Any business selling online need to know the ways to optimize their shopping carts so that as many of their customers as possible will go through with their purchase without abandoning the shopping cart. The average abandonment rate of online shopping carts is approximately 65.23 percent which is an overwhelming majority.

It is troublesome to think of getting your potential customer all the way to the shopping cart and to lose out on the sale. There are proven ways to reduce cart abandonment rates without totally overhauling your e-commerce store. While shopping cart abandonment cannot be eliminated entirely, it can be drastically reduced when you follow the best practices for designing a usable shopping cart. So what can business owners do to ensure that their customers end up checking out instead of abandoning shopping carts? These nine tips are an excellent way to start:

 

1. Offer free shipping – and make it visible

Shipping charges are a significant obstacle to conversion. Studies show 40 percent of visitors who abandon their shopping cart do so because shipping isn`t included for free. To prevent this, the best thing to do is to offer free shipping. It is a significant selling point, and an incentive for customers to shop with you, so take full advantage of this fact.

If you cannot provide free shipping throughout the year, schedule promotional periods during which you will cover delivery costs. Another possibility is to provide free shipping on orders whose total reaches a predefined threshold. A final alternative is to offer some incentive adding value to the transaction and help the customers swallow the bitter pill of delivery charges. Some incentives could be a loyalty program, a discount on a future purchase or free samples.

Apart from completing their initial purchase, customers are likely to buy more products because of free shipping. Customers who received free shipping also end up being more satisfied than those who had to pay additional fees.

 

2. Eliminate hidden charges

37 percent of visitors who do not complete their transaction said the main reason was that the shipping charges weren`t revealed until late in the process. Internet shoppers want to know what the total cost will be before they move into your purchase funnel. However, if online shoppers dislike these surprise charges, how will business owners introduce additional variable costs such as sales tax and specialized shipping? To remove that surprise, you’ll have to make all other expenses clear before they add items to their cart.

In case you have any additional fees make sure they are made clear on the product pages. How to do that when your shipping costs are variable? One way to do this is by adding a calculator or estimator within the shopping cart as early in the process as possible, so shoppers can calculate the estimated shipping cost before they hit the final stage.

 

3. Keep the cart visible all the time

24 percent of people who abandon the shopping carts do it because they want to save their items for future consideration. It can be frustrating for customers to keep backtracking and to navigate a website to find their shopping cart and check the items ready for purchase.

So, if you want your shoppers to come back to their shopping cart later, try to keep it in clear view. It could be something as simple as a cart icon in the corner of the screen that expands when you click. Another way could be to have the shopping cart that shows up on the top right side of the screen whenever you add a new item to the cart. You can also easily make the cart viewable if you want to check it as you are shopping.

Though it’s more straightforward from a technical standpoint to create customer shopping carts on a separate page from your e-commerce store, customers need ready access to the cart regardless of the page they are on.

 

4. Limit the number of steps in your checkout

21 percent of visitors who abandon their shopping cart do so because they find the checkout process too long. Do your customers need to click through a few different pages to complete a purchase? The more you can simplify the process and reduce the number of hoops a customer has to go through, the better.

One of the best ways is to eliminate unnecessary pages and streamline the process. You can also try reducing the number of stages in your purchase funnel to a single step known as “one-step checkout.”

However, what if these additional options are necessary? This is where a feature like “Express Checkout” comes in. With an “Express Checkout” option shoppers can immediately check out and complete the purchase while viewing their cart.

Even if you choose a multi-step process, it is important to remind visitors of the number of steps they can expect by displaying a progress bar and create no more than three steps. Every website is different, so you should conduct tests to find what best suits your audience.

 

5. Offer multiple payment options

 

56 percent of online shoppers want to see a variety of payment options at checkout. The payment options your customers prefer will vary, so it is essential to know your buyer persona. Do you offer the right payment options to your different audiences? If you have many customers in other countries, you may need specific modes of payment. Analyze the geographic origins of your visitors and research payment methods in each country.

