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Why are up to 70% of shoppers abandoning their carts?

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We’ve all been there: we’ve perused the goods on offer in our favourite online store, picked out a few special items, credit card at the ready, but at the final step we’ve decided it’s all too hard.

The desire to purchase suddenly leaves us as the effort it takes to actually buy the products we want proves too much. Result: shopping cart abandoned.

Shopping cart abandonment is a major issue for online retailers and there are several reasons for it. A recent BI Intelligence report cited the five biggest shopping cart abandonment pain points:

  • 1% of cart abandonments occur at the payment stage
  • 4% occur at checkout login
  • 7% occur once the shoppers sees shipping costs
  • 9% occur when the user needs to enter their billing address
  • 20% occur when the user needs to enter their shipping or delivery address

The US report estimates approximately $4 trillion worth of merchandise will be abandoned in online shopping carts this year, with about 63% of that potentially recoverable by online retailers: “It’s clear that US consumers have little to no desire to manually enter all of their information, so e-commerce retailers need to figure out a way to streamline this process for them.”

According to a study conducted by online user experience consultants Baymard Institute, the average documented online shopping cart abandonment rate is 68.63%. This figure was calculated as an average across 33 different studies.

In his article on ‘The State of Mobile Checkout and Form Usability’, Baymard Institute’s Jamie Appleseed identifies mobile shopping as proving to be especially difficult for retailers to get right when it comes to converting browsing shoppers into paying customers.

“Despite the benchmark being based on the mobile sites of 50 major e-commerce sites, the average checkout process and data input (i.e. form fields) experience was seriously flawed. Indeed, many usability issues are so severe that they will prevent users from completing their orders,” Appleseed says.

Appleseed says the biggest issues for retailers when to comes to mobile include:

  • the presentation of and interaction with total order cost
  • shipping options
  • account features
  • form redundancy
  • lack of field descriptions, and
  • deficient error messages.

“All these areas suffer from severe usability issues on the average mobile site, and will frequently lead to unnecessary checkout abandonments and frustrated users.”

These mobile user experience problems are troubling because of the increased focus among retailers to ensure their sites are either mobile-first or at the very least mobile-responsive.

Smart Insights analyst Dave Chaffey last year reported smartphone uptake was well past the “tipping point” and that marketers and retailers have to provide a seamless experience for users.

“The implications are clear – if you’re not able to reach your audience through mobile search or display, or you’re not providing a satisfactory mobile experience you will miss out compared to competitors who are,” Chaffey says.

However, Caffey also points out it’s dangerous for retailers to go all-in on mobile to the detriment of desktop usability.

“The data clearly shows that smartphone add-to-cart and conversion rates are much lower than for desktop – important if you’re making the business case for a mobile responsive site.”

The BI Intelligence report says an abandoned cart need not be the end of a shopper’s engagement with a retailer. In fact, 75% of shoppers say they might abandon a cart temporarily with the intention of completing a purchase at a later date. This is certainly conceivable when possible shopper behaviour scenarios such as buyer hesitation are taken into account.

The report suggests: “Retailers can reduce the rate of abandonment and increase conversions by streamlining the checkout process and also by retargeting shoppers with emails after they’ve left a website. Initial emails, sent three hours after a consumer abandons a cart, average a 40% open rate and a 20% click-through rate, according to Listrak.”

The report also says retailers at the very least need to use the data they gather from abandonments to improve the shopping experience as well as retarget consumers through marketing efforts.

Five quick tips to improve cart conversion

  1. Keep the layout of the checkout page as clear and uncluttered as possible. Don’t confuse shoppers or make it difficult for them to follow the navigation process for payment.
  2. Make sure the customer’s order details are spelled out clearly so they know exactly what they have ordered. This can save any potential post-purchase confusion.
  3. Include contact details for customers to get in touch in case they have any queries. Including a phone number for queries is not only helpful but also reassuring to customers.
  4. The shopper has come this far, so it’s a good idea to recommend relevant products for them to add to the purchase. The product recommendations should be complementary to the product/s already in the cart.
  5. Clearly itemise the shopping cart total price including any relevant costs for shipping or tax. This is so customers can be assured they will not receive any nasty shocks on their bank statements in the form of hidden costs charged. Hidden charges can leave a bitter taste in a shopper’s mouth and can stop them from making repeat purchases.

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