Did you know that on average, over 60% of people abandon their online shopping carts? That's a rather high percentage that no online store owner should ever see. Here are seven tips to keep that abandonment rate down.
1. Show shipping costs and options early in the checkout process
Obviously, the trade-off for shopping online is paying for shipping. Shoppers know this, so it's the first thing they'll look for (either before they start or once they've started adding items to their cart). Unfortunately, a lot of online retailers make the mistake of keeping this tucked away in a later step in the checkout process rather than making it available early on. If you make it clear what the shipping costs might be early on, the better completion rate you'll have.
2. Offer free or reduced shipping
Related to the previous point, shipping charges in and of themselves are a pain. But they're also a reality for many online stores, so it becomes a delicate balancing act. If you can, offer free shipping whenever possible. If not, keep your shipping as low as your business margins will allow. This might just give you an edge over competition in addition to keeping your customers from ditching your cart altogether.
3. Allow guest checkout
Stop and think about how many website accounts you have. Chances are it's more than 3-5 and each of those are probably for sites you access on a regular basis. Now, I hate to burst your bubble but as much as you'd like people to visit and shop on your site as much as they visit say, their bank website, it's not likely. So forcing them to register to checkout is forcing them to perform several extra steps for quite possibly a one-time purchase. Instead, make it easier on your customers. It's better for brand image/perception as well as shopping cart conversions.
4. Allow customers to save items for later shopping
Yes, the idea is to keep people form abandoning their carts altogether and instead, complete their purchases in one go. Unfortunately that's not always possible. Giving customers the ability to save items for later can be a great way to get them to come back and purchase from your store instead of someone else's!
5. Show inventory availability
It's incredibly frustrating for customers to find your store, add several items to their cart, get ready to checkout, only to then be told that one or more items in their cart are sold out. Keep that frustration at bay by showing some sort of inventory count. While you may not be comfortable showing an absolute count, the most common thing to do is show when inventory for that item has dropped below a certain number and if it's at zero, clearly mark it as out of stock. It seems obvious but even in 2012 some sites still make this mistake.
6. Show multiple large photos
Shopping online can be difficult because almost all the regular signals that help us make decisions are absent – we can't touch the product to get a feel for weight, texture and even quality. This is why showing large photos of your products on your online store are critical. But one photo is not enough anymore. Multiple photos to show different colors and/or angles help answer some questions about the product that would otherwise potentially cause a visitor to change their mind about purchasing.
7. Customer reviews = social proof
People love what's popular, whether we admit it or not. So in addition to having multiple photos, customer reviews on products are good to have as well – they're a good indicator for visitors on what they are purchasing. But there's also a bonus: the reviews will also give you an idea of what works and doesn't work for a given product. No one wants bad reviews, but those bad reviews can easily be turned into something positive.