Holiday eCommerce: 5 Tips to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment

Sometimes a visitor to your online store initiates the checkout process only to leave without completing the purchase. That bailing-out process, commonly known as shopping cart abandonment, is a big challenge for retailers every Christmas season.

Last May, Forrester Research found that – in spite of improvements to website design and consumer acceptance of online shopping – 88 percent of web buyers admit to having abandoned an online shopping cart prior to completing a transaction.

This is the same percentage as five years ago, suggesting that retailers have yet to address the primary drivers of cart abandonment: frustration with the amount of shipping costs, unpreparedness to make a purchase, and a desire to comparison-shop for a lower price,” wrote Forrester’s researchers, Sucharita Mulpuru and Peter Hult.

So what can you do to reduce shopping cart abandonment?” asks Charles Nicholls of (Oct. 7). He suggests considering why customers abandon the carts in the first place (referring to the same Forrester study):

  • Price, especially shipping and handling, and shopping around for a deal
  • Not ready to buy

Nicholls, however, says the research tends to miss the emotional reasons for abandoning a shopping cart. “(Examples of these emotions are) confidence in the brand, service and – if your site is not a global brand – the basic worry of doing business online with an unfamiliar brand.”

Nicholls offers the following 5 Tips to Reduce Holiday Season Shopping Cart Abandonment:

1. Drive down shipping and handling costs.The number-one reason why customers abandon shopping carts is the cost of shipping and handling. While you may have seasonal free shipping promotions planned, these are tactical and it is difficult to offer free shipping more broadly. But driving down your shipping costs to rock bottom should be a priority at this time of year. This should have a measurable impact on your conversion rates.”

2. Minimum order free shipping.If you can’t offer free shipping, offer free shipping above a minimum order value. This should increase your average order value. Display prominently the minimums required for free shipping. Tell customers how much more they need to spend to get free shipping.” Another viable option for wireless retailers is allowing buyers to pick up their item at the store location nearest them. That way, they bypass the worry of the product being sold out during the Christmas rush.

3. Give them valid voucher codes.We know customers are looking for deals at this time of year, and it is important to recognize this behavior. eCommerce sites that provide a list of valid voucher codes on their website have found that they reduce both affiliate fees as well as increase conversions. For example, Macy’s gets a 40 percent conversion on visitors to its voucher pages. An additional tactic to consider is to move the coupon code box down the checkout process to make it a bit harder to shop for voucher codes. If customers still abandon with invalid voucher codes, then trigger a real-time e-mail with a valid voucher code.”

4. E-mail me this’ button on product detail pages.In the run up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we know that customers change their behavior in anticipation of holiday promotions. The shopping cart abandonment rate changes dramatically as customers move into a research mode, waiting for the promotion to be rolled out… Sending the customer an e-mail with an item they were viewing is a great way to provide a reminder that they can keep in their in box together with an easy link back to the page. This is a very simple remarketing technique that works very well and isn’t hard to do. It also has the benefit of capturing e-mail addresses.”

5. Promote your phone number.Particularly if your site is not a well recognized brand, promoting your telephone number is important in converting those nervous about doing business with you online. The customer may have questions or just need to believe that there is a real business and a real person behind the website.” I totally agree with this practice, because as an online shopper I’m often annoyed if I can’t find a number to call. Sometimes – when you’re not getting the information you want – you just want to speak to someone and figure it out quickly. Nothing is worse than going to a Contact Us” page and finding no phone number, only to be asked to fill out a form-to-e-mail pop up window.