They’re the internet version of the jilted bride and the scourge of ecommerce sites in every industry: abandoned shopping carts. A customer fills up a shopping cart with items, then abruptly leaves your store empty-handed. When things seemed to be going so well, why did they give up and go?
It’s easy for a store owner to feel helpless about this perplexing problem. But while shoppers abandon an estimated $4 trillion of merchandise in online carts each year, a Business Insider study shows that 63% of that can be recouped.
With the holiday shopping season upon us, now is an excellent time to think about why people are abandoning carts in your store. In this article I’ll discuss seven common reasons customers leave sites without making a purchase, and I’ll propose some solutions for improving your shoppers’ experiences and closing more sales.
1. Shipping is expensive
Nearly half of all shopping carts are abandoned because of shipping costs. Not only are customers more likely to complete purchases when offered free shipping, they also are inclined to spend more money. So if you’re hesitant to offer free shipping because of the costs, consider the extra boost in revenues your company could get from bigger spenders. And if you’re still uneasy about absorbing shipping costs, try placing a minimum order requirement for free shipping to stem the costs.
If you do offer free shipping, make sure you display that fact prominently on your website and mention free shipping on each and every product page.
Discounted or expedited shipping can also entice shoppers to stick with their carts. Offering international shipping can be profitable as well if your products are unique.
No matter what shipping options you offer, make it clear on your website and in your newsletters and social media postings exactly when customers need to place orders to get them in time for Christmas. Jimdo users have the ability to list shipping times for individual store items as well.
2. Product details or photos are inadequate
The recent Business Insider report on abandoned shopping carts revealed that 37% of these shoppers were “just browsing,” and 26% decided against buying. One reason these shoppers were noncommittal or turned down the products could be because they didn’t have enough information to make a purchasing decision.
Since your customers can’t pick up and handle products in your online store, you need to use evocative yet precise words and pictures to make them confident they know exactly what they’re purchasing.
Provide photos of each product from opposing angles and showing scale. If a product comes in different colors or variations, include photos of each option. Fortunately, with all the advances in cameras and image editing technology these days, you don’t have to hire a professional photographer to get studio-grade photos. This Jimdo article has some excellent tips on photographing your products to maximize visual appeal.
In the product description, list the measurements, materials, durability, origin, and special features such as accessories. Make it even more interesting by telling a short tale about the product’s history, design inspiration, or unique craftwork, as Zingerman’s does with their gourmet food items. They get bonus points for including a customer rave in their product description, too.
3. They found a better price elsewhere
The Business Insider study also reported that more than a third of shoppers abandon their carts because they found a similar item on another site for a lower price—sometimes even nominally lower.
Offering a price guarantee whenever possible can stop customers from leaving their carts to price compare. If you can’t provide a price guarantee, then explain why your product is superior to the competition’s and better value in the long run—more durable, timeless design, locally made, etc.
4. The site navigation is confusing
One in four shoppers reports abandoning their carts because the navigation was too complicated, so it’s a good idea to walk through your website on a regular basis to test its usability. Sit down with a friend or a potential customer and watch them try to complete a transaction on your website. You may be surprised at steps that trip them up or details that are missing. A few navigation tips for your store:
- Try to reduce the number of pages a customer has to navigate to complete a purchase.
- To speed up the process, only require customers to provide essential information to process the order, and make all other fields optional.
- Make sure that return policies and other important details are easy to find.
Online stores made with Jimdo automatically display a cart icon hovering in the corner that stays visible as customers navigate to different pages, and the checkout pages allow shoppers to delete items or change the quantity with the click of a button. Both of these features make it easier for customers to use your site.
5. Customer support is poor
A shopper in a boutique can approach a sales clerk easily with a question about a blouse and get a quick answer. Online shoppers all too often don’t receive this level of service and can leave your site in frustration if they can’t get answers right away.
Make it as easy as possible for online shoppers to get the information they need by making your contact details very clear and visible on your website (your website footer is a good place for this). You may even want to install a live-chat feature such as LivePerson or SnapEngage to give virtual shoppers the level of individual attention they expect in a brick-and-mortar store.
6. Returns or exchanges aren’t free
Online retail studies have shown that free returns and exchanges drive shoppers to complete purchases almost as much as free or expedited shipping. By letting your customers know that you offer free returns and exchanges, you can decrease cart abandonment and close more sales.
If you don’t offer free returns, do everything you can to make the return or exchange process as painless as possible for the consumer. Provide them with pre-addressed packaging for return shipments along with clear, detailed instructions on the return procedure.
7. The store didn’t encourage the shopper to return
It’s incredibly important to follow up with shoppers who abandon carts, yet few e-commerce sites do. The shopper almost made a purchase, after all, so they’re interested in your store. And according to a report from SeeWhy, three-fourths of all cart abandoners intend to return to the site to complete a purchase, so you want to keep your brand fresh in their minds.
With this in mind, businesses are starting to look at the abandoned cart not as a lost sale, but as a signal of consumer interest. Retargeting these hesitant shoppers with follow-up emails and messages has been shown to draw them back to complete their purchases.
A regular email newsletter with holiday specials and product reminders can keep your shop front-of-mind and encourage people to return. More advanced users might consider specific cart abandoner tools, which charge varying fees. AbandonAid, for example, can trigger an email message fitted with product pictures and details based on shopper behavior. CartRescuer does this plus on-site messaging through pop-ups containing customized offers and quick surveys on customers’ shopping intentions and experiences on your site.
While you’ll never be able to convert every single shopper to a paying customer, there are plenty of steps you can take to turn a near-miss into a sealed deal. I’d love to hear from shop owners below about their own experiences and what measures they’ve found effective at converting sales.