In general, include a variety of necessary credit cards –like Visa, MasterCard, American Express, etc. Other fast, universal payment methods, such as PayPal, can also appeal to visitors who are reluctant to give their credit card number to e-commerce sites that are not well known or lack legitimacy. Apart from these digital payment options, you may also receive payments for online purchases via check.

Moreover, don`t forget to display the list of accepted payment methods to reassure shoppers before they even get to the payment stage.

 

6. Don`t require visitors to create an account to check out

28 percent of shoppers who abandon their carts do so because they are asked to register. Creating an account slows down the checkout process and establishes an obligation at the very beginning. Forcing visitors to create an account can be a barrier to ordering.

Fortunately, there are many alternatives. You can make registration optional but remind of the benefits of creating an account (order tracking, invitations to private sales, etc.). It leads to satisfying as many visitors as possible – those who don`t want to sign up, those who don`t care either way and those who like the loyalty programme concept.

Another option is to automatically create an account for the user without presenting it as a step in itself. This involves merely asking for a password when customers enter their contact information (name, e-mail, address, etc.). They will realize that they are creating an account, but will be engaged in an order funnel. There is no risk of abandonment as they aren`t dealing with an entirely different stage in the process.

The final alternative is asking customers to create an account after completing their purchase. At this point, it`s easier to inspire them to make this step, especially if you remind them that it enables them to track their order, access the help desk and so on.

 

7. Save the shopping cart

One of the main reasons for shopping cart abandonment is visitors sometimes using the shopping cart as a place to put aside appealing products to compare them later. 84 percent of online shoppers are comparison shoppers. They open a few windows, find similar products, compare prices and terms, and then make a final selection.

To prevent this type of behavior, you can try offering features to address visitors’ needs. Many websites have already incorporated this by allowing visitors to save their favorites or create a shopping list. It`s crucial to save shopping carts so that you can retarget users who’ve previously added something to the cart but haven’t checked out yet. Tracking and analyzing these features can give you much information about the intentions of the website visitors and how far they are in their purchase decisions.

 

8. Make customers feel safe

If your customers are ready to buy, the last thing you want to do is to give them an opportunity to back out because they don’t “feel right” about the purchase. When they shop from an e-commerce shop–particularly one they’ve never dealt with before–they want to know that they can trust the business with their credit card information. A well-designed, usable shopping cart page can help ensure these shoppers feel safe and have everything they need to make the final purchase decision.

No matter how much a visitor may want an item, they won’t buy if they don’t trust the website. Some things can and should be added to the cart that provides shoppers with an additional sense of security:

Not all e-commerce sites have the credibility and reputation of Amazon or other big name brands. If you are a little-known e-merchant, work on building confidence in your potential shoppers.

Many factors come into play, but you can start by reassuring your visitors by clearly displaying on your website all the ways that you can be reached: phone numbers and e-mail addresses of contacts (sales, billing, support, etc.), physical address, etc. If you have a trusted third party, you should display the corresponding labels or seals on the pages of your purchase funnel, starting with the shopping cart page. Including security badges and guarantees helps to instill confidence, and reduce cart abandonment.

 

9. Remind customers of their abandoned carts

Just because a customer left their shopping cart, it doesn’t mean that the transaction is over. Customers either purchase the “abandoned” items, save them for later, or clear the cart.

You can achieve a rise in transactions just by sending out email campaigns to remind customers of their abandoned carts. This makes sense because some online shoppers who abandon their carts do so because they are unprepared to make the purchase. Therefore, online store owners should give customers the option to complete their purchase when they are ready.

Apart from email reminders, another way to remind customers to return to abandoned carts is the “Save for Later” or “Wishlist” features, which are prevalent in most online shopping carts from established retailers.

 

Conclusion

From the tips above you can see that they aren’t just for improving conversion rates; they help make for better customer experience as well. By applying even only a few of these tips to your shopping cart, you might see your sales increase, while providing a better, more comfortable online shopping experience for your customers as well.

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