The e-commerce environment is completely different to the brick-and-mortar store, and this is most evident at the checkout stage, where the customer must self-serve to complete the transaction. In 2013, around 68% of all online shopping carts were abandoned.
Paying attention to design and the quality of the user experience is key to reducing abandonment rates. These are 15 of the best strategies to ensure that users aren’t tempted to leave your site before conversion.
1. Avoid sign-in barriers
The number one mistake made by e-commerce retailers is setting up unnecessary hurdles for the customer. Often websites will prompt the buyer with a request to sign in (returning customers) or to create a new account (new customers).
One study found that as many as 30% of users abandoned their cart when asked to register upfront. Minimise sign-in barriers by offering returning users a faster check-out if they sign in. At the same time, offer all customers, especially first-time customers, the option of guest checkout, so they don’t have to sign up to buy.
2. Provide lots of information to buyers
Good quality information helps the user make their purchase decision and improves the user experience. Information should be relevant and detailed. Use high-resolution photos to give the buyer a good idea of what the product or service is like. Include details such as pricing, availability, sizing, detailed descriptions, thumbnails in the checkout page, and user reviews. End with a call to action, such as a large add-to-cart button.
3. Keep users updated with a progress indicator
Guide users with a progress indicator to ensure that they’re not “flying blind.” If your checkout process has three pages, let the user know where they’re at and how far they have to go before the final confirmation page.
A progress bar or similar indicator should be present and highly visible on every single page in the checkout process. Progress bars makes users feel more confident and in control of their shopping experience.
4. Make shipping costs and delivery dates transparent
Let the customer know about shipping costs and delivery dates upfront. One study showed that 55% of shoppers abandon their carts because of shopping costs, and 24% abandoned carts when delivery dates weren’t provided. By providing costs and delivery estimates from the very start, you keep customers informed while avoiding any surprises before checkout.
5. Transition seamlessly into the checkout stage
Your checkout pages should blend in with the rest of your site. Pay attention to font, colours, and other design features to create a seamless transition so buyers aren’t confronted with a visually alarming contrast when they proceed to checkout. This can create distrust with the buyer, and they may choose to abandon the cart because they are unsure whether the site is real.
6. Simplify the checkout process and navigation
Research has found that as many as 25% of buyers abandon their carts when the navigation is too complicated. Navigation should be streamlined and designed to make information and product pages accessible.
Avoid extraneous information or detour pages that aren’t essential to the checkout process. Use headings, breadcrumbs, and progress indicators as well as confirmation messages to let customers know where they are at every step of the process.
7. Delay asking for billing information
While billing information is important to the seller, asking for billing information too soon can put off customers. Customers need to be certain about shipping costs and product delivery dates before they are happy to make payment.
8. Eliminate checkout errors
Small errors can deter customers from completing their transaction. One study revealed that minor errors has led to an astounding $44 billion in lost revenue for e-retailers. Review your site and checkout pages for errors on a regular basis.
9. Measure and test continuously
Tools such as Google Analytics can be your best partners in determining when, where, and how visitors are dropping off and abandoning their cart. Use this information to constantly refine your website for a better user experience. You can also use split tests to see what impact a change to your shopping cart can make to sales eg. testing a single page checkout form with a multiple page checkout process to see which performs better.
10. Make the cart visible
The shopping cart should always be visible and just one click away for the user. Some e-commerce websites lock out shoppers from their carts unless the shopper adds another item to their cart, which is a sure way to annoy your customer and put them off buying.
11. Offer price and money-back guarantees
A study found that 63% of shoppers review the retailer’s return policy before completion. As many as 36% of buyers dropped off because they found a better price elsewhere.
Provide a price guarantee, or let shoppers know that you’re happy to match or beat any other offer they find. Offer a money-back guarantee for defective items. Make sure payment security information is always displayed on every page of the website, and that warranty information is also readily made available.
12. Offer multiple payment options
Multiple payment options can reduce cart abandonment, so provide a range of payment options, such as credit card, PayPal, Google Checkout, or other secure payment options.
13. Speed up load times
Research has shown that over half of all website visitors will leave a page if it takes three seconds or more to load. Avoid taking your customers’ patience for granted by ensuring that pages are quick to load. Check that any plug-ins and third-party services are performing optimally and not creating unwanted lags.
14. Provide a dedicated hotline
A dedicate hotline can reinforce a business’ credibility, and reassure shoppers who have queries or are nervous about supplying their billing information through a website.
15. Reassure with customer testimonials
Strong, transparent customer testimonials are one of the best ways to establish trust and convince shoppers of the quality of your products or service. Display customer testimonials throughout the checkout process to reassure your buyers.