How to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment: 10 No-Brainers

If you’re an online retailer, you care about reducing your shopping cart abandonment rate. ‘Nuff said. The following are 10 no-brainer ways to turn abandoned carts into completed orders.

1. Keep the cart alive

According to a study by SeeWhy, 16% of males and 26% of females abandoned a cart because they wanted to complete the purchase later. Many customers expect that their carts will remain in tact when they return. Persistent shopping carts maintain cart contents using persistent cookies.

2. Allow guest checkout

According to Forrester Research, 23% of shoppers will abandon when asked to register before checking out. Unless you absolutely must require registration, test a guest checkout and see how much it impacts conversion.

If you already have guest checkout, consider testing its placement on the page. Presenting it before the login fields (left side, so customer “sees” it first) may also give you a boost.

3. Conduct a split path test

A checkout process with many steps (pages) can appear daunting and difficult. Reducing steps in the checkout process can help. Conversion optimization guru Bryan Eisenberg recommends using no more than 4 steps, and conducting split path tests.

4. Win their trust

Security badges, SSL (secure sockets layer) certificates, lock icons, privacy policies and “shop with confidence” links can all ease a customer’s fears of sharing personal information with you.

Don’t forget to place security assurances where customers feel the most anxiety (hint: near the credit card field).

5. Use inline validation

Instead of showing errors after a form has been submitted, notify customers of incorrect input as they fill out the form using inline validation. One usability study found a 22% improvement in success rate with this tactic.

6. Decode the CVV

If you require the CVV (card verification value) code that appears on the back of the customer’s credit card, make sure you explain how to find it. Novice online shoppers may have never been asked, since retail stores don’t require it. The CVV code is only required in card-not-present situations.

7. Make the button big!

No joke, cart button size, color, text and placement can impact conversion. Marketing Sherpa credits cart button design as one of 7 tweaks that helped Newegg.com boost online sales by 30%.

Need some inspiration?

8. Provide contact info and live chat

Make sure your customer service number and live chat links are prominent in the checkout process in case there is a problem with the website or the customer needs to ask a question. A study by BoldChat found that 76% of customers want to chat about cart abandonment.

9. Optimize for performance

As we learned in our webinar Every Second Counts: How Web Performance Impacts Shopping Behavior, consumer expectations for page load speed are getting higher and higher each year. Forrester Research found 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less, and 40% would abandon if it takes more than 3 seconds. This is true not only for home pages and product pages, but each step of your checkout.

Payment gateways can often slow down your response time, especially when they are not located near the customer. Make sure you are testing regularly, in more than one geographic location, and optimizing your site with services like Strangeloop, Akamai and Gomez.

10. Pull the trigger

If you’ve captured an email address in the first steps of the checkout process, you can send a triggered email (or triggered coupon) which may save the sale.

Though easy to execute, only ~11% of the Internet Retailer 500 follow up with abandoned carts by email. Here are some tips to get you started.

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35 Responses to “How to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment: 10 No-Brainers”

  1. John Tu says:

    You forgot another important point. Give user an option to pay with PayPal, Google Checkout, or Amazon payment. Some user just don’t want to enter credit information every time.

  2. You have pretty much covered everything that I can think to improve sales before or when people abandon their shopping cart. I think that emailing customers that you have lost is a very good point.

  3. Shopping cart abandonment is a huge problem. I’m amazed how many ’1 million dollar and higher’ ecommerce sites that gets even the basics right. At the Baymard Institue we’re currently conducting an ecommerce usability study focusing on the checkout process – and during our test conducted so far we’ve found that many major sites (apple, wallmart, newegg and so on) break dozens of usability guidelines.

    Point #11 for this list would be to show estimated shipping cost and tax as early as possible in the checkout process (or at least alert the customer they will be added later).

  4. Do you have any data on Facebook Connect in e-commerce vs checkout as guest or vs registration?

    We created a free facebook connect module for Magento but still don’t have much data on how it impacts the conversion rates.

