Reading the statistics on cart abandonment rates can be quite sobering. Sixty-seven percent of online carts are abandoned before a purchase is made and, apparently, about 97 percent of mobile carts are abandoned. The reasons that are often quoted are myriad, but one of the bigger issues is simply the time it takes to check out; the longer it takes, the more likely that your customer will become distracted. Plus, when the shopping process requires any significant amount of typing on a mobile phone, forget it! Although you have to find a way to enable accurate address capture and to collect other important information, requiring customers to input too much is surely one reason that the mobile abandonment rate is so high.
A better way…
Instead of focusing on the abandonment rate, perhaps a better approach is determining how to increase conversions in those circumstances where customers are ready to buy. Certainly, a portion of items in shopping carts are not intended for immediate purchase. Many use carts to build shopping lists or wish lists. Others add items to a cart to find out pricing, availability, size information, or to determine the shipping costs. Providing alternatives for these customers is a simple way to eliminate those circumstances from your calculations. In addition, the more items in the cart, the greater the likelihood of sticker shock and the lengthier the decision process. So before you work on how to increase your cart conversions, first plan on how to avoid having items added to your cart until there’s a solid intention to purchase. In other words, don’t organize your Ecommerce site around the idea of driving every shopper to your cart. Think more about the overall customer experience, especially for mobile customers.
Here are five ways to provide a better digital customer experience:
1. Clearly explain your shipping costs. If there’s distance dependence, provide an easy-to-find cost calculator that requires minimal input e.g. zip code. Of course, you also need to be competitive, so if free shipping is the expectation, build shipping cost into your pricing and state clearly that shipping is free.
2. Build size and availability information into your web pages. A clear and easily understood sizing chart not only helps customers choose the right size, it also reduces the tendency to order several sizes with the intention of returning items that don’t fit. Offering to notify customers when out of stock items or sizes become available will reduce the list of “unlikely purchases” in the cart and increase the number of times customers return to browse.
3. Think about creating a separate “wish list” function. This way, customers can store items of interest and easily add them to the cart when they are ready to buy. Items saved in the wish list can be further promoted via social media sites, video, etc. without being concerned about distracting the customer and losing the sale.
4. Consider deploying a shopping list app. These apps provide customers with information on competitive products and pricing. It's better to know your customers’ needs and what competitors they are considering, even if you only get a portion of their business.
5. Make sure that your pricing is clearly displayed for each product. Those who wait until an item is in the cart before revealing the price not only create a poor experience for many customers (by forcing them to take extra unnecessary steps); they are also destined to suffer higher abandonment rates.
By dealing with all the non-purchase reasons in advance, customers can make their buying decision more quickly and easily and purchase becomes the primary reason to place items into the shopping cart. Now you can focus on how to reduce the friction caused by having to enter contact and payment details and get them through the checkout process as quickly and easily as possible.
The key to reducing friction at checkout is to think through the workflow, not just focusing on the information you need to collect. Workflow means the order of the steps required to proceed through the checkout process. Optimizing the workflow not only reduces friction—it will also improve the quality of the information you collect by, for example, enabling accurate address capture.
Here are 5 additional ways to improve your customers’ experience by optimizing the workflow:
6. Develop a strong reputation for reliability and customer service. Given the growing concerns about cyber security, many customers prefer not to store their personal information on your site. For those that do, however, the checkout process can be reduced to a single or small number of clicks, primarily to verify that stored information is still current. Maximize the number of customers who store information by clearly displaying security-related symbols as well as authentic information on customer satisfaction.
7. Develop a loyalty program. This is another way to encourage customers to store information when they sign up. Loyalty programs offer many benefits to retailers, such as gaining permission to email or text offers to customers, and they’re also an easy way for consumers to sign in and make a purchase without having to enter additional details.
8. Minimize the number of required keystrokes. Especially for your mobile customers, easing the collection of customer information is key. Most check-out forms follow the traditional flow of name, email address, home address, credit card details etc. and often ask for the email address to be typed in twice in order to ensure accuracy. The problem here is the number of keystrokes required extends the time it takes to enter all of this information. Remember, when you’re trying to close a net new customer, the simpler the process, the better.
9. Use an intuitive type-down approach to ensure accurate address capture. For desktop users, intuitive type-down works like Google search, prompting possible choices and eliminating the need to type. When used for address capture, not only does this save on keystrokes, it also ensures that only bona fide and correctly formatted addresses are captured. Similarly, when requesting email addresses, only ask for the address to be typed in once. Verify the address immediately so that you can inform the customer of a problem while they are actively engaged. Asking for emails to be typed twice increases the required effort, though it doesn’t necessarily lead to better quality–many customers just copy and paste the first address they typed.
10. Use text codes to gather contact information. For mobile customers, easing the opt-in process is highly important. Consider having them text you a short code (e.g. text “shop” to 12345) to receive a discount or a special offer. From their text, you can reverse look-up contact details, immediately saving them from typing both their name and address. You can confirm that you have the correct information by asking for their 5-digit zip code and, assuming that you get a match, simply ask them to verify their contact details. This approach typically cuts the number of keystrokes required from over 100 to just 10 or so. You still get all the information you need, while making the process as simple as possible for your customers.
In summary, focus on the different parts of your buyer’s journey and optimize for each part separately. You’ll be able to improve the overall customer experience, both on your site and during checkout. Improving the customer experience will help you significantly up your cart conversion rates and ultimately close more business!
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