Cart abandonment is a widespread and growing issue, which keeps e-tailers on the lookout for new strategies to prevent and tackle it as well as to boost conversions. An average of 68.81% of digital shoppers abandon their carts before making transactions, leaving trillion dollars worth of company products in the company’s hands.
There are numerous reasons shoppers abandon their carts, which Dr. BJ Fogg has split into three categories. According to the Fogg Behavioural Model (FBM) there are three things that must occur for a ‘target behavior’ to take place, where in this context the target behavior is making a purchase online. The three things are motivation, ability and trigger.
The motivation refers to the customer’s level of need/want of the item. The core motivations include:
- Sensation: pleasure or pain
- Anticipation: hope or fear
- Belonging: social acceptance or rejection
The ability refers to the customers’ capability of doing the target behavior. Increasing the customers’ ability can be done in two ways. One is by training people, which in our case is teaching customers how to make purchases in our specific site. This is a long process that most customers are not interested in taking a part of. The second manner is by using ‘Simplicity’; making the target behavior simpler to do. According to Fogg, “Simplicity is a perception we have of the experience in accomplishing the task”, therefore it is not inherent in the product, rather in scarce resources used by customers when making the purchase. These scarce resources are the following six elements of Simplicity:
- Physical effort
- Brain cycles (brain effort, thinking)
- Social deviance (going against the norm)
- Non-routine (breaking a routine)
These elements can be measured and controlled. As there is less of each of the above elements, the task becomes simpler. A task is deemed simple until the individual does not possess a needed resource, or sufficient amount of it. The level of which these elements are perceived as simple is dependent on the individual and the context they are in. For example, a process that takes 10 minutes may be perceived too long for a busy person but an okay amount for a person with a lot of time on their hands.
The Trigger refers to the “push” that makes customers complete the behavior. This can be external (triggered by the site) or internal (triggered by a certain need of the customer). Other names include: cue, prompt, call to action, request or offer. Trigger types include:
- Facilitator (high M, low A) – shows you what to do
- Signal (high M, high A) – shows you to the place to proceed to
- Spark (low M, high A) – encourages a purchase
Triggers include emails, discount codes, free delivery over a certain value and enhancing the perceived urgency of making the purchase. Trigger emails is a very common practice that reminds customers why they initially browsed through the website and entices them to return to the website, recover their abandoned carts and make purchases. Incentives are the most common and most effective method of securing conversions via trigger email. Nevertheless, it is desirable to prevent cart abandonment before it happens to eliminate the need of remarketing methods and of offering discounts.
E-tailers can prevent the need for such methods and nip the problem in the bud by taking a series of actions to optimize the consumer shopping and checkout experience. These actions include enhancing customer’s motivation, optimizing the ability aspect of the purchase and creating other triggers to persuade customers to finalize their purchase. These actions will remarkably reduce the company’s cart abandonment rates and increase the conversion rates.
What actions should you take? Adhere to the following shopping cart abandonment prevention checklist and you will be able to correct most of the causes for your cart abandonment.
But before you begin crossing off points in the checklist – ensure you are knowledgeable of the common reasons for cart abandonment. Perhaps even survey your shoppers to fully know which reasons are most prevalent in your site. This can be done with Barilliance, which offers a simple feedback pop-up tool. Usability tools should also be used, to help record customer actions in order to determine exactly why customers tend to leave the company’s website and prevent recurrence, such tools include Inspectlet. Lastly, during this entire process, you should be continuously tracking your cart abandonment rate in order to know which changes are useful and to see your progress.
And now you are ready to go through the checklist and begin reducing your cart abandonment rate.
Have a Short and Easy to Use Checkout Process
Objective – Increase Ability
In the age of immediacy and technology, consumers expect things to happen and results to be obtained quickly and easily. Therefore, having to put time and effort in completing a transaction is a nuisance to many consumers and often a reason to quit mid-process. Indeed, Statista shows that approximately 9% of shoppers abandon their carts because of a long or confusing checkout process, while 22% of shoppers do because they were required to create a new user account (elongating the process and giving out personal details). Baymard further emphasizes this issue, citing that 1 of 4 shoppers abandons their cart in the last quarter of the checkout process due to a long or complicated process.
