For many web site owners, shopping cart abandonment & conversion rate drops on a checkout page may seem to be just an unavoidable, unpleasant part of their eCommerce life. But, it doesn’t actually have to be that way.
Conversion rates can be increased significantly on all of your checkout pages by providing buyers with everything they need to make informed decisions.
Listed below are some useful tips website owners can use to optimize their checkout pages thereby decreasing cart abandonment which will ultimately boost conversion rates.
1. Remove All Distractions On Your Checkout Page
Carefully look over your entire checkout process. Look at every button, menu item and all images throughout the checkout page, removing any element(s) that distract(s) potential customers from finalizing their order right away.
2. Unless Absolutely Necessary, Do Not Force Account Creation
Delay mandatory registration until after a customer has completed the checkout process. Allow potential customers to provide their details and purchase without the need to register first. Any additional step you add to the checkout process may actually cause potential customers to abandon their decision before completing their purchase.
3. Eliminate Unnecessary Data Entry
Ask the user only for information that you absolutely need in order to complete the sale, like email id for digital items or name and address, for tangible items. Otherwise…
4. If You Need Specific Information, Explain Why
With privacy issues being of such heightened concern, potential customers are more likely to share personal information (i.e. date of birth, phone number, etc.) but only if you tell them why you need such information. No matter what the reason, be sure the information is absolutely necessary to fulfil the order.
5. Allow Potential Customers to Quickly Correct Errors
If a potential customer forgets to enter required pieces of information, do not simply display an error message and expect them to find and fix the error themselves. Instead, move the cursor to that field and explain why the error occurred.
6. Allow Modifications From Within the Checkout Page
Potential customers may want to change product quantity or delete items after reaching checkout. Do not force them to go back and leave the checkout page in order to make such cart changes.
7. Include Ways of Leaving The Cart But NOT Your Website
Once a potential customer has made their way to the checkout process, now is NOT the time to be promoting 3rd party products or services. Get rid of as many outside ads as possible, while still allowing them to easily navigate other pages within your site that are related to the purchase workflow. ‘Continue Shopping’ and ‘Save for Later’ buttons should be placed strategically throughout the checkout page(s).
8. Create A Minimal Header & Footer For Your Checkout Page
Modify the header and footer on the checkout page to retain the bare minimum items necessary to enable customers to complete the checkout process as quickly as possible. While a link to your blog site may be needed throughout the main pages of your website, it is not necessary to include such links on your checkout pages. Remember, you want the checkout process to be as swift and easy as possible. One of the easiest ways to ensure this is to offer minimal distractions whenever possible.
9. Give Your Checkout Button the Place of Honor
Your checkout button should always be the most prominent button on your shopping cart pages in terms of placement, color and size. You shouldn’t have a bright orange ‘Update Cart’ button along side of a dull, greyed out, ‘Checkout Now’ button. You want the checkout button to be the main event, not the 2nd cousin twice removed, so to speak.
10. Use A Sticky ‘Checkout’ Button
Potential customers will scroll up and down the page and you don’t want them losing sight of the ‘Checkout’ button. If possible, create a ‘sticky’ checkout button that will scroll up/down the side of the page as the buyer scrolls. If unable to do so, consider adding the ‘Checkout’ button to both the top, and bottom, of the page.
11. Add Trust Seals, Padlocks, Certification Badges or Logos
Buyers need to be reassured that your website is safe. Norton, McAfee, TRUSTe and BBB Accredited seals are the most widely trusted seals.
12. Offer Multiple Trusted Payment Methods
Buyers are becoming more and more hesitant to giving away their personal details to an ‘unheard of’ payment gateway. Allow potential customers to choose from popular payment gateways such as PayPal, 2Checkout, Stripe, etc.
13. Display the Product Summary Clearly
Some potential customers need to be told exactly what they’re buying, along with any choices they may have made while adding products to their cart. Selections such as color, size and quantity should be visibly marked on all checkout pages to ensure there are no unnecessary surprises which could result in cart abandonment, or worse, returns and refund requests.
14. Highlight All Applied $avings
If any products are on sale, it’s best to display the amount(s) saved so potential customers are fully aware of the added benefits of buying such product(s)… NOW. Likewise, if you’re offering free shipping, be sure to mention that as well, especially since most buyers hate paying for shipping.
15. Mention How Products Will Be Delivered
Be sure to clearly mention the exact shipping methods and costs for all tangible items purchased. For digital downloads, be sure to mention how the user will gain access, when access will be granted, how long access will be available for and how many times they can download their purchase(s).
