Most eCommerce store merchants focus a lot of attention on making sure their website makes a good first impression, with stunning UX design, beautiful product images and optimised front end navigation. However, it's easy to overlook its much less alluring sibling - back end! When it comes to the actual checkout experience, back end is equally, if not more important than the front end as this is your virtual cash register. The ideal visitors to your website are those that show enough interest to add to the cart, now it's up to you to get them to the finish line.
67% of buyers abandon their shopping carts without completing a purchase, meaning your sales total might only be a third of what it could be. This inevitable consequence of running an online store will have a detrimental effect on your overall conversion rate. Which is even more of a reason why you need to make sure your checkout page is prioritised as an essential part of your conversion funnel. Just like many online transactions, impulse purchases make up over 30% of online sales. Imagine you’re in a retail store: the display is so enticing that you end up going to the till with more than you planned, and when you get to the till they tell you they are having difficulties accepting your payment type.
What’s the likelihood that you will go out of your way to find another payment method, just to pay for things that you didn't even intend on buying in the first place? I'm going to guess the chances are pretty slim! It's exactly the same for online customers - the more distractions and blockers you place along the way, the less chance you have of converting them into a paying customer. Your checkout is the last impression you leave with your customer, your customers are virtually standing at the till with the product in one hand, and money in the other!
So, where do you start? To find a solution, you must pinpoint the problem, you need to figure out why people are leaving in the first place. We are going to outline some of the main reasons that customers abandon cart, and how you can fix them.
Why Shoppers Don't Complete Online Purchases
1. Ads at Checkout
It is understandable that you can make some extra cash through display advertising, especially if your website is driving a decent volume of traffic. Putting banners on your homepage or other information pages is acceptable, however you should avoid placing ad banners at the checkout. Not only will it be distracting to your customers, but it can also come across as being a bit spammy and decrease trust levels. Imagine the ad banner displays the exact product they are in the process of purchasing, but at a cheaper rate? Or perhaps something that caught their eye, and they abandon cart based on impulse. Your checkout page should encourage 100% concentration to prevent your customer’s mind from wandering off to another site.
Solution: Keep special promotions or affiliate offers for email marketing, but be very careful not to overwhelm your customers with too many offers. Aim to offer a good balance between valuable content, discounts for your products and advertising.
2. Required Account Registration
How many times have you been frustrated when you get to a checkout page, only to be asked to sign in or register for an account before you’ve completed your purchase? And more importantly, how many times has that resulted in leaving the site in search for another company with a more simplified checkout process? This is a huge turn off for online shoppers and will make them lose momentum and leave your eStore. Can you imagine being in a physical retail store, and just before you hand over cash, you're asked to fill out a form. The goal is for your customers to be able to make purchases, without having to go through other additional steps right before checkout.
Solution: Avoid unnecessary barriers between the customer and checkout. Giving your customer the option of “Continue as guest” is a great way to allow them to complete their checkout process without any distractions. Alternatively, collect contact information after checkout is completed by offering a special discount for their next purchase.
3. Asking Too Much
In some cases, merchants can be guilty of asking for more information than they will ever be able to action. Whilst it's crucial to try and understand who your customer is, collecting data before they even show they are a returning customer is not a good idea. In order for you to better target your ideal target customer, you must first collate reliable data from customers that keep coming back for more. Even if your customers seem happy to share all their personal details with you, you don’t want to risk making them lose interest halfway through and abandoning their cart, for data that might not even be useful.
Solution: Personal questions should be short, sharp and relevant. Unless it's for security purposes, questions like mother’s maiden name or favourite movie really aren't necessary. If you're not sure what questions you want to ask, refer back to your email marketing strategy. Let's assume you sell clothes, you might want to find out the gender, and then set up a segment in your email marketing platform *link to dotmailer* with monthly mailers about what's hot this season for women, and products you have that might be similar.
4. Poor UX Design
Getting the positioning and format of your checkout button is a fine art: too small and it might go unnoticed, too big and it becomes obnoxious. It's essential that your customers don’t have to waste time trying to find out where they need to go to give you money. The design of your web pages should have a clear layout, something easy to navigate with minimal effort. The look and feel of your site should be consistent throughout, to ensure that you maintain a good level of trust with your customers. Put yourself in your customer's shoes, check out other successful websites in your industry and make a note of what you love about their design. Get inspiration online, and factor that in along with E-commerce website best practices.
Solution: Sometimes it's hard to see the forest for the trees when it comes to your own online store, so it's always helpful to get a second pair of eyes. Ideally someone who hasn't been on your site before, and get them to run through the customer journey from start to finish. Ask them for an honest review of where they experienced difficulties. Alternatively you might like to try a tool like Hotjar, where you can see exactly where you customers drop off and watch recordings of their journey. The best solution is to get the advice of expert E-commerce web designers who can analyse your data and deliver a tailor made solution for your needs.
