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7 Simple Methods to Decrease Abandoned Shopping Carts

15 June 2015 by Genie Lab


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Recent statistics released by web usability institute Baymard indicate that the average shopping cart abandonment rate is 68.07%. That’s nearly three quarters of shoppers piling up their cart in your store and then changing their mind at the last minute. Can you imagine what that would look like at Tesco?

This has got to stop!

There’s lots of reasons this is happening and we wrote a post all about it just recently. But, while it hinted at ways to convince your customers to convert, we thought we could do one better and spell it out for you.

So, for your benefit, to peruse at your leisure, here are seven simple methods to decrease abandoned shopping carts, courtesy of your friendly ecommerce experts at TheGenieLab. You’re welcome.

1. Don’t Sneak in Surprise Charges

Just to reiterate what we told you in our recent post – 28% of shoppers abandoned their cart because of unexpected costs.

Think about it, a new customers arrives at your site, finds something they want at a price they like and adds it to their cart. Two minutes later and then, “holy hell! I’m not paying that!” and their cart is left to perish for all eternity. Nobody likes surprise £££s. So how can you solve this problem?

Option 1: Offer Free Shipping

This will definitely get your customer’s attention, especially if you advertise it prominently. However, it could also eat into your profits. To do this effectively, you’d have to decide between absorbing the cost and slightly increasing your prices. It’s your call.

Option 2: Offer a Free Shipping Threshold

Another way to offer free shipping is to make it conditional on your customers reaching a minimum purchase threshold. When asked in a recent survey, 24% of customers would spend more to qualify for free shipping. So, take a look at your average order value (AOV) and offer free shipping at a threshold that’s just above that in order to guarantee that your profit margin on each order will remain high.

Option 3: Ask Your Customers to Register

Ask your customers to qualify for free shipping by joining a loyalty program or signing up for a mailing list – it’s a great way of making them believe that they’re getting something for free. But they are, aren’t they? Of course not! What they’re actually giving you is their valuable data and an invite into their inbox (something online shoppers are notoriously reluctant to hand over). If you’re in a really strong position (like ASOS or Amazon Prime) you could even ask customers to pay an annual fee for ‘free’ shipping.

2. Let Your Customers Sign in as Guests

There should be as few steps as possible between your customer seeing an item they want and paying for it. Compulsory registration is a barrier to purchase. It slows down the conversion process, so wherever possible, avoid it. But how can you do this?

Option 1: Make Registration Optional

Why not offer your customers the option to create an account during the checkout process, but not insist on it? This is great, because it gives you a chance to suggest the benefits of registration to your customers, but doesn’t form a barrier to purchase if they don’t want to.

Option 2: Disguise It

We mentioned briefly in a previous post that ASOS halved their cart abandonment rate by removing any mention of registering.

How did they do it? They updated their checkout experience, and now use a minimalist pre-checkout page which instead of asking new customers to register, simply asks them to ‘continue’. No barrier, nothing to think about, just the next button to click.

This is a technique that any ecommerce store could easily utilise. Your customer already expects to give you their name, their addresses (physical and email), and their payment details, all you really need now for them to create an account is a password.

Option 3: Remove it Altogether

This approach is a possibility, but there are considerable benefits to both you and your customers if they register (easy repeat purchase, personalisation etc.). Be clever about asking your customers to register and you shouldn’t have to resort to this.

(Image: Village9991 under CC BY 2.0)

Keep it Simple, Stupid

We hark back to this one a lot because it’s so important. User experience makes a massive difference when it comes to conversions – 12% of shoppers abandon their carts due to confusing checkouts alone.

If your customers can’t find what they want, are put off by confusing checkouts, or (and this is a cardinal sin) can’t access your store properly from their mobiles, they’re going to jump ship.

So how can you stop this being a problem? (We’re ditching the ‘options’ here. This stuff is mandatory.)

Improve Search Results

Your site should have a prominent search bar on every page, and it should work. Do your keyword research (and include misspellings) and only guide your customers to the results they want. Your web developer should be able to help you with this (and by the way, your web developer should be TheGenieLab).

Simplify the Checkout Experience

Your customers should be able to navigate through the conversion process intuitively, with no barriers. We’ve already discussed making registration optional, but other things you can do to streamline purchasing include only asking for essential information and being generous with your payment options (including PayPal is a big help).

