The Hostway Blog

A Dozen Ways to Avoid Getting Abandoned at the Register

Businesses that rely heavily on e-commerce – as most do these days – know that there are three principal issues which can reduce the effectiveness of their site. This blog is the second in Josh Hatfield's three-part series, “3 Problems that Plague E-Commerce Sites.” Check back in for the final entry next week.

According to a 2015 Business Insider report, about $4 trillion of purchases are abandoned annually in online shopping carts, and that number is only increasing. Many e-commerce sites experience abandonment rates between 60 and 75 percent, according to the Baymard Institute – in addition to a website bounce rate in the vicinity of 30 percent – but why are 3 out of every 4 or 5 customers failing to complete their transactions?

As you might suspect, there’s more to it than uncertainty about a purchase. Customers are turned off late notifications of additional fees, expenses related to delivery and shipping, and long delivery times. Many of these issues are not under your control. But addressing what you can affect will help keep some customers from escaping your grasp.

Here are 12 ideas for reducing cart abandonment on your e-commerce site.

Prominent Security Indicator: Any PCI-compliant site should display the padlock symbol and use an https address. These reassure the customer that they can trust you to encrypt their financial information.

Sign Up? No? OK: First-time buyers may not want to create an account at your site. Registration shouldn’t extend beyond what’s needed to complete the transaction, and should occur simultaneously with the purchase. Even if it’s the same amount of data entry, a customer doesn’t want to be told to sign up before buying something.

Multiple Payment Options: In an expanding world of transaction types, it’s important for a site to accept as many forms of payment as possible. If a prospect doesn’t see PayPal, Google Wallet, or another preferred option, it’s an immediate invitation to exit.

Free Shipping If Viable: Especially for smaller, more expensive items, free shipping can be a simple, affordable incentive for a retailer to provide. Otherwise, be sure to provide an estimated shipping cost as soon as a mailing address has been entered.

Shipping Address as Billing Address by Default: Save customers time by ensuring that they don’t have to type in the same exact address information twice. A simple checkbox will suffice, indicating that mailing address and billing address are identical.

Progress Meter: “Man, how many steps does it take to get these people to take my money?” Make sure they know with a simple linear phase indicator, letting them see how many more pages are left before they reach a purchase confirmation.

Time-Limited Offers: Some abandoned carts result from consumers simply wanting to see what the total cost would be. Incentivize purchasing now with promotional rates.

Real-Time Support: If a customer is having difficulties, or simply has questions that the website doesn’t answer, live chat via phone or web interface reinforces the idea that you care about the customer and want to earn his business.

Backlinks: Give the customer the opportunity to backtrack and revisit the catalog without using the browser’s back button. If nothing else, it’s a visual reminder that you’re not trying to trap them.

Save Cart Functionality: If a customer is interrupted during the purchasing process, or simply wants to use the shopping cart as a wish list, let them return to their selections at another time. A wish list option could also serve the second purpose.

Cross-Selling Where Appropriate: If you’re going to suggest other products a customer may be interested in during their checkout process, make sure these suggestions make sense, both in terms of expense and what the items are. A bad algorithm for picking related products can convince consumers that you don’t know what you’re doing.

Email Remarketing: If you’ve collected a consumer’s email address before they abandon their cart, contact them to remind them of their purchase in progress. Sometimes, they need an extra nudge to finish the transaction.

Embracing these characteristics will put you well on your way to offering a customer-friendly experience, and making more sales along the way.