It has become a must for websites to deliver a fast, smooth checkout process, as Baymard found, the average, large e-tailers can increase their conversion rate by 35.26% solely by improving their checkout design. Moreover, most sites can reduce the number of their form elements by 20-60%, meaning there is room for improvement.
So how can you improve? Let’s view the following checklist.
To prevent a long checkout:
- Use minimum number of pages for the checkout process
- Use minimum number of form elements for the checkout
- Have a progress bar for the checkout process that has 3 steps
(this indicates on a quick, no-fuss process and shows the shopper their current situation)
- Have fast loading times
(this is very crucial, as Visual Website Optimizer found, a site’s conversion rates drop on average 7% per one second of delay in loading)
- Offer options for the checkout:
- Log in with an existing user account
- Make a new user account
- Checkout as a guest
- Make an account after transaction
To prevent a confusing checkout:
- Have clear calls for action (clarifying the next action)
- Have a back button to the website on the checkout page (providing freedom to the shoppers)
- Have an edit button for the product on the checkout page (providing freedom to alter the product)
The fashion e-tailer, ASOS, is a great example for implementing a short, to the point and clear checkout process. First off, ASOS allows shoppers to sign in if they have an existing account, checkout without creating an account and create an account easily and quickly, with one click, by connecting to their social media.
Secondly, when shoppers begin the checkout they have to put their email address and then go through three quick steps, with minimal number of form elements. When you complete the first step the next step is automatically revealed, until you reach the “place order” button at which the transaction is made. This approach allows a clear and flowing checkout with clear calls for action and an ability to know where in the process you are at. Additionally, the customer has the freedom to edit their cart and to go back to the website by clicking the ASOS icon at the top.
As demonstrated by ASOS, it isn’t mandatory to have the progress bar at the top of the checkout page if the process can be clearly shown differently. However, it can be a useful tool to implement, as Boohoo shows us.
Be Fully Transparent with Your Customers
Objective: prevent a decline in motivation
The primary reason for cart abandonment cited by 25% of shoppers is the irritation and dissatisfaction of customers caused by the appearance of hidden costs, including required complementary items, extra shipping costs and taxes. Transparency is very crucial nowadays, in all industries, and customers must feel that they have full knowledge over their future purchase instead of being “fooled” at the last moment.
Therefore, it is key for companies to disclose the final cost from the very beginning. An extremely effective method to prevent this is by having the initial price viewed by customers be the final price that they pay. In this case the company will include the shipping cost in the product cost and will provide ‘free shipping’, as BetterWorldBooks does. Free shipping is critical to 73% of customers to make a purchase, according to a study from E-tailing Group and encourages the majority of customers to complete the transaction.
Another option is to offer flat rate shipping, which means the shipping cost for any item is the same. A common practice is to offer flat rate shipping and free shipping if the purchase is over a certain order value. As long as this is disclosed in the beginning of the consumer journey, such as with a floating bar at the top (see ThinkGeek’s example below), transparency is in place and the shopper is not taken aback by any new costs.
In some cases, not all costs can be included in the initial price, for example perhaps a company will include shipping fees in the initial price, but not country-specific taxes or vice versa. The rest of the additional cost can be disclosed with a calculator feature which should be available to the shopper as early as possible. This can be done by using geo- targeting solutions to present customers with personalized shipping costs that are relevant to their location.
Other than preventing hidden costs, the company should disclose information in a manner that shoppers can find effortlessly. Information such as the number of shipping days, return policy, warranty information and more, should be mentioned on the FAQ, product and checkout pages.
Lastly, customers should know how many items are in stock. This allows the company not only to be fully transparent with its customers but also to encourage customers to buy if the item (or a specific size) is nearly out of stock, utilizing a sense of urgency. Another way to utilize urgency is by giving shoppers social proof, such as “x number of people are currently looking at this item”. In case the item is already out of stock, the company should offer the shopper to enter their email address or phone number to receive information when the desired item is back on stock. This is executed wonderfully by Shoptiques. For this specific item, the XL size only has one more item in stock, so the moment the shopper clicks on this size they get a ‘warning’ and an encouragement to make a purchase quickly.
It is possible to see that the S size is out of stock because of the X over the size. So when the shopper clicks on this size a pop-up screen opens with a place to enter their email address to get an email when this size is back in stock.
