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Improve Your Shopping Cart Conversions

by: | January 26, 2012

Product pages are designed to sell a visitor a particular item. However, once your visitors click that “Add to Cart” button, their entire mindset changes. As the retailer, you have to switch modes, and shift from selling them a product, towards selling them on your business.

Shopping cart conversion is crucial to your e-commerce success. Anyone who enters your shopping cart has switched from “web window shopper” to “potential customer.” By increasing your cart conversion slightly, you can make an incredible impact on your company’s bottom line.

Think about it— there are no additional marketing expenses when someone is already on your site. If they convert, it is pure profit. Unfortunately, if you have a sub-optimal shopping cart, you could be leaving huge piles of cash on the table.

Questions Your Website Needs to Answer

The ideal shopping cart checkout process should be quick, easy, and provide answers to any questions a buyer might have.

The most common question a potential buyer has (even if they are not consciously aware of it) is “why should I buy this online?” It’s your job to convince the buyer that it is to their benefit to buy online, from you, right now. You can do this in a number of ways:

  • If the product is large and/or heavy, emphasize that you deliver to their door. This allows them to avoid any heavy lifting of their own at a brick and mortar store.
  • If it is within your margins, offer free shipping. Many online shoppers wonder “why should I pay shipping if I can buy it locally and avoid this cost?”
  • Emphasize quick delivery. Some wonder why they should wait a few days for delivery when they can buy it now locally. Be sure to give them an accurate delivery date range, so that they aren’t left unsure when they’ll receive their order.
  • Offer superior customer service. If something breaks, assure them that friendly assistance is just a quick and easy phone call away.
  • Provide “trust shields” displaying that your site is safe and secure. Many are worried about having their credit card numbers stolen when ordering online. Assure them that you are a safe online store that processes hundreds of transactions daily.

Shopping Cart Usability

Because the buyer is feeling some uncertainty during checkout, you want to make the process as simple as possible. There’s nothing worse than closing a sale, only to lose a customer because of a confusing or frustrating checkout process.

If you sell a physical product, I highly recommend that you do not require a customer to create an account in order to buy. Seeing this step in the checkout process (especially if it is the first step) immediately causes the shopper to think: “Here comes the part I hate, filling out all this information!”

Instead of creating barriers to purchase, your checkout process should be smooth, quick and easy. Don’t require someone to create an account in order to buy. This typically creates a spike in shopping cart abandonment and kills your conversion rate.

I’ve found that the best performing carts have the least amount of steps. Test a checkout process that takes them immediately to their billing information. If possible, ask for their shipping information on that page as well. If their shipping and billing information is the same, don’t make your customer re-enter their information. Offer a “Ship to” drop down box with two options: “Ship to My Billing Address” and “Ship to Another Address”.

Also, try to limit the amount of unnecessary information that you ask for. If you’re requiring a fax number in order for a customer to place an order, it is time to update your checkout process. You should only require the following information:

  • Name
  • Billing Address
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Credit Card Information

See how easy that is? Just five little bits of information is all you need. There is no need to make it harder on your customers than it already is to place an order with you.Marketing Zeus

Posted in: B2C, Content, E-Commerce, Usability

About the Writer:

Travis Zboch graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2005 with a degree in Economics. One month later, he began his career in e-commerce and never looked back. In the past six years, Travis has worked on multiple multimillion-dollar startups. Through his experiences, he finds that the most fulfilling part of his online ventures is creating jobs and opportunities for others. Travis is an avid baseball fan, and often takes an objective approach to the sport, much like his approach to online marketing. You can learn more of his perspective at his blog, StoresOnSteroids.

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