Forbes published an article about improving online checkout processes today, with some interesting stats about shopping cart abandonment. Most notably, 68% of people who put something in an online shopping cart leave without making a purchase. (Source: Baymard Institute)
'Presented with unexpected costs' was the number-one reason (56%) for abandoning a shopping cart.
OK. But why are they leaving? Is it just human nature (either online or in-store)? Sometimes you put things in the cart a) to see how much it all costs once you include tax, shipping, etc. b) or to simply mull the possible purchase over and c) ultimately change your mind. Many people put things in their shopping cart and forget they’re there until the next time they visit that website. It's kind of like a running “wish list.”
Below are some reasons for shopping cart abandonment, as reported by WorldPay in 2013:
Looking at the graph, I don’t see any real surprises related to shopping cart abandonment, as I’ve had personal experience with almost every item on that list. When I shop online, I tend to throw a bunch of items into a basket that I might be interested in and then compare them when I’m done browsing.
My initial shopping cart is often more for comparing than actually buying.
When I review my cart I look at each item more closely and decide whether I really want or need it. I also like checking to see what the final total of my order is going to be with shipping and I’ll compare a couple of different sites to see if I can get a better deal.
If one site lists the item price at $50 and $25 shipping charge, but another site has the same item for $60 and free shipping, I’ll opt to pay more for the product and ditch the shipping costs. I don’t think you can really change this type of browsing behavior in people, or the fact that they found a better deal somewhere else (unless you opt to lower your prices), but ensuring they have a really great experience when browsing your site and throwing things into a cart can help persuade their purchasing decisions.
The main goal of the Forbes article is to present "Six Ways to Improve Your Checkout Process," and author Neil Patel offers some pretty standard advice.
1. Make checkout mobile-friendly: Optimizing for mobile makes sense. Checking out online can be difficult enough from a PC but when you shrink that experience down to a mobile device it can be even more difficult. I don’t generally shop from my phone because I find it slow and tedious and a lot of sites are poorly designed for mobile. I might be more inclined to shop from my phone if the experience was better.
I rarely shop from my phone. It's slow, tedious and most sites aren't designed to close sales via mobile.
2. Use a progress indicator: Progress indicators are also helpful when it comes to letting the user know how far along they are into the checkout process, and how many steps it will take until their purchase is complete. However, adding a progress indicator should not act as a solution to an extremely lengthy checkout process. A 10-step process is inexcusable when it can be completed in three and no amount of progress indication will fix that.
3. Be generous with payment options: Providing a generous number of payment options certainly does give the user more choice, but I’ve never been put off by a website that doesn’t support a certain payment method. Most tend to have at least a couple of the major credit cards and a PayPal option.
Guest checkouts are awesome. End of story.
4. Don’t require membership or login: Guest checkouts are awesome. End of story. I do not want to be forced to create an account for every single website I want to make a purchase from. Even worse are websites where you are required to create an account before even adding items to your cart. I just won’t sign up and therefore won’t buy anything.
5. Put security features everywhere: Security is always an important issue. Providing users with reassurance that their information is safe can be comforting to some, but I would still be inclined to do a little research on any company I was unfamiliar with first, no matter how many security logos they have splashed on their screen.
Don't ask me about my neighbor's cousin's cat. I just want to buy some shoes.
6. Request only the essential information: The less is more principle applies well to required form fields. Most of the time I don’t mind entering my information, whether its required or not, but being forced to enter in tons of extraneous data is a bit off putting, especially if there are no clear indications as to which fields are required or not. No one likes getting a page full of errors when they hit the submit button reminding them that every single field is required. Tell me upfront and don’t ask me questions about my neighbor’s cousin’s cat’s favourite treats, I just want to buy some shoes.