How to Resolve 3 Common Obstacles that Prevent Online Shoppers from Completing Cart Checkouts

Jack Maden
Written by Jack Maden
February 12, 2020

With worldwide sales expected to top $20 trillion in 2020, the retail industry is booming. Holiday retail sales during November and December 2019 alone reached $730.2 billion.

But that doesn’t mean as a retailer you can rest on your laurels. Retail today is a hugely competitive space, with traditional stores going head-to-head with online-only merchants and tech-savvy direct-to-consumer (D2C) digital disruptors. Globally ecommerce sales are set to make up 16% of all transactions in 2020, an increase of 19%.

In addition, customers are inundated with choice. They won’t hesitate to go elsewhere if they are not provided with exceptional customer experience. One Gartner analyst describes the customer experience (CX) as “the new marketing battlefront,” with 81% of firms competing on it in 2019. Indeed, 55% of US shoppers say that just one bad experience would stop them from returning to a brand.

Online transactions are a huge part of any retailer’s sales channel. And that means no retailer can afford for a visitor to abandon their shopping cart or leave their website feeling frustrated with their experience, for whatever reason. So why do almost seven out of ten shoppers abandon their shopping cart before completing their purchase?

Here are three ways to counter common cart abandonment challenges:

1. Streamline experiences that frustrate customers

Broken, unclear, and slow-loading screens – whether in a web browser or mobile app – are a major contributor to shoppers going elsewhere before completing their purchase. After waiting only three seconds for a page to load, two-thirds of shoppers will leave a website. According to Walmart and Amazon, every second after the three-second mark costs retailers up to seven percent in conversion.

This is confirmed by a 2019 evaluation conducted of 80 major retail websites, which discovered that consumers not only abandon retail sites because they’re slow, but also take definitive actions after leaving. These include buying  from a competing retailer, posting complaints on social media, or never returning to the brand.

Even small improvements in usability can provide a significant boost to sales. For example, adding drop-down menus with common options to select from or providing popular suggestions via a search function, can save customers’ time and reduce error rates.

2. Prevent checkout chaos

If a customer experiences broken links, they can’t find the information they require, or they are simply presented with too many options during checkout, they are likely to abandon their shopping session.

Therefore, during all stages of the customer journey – from researching the product to making price comparisons to purchasing – the customer’s next step should be clearly indicated. Search and navigation features should be clear and easy-to-use, forms should be intuitive, and checkout should be simple and clear.

For example, pre-populating forms help make checkout faster, easier, and more likely to be completed for returning customers.

In addition, calls to action (CTAs) are integral to the checkout process. Whether these are ‘Add to Cart,’ ‘Buy,’ or ‘Confirm’ buttons, their positioning is crucial. Keeping CTAs in the same, prominent position during the customer’s checkout journey will streamline the experience and help increase conversions. Tesco saw a 70% uplift in step conversion by simplifying the number of options presented to a user and keeping the placement of the ‘Next Checkout Stage’ button consistent.

3. Apply strategic personalization to user journeys

Why should an online shopper stick around if they don’t see what they are looking for, aren’t presented with options that reflect their taste, or are uninspired to make a purchase? Why should they care about your brand if it seems you are not invested in them?

Just 22% of consumers are satisfied with the level of personalization they receive when shopping online, which means about four out of five retailers are failing to inspire a customer to make a purchase.

There’s no excuse for that in today’s landscape. With modern technology, you can collect a wealth of data around the user experience on your website and pay more attention to your customers’ digital body language. Personalization helps brands create deeper emotional bonds with their customers by listening to, remembering, and understanding their needs. That also goes a long way toward encouraging their loyalty.

One example is online supermarket Ocado, which offers customers the choice to create personalized shopping lists, pre-populate their baskets with regular items and prioritize their ‘favorites’ – even if customers want to import these from rival retailers. Ocado also reminds customers across three stages of checkout of any potential missed offers, and if favorites are missing from their shopping basket, as well as flash sales on products customers might like, based on their shopping history – all before reaching the payment page.

Gartner says organizations that invested in all types of online personalization outsell companies that have not by more than 30%.

Similarly, today’s customers also demand an omnichannel experience, where they visit multiple websites, mobile apps, or other digital touchpoints before purchasing. Therefore it’s critical that messaging, offerings, and targeting be consistent across all channels and platforms.

Take Steps to Improve the Digital Experience You Offer Your Customers

Remember, users rarely follow the logical steps digital teams intend for them during checkout. Getting clear visibility into the actual paths they take is crucial if you are to remove barriers to online transactions.

For a whole host of ideas and tips to share with your team for ecommerce success in the 2020s, download our ecommerce e-guide, which brings you 17 Powerful Ideas to Boost conversions and Revenue.

This includes:

  • Identifying any bottlenecks in the customer experience
  • Getting a visual representation of how your customers are interacting with your web pages
  • Helping optimization teams maintain a customer-first mindset as they address any technical issues, and more.
Topics: Conversion Optimization, Ecommerce, Online Retail
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