Shopping Cart Abandonment and How Online Retailers Can Avoid It

24 November 2016

Shopping Cart Abandonment and How Online Retailers Can Avoid It

According to research, 67% of online shopping carts are filled with goods and then abandoned by the shopper. A constant source of frustration for e-commerce retailers, shopping cart abandonment represents the loss of profits and customer dissatisfaction. So we’ve come up with three tips on how to prevent this:

Be upfront with costs

Budget airlines are absolutely notorious for this. A ticket to destination X only costs £1, plus VAT, plus check in, plus an item of luggage… Low-cost airlines can get away with this (some of the time at least) because air travel is still a specialist market and so customers have fewer options than with most other purchases. Generally speaking, what matters to customers is the total cost of getting an item to their door. This includes taxes, shipping and any other costs so, if you know upfront what these costs are going to be, either include them in your price or identify them clearly in the product description.

If that’s difficult when, say, you offer shipping to different countries and/or different types of shipping, then try to build in a calculator so customers can at least get a ballpark idea of what they will pay. As an absolute minimum, make customers clearly aware that these charges will be added later.

Make sure your buying process is a simple as it can be

There are three key parts to this.

1 – Make sure your site is “small-screen friendly”. Smartphones and tablets are now ubiquitous and e-retailers cannot afford to ignore them. There are free tools to assess how mobile-friendly a website is, so use one of these to check your site.

2 – Make sure your site is accessible. In the UK, this is actually a legal requirement (under the Equality Act 2010) but it’s also good business sense. Why would you want to limit your ability to take orders from paying customers? You need to be aware that there are a variety of disabilities that can impact a person’s ability to use the internet, for example visual impairments and motor impairments (shaky hands, which make it more challenging to perform fine movements). Good website design will take this into account. Again, you can check how well your site performs by making use of free, online tools.

3 – Make sure the buying process is as quick as it can be

Focus on what is necessary for the customer rather than what you would like to do and, if there is a conflict, then the customer comes first. For example, you might like to be able to upsell add-on products and - if you can do so as a seamless part of the purchase process - that is fine. But, if you need to add an extra page, then you introduce the risk of the customer just clicking to close it and, deliberately or accidentally, closing your site while they are at it. Likewise only ask for the personal data you need during the purchase process; you can always allow the customer to create an account for future use after they have made their payment. The same goes for signing up for newsletters.

Give people a gentle nudge after a certain time

If you have a person’s e-mail address, try dropping them a line to remind them about their basket and to ask if there’s anything you can do to help. That way, if there is a problem you can fix, you may get the opportunity to do so. Some retailers also offer a discount or free shipping to logged-in users who abandon their cart.