  5. Rob Smith says:

    I’d like to see some research on point 4 – while I agree with it in theory there must be a point where there are too many security badges – I’ve seen 5+ on some sites which seems excessive. I would imagine only one well placed badge does the trick, no need for anymore

  6. Shopping cart abandonment is really a big issue, especially for retailers who are using old e-commerce platforms that are hard to customize and maintain. Some really great tips on the topic here Linda and I am also a strong believer that the simpler and shorter the process the better.

  7. Even thou i do many of things ideas, I do not do all of them. I will work on getting these started soon.

    Thanks and a really good article…….

  8. Thanks for all the comments. Of course there are many more than just 10 things you can do to reduce cart abandonment, but I wanted to keep it to 10 and these are the ones I look at first when evaluating a site :) Keep your suggestions coming, let’s get a huge list going here in the comments. So we’ve had:

    #11 – Multiple payment options
    #12 – Pre-checkout tax and shipping calculation

    I’ll throw in #13 – Use SSL (secure socket layer) certificates, and make sure you renew them when they expire. Some customers will look for them.

    Who’s next?

  9. Steve says:

    #14 – High quality product images with multiple shots of the product at different angles.
    #15 – Logically structured product categories

  10. Thanks Steve, those are important conversion tips, but just to clarify, we’re looking for tips to reduce cart abandonment (optimizing the shopping cart review page and checkout process only)

  11. Hi Linda,

    Great post, you pretty much covered all important points. If I were to add anything to it, I think testing color of checkout button would be it. Many a times, the button blends so well into the overall site color scheme that consumers can’t find it easily.

    Playing with color and text (and size) of call to action is the easiest, yet most impactful test a retailer can do.

    -Paras

  12. Missed one of the most beneficial anti-abandonment tactics: eliminate distractions by using an enclosed checkout.

  13. Amit says:

    Excellent information once again Linda…another point that i would like to add is wrt “Content”…providing useful and precise information about products is as important as any of the others things listed here. Content in the form of “User reviews” and “product information” should be highlighted prominently, because that is what i look for immediately after i decide what to buy.

    If either of this is not well done, it adds to cart abandonment…well for me it does :-)

    Cheers.
    Amit

  14. @Jason B.
    I have never heard of the term enclosed checkout. What does that mean? A brief explanation, if you do not mind. Is there a URL where I can see an example of what you are talking about?

    Thanks………

    • @Audio Bible, Enclosed checkout is like what Amazon does, you are taken to a checkout without any navigation or “exit” opportunities. If you need to return to the site for any reason while you’re checking out, you’re out of luck. The theory is this increases conversion because people are less likely to get distracted by other links. I would love to see some current research / case studies validating this theory.

      @Jason B, I did not include that in the no-brainers list because I’m not convinced it’s a conversion booster (and I also personally hate it when I’m checking out online). I’d love to see some studies or examples from your own experience if you can share, maybe you can convert me on this one :)

  15. Alex F says:

    A few more tips I have used successfully:

    - Be very careful with how prominent coupon & promo code entry boxes are displayed. Often times, users will leave the site to search for a coupon only to discover a competitor.

    - If you have good return policies or money-back guarantees promote them throughout the checkout process

    - Test where to first calculate & present shipping charges (the lower = the sooner)

    - Consolidate form interactions if possible (e.g. combine a check box for the “Terms or Service” and a submit button to a single button saying “I Agree – Continue”

  16. Linda – great tips. You do a great job with your ecommerce blog!

    Several more no brainers to improve that shopping cart abandonment include:
    Related to #3, provide clear visual steps (i.e. Step 1 of 3) in the checkout process and where the customer is at any given moment. Your examples show this nicely, but it’s an underappreciated, overlooked tactic. I know Bryan Eisenberg has mentioned this too.

