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Shopping cart abandonment. The struggle is real.


The e-commerce space is growing, along with its complications. Consumers continue to shift their spending and purchasing habits in order to reap the benefits of e-commerce, including the convenience of receiving products straight to their door, saving time by not having to visit a store, and finding products quickly and more easily than in-store. It’s an exciting time to be a retailer in the e-commerce space!


This shift in consumer behaviour parallels an upward shift in the number of online businesses. E-commerce may simplify shopping for consumers, but it also has several benefits for retailers. Alongside the benefits are a fair share of complications.


One of the bigger complications online retailers grapple with is the mystery of abandoned shopping carts. What motivates a consumer to begin a check-out process, only to stop part way through? Understanding why this happens may help retailers combat the issue and, in turn, increase conversion. As the online retail space continues to grow, ensuring customers follow through is important.


Why Do People Abandon Shopping Carts?

The below graphic summarises the findings from a survey on common reasons why customers abandon checking-out midway through the process.


According to the Baymard Institute, there are approximately 260 Billion Dollars in recoverable revenue from abandoned checkouts, with the average retailer being able to increase conversion by approximately 36%. This should serve as motivation to address this behaviour.


So what’s the solution?

Optimise the checkout experience. By doing this, you can combat some of the drop-off caused by a less-than-optimal user experience. This includes reasons such creating an account, a complicated check-out process, and not being able to see the shipping cost up-front.


Account creation

Typically, customers don’t like having to create accounts. This isn’t ideal for merchants since there are many benefits that come with capturing client information. The first way to combat this drop-off cause is to make an account optional. People tend to like choice, and if they don’t have one, there’s a good chance they’ll abandon ship.


The issue is that capturing customer information is extremely beneficial to businesses. Some of these benefits include: 1) building a user distribution list (which has a host of benefits, which includes increasing customer return rates with email marketing campaigns); 2) better understanding your customers; and 3) understanding user behaviour and purchasing habits in the context of a customer profile.


So what’s a business to do? Make account creation simple and optional, but give customers a reason to sign up.


A few ideas to encourage account creation:

  • Offer a special discount, such as 10% off and/or free shipping, for creating an account;

  • Offer a rewards program for account-holders;

  • Offer easily-accessible order tracking and purchase history.


A few ideas to simplify the sign-up process:

  • Cut out any unnecessary steps, and try to keep the required information minimal;

  • Include a progress indicator — customers like to know where they are in a process.


An example of a well-executed sign-up prompt:


As you can see, all a customer has to do is enter a password to create an account. It’s one simple step, which increases the chances that they’ll follow through.


A long/complicated check-out process:

As more businesses spend time optimising user’s experiences for simplicity and efficiency, a long, overly-complicated check-out process may be extra frustrating to a customer. Second to that, there’s so much competition in the online retail space that it’s easy for a customer to drop off and find an alternative retailer if they’re frustrated by a user experience.


The solution? Make the check-out process as simple and intuitive as possible.


There are so many tools available these days to improve user experience. A great example of this is implementing an auto-fill feature. Auto-fill can be designed in many ways but one great example is shown in the image below.


This image shows the city, state and country being automatically filled out for a customer after inputting their postal code. This minimises typing which is great, but it’s especially important for mobile users, since the tedious nature of typing on mobile is one of the reasons customers tend to use mobile phones more so for browsing than purchasing.


So, what did we learn?

Customer behaviour can be difficult to understand, but the more information that becomes available, the more adjustments can be made in order to improve customer experience and prevent the abandonment of shopping baskets. The above-noted suggestions are a few easy changes that can be made to an overall customer experience if operational adjustments, such as offering free shipping, are not realistic for a business.

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