If you want to make an eCommerce site operator’s pulse race, just mention abandoned carts. Staggeringly, nearly two-thirds of eCommerce shopping carts are abandoned. The user was interested enough in the product to click “Add to Cart”, but what happened after that? Why is the lack of follow through so prevalent? Thankfully, several studies have been performed on this frustrating issue, which can help eCommerce site owners take steps to optimize conversion (checkout) rates.
The most actionable study I’ve encountered recently was published by UPS and comScore and was reported on by Business Insider. Today, we’re going to take the data they assembled and build a simple plan of action for eCommerce optimization.
1. Offer Free or Heavily Discounted Shipping
The top reason (58%) the surveyed users didn’t complete checkout was because the shipping cost made the total order cost unexpectedly high. Clearly, reducing or eliminating shipping costs charged to the customer cuts into the bottom line of the seller, however with enough increased volume, this can still provide a great profitability boost. Additionally, an eCommerce retailer could consider adding a significantly cheaper, slower, shipping method that they normally wouldn’t, for free to customers in order to reduce abandoned carts while minimizing bottom line impact.
2. Offer a “Save Cart for Later” Option
Over 50% of surveyed users abandoned their carts because they weren’t ready to purchase yet and/or wanted to compare the total order cost including shipping with other retailers. While many eCommerce sites’ carts do remain as a cookie for a significant period of time, a dedicated Save for Later button can associate the cart contents with the specific user account, allowing the cart to be accessed from multiple devices, making the conversion process easier for the customer if they are on the go.
3. Send Cart Abandonment Follow-Up Emails
The user from #2 above adds items to their shopping cart to see the total cost including tax and shipping, and perhaps to compare the total cost to competing retailers. Then, they become distracted and never complete checkout anywhere. But all is not necessarily lost; an abandoned cart email can be automatically generated and sent to the user with a link to complete checkout, and perhaps a small discount to encourage them to convert with your eCommerce site versus a competitor. Best of all, the user need not be logged in at time of cart abandonment to receive this email; with many platforms, as long as they’ve entered their email into the checkout fields, the abandoned cart email can be triggered.
4. Allow Guest Checkout
28% of surveyed customers who abandoned their carts did so because they were required to create an account to complete checkout and didn’t wish to do so. The desire for retailers to force customers to register is understandable; it allows for better tracking and order management capabilities. However, given the fact that customers must enter their emails to complete checkout, even as guests, post-sale marketing opportunities still exist. Additionally, offering login via social networks versus creating a dedicated account with the eCommerce site itself reduces barriers to entry for the consumer and may provide additional conversion optimization.
5. Offer as Many Payment Method Options as is Feasible
Although major credit card is the most common payment method for most eCommerce customers, this is not universally true and several other fairly easy-to-integrate options exist, such as PayPal, bank transfer, and Google Checkout. Additionally, be sure all major credit cards are available for use by your customers. In the United States, Visa and MasterCard are virtually always accepted, however American Express and Discover acceptance is slightly more limited. All other things being equal, a customer would be likely to choose the retailer who accepts the credit card on which she’s building up rewards points, or the card that provides greater cash back options. 25% of survey respondents abandoned their carts because their payment method of choice was not available.
eCommerce optimization can seem a daunting, data-driven task, but by following the five simple tips above, you may be able to achieve conversion rates far better than every before. The rules are simple: make the user experience easier and cheaper than your competitors, and you can expect to reap the rewards. If you’re an eCommerce retailer looking for optimization or even a complete revamp, talk to us. We’re experts in helping our clients boost conversions through fined-tuned, data-driven user experience design.