So in conclusion, to be fully transparent with your shoppers you should:
- Make the initial price equal the final price of the product
- Provide free shipping, flat shipping or a combination of the two
- Have a costs calculator feature
- Have information repeated on FAQ, product and checkout pages
- Notify customers of the number of items in stock and offer to notify the customer when an out-of-stock item is back in stock
- Utilize other urgency-inducing features such as personalized social proof
Offer Shoppers a Variety of Options
Objective: increase ability
We live in the age of variety and personalization, where customers assume all their needs will be attended. Therefore, if customers cannot pay with their preferred payment method they might abandon their cart. Indeed, ClickandBuy found that more than 50% of shoppers will abandon their cart if their preferred payment method is unavailable. This issue can be easily prevented by offering shoppers the widest variety of payment options possible. So to eliminate this cart abandonment reason from prevailing with your customers include as many as possible from the following payment options:
- American Express
- Local payment methods. For example AliPay in China.
One of the most inclusive online retailer is the Chinese e-commerce site Aliexpress, which accepts all of the following payment methods:
Furthermore, customers who cannot have the products shipped by their preferred method, might abandon their carts as well. Particularly if they need the product quickly and there is no express shipping so the product would arrive after it is needed, there is no use for it and the customer will abandon the cart. The most common options offered to customers are the following:
- Next day delivery
- Express shipping
- Standard shipping
- Slow shipping (saves cost)
The more options you offer your customers the more choice and more perceived control they have over the shipping cost and time. AliExpress went a step further and is giving customers the option to choose a shipping option based on the cost and number of shipping days but also based on the shipping company and whether tracking information is available. Customers have many options to choose from and are able to optimize their choice based on their preferences and needs.
Beware of the Coupons Trap
Objective: prevent a decline in motivation
When it comes to spending money, customers can be fearful, hesitant and tend to be in constant search of reasons to delay making transactions. Usability tests show that having a coupon code field on the checkout process could actually increase shopping cart abandonment. When a visitor spots the coupon or discount field in the checkout process, they might not always remember the code they’ve received via an email or a popup. In such cases, the customer often tries to look for it again, and once they wander off into cyberspace odds are they are going to get distracted and not return. Alternatively, if they haven’t been offered a code, it is possible they decide to wait until they are offered one, as they fear of missing out. This issue, cited by 8% of abandoners as their reasoning for abandonment, is particularly predominant when the coupon search bar is near the checkout and is noticeable, enhancing the idea that if they do not have any discount they are paying too much.
This serious problem can be easily solved by ending coupon code bars altogether and instead using auto-applied coupons on email campaigns. Clicking on one takes the customer directly to the site and automatically applies the coupon for them. As is shown below, no codes are needed and the customer’s remorse or distraction are avoided.
However, when email remarketing is irrelevant (such as for a first time visitor), another options is providing pop-up codes when the shopper enters the website. This also benefits the company as they obtain the shopper’s email, which allows them to ensure the customer has the code (emailing it to them) and for future email campaigns. This is often done on the Tarte website, making it a roulette-like game.
Another option is having a constant floating bar at the top of the website showing the discount, which the shopper can see at all times and therefore not have to leave the checkout page. Boohoo does this very well by showing the coupon code at every page; on the home page, product page and most importantly the checkout page.
So, to avoid the coupon trap you should incorporate at least one of the following methods:
- Use auto-apply coupon code, otherwise remove the coupon search bar option
- Use pop-up codes and make the coupon search less visible at checkout
- Show the coupon code on the floating bar
Minimize the Security Risk of Online Shopping
Objective: increase ability
Despite the prevalence with which it is used, online shopping continues to be perceived as inherently risky. Customers fear that their order may be processed incorrectly, that the website is not secure, or that their identities will be stolen upon inserting their credit card information. When customers have this fear they stop their checkout process and abandon their carts; a common occurrence as 15% of shoppers cite this reason for abandoning their carts.
Here are some things to include and present on the site to raise the website’s credibility and prevent this issue from prevailing:
- SSL certificates
- Trust seals (logos)
(according to an Actual Insights survey, if people do not see a trust logo 61% of them will not make a purchase, and if they do not recognize the logo 75% will not make a purchase)
- Logos of other known companies who cooperate with the site
- Reviews and Testimonials (on the product and checkout pages)
- Live chats (so the shopper can ask security questions if he/she is hesitant)
One great example of a site that emphasizes safety to its customers is the online shoes retailer, Zappos. Already at the cart page the site stresses that it is safe and that it provides a 24/7 customer service.
