Practical Ecommerce

Lowering Shopping Cart Abandonment

As an ecommerce owner, you always want to make the checkout process as quick and smooth as possible for your own ecommerce customers. Here’s a quick checklist of simple website changes that could help you lower shopping cart abandonment.

Prominent “Add to Cart” button

Make sure that a “add to cart” button is prominent on the product page. If you must have other action buttons, make them secondary (make them smaller, a different color, etc.). If “add to cart” is intended as a primary action on your product pages, you have to visually communicate that to the user.

Reliability Elements

Since users can’t really walk up to your store to see who you really are, you’ll have to prove you’re trustworthy through others means. Third-party endorsements from such organizations as the Better Business Bureau or any other industry organizations are great. The idea is to relieve any tension associated with not knowing who they’ll be buying from.

Short Checkout Process & Progress Indicators

Don’t let your users get lost in your checkout process maze. First, let them know how far away they are from completing a purchase. Progress indicators are always great. Second, cut down on your checkout process steps. Don’t bombard them with page after page they have to fill out. If possible, set up shortcuts: Pre-populate billing address based on shipping information, automatically select shipping method, etc.

Text fields

Carefully examine all the text fields in your checkout. Do you really need somebody’s middle name or fax number? Even if those are only “optional,” first impressions created by all those fields might cost you a potential sale. Additionally, unless you plan to act on results based on “How did you hear about us?” answers in the checkout, get rid of the question. Google Analytics might provide you with more insight and save an extra field in the checkout.

Buttons & Call-to-Action

Your shopping cart buttons are your sales team as far checkout process is concerned. First, add “call-to-action” phrases to all of them: Continue With Checkout, Final Step, Finalize Purchase, Complete Purchase, etc. You should tell your customers what to do —guide them through the process with your buttons. Additionally, don’t place “remove from cart” next to “checkout.” If somebody mistakenly hits the wrong button it might have just cost you a sale. Finally, since most ecommerce stores place “primary action” buttons at the bottom right corner, which is something users are familiar with, you should follow the trend.

Confirm Order Page

This is the last page of your checkout. If they made it here they must be really motivated to buy. Make sure you reinforce that and don’t interfere in the process.
Any “30-day Money Back Guarantee” seals are great on this page — you’ll just be confirming that you stand behind your product/service. Address the concerns with transaction security by adding VeriSign, HackerSafe or similar seals to provide evidence, that as a responsible merchant, you care about your customers’ sensitive information. Remove any other distractions from the page. At this point, they are literally one click away from completing the checkout.

All of the above points should help you improve your checkout process and increase your website’s conversion rate. At the end of the day, no matter how much traffic you drive to the site, it’s the conversion-friendliness that generates revenue.

Greg Laptevsky

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Comments ( 6 )

  1. Legacy User July 12, 2007 Reply

    Good Article, Greg. Useful checklist, seems like common sense but too many stores don't follow these simple guidelines. They use flashing stuff and clowns.
    I hate clowns…

    — *Brendan*

  2. Legacy User July 13, 2007 Reply

    The best solution for this as Brendan mentions is that excessive shipping will almost always turn your customer away. You need to stay competitive by offering reasonable shipping….as far as the shopping cart is concerned I think that the solutions offering 1 page checkout are quite possibly the best. I just spoke with the guys at Webplus and they mentioned that they have a new version of their shopping cart coming out soon called Webplus Shop which offers this. What a great way to cut back on abandoned orders.

    Thanks for the great article!

    — *George*

  3. Legacy User July 12, 2007 Reply

    I have to say that they main reason I "abandon" carts is because I get to the end and there are additional fees or outrageous shipping fees. Why do I need to pay for the item, get charged more because I bought between 5 and 10 items and then pay for shipping? There are bigger places that charge little for shipping so I will abandon a store to save on shipping. Oh and if "coupon codes" suddenly don't work I am gone!

    — *Melissa*

  4. Legacy User July 22, 2007 Reply

    Greg and Melissa are absolutely right. Also, I abandon carts immediately if I am required to provide my birth date or any other piece of info that may be used by someone to steal my identity, SSAN etc. if you don't need the data to complete the sale don't ask for it.

    — *Rick*

  5. Legacy User July 24, 2007 Reply

    I tried some of these suggestions when I read them in a previous article. My best response was when I added progress numbers (i.e. Step 2 of 4) to my checkout. I am still working on lowering shipping costs on heavier items, but I think that will really help when I get there.

    — *BlueHeronOrganics*

  6. Legacy User August 3, 2007 Reply

    I have a site http://www.buystonenow.com. I also have same issue of cart abandonment. One of the solution we are looking at is a quick registration of clients where we take, name, e-mail and phone. Only then we will display the cart to the visitor. He then may choose to complete the check out process or leave. Atleast now if he leaves, we can get some feedback from him later on.

    Do you guys see any issues here? Need your expert opinions before I put this step to work.

    — *Atul Kalaskar*