16. Have A Buyer Friendly Refund Policy
Most, if not all, potential customers want to know whether they can return the products they’re purchasing or not. They want to know that before they buy. It’s recommended to have a 30 day refund policy for any type of digital product and a 90 day refund/return policy for most tangible goods.
17. Add A Way For Customers To Contact Your Support Team
Your checkout page should contain a link to your online support system. Customers want to know they can reach you in case the need arises. Telephone and live chat usually work best so buyers know they can request ‘instant assistance’ for any issues which may come up.
18. Retain Items Added To The Cart For At Least 15 Days
If a potential customer saves items to the shopping cart, but doesn’t complete their purchase right away, maintain the items in the shopping cart for at least 15 days as this will allow a potential customer to come back and instantly checkout later without having to find everything all over again. Some customers use their cart to temporarily shortlist items and then come back to complete their purchase at a later date or time. Make this as easy as possible for them to accomplish.
19. Include A Discount Area
Customers who have a coupon code usually like to apply possible discounts prior to purchasing. Be sure to allow potential customers the ability to enter their coupon code(s) on your checkout page. Don’t make it too obvious though, as you might send your potential buyers on a coupon hunt. If a coupon code is invalid, don’t just display an error message or an empty apology message. Instead, present the user with another coupon code (with a small(er) discount), in the error message. The goal is to compel them to complete the purchase by offering them a discount since they’ve already indicated they intended on using a coupon.
20. Ensure Quick Load Times
Since we seem to live in such a “rush, rush” world, nothing is worse than a ‘crawling’ checkout page. Ideally, a load time of 4 seconds, or less, should be strived for. Otherwise, potential customers may end up heading towards one of your competitors websites.
21. Create An Email Campaign For Abandoned Carts
Send a series of follow up emails to potential customers who abandon the cart, with at least one going out within 12 – 24 hours of abandonment. Encourage potential customers to come back and complete their purchase. You could even offer a discount as an added incentive. You should also ask them if there were any issues which prevented them from completing the purchase as this information could prove crucial to your continued existence. With so many email management firms out there, finding one that meets your requirements can be a daunting task. One I highly recommend (and yes, one I actually use myself) is Aweber. They offer a massive amount of information over on their site. When you’re done reading this article, go ahead and take a look around their site to see how they can help you.
22. Remember: Exit Popups Don’t Always Work
Oftentimes, antivirus or browser software will stop popups from performing their intended tasks, thus preventing you from surveying the customer as to why they may be attempting to leave their shopping cart. Instead, as outlined above, it is best to use email to follow-up with potential customers. And again, you could always consider adding a discount code if they complete their order here and now.
23. Give the Option to Continue Shopping From the Checkout Page
Since potential customers may have forgotten something, be sure to provide a way for them to ‘Continue Shopping’ rather than expecting them to hit the back button only to find out that all their cart details have magically vanished into thin air.
24. Include Important Links
25. Allow Potential Customers to Print/Email Cart Contents
In the case of certain purchases, potential customers may be buying for someone else, need someone else to sign off on the purchase or some other step that forces them to stop the checkout process. For such cases, it’s always best to make certain that if there has to be an interruption, you give them the necessary tools to make it as smooth as possible to come back and purchase what they need.
26. Differentiate Checkout Button From Continue Shopping Button
If you have the ‘Checkout’ and ‘Continue Shopping’ buttons located along side of each other, you should seriously consider changing the colors to make them visually separate from each other which in turn lessens the chance that the user will click the wrong one. Be sure to add plenty of white space between the separate buttons so there’s no mistaking which button the potential customer clicked on.
27. Include A Full Product Summary
Having just a name and a number might be enough on the vendor’s end, but letting the customer know what sizes, colors and other customization options are available will usually help ensure them that they’ve made the correct choice for their needs which could help reduce confusion, cart abandonment, or worse, returns and refund requests.
28. Recommend Related Products BEFORE Checkout
This is another under-utilized shopping cart practice, particularly in the field of electronics. Shoppers want to be absolutely certain they have everything they need to get the most out of their purchase. No one wants to wait until they receive their purchase to find out that the item didn’t come with an adapter (or that one was recommended in the first place). If you’re not sure what I could possibly be talking about, just think back to that T.V. or streaming video device you purchased last year. I have just 2 words for you… HDMI Cable. Enough said? I thought so.
