02 Jul A field guide to ecommerce & selling online – Part 3
Why are online retailers losing over 68% of their sales and what can you do about it?
Your eCommerce store is losing money. I haven’t looked at it, I don’t even know its URL but I can tell that you are losing money because the statistics support it. Every day you are losing potential sales through your online store. Cart abandonment remains one of the biggest challenges for online retailers. Exactly how big? According to a recent report, 68% of consumers will abandon their shopping carts this year with rates as high as 80% in some sectors. To put this in perspective, the forecast predicts worldwide online sales to reach £815.19 billion this year. And the value of abandoned carts will represent a whopping £1.75 trillion. [Tweet “Cart abandonment remains one of the biggest challenges for online retailers. Exactly how big?”] Think about those numbers a minute. Out of every 100 potential customers, over 67 leave without purchasing anything, How much would your revenue increase if you were capturing those sales instead of losing them? Lets look at a quick example. Lets assume you recover and convert 25% of these abandoned carts. If your online store is currently turning over £15,000 a months, that 25% increase in sales would represent an annual increase in turnover of £45,000.
So what can you do to try and get a piece of that?
First we need to understand the reasons for cart abandonment. According to Statista there are 14 core reasons cited for cart abandonment. [Tweet “56% of abandoned carts result from unclear pricing “] Lets take a closer look at 3 of these and see what we can do about them.
Presented with unexpected costs
Right at the top, the number one reason for people leaving your store is unexpected costs. 56% of abandoned carts result from unclear pricing and shipping details. I’m sure you have experienced this before, you add items to your cart only to find that VAT wasn’t included in the price or that shipping costs were higher than expected. It hits you like a dash of cold water to the face and brings you down from that shopping high.
Website crashed or too slow
[Tweet “The whole experience of shopping online is supposed to be fast, I mean super fast”] This is a massive issue for customers. The whole experience of shopping online is supposed to be fast, I mean super fast. Just look at how easy it is to end up with a delivery van full of things from Amazon; click – your item is on its way. If your site is plagued by slow page loads and a slow checkout process, your customers will go and find a company with a website that meets their expectations of speedy online shopping. Many off-the-shelf systems are plagued with speed issues due to their excessive amount of (often unnecessary) features.
Website navigation too complicated
Again, online shoppers want a fast efficient experience. This is why they are on your website in the first place and not heading off to their local high street. Your website navigation extends to all areas of your online shop, especially your cart and checkout pages. Whether you choose a single page checkout or a multipage checkout, your customers must be able to progress fluidly from shopping to checking and amending their cart and finally making payment.
Reducing cart abandonment
[Tweet “Online retailers are losing money every day by ignoring cart abandonment.”] There are two broad areas where we can take steps to reduce the effect of abandoned carts.
- Before cart abandonment (conversion optimisation)
- After cart abandonment (conversion recovery)
Before cart abandonment
This is taking steps to ensure all stages of your shopping experience are smooth, logical and efficient. This is making sure that you address as many fears that your customers might have about shopping on your website as possible.
Show images in cart
Use thumbnails of the actual items that customers are buying rather than relying solely on text descriptions. This will increase your customer’s confidence that they have selected the right items. If they are shopping in a hurry and they can’t be sure they have the right items, they may put the purchase off till later. And we all know how often later never comes.
With 17% of customers saying they abandon their carts over concerns about security you need to do everything you can to reassure them. A report in GetElastic showed that one online retailer saw an increase in sales of 4-6% by placing a security logo on their site.
Single vs Multipage checkout
There is no clear answer as to which is the best for a checkout process. The result vary between sectors and businesses so it is important to carry out your own A/B tests. If you do decide to go for a multipage checkout process it is essential to have a progress indicator to show your customers how far they have to go. It is also essential that your customers can move easily in both directions at all stages of the process. This is a real no no.
Easy to edit cart
Your customers need to be able to easily understand how to add, remove or change quantity of items in their cart through as much of the checkout process as possible. Customers don’t want to be tied into a checkout page. If they want to return to your product pages and add more items this shouldn’t mean they need to start the whole process of adding items to the cart again. Try including a “Continue shopping button”.
Offer as many payment methods as you are able
It’s not surprising to see some real heavyweight online retailers like Newegg starting to accept Bitcoins. They know that more payment options equals more sales. Consider accepting Visa, Barclaycard, MasterCard, American Express and Paypal as standard. Poundland saw an increase in sales of over 14% by deciding to include American Express in it’s payment options.
Provide a free phone number for sales support if you can but avoid 0845 numbers as they carry increased charges from many mobile networks. If you have the resources you might want to add instant chat support. Make these support channels highly visible throughout the checkout process. Much better that your customer asks any questions they have now and completes their order than leave the site after sending an email or contact form.
No forced registration
Being forced to register an account is a massive turn off for many consumers. Even return customers often have a negative experience when they fail to remember the user name and password they set last time. A study carried out by User Interface Engineering showed a 45% increase in sales when forced registrations were removed. [Tweet “Being forced to register an account is a massive turn off for many consumers”]
Offering free shipping is no longer a USP for online retailers, it is the expected level of service. An article published by Deloitte showed that 68% of consumers were more likely to shop with a company that offered free shipping.
Add testimonials and reviews
It is no surprise that testimonials and reviews from previous customers increase confidence for your shoppers. Make sure these are integrated well with your cart. Display review ratings along side product descriptions and maybe include a testimonial from a customer who has made similar purchases in the past.
Price guarantee, refunds
Remember that 36% of consumers don’t finish their order because of price. Offering a price guarantee can reassure customers that they are getting the best deal. The increase in overall sales should far outweigh the occasions where you will need to reduce your prices. And by having a clear and simple refunds process you are adding piece of mind to the transaction.
After cart abandonment
After making sure you have addressed as many of the preceding issues as possible it is time to think about a strategy for the remaining abandoned carts.
Re-marketing works by tracking who visits your site and what they add to their carts. If they abandon the transaction, they are shown ads for the items when they visit popular sites that display adverts. You can even set up remarketing campaigns that offer a discount to encourage consumers to return and complete their purchase. Remarketing campaigns have been known to recapture up to 30% of customers so regardless of how it make you feel personally, if you can use remarketing, you probably should.
Email recovery campaigns
If you use a multipage checkout process, it is easy to capture your customer’s email addresses. An email recovery campaign sends emails directly to visitors who abandon their carts. Here’s how it works. You set up a series of 1-3 emails that get sent out over intervals after a visitor leaves your site without completing a purchase. The emails should include;
- Images of the items they selected
- Reviews & testimonials that relate to items
- Guarantee and refund policy
- A strong call to action to return to your site
Timing the emails
- 1st email – should be sent out within 24 hours of abandoning a cart
- 2nd email – send within 2 days
- 3rd email – send within 1 week
Recovery email have been shown to be a very effective way to recover customers, with open rates of nearly 50%. The click through rate is similarly high with nearly a 3rd of opened emails resulting in a return visit to complete a purchase.
Stop letting sales walk out the door
Online retailers are losing money every day by ignoring cart abandonment. You will never get to a point of zero abandoned carts but you can certainly take steps to ensure as many of them come back as possible. Build these ideas into your eCommerce strategy from day one any you’ll be making the most from your investment into selling online. If you missed them, be sure to check out part 1 and part 2 of our Field Guide to eCommerce.