If you run an eCommerce website, having a cart abandonment strategy is absolutely essential. Every visitor who places an item in their cart but doesn’t buy it presents a huge missed opportunity. If they had enough interest to reach that point, you should have been able to get them over the finish line.
Unfortunately for them, many retailers consistently lose out through failing to do anything to stop cart abandonment — in this article, we’re going to cover the main causes of cart abandonment and look at how you can turn many of those failures into successes.
What is cart abandonment?
When someone visits a store, adds some items to their cart, and leave without placing an order, that’s a cart abandonment. You can relate it to someone filling up a cart in a supermarket, pushing it to the checkout, and then simply walking out.
In a physical store, retailers lose out twofold, because they lose the sales and they need to return all the items to their original places. However, the latter point tends to make real-world cart abandonment less common, because people often don’t want to inconvenience stores and will either complete their purchases or return all the items themselves before leaving.
In an eCommerce store, there may be no need to put items back, but that also removes that additional compulsion to finish buying a cart of items. If you have thirty products in your cart but you suddenly decide to go elsewhere, you can just click away — no mess, no inconvenience.
One big reason why cart abandonment is such a problem is that many people are entirely unaware of it, assuming that getting someone to the cart stage is good enough.
Why do people abandon their carts?
There are various reasons why people abandon their carts. Let’s look at some of the most frequent ones:
- They’re switching between sites to compare prices and offers, getting to the cart stage to see the tallied shipping costs and any available discounts or incentives, and have found a better offer elsewhere.
- They find the checkout process too complex and leave to find another site with a simpler system. If a site takes too many steps to finalize the purchase, it becomes not only time-consuming but also outright confusing.
- They balk at the information or actions requested of them and give up. Needing to create a user account is bad enough, but someone given twenty fields to fill out (most of which seem wholly unnecessary) then they won’t be very happy about it.
- They’re unable to use their preferred payment method and are thus similarly unable (or simply unwilling) to complete the transaction.
- They get distracted for whatever reason and go to another site or stop browsing entirely. Maybe they click away from the page, or maybe it eventually times out.
How to prevent cart abandonments?
Naturally, the best way to deal with all of this wasted traffic is to improve the sales funnel and checkout process to avoid people dropping out. Following on from the reasons we’ve looked at, this can include lowering the number of required steps, asking for less information, providing more payment options, and even improving the last-minute value propositions.
Let’s look at some more specific tactics:
- Make good use of social proof and feedback options. Social proof in the form of reviews and testimonials is vital for reassuring readers about the quality of products and services. When the customer is about to order, the good reviews will make them less likely to back out. Be sure to keep them measured and impartial to give off a genuine vibe, and request feedback to gather more reviews and keep people engaged.
- Provide as much information as possible from the outset so that people can quickly get what they need. Products, in particular, should have high-quality photos and videos, working along with carefully-written persuasive descriptions. Sometimes a shopper will back out of a cart upon realizing they’re uncertain about whether a particular feature is included, something that can be avoided if you have crystal-clear product copy.
- Allow customers to save their cart contents. If someone has decided that they’re not going to complete their order right away, having the option to save that order for later will make them considerably more likely to return to the site after leaving, and it will make them more likely to convert right away. Why? Because they’ll know that they have the option to do otherwise, making the choice feel considerably freer.
- Offer better shipping and return terms. The faster a shopper can get an item, the more urgency they’ll feel during the checkout stage — everything will seem more immediate, and they’ll become more excited about the idea of receiving it. And since a lot of stores have very restrictive return policies, reassuring someone that you will accept returns can go a long way.
- Provide an opportunity to stay. Set up your checkout to trigger a pop-up message if someone clicks on an internal link like the homepage, noting that they’re trying to leave and asking them if they really want to. This not only gives them a chance to second-guess their second-guessing but also allows the company to request some information about why they want to leave — information you can use to improve.
Don’t just make alterations to your site based on what you think might work, though. Do research. Look at the websites of your competitors, case studies of top-performing checkouts… for some local context, you should even take a look at businesses for sale in Australia. Look at anything and everything to review a wide range of eCommerce sites, learning from the strengths of the good examples and the weaknesses of the bad ones.
How to deal with cart abandonments?
Despite all the methods we’ve looked at for preventing cart abandonments, you’re never going to be able to stop them from happening entirely. Since you’re always going to have some abandonments, no matter how good your checkout is, what can you do about them?
Well, there’s not a huge amount you can do once someone has left your site, but there are a couple of things worth trying:
- Configure email automation software to send cart abandonment emails. When someone logged in on a recognized account leaves your site with something in their cart, your email system can send them a follow-up message reminding them about what they left behind and giving them the opportunity to quickly complete the order. If someone left because something got in the way, they may well be happy to be given a convenient chance to finish what they started. BigCommerce has built-in cart abandonment options.
- Set up some retargeting ads. This isn’t typically going to be as effective as email, but it can sometimes be worth it. If you set up retargeting ads specifically aimed at users with abandoned carts, a user who leaves your site and visits a page with Google AdSense enabled can be served an ad noting their unfinished order and directing them back to your checkout.
As with many such things, though, prevention is the best cure — so do your best to offer a great value proposition and hone the UX of your checkout stage. Beyond that, you should certainly set up some abandoned cart emails, and collect as much information as you can about why people abandon their carts. Over time, you can steadily bring down the rate, winning you more conversions at no significant additional cost.
Guest post by Patrick Foster – Patrick Foster is a writer and eCommerce expert for eCommerce Tips. If he ever needs to abandon a digital cart, he empties it first, because he’d feel impolite otherwise. Check out the blog, and follow along on Twitter @myecommercetips.