4 Practical Tips for Ecommerce Retailers To Overcome Cart Abandonment

Ecommerce Best Practices | 7 min read

There’s no single reason for cart abandonment, but there is one common thread as to why this pesky issue has grown into a $4.6 trillion problem: friction.

Friction exists across the online shopping experience: in shopper navigation, too many form fields, lack of payment options, and because of high and/or unexpected costs at checkout. Given these many sticking points, it’s no surprise that many shoppers fail to complete their purchases and why cart abandonment rates generally hover around 70%.

Below, we outline four best practices for retailers to address cart abandonment issues, recover lost revenue, ease the payment process and most importantly, transform a shopper’s e-commerce journey to grow sales.

Overcoming Cart Abandonment Tip No 1: Engage Customers from the Start

Internet Retailer data shows that 46.1% of cart abandonment occurs at the payment stage and 37.4% occurs at the checkout login page. Merchants often place an emphasis on engaging customers from the start of the shopping journey — which is undeniably important — but forget to extend the same great experience to the payment process. Customers who have a positive experience while navigating through product pages, but are met with friction at checkout, are more likely to abandon their purchases.

To reduce friction, you need to optimize the checkout process. The concept of checkout optimization does not need to overly ambitious; it’s just a matter of considering qualitative factors such as reducing fear, building trust and credibility, and reinforcing purchase benefits for consumers, as Shopify has noted. What it does not have to be is confined to tweaking the price of items or offering deals.

Key Takeaway: Leverage Technology to Improve Engagement Earlier in the Funnel

Despite the quantitative challenges merchants face in cart abandonment, there are qualitative ways to bolster engagement earlier in the sales journey, including checkout financing. More often than not, these solutions have streamlined the process for shoppers and paved the way for better conversion rates.

For example, merchants have begun to engage customers earlier in the funnel through chatbots such as Drift by clearly stating payment options on the homepage or through a banner ad. These integrations serve multiple purposes — they empower shoppers with greater knowledge about their purchases and how much they will cost, while encouraging them to engage with products and payments sooner.

Despite the quantitative challenges merchants face in cart abandonment, there are qualitative ways to bolster engagement earlier in the sales journey, including checkout financing.

Retailers should use solutions that enhance their ability to engage with customers once they’re on a site and retarget them once they’ve left or abandoned their carts (which we’ll discuss in more detail below). A more streamlined path to purchase is attainable by leveraging a customer’s browsing habits to re-engage them with the brand and products.

Overcoming Cart Abandonment Tip No 2: Focus on the User Experience

Retailers can see higher conversion rates by focusing on user experience across their entire website, building upon the engagement tactics we discussed in the previous section.

User experience is defined in multiple ways, but let’s focus on its application to a customer’s first interaction with a site. This touchpoint is foundational — it’s where consumers want to quickly find the items they’re looking for and seamlessly add them to a shopping cart — but just as important, consumers should be able to compare products without having to return to the previous page each time.

A successful checkout experience should feel transformational to the shopper — they can complete their purchase without entering loads of personal details, fill out too many forms, or create an account to checkout. This particularly matters when lengthy or complicated checkout forms account for approximately 39% of U.S. cart abandonments. On mobile devices, minimizing the time to checkout is a necessity, as conversion rates are estimated to be less than 2%.

…lengthy or complicated checkout forms account for approximately 39% of U.S. cart abandonments. On mobile devices, minimizing the time to checkout is a necessity, as conversion rates are estimated to be less than 2%.

Let’s state an obvious, yet not-as-widely-adopted e-commerce truth — a thoughtful UX, combined with a frictionless checkout experience, translates to more conversions. Retailers will not only benefit from conversions, but the attention they place on UX will serve them well on the retargeting front. It also means that shoppers are spending more time on your website, and with all of this data at your fingertips, you can increase the likelihood that they will return.

Key Takeaway: Transform the Shopping Journey

It takes consumers an average of 22 clicks and 2.65 minutes to checkout online, according to the PYMNTS.com January 2018 Checkout Conversion Index. On the surface this sounds amazingly fast, but mere seconds of waiting for a page to load can translate to cart abandonment and/or lower conversions. The longer it takes for a customer to checkout — and the more clicks they need to make — the greater the chances they’ll abandon the purchase.

Shoppers have more choices in choosing an e-commerce retailer. As such, retailers that do not provide a seamless shopping experience — with fewer form fills and less friction — risk losing out to growing competition.

Overcoming Cart Abandonment Tip No 3: Appeal to Desire for Personalization

Consumers value choice — both in the items they’re purchasing as well as how they pay for them. There is also an expectation from consumers that online retailers will tailor their payment options to their desires, instead of the other way around. Shoppers have become accustomed to a personalized shopping journey, which includes payment options that fit their needs.

Personalization goes beyond our first two sections surrounding engagement and UX, which is evidenced by the growing trend of offering financing earlier in the funnel. Big-ticket items can cause sticker shock — especially online — and quickly turn a customer away long before checkout. That is why financing options that allow the shopper to pay for an item through small, monthly installments — as opposed to in a lump sum — can keep these customers engaged, particularly when surfaced earlier on in the funnel.

Key Takeaway: Leverage Financing on Path to Personalization

Industry data suggests that merchants that offer three payment options, as opposed to one, increase their chances of conversion by 30%. Merchants should ensure they are using an e-commerce platform that allows for seamless integration of multiple payment options, creating a better overall user experience.

Retailers should consider payment options that allow customers to browse and navigate their shopping cart without having to enter personal credentials or credit card information before checkout. For example, merchants that have integrated digital payment options or flexible financing solutions (where their information is already saved) enabled customers to complete a payment without the added friction of account creation.

Overcoming Cart Abandonment Tip No 4: Be Transparent About Costs

Data from Statista shows that 56% of consumers abandoned their carts due to unexpected costs, which can interfere with their completion of the purchase. On top of that, 24% of shoppers indicated they didn’t complete a purchase because they were unaware of high shipping costs.

Merchants can overcome this friction point by being transparent about added taxes and shipping costs across each product page. The price displayed should reflect the full price of the item — after taxes and shipping — so that shoppers aren’t taken aback by the actual total when they get to checkout. If a customer accounts for these costs earlier in the shopping process, they’ll be less likely to be turned off by the price during checkout.

Key Takeaway: Leverage Technology To Boost Cost Transparency

One way to improve transparency without having to revamp your entire website is the integration of financing into product pages. This differs from direct payment options since it offers clarity on the true cost of their purchase, including what an item would cost over a set amount of time, including shipping and taxes.

The Big Picture: Applying Best Practices to Avoid Cart Abandonment

There’s no single reason shoppers abandon the checkout process, just as there is no sweeping solution to cart abandonment for retailers. However, inertia is not the answer when there’s a $4.6 trillion cart abandonment problem on retail’s hands. However, there is a solution that revolves around creating a holistic shopping journey that begins at the home page and serves as a helpful conversion companion to shoppers through their entire online experience.

Retailers have more access to data, technology, and alternative payment options — and can leverage those tools to better understand how, when, and why shoppers seek specific items online. The end result is an enhanced brand through better, more targeted checkout and payment solutions.

There is just cause for what we like to refer to as “retail transformation” — integrating better technology for customers so they can interact, shop, and pay their way, giving retailers the opportunity to create richer experiences. Retailers have tangible options to solve the issue of cart abandonment for good. Optimization at checkout, the application of personalized, re-targeted campaigns, and the right e-commerce platforms that allow for integrated financing options are just a few ways to transform the retail experience for good.

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