In the online world, when a shopper starts the purchase process, but does not complete it, it is referred to as "abandoning the shopping cart". The purchase could be for a product, service, subscription or any other transaction, where an individual has to pay money via an online form.
Research undertaken by MarketingSherpa (www.marketingsherpa.com) and E-Tailing in 2006 discovered that average abandonment rates were 60% and 47% respectively. This means that the average commercial website is losing as much as half of its potential revenue.
Shopping carts abandonment is the single biggest cause of lost revenue for commercial websites.
The top ten reasons for abandonment, in order of importance, are:
- Hidden charges at the checkout
- Having to register before buying
- The buyer was comparison shopping and found a better deal
- The shipping costs were too high
- The buyer didn't have time to complete the checkout process
- The product was out of stock
- There were no clear delivery details
- No phone number was provided
- The checkout process was too long
- The buyer was uncomfortable with the checkout process
Any website with a checkout should continually test and redesign the process, until the dropout rate is minimised. There is no single right answer to creating the perfect checkout design, but there are many things that can be done to make the process better.
Ten Simple Ways You can Improve the Checkout Process
Avoid adding hidden costs during the checkout process. This breaches trust and makes people question the value of the product or service you are selling
Provide all the information a customer could possibly need at the beginning of the checkout process, including confirmation of what they are buying, the total cost including postage and packaging, delivery times, availability, links to the terms & conditions and returns policy, as well as contact details for a real person.
Don't make people register or give personal details until they are ready to make a purchase and pay. Many websites still make the mistake of demanding personal details as soon as a visitor wants to add something to their shopping cart.
Limit the choices that people have to make when checking out. Research has shown that the more choices people are given, the higher the dropout rate.
Ensure that any shipping costs are fair and reasonable.
Ask for the absolute minimum of information required to process a transaction. Every extra piece of information you ask for increases the chance that your buyer will not complete the purchase.
Ensure you have clear contact details on EVERY page of the checkout process. Most people won't call you, but it reassures them that someone is available if they need help.
The first piece of information you should collect is an email address. This gives you the chance to email people who don't complete a transaction, to ask if there was a problem, and if you can help them complete their transaction.
Make the checkout form visually appealing and very, very simple. Studying and improving the checkout process on your website can have a dramatic impact on the revenues you make. Many of the changes are simple and common sense, while others will only come to light through continual testing.
Above all else, you should make a trial purchase every time you make a change, and at least once a week to ensure everything is working properly, and so that you can experience what your customers are experiencing.
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