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Ever walk into a shop, pick up a product you were intending to buy then put it back on the shelf and leaving?

It’s not uncommon, but you’re much more likely to have done it online.

Shopping cart abandonment is when a user visits an e-commerce store, adds a product to their basket and then leaves without making a purchase.

Why does this matter for online retailers?

Research by Statista shows that the rate of cart abandonment has risen by over 15% since 2006 and accounts for almost three quarters of shopping cart interactions.

To put that into monetary terms, according to a Barclaycard survey, British shoppers abandon online baskets worth almost £30 a month, potentially resulting in more than £18bn in lost sales every year.

In this article we’ll discuss the reasons users might leave your site before purchasing anything, and suggest simple and effective changes you can make to your website to help you capture those sales and increase revenue.

What causes cart abandonments?

There are several reasons that a cart abandonment would occur, many of which relate to the usability of your website.

A survey by Barmard Institute found that the most common reason causing users to leave a site without making a purchase is due to extra fees, such as shipping and handling costs, being too high.

The ten most common reasons for abandonment were:

  1. Extra costs too high
  2. Had to create an account
  3. Long or complicated checkout process
  4. Couldn’t see the total cost upfront
  5. Didn’t trust the site with card details
  6. Website errors
  7. Delivery was too slow
  8. Returns policy wasn’t satisfactory
  9. Limited payment options
  10. Credit card was declined

However, depending on the type of products you sell, there could be other factors that influence a potential customer’s decision to go through with a transaction. For example, a clothing retailer may see more abandonment caused by concerns about the product fit.

Additionally, rates of abandonment are higher on mobile devices than on desktops, likely due to many e-commerce websites not being set up to work effectively on mobile.

How to reduce cart abandonment

There will always be a percentage of users who are just browsing your online store and many won’t have any intention of buying, but there are many things that you can do to convert those customers who are in the mood to make a purchase.

1. Make total costs visible upfront

As mentioned previously, the number one reason that users abandon a purchase is that additional costs are too high - and being unable to see the total cost upfront was also cited in the top 10.

By detailing the final cost to be paid - including any delivery costs - on the first step of the checkout, users will know what to expect and won’t be put off when they click through to make an order.

2. Allow users to checkout as a guest

More than a third of users surveyed by Barmard said that they had abandoned a sale because the site required them to make an account before ordering.

While this feature is useful for repeat customers to avoid having to input the same information each time they want to buy something, it can put first time users off, especially if they were previously unaware of your brand.

By allowing users to checkout as a guest, you still have an opportunity to capture their email address for future marketing but it gives potential visitors more trust that their data is secure.

Alternatively, you can allow people to create an account after checkout. This is a good way to encourage return visitors without the risk of putting people off from making a purchase.

3. Simplify your checkout process

Users stated that long and complicated checkouts are a major source of frustration. By simplifying the way you gather information, you can still collect all of the necessary information but give users more control over the process.

Having your entire checkout process on one page gives users more visibility over how long it will take to place an order.

If you need to have the checkout split across different pages, you still can but it’s recommended that you include a process indicator. Like the single page checkout, this allows users to know how far they are from completing their order.

4. Increase trust in your brand

If you’re a small company with little brand visibility, it’s going to be more difficult to get users to trust that their data and money is secure.

There are two simple ways to increase the trust of your site:

  1. Display customer reviews - reviews from third party platforms such as Feefo or Trustpilot can be viewed as more trustworthy by website users.
  2. Become certified by trusted security brands

Shopify data showed that almost 61% of consumers had decided against making a purchase online because trust logos weren’t displayed on the checkout page.

It’s important to make sure the trust logos displayed are from organisations that users will recognise and trust, for example McAfee SECURE, Norton Secure and Verified by Visa.

You should also ensure that your website has a valid SSL certificate. Google has been encouraging businesses to obtain SSL certificates since 2014 and it is one of the trust signals that Google uses when ranking e-commerce brands.

5. Offer multiple payment options

With so many payment options available, it can seem like less of a headache to only offer one or a handful of payment options to customers. However, if a customer doesn’t have access to those options or just prefers a different approach, they might decide to not go through with their transaction.

Also consider the usability of those payment options. PayPal allows users to pay via signing into their account or inputting their card details and checking out as a guest. If the button on your site says “Pay with PayPal”, some users may drop off without realising that they don’t need to have a PayPal account to proceed.

To avoid losing revenue and new customers, ensure that your website is set up to take process sales through all of the popular payment types and clearly display the options you accept on your site.

What next?

If you’ve implemented all of these website changes and users are still abandoning their cart at a high rate, it might be that you need to review business details such as your pricing structure.

Look at whether you can do anything to improve trust in the product, for example offering free returns or trialling different delivery options - such as free or next-day delivery.

You can also implement strategies to recover users who abandoned cart through remarketing ads or targeted email marketing.

If you need help with reviewing your checkout process or actioning any of the website changes mentioned in this article, get in touch with our full-service team here or call us on 0161 402 3170