Shopping cart abandonment has existed since 1979 when the first ever online purchase was made. However, even with the advances in e-commerce technology, giving consumers the ability to ‘abandon’ purchases has created a rising challenge for retailers taking to e-commerce. This article will break down everything you need to know about cart abandonment, from exactly what it is, why it happens and how to prevent it in the future.
So what exactly is cart abandonment?
Cart abandonment is when shoppers put things into their online baskets, but leave before completing the transaction. It’s thought that just under £4 trillion worth of products are abandoned every single year, and it’s on the rise. Around 70% of online carts were abandoned last year alone. However, instead of ignoring the situation and potentially missing out on new and returning customers there are plenty of steps to prevent a loss of sale. The best place to start is by looking into why consumers abandon carts in the first place.
Many of the reasons shoppers abandon their baskets are rather similar to the reasons people would abandon their shopping in a real-world shop. For example:
Time is NOT on your side
Similar to choosing the shortest line in the supermarket people want things quick and they don’t want to spend ages filling out forms and waiting for loading screens. Forcing a customer to register and create an account, although useful for data, most people would rather buy and leave. Sites that don’t allow users to buy as guests see a 21% higher rate of abandonment. An example of this is shown below, the high street store Topshop only give access to customers if they sign up or have an account. Many consumers either won’t have the time or won’t want to make an account on the site so by not giving a guest checkout, could possibly lose a buyer.
Don't confuse your customers
An example of this could be a customer suddenly being presented with an unexpected cost. Information about an added cost whether it’s shipping or tax should be made clear from the start, people are not okay with paying high shipping costs especially when they’ve brought online to save cash. Also with 5 in 6 people often buying goods online out of impulse, if they realise a product will take weeks for a product to reach them they’re more likely to look elsewhere. Amazon gives a good example of how some buyers could become confused, with shipping cost not being made clear from the start. Showing buyers to have ‘free shipping’ in bold but what you have to spend not, could potentially cause problems for consumers. All information should be clearly laid out to reduce the risk of confusion.
Cautious Customers? Reassure them.
Mainly down to consumers being cautious to disclosing their personal details online, especially card details. It’s easy for people to get suspicious if too much information is requested from them. Consumers are normally comfortable shopping on large and popular e-commerce websites, but lesser known, smaller websites make it easier to be afraid of fraudulent activities. So many buyers bring their shopping process to a stop if a site begins to look dodgy. Stacks and stacks, although probably a genuine store, the layout of the website and certain elements including the numerous ‘proceed to checkout’ buttons make it look less reliable.
Are you on top of the Competition?
Much the same as real-life shopping, not every visitor is going to be a customer, many of them are “window-shopping”, comparing prices and seeing where they can get the best deal. Some consumers will put products into their baskets whilst shopping around, meaning that if they’re able to find a better deal elsewhere then their shopping cart will be abandoned.
6 steps to help businesses reduce cart abandonment
If you’re beginning to realise that your e-commerce site conversion rate isn’t what you’d expect, it may be an indicator that you shopping cart needs looking into. Big changes like this mean carefully analysing and looking into why prospects fail to make that final transaction and make you your ROI. So with an average of 67% of customers leaving without purchasing from your site, why not follow some of the most effective ways to preventing shopping cart abandonment as followed:
1. Minimise checkout stage process:
Keeping the number of steps required to make a purchase to a minimum. It’s been found that keeping these check out steps between one and seven, reduces the chance of consumers bouncing off the site. The example below clearly shows a four stage checkout, with the exact steps marked out so the consumer knows roughly how long it should take with no unexpected surprises.
2. Keep it clean and clear:
Making the process as smooth and easy as possible is the key to keeping people happy. Along with having a clean site, making directions clear is another way to reduce confusion. For example making the ‘Next’ and ‘checkout’ buttons visible. It is easy for some consumers to mistake these two buttons for the ‘delete’ or ‘clear’ buttons. Just by changing the colours to something more prominent, it can reduce risks of customers getting impatient with the checkout process. iLite's website gives a good example of a clean checkout, the buttons are big enough to differentiate between them whilst also mixing up the colours.
3. Put yourself in the customer's shoes:
The design of the page is just as important, always remember not to clutter the order page with loads of other products. Unless they are directly linked to the initial purchase, as indecisiveness can sometimes distract a customer from the overall process. The example below is of RiverIsland, they give just the right amount of space between the different sections while leaving suggested buys to the product page itself.
4. Don’t scare buyers with unexpected costs:
Unexpected costs can be a shock to many users, for example, shipping costs and tax can add on a price that buyers hadn’t accounted for. Any tax or shipping information should be made clear from the start. It’s neither fair nor the signs of a legitimate site to deceive the consumer into thinking one thing when added costs will be charged without them being aware in the first place. Giving consumers a choice of shipping, whether that is an extra cost, is a better way of managing the checkout process instead of just adding the cost on top, demonstrated below by Asos.
5. Reassure buyers it’s safe and secure:
A website’s security measures can be proven when a buyer will leave the site in search for something safer. Communication is key to your customers when dealing with their security details. It will allow them to feel comfortable when performing transactions, it’s also a good point to reassure them that their details will be handled in a secure manner. The below URL bar shows a green lock in the left-hand corner, this is a good way to judge if a company is secure and has the correct measures in place.
6. Show you’re a trustworthy company:
Showing to be a secure checkout is to show you’re a genuine company. Contact information should be visible, gaining the trust of the customers and confidence to order products from your site again. John Lewis, provide a grey box which gives the opportunity to learn more on how your details are secured. This shown below, allows people to trust handing over their details a little more.
It may seem like a daunting task in preventing shopping cart abandonment but it all comes down to putting yourself in the consumer’s shoes. Keeping in mind that even the smallest detail is the difference between a conversion and an abandoned shopping cart.