Nine Checkout Optimization Tips to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment

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After all of the effort you have put into optimizing your e-commerce pages, it is truly disheartening to see up to two-thirds of your potential customers walk away from their online shopping carts. It’s like watching your home team taking the final shot, right at the buzzer, and missing… So close, yet so very far.

What is it going to take to seal the deal?

Some 37% of shopping cart abandoners were “just browsing” anyway, but you can take concrete steps to perfect your customers’ online checkout experience so they don’t click away. And don’t worry about the outside factors in your customer’s lives that stop them from buying; there’s plenty that’s within your control.

1. Be transparent about additional fees or taxes—and offer free shipping

Nothing scares customers away faster than processing fees, sales tax, and inflated shipping costs. You can’t do much about taxes, but you can make them readily apparent to your customers by adding a sales tax calculator to the bottom of your product pages.

The same goes for shipping costs: If you can’t eliminate them, include them in your calculator. However, strongly consider offering free shipping: Customers love transparency, and they prefer free shipping over coupon codes and percent-off deals.

2. Display your secure payment options in plain sight

If your customers can’t (or won’t) pay, you won’t make the sale. It’s simple enough: If some of your buyers were planning on using PayPal but find out you accept only credit cards, they will have no choice but to search for a store that will accept their preferred payment method.

A great place to put the payment logos is right by the “add to cart” button. Consider adding them to your website’s footer as well.

Build additional customer trust by prominently displaying your security logo. Buyers are more wary than ever because of persistent reports of consumer-data hacks, so reassure them that you are using a secure, encrypted connection to collect their personal data.

Not everyone checks for the “https” in the address bar, so it is your job to remind them that they are having a safe shopping experience.

3. Make the cart easy to access

Customers want to be able to easily check what’s in their cart. Navigating back and forth from your product pages to their cart can be frustrating and distracting. Add dropdown functionality to the cart so they can hover over it to see their recent additions prominently displayed.

Even better, add product comparison functionality right on the product pages, so customers can quickly compare prices and features—eliminating their need to switch between items, smoothing out the shopping process, and getting them to checkout quicker.

4. Guide your customers with breadcrumbs through the checkout process

Your customers’ time is valuable, and they need to see exactly how long they’ll be spending checking out of your store. Make the process as short as possible—ideally, no more than four steps. Once you have your streamlined checkout system in place, show them the steps with breadcrumb navigation.

With breadcrumbs, your customers will stay on one tabbed page, with each step clearly labeled. They are far less likely to abandon their shopping carts if checkout is almost over.

Make sure each portion of the checkout process is optimized as well: Collect only the absolute minimum information needed, and give them the option to register after you’ve made the sale.

5. Give the shopper multiple shipping options

Inconvenient, slow, or expensive shipping will drive your customers to your competitors. Make your shipping options perfectly clear—and if you are offering free shipping, display that prominently as well.

Pickup at your brick-and-mortar store is a great option when possible, giving customers the reassurance that their purchase will be in their hands at their convenience.

If you are taking preorders or an item is out of stock, add the option to “email me when it’s available”; that email can bring wandering customers back to your checkout when their desired product is back on your virtual shelves. Use that email as an opportunity to send special offers about that product, such as when it goes on sale or when supplies are limited. Nothing spurs a customer to action faster than product scarcity.

6. Remove unnecessary links from checkout to minimize distractions

Just like the clean cut look of a squeeze landing page, your checkout pages should have as few links as possible. You don’t want your customers distracted by outbound ads, links to other areas of your site, or any nonessential navigation options. There are enough distractions in an online shopper’s life as it is!

Your checkout page should visually direct your customers to your “next” and “complete transaction” buttons. Try to fit everything on the screen so your button is easy to see and—most important—easy to click.

7. Offer additional support via customer service and live chat

Make your customer-service phone number and email address easy to find. Shoppers who prefer the one-on-one treatment, or those who have additional questions about their order, might wish to make a quick call or send a message, providing you with the opportunity to convert them into buyers.

Even if they don’t need your help at that very moment, shoppers will be reassured that you are only a few moments away.

If you want to go the extra mile, offer a live-chat option. The truly anxious shoppers would rather abandon their carts than pick up their phone and potentially face a complex phone interface or unending minutes of hold music. Live chat gives nearly instant answers and that additional hand-holding that can’t easily be duplicated any other way online.

8. Show off your guarantees and return policies

Customers don’t have the time to hunt down your business policies, so make it abundantly clear that you are prepared for any eventuality. Free returns win customers over, instilling confidence in clicking “buy now.” Barring that, the knowledge that you will email them a return label—or one is included with each purchase—can prompt them to action.

Price-matching guarantees, no-questions-asked returns, warranties, and protection plans are all designed to boost customer confidence. If you have them, flaunt them!

Though you won’t have room to spell them out in detail when optimizing your checkout pages, a well-placed logo will remind them that you have their best interests in mind.

9. A/B-test everything

In addition to those checkout optimization guidelines, there are numerous smaller changes you can make to reduce shopping cart abandonment. Everything from the size, color, and font of your “buy now” button to improved functionality of your form fields can affect the shopper’s ultimate decision to buy.

Test each change you make to see your progress, and watch your percentage of abandoned shopping carts decrease. Your customers will be thrilled with the improved shopping experience, and you will be amazed at your improved bottom line.

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