From the Winter 2006 issue of our newsletter, Let's Grow.  For a FREE subscription, CLICK HERE.

Reducing Shopping Cart Abandonment Rates

For every four people that place a product in your web site’s shopping cart, three will likely leave without buying.  Why?  Here are some of the most common reasons:

Comparison Shopping.  Many shopping cart visitors aren’t ready to buy, they’re just comparison shopping.  They’ll compare prices including shipping, handling, and tax at several sites, and return to one later to buy.  One study shows that the delay between initial web site visits and subsequent purchase averages more than 19 hours.

Information Seekers.  Other people are searching for information such as guarantees, shipping times, and return policies.  In a paper catalog, the conventional location for such information is on the order form.  In an online catalog, there is no standard location, forcing visitors to hunt for answers.

Yet research shows that these factors are even more important to online shoppers, often trumping price as a primary factor in buying.

Confusion and Frustration.   Have you ever tried to switch an item in your shopping cart only to have problems and give up altogether?  Or have you tried to change one line of ordering information but had to clear the entire form to do so?  Common occurrences like these frustrate customers and lose sales needlessly.

Complications.  Generally speaking, the more complicated the checkout process, the more shoppers you’ll lose along the way.  Every additional checkout page costs you customers.

Privacy Concerns.  Common causes of shopping cart abandonment are sites that require registration before you order, or those that ask for excessive personal information.  In addition, many customers look for strong privacy policies before ordering.

Interruptions.  Sometimes visitors get interrupted when making a purchase.  While a paper catalog will stay on the table as a reminder, once a web site is out of site, it’s likely to be out of mind.

Improving Your Results.  While you’ll never eliminate shopping cart abandonment entirely, most companies can do quite a bit to prevent shoppers from leaving mid-sale.  For instance:

  • Disclose shipping charges prominently and early in the process.
  • Include contact information on every page of your shopping cart.
  • Provide estimated delivery dates.
  • Don’t make registration a requirement for purchasing.
  • Show your return policies and privacy policies and guarantees.
  • Specify how many steps there are to the checkout process, and include a progress indicator.
  • Try a pop-up survey to determine why people leave without buying.
  • The day after a visitor abandons their shopping cart, send them a reminder and invite them back.

Finally, once you’ve fine-tuned your shopping cart, ask several non-technical friends to give it a trial run.  Watch what they do silently.  Don’t try to help them with the process.

Abandon rates of up to 75% leave enormous room for improvement.  Even an incremental change in your abandon rate can make a tremendous difference in your bottom line.  If you think a shopping cart makeover can boost your sales, we’d be delighted to help.  Give Val Gosset a call at 203-226-7338.

Grow Your Business -- Contact Val

Helpful Articles

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