77% of online shoppers abandoned their carts in 2013, at a cost globally of $3 trillion, the majority of them on sites selling fashion or electronic goods. While there are many reasons why carts are abandoned, there are just as many tactics that the shrewd e-commerce store can use to prevent it. Here’s a rundown of five key areas where it’s easy to make some simple changes that can drastically cut abandonment rates…

 

Site Optimisation

Just as a physical store will have staff regularly walking the aisles to straighten clothes on rails or re-stock empty shelves, the online store needs constant attention;

  • Pages should load quickly to stop customers from getting frustrated and clicking away.
  • Any broken links or images should be detected and fixed regularly.
  • Reduce window shoppers by making as much information available as possible – sizing, prices, availability and material details.
  • If the store is operating in multiple countries then it will need to be set-up so payment can be taken in a range of currencies and, if possible, content will also be available in several languages.
  • Any e-commerce site not yet optimised for mobile devices is at serious risk of falling behind the times. Mobile sales rose by 63% last year and that figure is only going one way. This should be the number-one priority for any retailer in 2014.

Speedy Checkout

Complicated, time-consuming payment procedures are a big turn-off for online shoppers. You don’t want to spend twice as long paying for something than you spent searching for in the first place.

  • Keep checkout forms short and simple, and all on the same page.
  • Retain details so if a customer doesn’t fill in a required field or makes a mistake they don’t need to fill the whole form in again.
  • Introduce guest account facilities so new customers don’t have to go to the bother of creating a profile.
  • Many e-commerce platforms have plug-ins available that allow for one-step checkouts which make the process far smoother.

Transparency and Security

Many people are wary of online shopping, especially if they haven’t visited a site before. Building trust between store and customer is essential and a good way to do this is to avoid adding any unexpected costs right at the last minute.

  • Add recognised trust seals such as Norton or McAfee on the checkout page – The McAfee logo for instance has apparently been proven to increase sales by up to 6%.
  • Alert customers clearly to shipping costs and timing so they don’t have a nasty surprise when they come to pay. Shipping costs are the number one reason why people abandon carts so if you can’t cut them out, at least make people aware of them at an early stage.
  • Try a plug-in that will give accurate costs based on the customer’s post-code rather than just an estimate.

Retargeting

Approximately 72% of people return to their carts within 12 hours so contacting them as soon as possible is essential.

  • Nearly half of all automated emails concerning abandoned carts are opened, and over a third of them lead to an eventual purchase. If your store isn’t doing this yet then you need to look into it.
  • Asking if customers need technical support, or any product advice, is a tactic proven to work, as is offering discounts.
  • Cookies position your ads on the sites people visit after they leave yours, a handy reminder.
  • It can’t hurt to tempt people into doubling-down – include in abandonment emails information about other products that could accompany what’s already in their carts.

Support

If you have the capacity to offer real-time customer support then this can prove invaluable not only for cart abandonment but also relationship-building.

  • Clearly indicate customer support details on the site and on the check-out page especially, including phone number, email address and online chat if possible.
  • Make sure that all the information a customer should need about the products on sale is clearly available.