    Related to #11, even if your online store does not capture email addresses within the first pages of checkout, you can email those customers on your opt-in list who just abandoned, assuming you pass their information from your email marketing to your store.

    Thanks again for this list.

    David

  17. Jonathan says:

    You forgot one of the biggest ones, a coupon code box at checkout. If shoppers don’t have it when they reach checkout, they go looking for one.

  18. Gordon L. says:

    Fantastic advice as always Linda.

    Really quite surprising that only 11% follow up abandoned carts with email retargeting. My company just began experimenting with cart recovery. So far we have seen enormous potential. Were seeing anywhere from 20% to 45% recoveries out of all abandonments. The key is that you have to collect email addresses before the person has a chance to abandon. For this reason, one page checkouts have a serious problem when it comes to retargeting abandoners.

    I think the discussion about enclosed shopping carts is really intriguing. I’ve shopped on Amazon many times and never noticed it. Certainly if anyone finds more research into this area I would be interested. Perhaps we will do some in-house research on this.

    Keep up the good work!

  19. @Gordon L

    I was thinking of using (follow up abandoned carts with email retargeting) but i use a 1 page checkout. I had thought of using it on my 1 page checkout process anyway, since the email address is in the upper section of the single checkout page. I think i would catch some of the abandoners anyway.

    Any good insigths you can share? Is there a URL you can share so that i can see this in action?

  20. Joslyn says:

    Great tips! I’m currently developing an online store with my web designer and the cart has been such a nightmare! Fantastic advice, thank you.

  21. basically have to express you generate some very good points and will submit a variety of points to add shortly after a day or two.

  22. Sorry to hear about the spammer but good to know you’re on the ball and deleted their comments!

  23. We changed to an enclosed checkout in April, as part of a major overhaul.

    With our previous checkout we’d seen people abandoning and then doing things like downloading free trials of products they already had in their cart.

    With the new checkout we’ve seen a 42% increase in our cart completion rate, but because there were a number of changes it’s hard to directly attribute any of that increase to being enclosed.

  24. John Conner says:

    Has anyone seen a difference progress bar for the “main process” of a site and a separate checkout progress bar during the purchase phase?

    I remembers seeing on some site something to this effect:

    Main progress bar = step 1, step 2, step 3, purchase
    Purchase progress bar = payment, review ,checkout

    I think their purpose was to reduce possible exits out of the purchase phase by doing this (the progress bar doubled as navigation).

    Figured there are arguments for showing all steps in one progress bar or splitting it into 2 separate ones.

    • Hi John, I’m not familiar with the article you’re describing – but I’ve seen the numbered steps combined with the labels, e.g.

      Step 1: Payment
      Step 2: Review
      Step 3: Submit Order

  25. Chris says:

    Hi,

    I am looking into my first ecommerce venture and cart abandonment was something I hadn’t even considered, but your article raises some really good points for consideration – and mitigation. So thanks!

    Chris

  26. Cameron Carter says:

    Great post about the problem that is shopping cart abandonment! I recently came across this infographic for ways to avoid this trend that you may be interested in http://venpop.com/2011/how-a-wish-list-can-help-avoid-shopping-cart-abandonment-infographic/

  27. Colin says:

    I know this is an old post however it is still relevent today, so why not turn guest cart on by default everyone likes to shop fast. The the main point of shopping online is to save time and money. if your registration form has has non relevant questions and takes a age to sign up to you will leave and purchase from another shop.

  28. Simple things such as trust, payment info and a simple checkjout process (reduce the stages people go through and keep required information fields to a minimum) will help you reduce abandon rate.

    The key things to do are to make the checkout process as simple, quick and easy as possible, sign posting, reassuring and informing people along the way.

  29. Hi Uggs,

    What kind of nightmares are you having with your online store? Are the developers locally based or overseas?

    Cheers,
    Nigel

  30. “Uggs” is a spammer. I had to delete that and multiple other unintelligble comments like “jslidjlfs”

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