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8 Strategies That Will Help You Reduce Cart Abandonment

By David Hoos
6 minute read | Last Updated: July 18, 2016

Your consumers are coming incredibly close to completing their transactions, only to rush away at the last minute. Fortunately, with the right tactics, you can drastically cut your cart abandonment rates.

Imagine walking through the grocery store, filling your shopping cart with products, wheeling up to the checkout line—and then casually strolling out the door, cart completely abandoned.

That would be pretty unusual. Yet when it comes to online shopping, the same behavior is all too common: cart abandonment rates swing between 68 and 82%. Your consumers are coming incredibly close to completing their transactions, only to rush away at the last minute.

Fortunately, with the right tactics, you can drastically cut your cart abandonment rates. Take a look at these eight strategies.

1. Make It Clear the Cart Has Been Updated

It’s the golden rule of design: for every user action, there must be a clear and immediate reaction. In other words, if a shopper clicks “Add to cart,” they should instantly receive confirmation their product has been added.

Consider whether you’d be able to spot Costco’s confirmation without the arrow.

cart-abandonment-CostCo

Probably not, since it’s small, undistinctive, and buried within other content. As a result, customers probably grow frustrated and leave.

In contrast to Costco, there’s Bellroy. As you can see, there’s no uncertainty about whether your product has been added or not.

cart-abandonment-Bellroy

2. Strategically Display the “Apply Coupon” Field

Some retailers, like Target, put the coupon code field on the first page of the checkout process. Others, like Gap, make customers wait until right before they click “Confirm Purchase” to apply their discounts.

Which approach is more effective? It depends on your pricing and promotion strategy.

If you frequently offer coupon codes—and your prices make it difficult for consumers to calculate the discounts in their minds—follow Gap’s lead and place the coupon code at the very end of the process.

cart-abandonment-Gap Checkout

Delaying the coupon application gives people a reason to continue clicking through and entering their information: they’re curious to see how much, say, that $37.99 shirt will actually cost once they’ve entered the 35% coupon code. TV networks use the same technique to incentivize viewers to stick around through ad breaks—they create a feeling of suspense and anticipation right before they cut to commercial.

But if you rarely offer coupon codes, it wouldn’t be wise to design your entire checkout flow around them. After all, you should optimize for the most common use cases, not the edge cases. So place the coupon code at the very beginning. This choice comes with its own benefits: immediately seeing the redemption box creates less anxiety than searching for it.

3. Provide Coupon Codes On-Site

When you’re about to buy something, and you see the “apply coupon” field, what’s your first reaction? This field triggers most consumers to open up a new tab and search “[your business name] + coupon.”

Some of them will come back, discount in (metaphorical) pocket. But others will never return. And the amount of money you’re losing from these uncompleted transactions can quickly add up; for example, Sears loses an estimated $16.5 million per month this way.

To avoid having shoppers sucked up by the black hole of Google, embed an option for finding coupons near the promo box.

Macy’s pioneered this strategy. Kent Armstrong, the company’s president of ecommerce, said it successfully kept consumers on the site—and even better, the impact on sales was “far larger than we thought it was going to be.”

cart-abandonment-Macy's Find an Offer

4. Enhance Your Reviews

According to an iPerceptions study, 63% of people are more likely to buy from a site with user reviews. But most retailers already recognize the importance of product feedback from real consumers. If you already use reviews to boost sales, it’s time to take things one step further by adding additional context. That includes relevant details about the reviewer—like their age, gender, and other demographic data—along with annotated or marked-up reviews.

“Reviewer details let users find reviews that are pertinent to their situation or use, and review summaries help users wade through large numbers of reviews to see what common issues or strengths the product has,” explains Amy Schade, a director at Nielsen Norman Group.

Lululemon’s review section is a fantastic example. Shoppers can gauge the relevance of a specific comment by factoring in the commentator’s location, exercise preferences, age, and body type.

cart-abandonment-Lululemon Reviews

5. Offer Free Shipping

What do consumers prefer about shopping in-person? They receive their purchase instantly—and they don’t have to pay to bring it home. While you can’t speed up the shipping process, you can overcome the second obstacle by offering free shipping.

If you’re not convinced, try this on for size: 77% of consumers say free shipping is the most important factor in their purchasing decision. In addition, more than half will add items to their order to qualify for free shipping.

Even though subsidizing shipping costs will eat into your margins, the increase in revenue will make up for it. A study from Usability Sciences found customers who received free shipping spent, on average, 20.8% more.

6. Make Your Shipping Costs Explicit

Whether or not you choose to offer free shipping, be extremely clear about your policy. A staggering 56% of consumers bail on purchases when presented with unexpected costs. The operative word? Unexpected.

If you have a flat shipping rate, consider displaying it on a banner across the top of your site. You could also add average shipping times next to the cost of shipping in your checkout page, like Anthropologie does.

cart-abandonment-Anthropologie shipping

Or follow REI’s approach, and create an entire page for shipping-related information.

cart-abandonment-REI shipping

Maybe, like Arvo Wear, you only have one facility. You actually have an advantage: after a shoppers provide their location, you can give them an even more accurate estimate.

cart-abandonment-Arvo Shipping
7. Provide Guest Checkout

In theory, accounts are good for both customers and retailers. Customers get personalized experiences, special discounts and offers, and convenient checkouts—all of which means higher sales for the retailer.

But the people have spoken, and they despise forced registration. In fact, letting people buy without registering can improve your conversions by 45%. ASOS did one better: the company cut its abandonment rate in half by offering guest checkout.

Because registration is such a turn-off, 70% of the top 100 retailers have stopped making it a requirement to purchase.

cart-abandonment-Crate and Barrel Checkout
And even if you provide a “guest” option at checkout, that doesn’t mean your sign-up rate will plunge. After consumers complete their order, ask if they’d like to save their information for future purchases.

8. Make the Shipping and Billing Addresses the Same

These days, consumers make one-third of all their purchases on their phones. Filling out forms is already tedious, and on a small touch screen, it’s even more so. To facilitate the transaction, make their default billing address the same as their shipping address. Customers can always edit their address if necessary—and some will—but this design choice will save the vast majority from typing or even auto-filling the same content twice.

The Multiplication Solution to Cart Abandonment

These changes are powerful in isolation—so when combined, their effect is definitely noticeable. Consumers become confident, comfortable, and empowered, which means your “Order Confirmation” page will be showing up on far more screens than before.

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