People love shopping. Actually, scientifically speaking, shoppers get a high when they shop. So why, then, do people leave their shopping carts filled with great stuff they found?
67 percent of shoppers leave online stores without completing their purchases
Virtual store aisles are littered with abandoned shopping carts. There are reasons for it, you know. Here's what you need to know about the top causes of cart abandonment and what you can do to keep it from happening in your online store.
It's a real problem
If only a few of your shoppers were walking away from their carts, it might be easy for you to call out to each of them. The statistics of how many shoppers walk away, however, are staggering.
According to research done by the U.K.'s Baynard Institute, 67 percent of shoppers leave online stores without completing their purchases. Put more directly, if you had 100 customers actively putting items into their carts, only 33 would complete the purchase. Troubling, right?
Why do people ditch their carts?
It boils down to one thing: There's something about you shoppers don't like. Don't take that personally, but do take it seriously. Online shoppers are picky and they're easily distracted to look outside your store even when they're actively loading up a cart. But why are they looking elsewhere when checkout is only a click away?
There are a few reasons.
1. They found a better price. It's all about comparison shopping these days, and with the Internet providing information on demand, from the home or in the palm of their hands, shoppers make a final sweep before they commit.
2. They learned about an unexpected cost. Many sites surprise shoppers with excessive shipping or processing costs. Good prices give way to unabashed gouging. Customers hate that.
Many sites surprise shoppers with excessive shipping or processing costs
3. They found it too difficult to finish. How many clicks does it take to get through your checkout? If it's more than just a few, that's invitation for another thought, impulse or reasonable doubt to convince shoppers to quit before they commit.
4. They thought it was taking too long. Shoppers' minds now work much like the Internet, random thoughts and distractions popping up in mere microseconds. If a checkout process is awkward, chances are shoppers will forget why they really want what's in their carts.
5. They didn't feel safe paying. No SSL encryption? No Verisign assurance? No other badges or beacons of "Safe Payment Ahead" in sight? If it doesn't feel safe, shoppers will bail—guaranteed!
6. They just changed their minds. And, for all the reasons just mentioned, shoppers can simply choose to decline, for any reason.
Keep in mind that these are just the most common causes of cart abandonment. The list could go on, so how do you bring customers back? Let's dive right in.
Get 'em back
1. Show all costs up front. Don't hide any fees. The more information shoppers have about final price up front, the more likely they'll buy.
Embrace the fact that some shoppers will stray away, but don't penalize them for it
2. Offer discounts and incentives up front. If you offer free shipping at a certain spend level, tell 'em quick! And if you offer discounts of any sort, provide that while shoppers are browsing.
3. Make the selection and checkout process simple. Be especially sensitive to any registrations, or sign-ups in your shopping and checkout process. Don't force customers to become "members" in order to buy (unless it creates a benefit that most won't refuse).
4. Always provide easy contact information if they have questions or need help. A toll-free phone number or live chat feature will do the trick.
5. Offer the option to save a cart and return later. Embrace the fact that some shoppers will stray away, but don't penalize them for it. Keep their carts and, if you have their contact information already, send them a reminder that their carts are waiting for them.
6. Advise them of low-inventory levels. This creates urgency and sometimes it's the only incentive needed to complete a purchase.
Keep these things in mind and you'll understand your customers better and develop a shopping experience that will help guide shoppers gleefully through the purchase process.
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Dennis L. Prince has been analyzing and advocating the e-commerce sector since 1996. He has published more than 12 books on the subject, including How to Sell Anything on eBay…and Make a Fortune, second edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and How to Make Money with MySpace (McGraw-Hill, 2008). His insight is actively sought within online, magazine, television and radio venues.
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