Don’t get Scrooged: Decreasing cart abandonment this Christmas

Ecommerce By Rhys Little, 2nd December 2013

Christmas is a-coming and increasing numbers of consumers are transferring their seasonal shopping efforts from the high street to the internet, seeking a convenient bargain. Online retail has never been so popular.

This should spell great news for e-commerce businesses big and small, but there’s a sting in the tail: nearly seven in 10 visitors leave without clicking right the way through to checkout.

Research by the Baymard Institute shows that 67 per cent of shopping carts are abandoned online, which Forrester Research calculates as $31 billion (£18.98 billion) of lost revenue each year. That’s a lot of wasted opportunity and understandably, ‘cart abandonment’, as it’s known, remains a big issue for business owners.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to mitigate the situation and reduce the occurrence of cart abandonment on your website. Here are just a few:

Clear and intelligent web design with obvious call-to-actions

A quarter of online shoppers polled by WorldPay said that they gave up due to ‘complicated website navigation’. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to follow a convoluted or unclear process when it was supposed to save you some time. It’s little wonder so many people move on.

The findings emphasise the importance of simple web design that incorporates clear call-to-actions; leading visitors smoothly through from browsing products to checkout with minimum clicks and minimum fuss.

Admittedly, web coding isn’t everyone’s forte, but to create a super site it’s worth considering the help of some expert designers. They could also offer advice about the performance of the site in terms of speed, as slow responses and website crashes were similarly listed as reasons to defect.

Be clear with your total costs and consider some offers

One of the biggest frustrations with shopping online is where a merchant doesn’t disclose additional costs upfront. The unexpected addition of credit card fees, booking costs or postage can prompt visitors to exit for two reasons: firstly, it takes the total costs above their budget and secondly, most shoppers find the practice a bit sneaky.

If extra costs are applicable to your transactions, state them clearly at the earliest opportunity in order to manage your visitors’ expectations and improve your chances of a conversion.

If you can scrap some of the fees, even better, as the third and fourth biggest reasons for abandonment, as given by WorldPay’s survey respondents, pertain to expensive prices and finding an item cheaper elsewhere. Christmas might therefore be the time to launch some online discounts and offers to secure their business.

Hook in the first-timers

The survey also found that over a third of visitors didn’t make a purchase because ‘they were only browsing’. Clearly action needs to be taken to capture and convert this group and similarly, first-time visitors. Online behavioural analytics expert, SeeWhy, discovered that 99 per cent of visitors will not buy on their first visit, although three-quarters say they intend to return.

Essentially, most first-timers like to make several visits to a site before making a transaction. The analysis discovered the average delay between first visit and eventual purchase was 19 hours.

One way to encourage first-timers and browsers to buy is to present them with an instant ‘limited time’ discount code when they enter the site, in a box that pops up on the screen but stipulates the discount won’t be provided on future visits. Introductory offers may equally persuade visitors to make a purchase there and then.

Provide reassurance at the checkout

It’s common to reach checkout only to find you’ve made a mistake when shopping online, perhaps having clicked on the wrong item or ordered too many. Hence clarity – by means of an image and clear description of the item added to the cart – is as crucial as the ability to edit. Ensure that it’s easy for people to amend their order at any stage, rather than impose restrictions.

Another quick win is to provide an online or telephone help feature. Should your visitors have any questions, they’ll be able to get an answer quickly. Unanswered queries are far more likely to lead to cart abandonment.

While this would appear to be a pretty basic provision, issues surrounding payment have prompted around a fifth of visitors to ditch their purchase. These issues encompass fears over security, prices given in a foreign currency or declined cards.

With a growing number of retailers operating internationally, the ability to convert prices into local currencies is vital as it provides shoppers with exchange-rate information they might otherwise need to leave the site to find out. Offering recognised and well-renowned payment options like PayPal alongside major credit cards, plus displaying security icons can help reassure visitors that their transaction will be safe.

Remarketing and retargeting

Okay, so your visitor has left the site without making a purchase, then what?

To keep your brand and the product fresh in their minds, it might be worth considering use of a retargeting platform, whereby your ad is featured on other sites that your visitor subsequently accesses. The ad might simply display your logo or it could feature the very product which was added to the cart. It is said that retargeting can recover a significant amount of custom, so could be worth exploring.

Another option is to use an email recovery campaign – though this only works if the shopper makes it as far as your email collation stage at checkout. This gives you the ability to contact visitors with a communication that features their chosen product, promotes quality, security and value in an attempt to bring them back to your site. Ensure there’s a huge call-to-action that allows them to easily return to the checkout.

Seven in ten visitors abandon their online shopping carts – that’s a trolley-load of sales being missed. However, as is clear from the tips above, there are plenty of techniques and technology that can help you manage and reduce such abandonments. Implementing them should improve your sales prospects come Christmas and in the future.