Various studies have shown that around 2/3rds of online shopping carts are abandoned often because store owners prefer to focus on the more obvious task of getting more visits to the site using search engine optimisation or by adding social sharing buttons whilst neglecting the significant gains available through conversion rate optimisation.
It would be wise for any online store owner to review their website and offering for the most common reasons why potential customers abandon their shopping cart such as:
The first element you should look at is how your shopping costs compare to the competition and customers’ expectations. Undoubtedly free shipping has historically been a marketing ploy to increase sales rates and for new entrants into markets it can make a significant difference to sales volumes and conversion rates. When Amazon increased the basket value their customers had to attain before receiving free delivery it was a big deal for many of them. But with their market position and their own fulfilment operation that can deliver exceptionally quickly they calculated that the financial return was greater than any potential loss in conversion rates.
For new entrants taking a hit on the profit per sale to gain new customers is the quickest and easiest method to achieve this goal. However, established operations should also consider adding ‘free shipping’ over certain levels.
Given that virtually all surveys we’ve seen highlight free shipping as the most important factor that encourages purchases you should consider at what rate free shipping becomes available to customers. Some retailers offer this at a £25 spend whilst others in the same market offer £45 and others £200.
Based on relatively small sales figure finding the perfect level would be impossible, you often simply have to use ‘gut feeling’ based on your view of your place in the market and relate it to the rate your competitors offer.
You can then look for greater efficiencies in the fulfilment process to make the numbers work. This may be achieved by outsourcing the fulfilment of orders via services such as ours where you can take advantage of the bulk purchase of courier services.
What’s more, adding free shipping thresholds can increase average order values significantly. Below is an example of the impact of offering free shipping when a customer spends £45 or more. It was introduced in early January 2014 where the average order rate has risen from £22 to £36:
Furthermore, make sure that your total shipping costs are obvious and clear. Many ecommerce platforms allow you to have a pseudo pop-up that states the extra amount needed to be spent to receive free delivery.
Offer Free/Easy Returns
The rate at which customers tend to return products will be different by industry but what is consistent is that offering free returns can increase sales a lot.
Again, without reams of data supporting this information then coming to this conclusion for your own website will be difficult. But a good ‘group think’ over your current returns rates and how much a doubling of the conversion rate could me to you may lead you to deciding that free returns is the best approach.
What should be evident, however, is that if you offer free shipping then it should be prominently displayed on your website.
As an aside, at Cloud Fulfilment we do offer a returns and restocking facility to customers.
They just weren’t ready to buy
Another reason that customers abandon shopping carts is that they were simply in the research phase of their purchase. But don’t let that deter you. You can ‘remarket’ to these customers using Facebook, Google Adwords and Twitter directly or use specific agencies and software providers to help you. Essentially this works by tracking people who visit your website and if they do not buy you can show them targeted adverts when they visit external web pages.
You should also incentivise customers to sign up to your newsletter so you can send them offers in the future to encourage purchasing.
Another option is to automate abandoned cart emails where you offer people that have continued part way through the shopping cart process an email giving them a discount if they complete their purchase within 24 hours.
Delivery would take too long
A Business Insider report showed that 28% of the time people abandon shopping carts because the delivery time would take too long. Obviously your goal is to make sure you have the capability to offer speedy shipping and one option for this is to outsource fulfilment where there are regular collections from couriers that offer expedited services.
If you can, on your product pages add either ‘in stock’ or ‘delivery within x’ days if ordered by 4pm as this can greatly increase conversions.
They Don’t Trust You Enough
There are three main ways to increase the levels of trust potential customers have in you:
- A prominent telephone number. Customers like to know that if anything goes wrong with your order you won’t hide behind not having a telephone number. If your business model necessitates not having one then explain that to your customers.
- Social proof – if you can show that you have thousands of followers on Facebook and Twitter then that will go some way to show that others appreciate what you do or have used your service. If you can also add this to your checkout then more gains can be made.
- Customer reviews – this not only includes allowing customers to review and rate individual products, but also the service in general. Most ecommerce platforms have modules that allow customers to easily give feedback on your products whilst you can often integrate with services such as eKomi, Trusted Shops and the like. If you can show your positive reviews at the beginning, middle and end of the purchase process then other gains can be made.
For lower basket sizes PayPal still does reign as customers may have accrued monies in their account from selling on eBay or other methods and prefer to transact with that rather than from their own bank account as the former doesn’t seem to be as ‘real’ as cash in the bank.
Conversely if you only offer PayPal then you could be perceived as not as robust a company as if you offered traditional payments methods such as via Stripe, for example.
Whichever payments gateway you use make sure the security of it is displayed prominently as this gives customers more reassurance.
Recently Google started rewarding websites with mobile capabilities. The reason is that if a potential customer is using a mobile device Google wants to display websites where those customers are more likely to be able to read the content clearly and/or transact with ease. Some websites make it difficult to transact using a mobile phone and the conversion rates will be reduced as a result. Make sure you test your buying process on a variety of devices.
Discounts and Voucher Codes
If you have a prominent field in your check-out that offers voucher codes but you don’t have any available then you are likely to encourage customers to search the internet for voucher codes and find competing websites. If you can only offer a voucher code field if you have current voucher codes available then you can marginally increase conversion rates.
If you’re able to work on your checkout process then configuring them to work one page can greatly increase conversion rates as customers wouldn’t have to wait for more pages to load.
Requiring Customers to Create Accounts
There was a period when the logic was if you required people to register before their purchase then you could resell to them later, but with remarketing available to all then there is no need to require people to give you their details and create accounts if they don’t want to.
Recommend Related Products
If you can offer products related to the ones that the customer is already looking at then you will give people more reason to transact with you. They may not be able to find those products via categorisation or search and will also help increase the shopping cart value. Also consider showing “customers also purchased these products” during the early stages of the checkout to also bolster the shopping cart and the need to transact.
Image © R. Nial Bradshaw