5. Review/Update Cart
Give your customers the option to review and update their cart items. Creating the flexibility to make changes gives your customer control over their shopping experience. Giving them one final rundown of what they are about to purchase, allows them to make sure they got everything they wanted to. Many customers drop off when they have to start the process all over again, due to the inability to update their carts, especially if they’ve made a mistake.
Solution: Similar to the solution in point 4, take your customer’s journey into consideration. Make a note of what you like about other carts, and if you are working with a web designer let them know exactly what you're looking to achieve.
6. Limited Security Features
Unfortunately, thanks to online fraud there are endless horror stories of people who have had their hard earned cash vanish into cyberspace, as well as countless cases of identity theft. Understandingly, customers can be sceptical when buying stuff online, so it's your responsibility to reassure them that your site is a safe place to shop online. Make sure your customers trust your site is by including security seals and credit logos. A survey found that 48% of respondents said the use of trustmarks build trust when shopping on a website they didn’t know well.
Solution: At Underwaterpistol, we take the security of eCommerce sites very seriously, which is one of the main reasons we built our own site on Shopify. Not only do they provide a trustworthy payment gateway, but also an SSL Certificate through GeoTrust® to reassure customers that their transaction is completely private and secure.
7. Page Load Delay
Page load time can be the difference between the success or the failure of an online transaction. One survey found that almost 50% of online users expect a website to load within 2 seconds, and will abandon a site that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Customers start to lose trust in a store when it takes a long time for their payment to be processed.
According to Kissmetrics, ‘79% of web shoppers who have trouble with website performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again and around 44% of them would tell a friend if they had a poor experience shopping online.’ Many of your customers might not have much patience when it comes to waiting for a page to load when trying to finalise a purchase. Unless your products are high in demand, your customers patience will wear out and they will be more likely to abandon the cart.
Solution: There are many ways to optimise your site, and reduce page load times. However, something like this is best left to the experts! If you want to see if your page load time needs work, check out Page Speed Online.
8. Surprise Delivery Charges
Avoid misleading your customers before they get to the checkout page by providing clear shipping and delivery instructions beforehand. Sites that offer free shipping should be upfront if there are requirements needed to qualify for this incentive, e.g. free shipping for all purchases over £20. 28% of customers will cancel their online purchase if a shipping fee suddenly appears on their order. Preventing unpleasant surprises will reduce the number of abandoned carts and increase your sales conversion rate. However, 80% of customers will actually purchase more if you offer free shipping.
Solution: Make sure you create clear banners at the top of each page to make delivery and shipping charges clear. Rule 101 when it comes to encouraging your customers to spend more is to offer free shopping at a certain price point. By carrying out some basic analytics on your average customers spend, you can quickly establish the sweet spot and set free shipping at that price.
9. No Subtotal Price
It's very easy for an online shopper to unintentionally add something to their shopping cart, or accidentally add more than one of the same item. Creating a clear subtotal next to the shopping cart icon means they will be aware of their mistake before they proceed to checkout. Bear in mind that customers want to know exactly how much they are spending, which should cover shipping and any additional handling fees or taxes. Don’t expect customers to start doing maths in their head, and make your checkout is an effortless part of their shopping experience.
Solution: This comes down to design, so make sure you instruct your web designers to include this feature.
10. No Estimated Delivery
Providing an estimated delivery date will reassure your online shoppers, helping to build up the anticipation of receiving their new purchase, and ultimately encourage them to finish placing their order. When a customer goes looking for a particular item, it’s safe to assume that they need it for something specific and there is a good chance that your site is not the first one they have visited.
Free shipping for a first time customer is always a great way to gaining their trust, and if you can give an estimated delivery date too you're chances of being the chosen one are significantly higher. For example, a woman needs shoes for a last minute wedding, knowing that you can deliver the shoes within 2 days will certainly be a bonus and she will be more likely to buy the shoes from you.
Don’t make your customers guess how long it will take to receive their goods, and save yourself the unnecessary customer service headache.
Solution: Shopify provides lots of amazing ways you can keep your customers informed, as they know how essential this step is towards reducing cart abandons. Why not think outside the box, and offer your customers real time updates via Facebook messenger. If you need help getting started, get in touch and we can help get you set up!
The checkout process is arguably the most important stage of any eCommerce funnel. Before you even consider new ways to drive more traffic, you need to make sure this part of the conversion funnel is airtight. Having holes in your checkout process will not only mean that you lose sales, but also potential loyal customers.
Make sure you eliminate unnecessary distractions and provide concise, necessary information. Do due diligence and put yourself in your customer’s shoes, find out who the top E-commerce players are and study their range of features. Make a list and decide what you can implement now, or if you need to delegate it to someone else. Most importantly, make sure you monitor and measure your efforts, which means avoid making too many changes all at once so you can see what's really moving the needle.
And once you have tightened up your shopping cart, you need to start thinking about how you can retarget customers who have dropped off the conversion funnel - abandon cart emails! It’s simply not possible to convert all website browsers, however having an effective email campaign in place is an incredibly successful marketing and sales tactic.
If you have any questions or would simply like a free no obligation review of your current checkout process, please feel free to contact us.