A customer comes to your online store, fills up a shopping cart, then leaves with no explanation. 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 upwards of 75% of shopping carts are abandoned, there’s a lot you can do to encourage shoppers to actually finish the checkout process.
In this article we’ll discuss seven common reasons customers leave online stores without making a purchase, and propose some solutions for improving your shoppers’ experiences and closing more sales.
1. You don’t offer free shipping—or your shipping is too slow
More than half of all shopping carts are abandoned because shipping is too expensive. That’s why for years, free shipping has been the gold standard for ecommerce (9 out of 10 consumers say that free shipping is their number one consideration when shopping online).
But free shipping that takes 10-14 business days may not cut it anymore. Now, customers are factoring in the speed of shipping too—and they want their packages quickly. Researchers are finding that offering one-day shipping or same-day shipping can be a major incentive for picky customers, even if it costs extra.
Free shipping may increase sales, but that doesn’t mean it will increase profits, unless you’re careful. If you’re hesitant to offer free shipping because of the costs, consider placing a minimum order amount (say, free shipping on orders over $50). A threshold like this works because of the well-studied psychology of online shopping: we’re actually very willing to spend more money than we intended if that means we qualify for free shipping.
Here’s more information about how to set your shipping costs with Jimdo, including setting a minimum order amount to qualify for free shipping. And here’s a helpful guide on how to calculate your store’s own free shipping threshold.
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.
2. You don’t show enough product details or photos
Depending on the study, about two-thirds of shoppers abandon their carts because they are “just browsing.” One reason these shoppers are noncommittal 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 descriptive 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, give as many details as you can. 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. Adding these extra details will help your SEO too, so it’s a win/win. To fit all this useful information, we recommend creating a product page for each item in your store. That way you can add extra details, photos, reviews, SEO keywords, and more.
3. Your store doesn’t look trustworthy
Online shoppers are becoming more aware of site security and the risks of giving out their personal information, and that’s a good thing. But it also means that they might be more skeptical of completing a purchase if your online store doesn’t display some markers of trustworthiness.
Fortunately, all Jimdo websites are already equipped with HTTPS encryption, so that your customers’ data is safe. Other indicators of trust that can help, like:
- displaying reviews and testimonials from real customers (here are some widgets we recommend that can help)
- Writing up a clear description of your store policies, including returns and refunds, shipping, and any other common issues or points of confusion (an FAQ is a great way to do this).
- Using a simple design without a lot of gimmicks.
For more on creating a website that people can feel sure about, check out our post How to Build a Website Customers Will Trust. Also, if you have customers in the EU, make sure you’re aware of some of the data protection practices in the new GDPR regulations.
4. The checkout is too long and confusing
Almost 30% of shoppers reports abandoning their carts because the checkout process 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, your contact information, 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. There’s not enough customer support
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). Adding a detailed FAQ is also a good idea. This is where you can answer common questions about shipping, refunds, and store policies.
Jimdo also has a LiveChat app for Android and iOS. With this app, you can get an alert in real time when there’s a customer on your website and initiate a live conversation right away. This will give virtual shoppers the same level of individual attention they expect in a brick-and-mortar store.
Other live chat options we like include Tidio, LivePerson, or SnapEngage.
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’re concerned that a lax return policy will just mean more headaches for you, take a look at some of the research. Recently the University of Texas-Dallas analyzed the results of 21 research studies, and found that lenient return policies did result in more returns, but they were more strongly correlated with an increase in 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. You should also offer people plenty of time to return their item, since the study above found that this actually makes people more likely to keep it!
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. Datacrushers, 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. Plus, all of these steps to save abandoned carts will translate to a better shopping experience for your customers, too.