Today we have an article written by a guest writer Vern who specializes in systems for faster and easier mobile payments and writes for the Open Market website.
The Abandoned Shopping Cart
Nearly 9 out 10 people polled indicate they have abandoned an online shopping cart, at least once. If you sell anything online, you need to understand why this happens and what you can do to get customers to finish the check-out process.
Have you ever started the process of shopping at a website, maybe clicked on an item or two (maybe more) and then after some period of time, simply abandoned that online shopping cart, clicking away to some other destination in the ether?
Chances are that nearly 9 out of 10 of you have done just this. In a great report about Understanding Shopping Cart Abandonment, published by Forrester Research in May, 2010, they proclaimed that 88% of respondents to their polls indicated they had, in fact, filled their virtual carts only to shove them down the aisle and run off in the other direction and out of the store.
If you’ve any experience as an online retailer, or “e-tailer” as they are becoming known as, you understand the importance of this phenomenon and how discouraging it can be. If you were the proprietor of a brick and mortar shop in your town, you might at least have the option of posting someone by the door and asking why they decided to leave their cart filled with items un-purchased. As you’ll see, you can still opt to perform this action with your online stores as well.
Before you can understand how to fix the problem, you have to understand what the problem is. That Forrester report listed 5 leading reasons people gave for discontinuing their check-out:
- Cost of shipping
- Not ready to purchase
- Wanted to save products for later
- Price checking
- Price too high
Let’s take a quick look at the rationale behind these excuses and see what can be done in order to flip the script and get the customer to, well, become a customer!
Cost of Shipping
People that gave “cost of shipping” as their reason for not completing their purchase may have a legitimate point. How much are you charging to send their purchases? A classic error for the eBay selling crowd has been to charge a very high “shipping and handling” fee for items won on their auction pages. Buyers that feel you are profiting unfairly from these extra fees are very likely to ditch the whole purchase and look elsewhere.
Over 70% of online buyers have stated they compare the entire purchase price. This means they are looking at the item’s cost along with any shipping and handling fees. And you had better be able to substantiate whatever you list as those fees. Shipping can be readily verified, and expect some percentage of your buyers to do so. Handling can be a bit more nebulous, so get better at explaining the amount for “handling” their delivery.
Not Ready to Purchase (Saving for Later)
Let’s combine “Not ready to purchase” with “Wanted to save products for later” as they really seem to be a subset of the same issue. Plus, a possible solution for both of them might be the same action on your company’s part.
One possible solution for this would be to put a live chat assistant option on your check out page. This way, if people are about to leave just because they need a question answered, they can get it through the live chat instantly which might encourage them to purchase.
“Price checking” seems somewhat nebulous as well. What is more likely the case is they want to preview the total charge to their credit or debit card. Refer back to the discussion on shipping and handling here. Buyers who’ve used price checking as their reason for abandoning their shopping cart might be served with the addition of a real time, on-page display of what their total “potential” purchases might be.
The technology is available for such displays, with your customers just needing to enter the destination zip code. Well placed on-page visual displays of the overall total costs will keep the shopping carts from ever actually being filled, at least until a commitment is made by the customer. As they add more items to their “pre-shopping cart”, they’ll have all the info right on the page telling them what their overall bill is going to be.
Price Too High
If the price is too high, you may have a tough time with sales whether potential buyers are actually putting items into a shopping cart or not. You’ll have to determine if the per unit price is too high. If the unit plus S&H price is too high, you might be able to reduce handling such that the total is more competitive.
Let’s go back to the reasons dealing with not being ready to purchase or saving products for later. Some of the leading online retailers like Amazon.com or TigerDirect.com provide a number of manners for removing this reason for abandoned shopping carts. With the use of wish lists and literally “save my shopping cart” options, these sites and your business as well can reduce the unfinished check outs.
Additionally, by having mechanisms that allow a buyer to not feel pressured to make the purchase during that visit, you have received implicit permission to reach out to them in the future. You can remind them they have items of interest in their saved shopping cart. You could also offer a way to allow them to easily email their wish list to friends and family who might be interested in purchasing one of the items for them.
Finally, just like standing at the door of the brick and mortar store, if you find a high percentage of customers are leaving without buying you could employ a quick and easy survey which would be triggered if they leave the check out page before the process is done. It might be as simple as having a little pop-up window with the 5 reasons above asking them if an item in the list is why they have decided not to buy in that moment. If you also offered them an “other” blank you could really hone in on exactly what’s happening to your customers as they abandon their shopping carts and high tail it out of your online store.
About the Author:
Vern is a online e-tailer specializing in systems for faster and easier mobile payments.