters.
How to Prevent It
Your conversions in the moment should be your top priority not your email marketing list. You should always have the option of a guest checkout that just requires an email.
Consumers hate having to remember all those fiddly passwords for every site they buy from too and you can grab their email from guest checkout anyway for future marketing. Having to create an account was the second biggest reason for cart abandonment.
3) Researching total cost: Not everyone is a maths whizz but many people are lazy. While a customer could easily calculate the total cost of their desired purchases in their head or with a calculator why would they bother when they can bung it all in the cart and have the site tell them. If the price is now too high, rather than removing some items they just abandon.
Researchers are also likely to be further up the funnel in their purchasing decision. They are not quite sure or quite ready yet. The worst part is these people can pollute your conversion data analysis. While it is difficult to convert these people it can happen. They may return of their own accord after further research.
How to Prevent It
A great way to convert this type of person is with retargeting. Utilising PPC retargeting such as AdWords Remarketing Campaigns is a good way to remind them of the products they liked while they browse elsewhere on the internet. Another way is to offer time based incentives, such as buy in the next 5 minutes to get 10%. You can also add a wish list section to your shopping cart functionality. If people can add products to a wish list you could email them when the product is on discount to try and catch that conversion.
4) Not ready to purchase or ran out of time: Mobile makes everything more convenient and faster, except sometimes life moves even faster. Someone could be killing time or procrastinating by researching products, maybe you succeeded to persuade them and they were about to convert but just ran out of time or can’t find their card or got distracted.
How to Prevent It
Many shopping carts refresh after a certain time but this will not help your conversions. Allow shoppers to leave items in the cart and come back later. Abandoned shopping cart reminder emails can be a great way to bring these easily distracted customers back.
5) Estimated Delivery Time Was Too Long: Next day delivery options and super fast deliveries from sites like Amazon make people increasingly impatient. Long delivery time can make users feel the product isn’t worth the wait. If they are ordering a gift for an occasion or birthday then this issue is particularly exaggerated as they worry it won’t arrive in time.
How to Prevent It
You can offer users the option to pay an extra fee for faster delivery. You should also provide an estimated delivery date or time of shipping and be as accurate as you can. Another excellent solution is to give customers a sense of control with great tracking for your items. This way users can be updated on exactly what is happening with their product and use their tracking link to check its status whenever they wish.
6) Preferred payment option not available: Using sites like PayPal can help provide a secure service by a third party. Why wouldn’t a user sign up for an account with a service that makes shopping safer and easier? Well exactly the same reason they don’t want to sign up for an account before purchasing, they can’t be bothered. If you don’t offer multiple payment options, including card then why should they trust your site or think it is worthy?
How to Prevent It
Always offer as many payment options as possible, including the options to pay securely by card and a few other third party checkout options. Avoid being lazy or trying to cut corners or costs with this one as it really risks shopping cart abandonment.
*An extra essential note on using checkout systems like PayPal is to make sure you go the extra effort to customise your checkout. Make sure it still looks like your website and users don’t feel like they are being shunted to a different site too much. If you are using a trading name for your company but have setup your PayPal with your official company name then this could show up in the PayPal checkout. This can make users suspect fraud and become uneasy so always ensure you have checked how your checkout procedure appears at every step and customise as much as possible.
7) Long checkout process: Even with guest checkout options the process can feel long for some users. If they have to go through lots of steps, such as choosing free samples, adding gift options and selecting delivery options. All this on top of entering their email, address and billing info can leave customers bored and increase the chances of abandonment.
How to Prevent It
If you have a progress bar feature in your checkout system users can see exactly what step they are on and how much further they need to go until completion.
8) Accidentally adding to cart: Unfortunately this is indeed a possible factor.
How to Prevent It
You can help reduce it by testing yourself how easy it is to scroll through products without accidentally clicking add to cart and experiment with the size and position of your add to cart buttons.
Final Thoughts
In your ongoing battle to prevent shopping cart abandonment and get more customers buying your products it is important to regularly review, not only your checkout process, but the entire buying experience. This offers insight into the customer’s perspective. Ask yourself what you could have done to entice them to make that purchase if there was any doubt in their mind. Could you offer free gifts to or present more high quality images of your products from different angles or why not feature fantastic reviews of the specific products from previous happy customers.