29. Include Videos Whenever Possible
Whenever possible, you may want to consider showing the product(s) in use or ideas on how to use the product for best results. If possible, you could also consider allowing previous customers an opportunity to upload their own video demonstrations of their purchase which will go a long way with any new potential customers. Seeing how happy previous customers are with the product is a great way to entice new customers to purchase the product. It also helps build trust since anything YOU say is sure to be bias anyway.
30. Provide Free Shipping
Time and time again, shoppers say that this factor, over all others, compels them to order. Not all merchants can afford to do this, as shipping costs can easily and quickly eat into your profits. If that sounds like your current situation, consider adding the shipping cost to the product price. Alternatively, you may also want to consider…
31. Offer Free Shipping When Customer Spends $XX
Most shopping cart systems have this function built right in. You can easily set a specific dollar amount needed to reach the free shipping threshold. The fewer requirements you set, however, the more likely potential customers are to increase their current order as well as come back to purchase time and time again. If you do this, consider adding in a progression bar, or a total amount as the customer adds the items to their cart. This will show potential customers how close they are to qualifying for your free shipping offer.
32. Put Latest Promo Codes Directly on Your Website
Whenever a potential customer is at your site and ready to order, the last thing you want them doing is heading away from your site to hunt down a coupon. Keep shoppers on your site longer by including promo codes right on the checkout page, along with the input field to use it.
33. Make Digital Download Instructions Clear
Most of this article has been devoted to best ecommerce practices for tangible items, but even if you’re selling digital goods, many of these points still apply. At checkout, make it very clear how the customer will be able to download their order. If they need special software to open it, show them how to download it and even how to use it. In the future, if they need to download it again, provide them with instructions on how to do so. Don’t just assume everyone knows where to get Adobe Acrobat or how to uncompress a zip file.
34. Provide Discounts in Exchange for Product Reviews
Encourage existing customers to submit a review for any product(s) they’ve purchased. In exchange, you could offer a discount code or coupon by email. Entice them to submit even more reviews by offering increasing savings or even completely free products. (Please Note: If you decide to offer free products in exchange for multiple reviews of multiple products, be sure to mention whether or not free shipping is also included. Do not simply assume they know that they’ll still be responsible for shipping costs, if you decide to recoup associated shipping fees.)
35. Consider Offering a Loyalty Program
Loyalty programs are used all over the place, online and off. In the case of a digital loyalty program, you don’t need to worry about manually mailing out cards or log sheets. Everything can be done digitally, making it an extremely easy way to reward your loyal customers. The way it would work is that you would reward returning customers with points in exchange for reviews of products they’ve purchased, additional purchases they make, rating any product(s) they’ve purchased or a number of any other action that can help contribute to your website. These points can then be redeemed for discounts off future purchases, free products or even advance notice and discounted pricing on any new products you release in the future. Most shopping cart systems have this functionality either built in or available as an add-on purchase, but even if not, tracking the necessary information can be a very simple process in this digital world we live in today.
36. Give Away Complementing Samples with Each Order
Dependant on exactly what you sell, this works extremely well in getting repeat orders. It also works particularly well when bundling. For example, you could include free flavor samplers with a particular beverage order — i.e. offering a free sample of different flavored coffees when a customer purchases their preferred brand. You don’t even have to mention the free samples. Surprise your customers instead. If you’re selling make-up, for example, you could throw in a free sample pack of your best cleaning wipes with every order.
37. Provide Multiple Payment Options For High-Ticket Items
If you use Paypal, as either a buyer, or seller, chances are very good that you’ve heard of their ‘Bill Me Later’ option. Other merchant companies offer installment payments, or lower prices for locking in an annual package (versus paying month to month). It is strongly advised that you consider some creative financing options to help you move your more expensive merchandise, especially in a time when everyone is watching every penny they spend.
38. Upsell With Gift Cards
Although you see this being done more so during the Christmas holiday season, there’s no reason it can’t or won’t work on other types of sales as well. The option to ‘Add a Gift Card’ to orders or ‘Get $XX Off Current Order’ when also purchasing a gift card can substantially increase total sales per customer with no extra effort on your part, especially if you send digital/virtual cards versus regular printed plastic cards.
39. Test, Test, Test and Oh Yeah — Test Again!!!
No matter what results you receive from any attempt to decrease shopping cart abandonment, always remember that one idea, or the other, may or may not work for you. Therefore, it’s always worth testing ANYTHING you do or attempt. You never know… potential customers may surprise you. You really don’t know how well a particular strategy or a particular method will perform unless you test regularly.
Have you ever encountered a shopping cart system that did everything right or come across a site that made the entire checkout process so smooth and hassle-free that you’d consider doing business with them again (and again)?
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