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6 Tested Tips to Improve CRO by Reducing Abandoned Shopping Carts

In an age of complex, multi-channel marketing, conversion rate optimization can offer quick ROI improvements without a large investment.

Online sellers generally think of their shopping cart as the bottom of their sales funnel. The problem is, according to information gathered by BigCommerce, is that the funnel’s not only expensive — it’s also leaky. In the U.S. alone, marketers spend over $20 billion to drive visitors to their shopping carts and enjoy, on average, just a 2.68 percent conversion rate.

One of the biggest leaks commonly occurs right there at the bottom of the funnel. That’s when potential customers abandon their shopping carts. For instance, BigCommerce found that average businesses suffer an abandonment rate of close to 70 percent. On the positive side, at least a high abandonment rate can narrow down the problem to one point in the marketing funnel. In other words, the position of the problem can also offer some clues to finding actionable insights.

With that in mind, consider some conversion rate optimization tips to reduce cart abandonment and recoup more of that marketing investment.

Use a CRO marketing perspective to reduce abandoned shopping carts

CRO simply refers to conversion rate optimization. To find a shopping cart’s own abandonment rate, simply compare the number of purchase to the number of filled shopping carts. As an example, one purchase for every three filled shopping carts equals an abandonment rate of 67 percent, which is just about average. Businesses should start out by calculating their own rates, so they can have a handy metric to gauge improvement.

Six tested tactics to reduce cart abandonment rates

Few companies can completely eliminate shopping cart abandonment. At the same time, even moving the needle just a few percentage points can dramatically improve revenues and profits. Better yet, better conversion rate optimization generally doesn’t require a large investment and may even employ tools and information that businesses already have.

1. Make total costs more transparent

Online shoppers may arrive at an eCommerce site because they saw promotion that advertised a great deal. Very often, they can only see shipping, taxes, handling, and extra costs after they’ve already added items to their cart for viewing. Businesses should not assume that customers will hit the buy button just because they’ve already gone to the effort to fill up their shopping cart.

Even worse, consumers may feel tricked and less likely to revisit the seller again. Some businesses have thrived by offering free or discounted shipping with minimum orders. Not only does this promote transparency, it even encourages customers to make larger orders.

2. Offer more payment options

Not every customer wants to use a credit card for online purchases. Some may prefer a digital wallet, debit card, or even a draft from a checking account. Many businesses have also optimized conversions by offering financing plans for big-ticket items, like TV sets and bicycles. Some customers may even prefer to split a payment between methods, and most local stores allow this.

In any case, offering flexible options for payments generally leads to quick conversion rate optimization. In contrast, retailers that only accept one payment method will probably lose business to more flexible competitors. 

3. Exit popups

At the least, an exit popup might gather information about the reason a customer decided not to commit to their purchase. At best, they might offer a promotional discount on the price or shipping. The popup might also display an offer to enroll in a loyalty program which will provide customers with future incentives. This will also benefit the business by adding more people to their subscriber list. 

4. Followup emails

Less intrusive than popups but somewhat less likely to get viewed, emails can also help recover abandoned shopping carts. As with exit popups, businesses can use this form of communication to offer discounts, especially in return for information about the reason the customer abandoned the shopping cart in the first place.

5. Employ social proof

Testimonials from satisfied customers, links to third-party reviews, and ratings from such business sites as the BBB can also prompt customers to complete their purchase. Social proof can help build customer confidence because it gives customers and other independent parties the chance to tell their own stories about a business.

6. Earn customer trust

Search Engine Land called Amazon’s ability to earn customer trust its true competitive advantage. Not only do consumers rely upon Amazon’s transparency, refund policy, and customer service, a majority of them trust this large retailer to protect their privacy and personal data.

Some steps that any eCommerce step should take to build a trusting relationship with customers include:

  • Clear refund and return policies
  • Responsive customer service, perhaps including chat boxes customers can use during their purchase
  • Transparent prices and other costs
  • Communication of privacy protection and data use policies
  • Other trust symbols, like security and compliance logos

Why start optimizing conversions by reducing shopping cart abandonment rates?

The list above addresses common reasons why customers abandon shopping carts. Still, some other causes might include an unintentionally difficult or complex checkout process or consumers arriving at an early stage of their buying process. That’s why businesses may also want to conduct some A/B testing with various processes and collect customer feedback.

Still, on the positive side, most companies have complex, multi-channel marketing plans. At least, isolating conversion optimization problems at the shopping cart stage means the customers have traveled pretty far along the funnel. This stage offers a narrow focus and a good place to earn some quick gains in sales.

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