Column

Engage!

5 Reasons Why You Have Cart Abandonment Issues

5 Reasons Why You Have Cart Abandonment Issues

by: | August 7, 2012

Selling online seems easy. The thought is: “put your products online, and people will buy.” Years ago, when the Web was still being built and only the most forward-thinking businesses had websites, it was almost that easy. Today, though, selling online requires more thought, preparation, and consideration.

The heart of online selling success is your collection of customers. The happier you can make your customers, the more likely you are to make a sale. If your analytics are showing a high number of abandoned carts, you’re likely making your customers unhappy somewhere in the process.

Industry research shows cart abandonment rates range between 55 to almost 90 percent, depending on the season. Let’s take a look at how to reduce that rate for your website.

Analyze your website and your cart abandonment rate. It will give you valuable clues as to why you’re not closing online sales. Ask yourself: what step in the process are they abandoning? Is the checkout easy and painless, or does it fill your customers with stress?

Here are five reasons why your shoppers are abandoning their carts.

Your Site is Too Slow

Do you remember the sound of a dial-up modem connecting? That sound reminds us of a day in the Web’s infancy when waiting for a picture to come up or a website to finish loading was expected and normal. Unfortunately, now we online shoppers are much more fickle and even a slightly slow website can deter shoppers and wreak havoc on your sales and SEO.

According to this page speed infograph from KissMetrics:

“A one-second delay in page response can result in a 7 percent reduction in conversions.”

For small businesses, this means page load times more than one or two seconds can turn otherwise happy customers into frustrated ones and turn away even the most dedicated shoppers. That will hurt your sales. It also negatively affects your SEO score.

What can you do about it? First, take a look at how long your website takes to load. Use a tool like Google’s PageSpeed browser plug-in to help you figure out why your site is so slow, then take actions to correct the speed. If you use WordPress, consider the WPCache plugin I profiled here.

Require a Login or Registration to Check out

You don’t get married on the first date. (If you did, congratulations; You have superhuman skills!) To a lot of Web visitors, asking them to create an account before buying can seem like a marriage proposal. How do customers know if they’ll ever buy from you again or if the company will hassle them nonstop?

Online shoppers are wary of giving away too much information or registering for yet another website, so if you require your shoppers to register before they check out, you could be losing a lot of sales.

What can you do about it? Many online shopping carts allow the option to give your shoppers a choice to either register or check out as a guest. Give your shoppers a choice, but if you can’t, my recommendation is to ditch the login/registration requirement altogether. You’ll still be able to collect valuable marketing information and won’t be turning away commitment-shy customers.

Checkout is Too Complicated

How many times have you become so frustrated with something you just gave up on completing it? Now, look at your checkout process like a shopper. Is it as simple as possible? How many steps are there to complete the transaction? Would you abandon it, if you were a shopper?

What can you do about it? The easiest action is to remove steps. If you’ve got a five- to six-step checkout process, you’re asking the customer to do too much, so shrink it to no more than four steps. Appeal to your customer’s short attention span with a progress bar, so they can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Reduce the amount of information you ask for, and whatever you do, make your next/continue and finish/complete, and other buttons easy to see at a glance. If they can’t find it, they’ll look for the close window button. Everyone knows where that button is.

Surprise Information

Consumers like to feel like they’re making a good decision when they’re shopping. If you’re paying attention to their needs, you’ll give them as much information up front as you possibly can. If you surprise your shoppers on step 4 with high shipping costs or an ‘out-of-stock’ notice, you’re going to upset them and lose them. Possibly forever.

What can you do about it? Simple: be as upfront as possible with information. Let them know the shipping costs early in the checkout process. Consider adding flat rate and free shipping options. If products are out of stock, let your customers know before they click “Add to Cart.” Give them a subtotal, including any additional fees, in the first step.

No Deals/Specials/Promotions

Look, the bottom line is: online shoppers are price savvy. If you don’t offer specials or promotions and shoppers can find a better deal elsewhere, just close up your website now. Customers like feeling like they’re getting a good deal. Big retailers know this, so they offer free shipping, bundled products, free gifts, and free trials.

What can you do about it? Make your customers feel like shopping experts. Give them bundles of products that offer a discount. Offer free or discounted shipping on orders over a particular amount. Broadcast promotional coupon codes and deals for holidays and events. Consider offering free trials or free gifts to orders. The counter-intuitive result is you’ll see an uptick in the amount of the sales, as people spend a little more to get the bundle or hit the free-shipping threshold.

These days, abandoned carts are a fact of your life in online selling. No matter what you do, you’ll never get rid of them, but you should do everything you can to reduce the likeliness of it occurring, as much as possible. If your site suffers from any of these five top reasons for cart abandonment, fix them as soon as possible.

Of course this isn’t a completely exhaustive list, and there are other things you can do to reduce cart abandonment. If you have solved all five of these problems, do more research into making your site a selling machine. Look up advanced tactics like emailing customers who’ve abandoned their carts to remind them to finish their transaction, and you could see an uptick in completed sales that way, too. Be creative and consumer-minded.

Have you fixed any of these problems on your site? Do you have other tactics you use to reduce cart abandonment on your site? Tell me about it in the comments!

Posted in: Analytics, B2C, E-Commerce, Engage!, Usability

About the Writer:

Born in England and raised in the U.S., Charles Forster is the marketing director and partner at Vine & Grain, a company that creates management technologies for bars and restaurants. Prior to that position, he ran a graphic design company, Call Me Chaz, in Philadelphia, PA and Orlando, FL. He focused on branding, websites, print, video and marketing for small business clients up and down the east coast. He's a self-prescribed car nut and foodie. He's also the curator for This Is Visceral, a site devoted to poster art.

View Full Bio »

More Columns