Featured Guest Blog: Abandonment Issues: Reducing Lost Ecommerce Sales

How does your checkout process stack up?

Our good buddies over at Cartstack were kind enough to talk to us about one of the most common ways ecommerce businesses lose revenue— and how to avoid it.

We’re proud to present to you their guide on how ecommerce companies can deal with cart abandonment issues, streamline their checkout process, and ultimately reduce lost sales.

Guest Blog from CartStack.com, by Nick Nelson

Imagine running a marathon, pushing yourself through 26 grueling miles, and then collapsing with a mere 300 yards remaining in front of you.

This is, essentially, the equivalent of letting a customer slip away during the checkout process in your online store.

Much work goes into reaching this point, where a shopper has arrived at your site and loaded items into his or her cart, so when the sale evaporates at the last minute it is a deflating feeling, and one that can take a major toll on your bottom line.

Unfortunately, it happens to be an extremely common occurrence in the world of ecommerce.

According to the Baymard Institute, which keeps a running average of 34 different tracking sources, the overall cart abandonment rate currently sits around 69 percent. Some outlets have reported numbers approaching 80 percent.

So, why does this happen so frequently, and what can you do about it?

Why People Abandon Carts

Per Baymard, the primary reason that shoppers drop out during the checkout process — by a wide margin — is unexpected extra costs. This can include taxes or additional fees but usually it’s related to shipping expenses.

Here’s a rundown of the other common culprits:

Hidden add-on fees or shipping costs: 61%

Account registration requirement: 35%

Long or complicated checkout process: 27%

Couldn’t see/calculate cost up-front: 24%

Technical errors or loading issues on site: 22%

Security/privacy concerns: 22%

Let’s be honest: in many cases, there’s nothing you can do to deter an abandoned cart. Oftentimes individuals are merely browsing, or comparison shopping. They may simply add an item to their cart to get a definitive look at the cost with no real intention of following through.

However, knowing the underlying causes behind this phenomenon, there are a few simple steps you can take to cut down on lost sales significantly.

Be transparent with shipping costs. These fees are obviously unavoidable in many cases, because retailers can’t sustainably assume transport expenses while offering good prices. But make sure you’re up front with factoring these costs in and explaining them.

Don’t force users to register for an account! We can’t emphasize this enough. It’s a great idea to have optional registration, so you can collect data and continually engage customers, but an easy guest checkout choice is an absolute must.

Keep the checkout funnel simple and navigable. A complicated process will repel users, particularly those who aren’t particularly web-savvy. Make it as easy as possible for people to see where they’re at, go back, add products, ask questions, etc.

Promote your security and trustworthiness. If you have certifications or badges, display them prominently. Some individuals have major reluctance to share credit card info and personal details online. Provide every assurance that their sensitive data is safe with you.

Test, test, test. Exhaustive usability testing will illuminate any snags in the checkout process. Routinely inspect technical functionality. Utilize A/B testing to identify optimal approaches.

And finally, FOLLOW UP! This is far and away the most important thing you can do to reduce abandoned carts. Sometimes, all it takes is a gentle reminder email to bring back a wayward customer — in fact, 15 percent of users on average will complete a sale when they receive a follow-up message.

At CartStack, this is what we do. Our automated reminder emails are helping companies across the country recover thousands of dollars in lost revenue, with minimal work on their end. If you’re skeptical, then we invite you to try out the service on your ecommerce site free for a month. No credit card required. You’ve got nothing to lose and plenty to gain.