Make Sure Your Checkout is Mobile-Friendly

There’s no two ways about it, your ecommerce store should be responsive. Your checkout process, however, should go even further, and be positively mobile-friendly. Think large product images, leveraging mobile UI elements, and removing distractions from the checkout page. Building enclosed checkouts is a really effective way of doing this.

(Image: Nell under CC BY 2.0)

Soup Up Your Site

A speedy site is essential, not just for conversion rates, but, since site speed was introduced as a signal for determining search rankings back in 2010, for getting visitors to your site in the first place. This KISSmetrics infographic gives you the basics on how loading time affects your bottom line (just in case you actually did need any more convincing) but more importantly, here’s some basic ways to improve yours.

Choose a Speedy Platform

Using a cloud ecommerce platform such as Shopify will ensure that your online store stays fast, no matter what your traffic. Their global server network delivers quick access to your site worldwide – so your customers will never have to wait wherever they are.

Leverage Browser Caching

Every time a browser loads a webpage, it downloads all of the web files to display them properly. By enabling browser caching, you allow these files to be stored locally in the user’s browser. Once they’ve come to your site once, their browser will already have some of the files it needs to load faster next time.

Optimize Your Images

One of the easiest ways to decrease the size of your web pages and improve the time it takes for them to load is to properly resize and optimize your images. Using image files that are larger than they will be displayed in-browser means a lot of unnecessary data is being transferred. There are lots of tools available that can help you reduce your image sizes – try TinyPNG.

(Image: Beck Gusler under CC BY 2.0)

Write a Classy Returns Policy

Buying online involves a degree of trust – your customers are relying on your products or services to live up to the expectations that you’ve created on site. So, to mitigate the risk involved, they want to know that if they’re not happy with their purchases, they can send them back.

According to a recent study by Harris Interactive, 85% of customers will stop using a retailer if their returns process is too complicated. Your returns policy should be easily accessible throughout the buying process and should include the following things:

A Reasonable Returns Period

Think about it, they’ve just ordered a product they’re not sure about and you’re pressuring them to make up their mind with a short returns window. You’re exacerbating the perceived risk on their part, and they’re going to send it back - if just to be on the safe side.

Clear Language

Use simple, concise, clear language when writing your returns policy; list all your conditions, and be upfront about them from the outset. Remember, your returns policy isn’t there to make unhappy customers happy, it’s there to encourage conversion and increase sales.

Free Returns

If your business can at all afford it, then offering free returns is a great way to encourage customers to buy. Again, it’s all about mitigating risk. The majority of your customers won’t be returning their items – they just want to know that they can.

(Image: Alan Levine under CC BY 2.0)

Put safety first

Recently, we wrote a whole blog post devoted to improving trust in your ecommerce store. It’s that important. Your customers are handing over personal and financial details and they need to know it’s to someone they can trust. For an array of easy-to-implement tips, take a look.

 

Think After Cart Abandonment

All of the tips we’ve given you so far focus on preventing your customers from abandoning their carts – but what about reaching out to those who’ve already done it? 

Abandoned Cart Recovery Emails

Emailing customers who have left items in a shopping cart is becoming common practice, and in the first year that it was introduced by Shopify, it resulted in 3.6% of abandoned carts being recovered.

Shopify has a native feature that will send these emails for you – all you need to do is choose whether you want them to be sent 6 or 24 hours after the abandonment. If you’re not using a platform like Shopify, speak to your developer and they should be able to help you out.

Remarketing

If all of the above doesn’t work, then fear not, you’ve still got one more string to your bow, and that’s remarketing. According to a recent VWO survey – 54% of shoppers will purchase products left in their carts if offered again at a discount price.

A little fast maths here: 54% of 68.07 (the average abandonment rate, for those who’ve forgotten it from way back at the beginning of this post) is 36.7. That’s right. Remarketing can increase your sales by 36.7%. Yes at a slightly reduced rate, but sales are sales, and sales are good.

TheGenieLab

If you’re starting an ecommerce store from scratch or you want to develop an existing store, then TheGenieLab can help.

Apart from offering you a huge range of useful resources (such as this one, for example) we’re also passionate, expert web developers.

We love delivering highly functional, beautifully designed ecommerce projects using Shopify, Magneto and Brightpearl. Get in touch for an informal chat today – we’d love to hear from you.


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