Moreover, this sidebar (see below) about Zappos’s security is present on each page of the checkout process beginning at the cart page, reiterating safety. If you click on “more information”, Zappos explains how secure the site is thanks to SSL technology encryption of information, cooperating with VeriSign, having industry standard firewalls and not sharing the customers’ personal information with anyone. Lastly, Zappos has a customer’s testimonials page with over 10,000 reviews.
Shoppers may also think that some of the details they are asked to provide about themselves are irrelevant to the process. They are wary of giving out details and question some form elements, such as providing a phone number. Baymard Institute found that 61% of people think e-tails are asking for “seemingly unnecessary” information. Companies can prevent this fear by doing one or a combination of the following:
- Minimize the number of elements in the checkout form
- Explain why seemingly irrelevant elements are needed
- Make only the vital elements necessary to fill in
- Provide a guest checkout option
As aforementioned, most of the above methods also induce a quick checkout, therefore implementing them will allow you to ‘kill two birds with one stone’.
Remind Customers of Their Carts
Objective: induce triggers
When customers are not extremely motivated to buy a product they may let the small things demotivate them from buying. The site owner can tackle this issue by reminding the shopper that they are interested in the product, why they are interested in purchasing it and reinforce the benefits (of the product and of the company). The shopper’s interest in the product can be reminded to the shopper by making the cart items visible at all times.
Shoptiques is a great example of this. When the shopper adds the item to the cart they receive a pop up screen with their item:
The shopper can also view the items in the cart anytime while browsing the site, with the drop-down menu that appears when the mouse is hovering over the cart button:
And a thumbnail picture of the item appears in the shopping cart page:
Furthermore, you should reiterate the benefits of the product or company whenever possible. For example, stating “free shipping” on every page and sidebar that is possible, including the product page, cart and checkout pages, FAQ page and more. Sephora does a wonderful job of reiterating its “free shipping over $50” deal, by stating it on the home page:
As well as motivating the customer to add items to the cart to be able to use this discount:
The free shipping aspect is also mentioned twice in the cart page: at the very top right under “MY BASKET” and at the order summary where the “shipping & handling” is said to be “FREE”.
Another reason customers may end their purchase is because of diversions, such as being distracted by a person next to them or having to suddenly leave their device, or even having their device go out of battery. Perhaps they may have just been conducting research and are not ready yet to make a purchase (motivation or finance wise). We can remind customers of their cart by saving it with buttons such as “save for later”, “hearts” or “wishlists”. These lists and the items added to the cart should be automatically saved (without needing to create an account) by using cookies. The next time the customer returns remind them of their saved cart and wishlists. This has been proven to increase conversion rates up to 70%.
For example, at Shoptiques, there is a “love box” to which items can be added by clicking the heart icon at the top of the picture of each item.
In conclusion, to remind customers of their intentions and combat distractions as much as possible do as follows:
- Remind the customers of their cart items visually (use one or more of the following):
- Have a pop up screen of the added item when added to cart
- Have a dropdown menu of the cart that is visible when browsing the site
- Have a thumbnail picture of each product in the checkout
- Reiterate benefits of the item/company at every page possible
Avoid Technical Difficulties
Objective: increase ability
Sometimes the shopper experiences technical difficulties, such as the website freezing or crashing, in which case many customers just forget about their cart or decide to return at another time. It is said to be the cause for about $44 billion of lost potential revenue. Therefore, it is crucial to minimize those technical difficulties as much as possible, especially at the checkout phase. To do so, you should be constantly monitoring your website and errors to fix them when they happen, understand why they occur and prevent them from happening again.
Following the above cart abandonment prevention checklist, you will optimize your customes’ shopping experience. You will enhance the customers’ motivation, increase their ability and induce triggers, all which will increase the likelihood of them doing the target behavior – making a purchase.
Adhering to this checklist will allow you to reduce the devastating blow of cart abandonment on your revenues. It will also diminish your need for using remarketing email techniques and emails with promotions to recover abandoned carts. Ultimately, the improved shoppers’ experience will increase their satisfaction and exponentially boost your conversion rates.