buy now shopping card keyIt’s the bane of ecommerce merchants everywhere – shopping cart abandonment.  Much like loading up a grocery cart then leaving it in the middle of the store, online shopping cart abandonment is the result of a customer placing items in the website’s shopping cart and just leaving them there, in limbo. The fact is, there are several reasons why consumers abandon online shopping carts, and there are also ways you can prevent abandonment.  Below are some tips that will help turn those abandoned carts into sales, and even repeat customers:

Abandonment Reason #1: Unexpected Costs.  How many times were you ready to make an online purchase, only to discover the shipping and handling costs were much more than you wanted to pay?  This abandonment reason is number one on our list for a good reason – 58 percent of shoppers cited this as their main reason for walking away from an online purchase.  Stating shipping fees up front and offering a variety of shipping options can help ecommerce vendors avoid losing customers to surprise shipping costs.

Abandonment Reason #2: Other Shipping Issues.  Beyond giving consumers options for shipping, this abandonment reason deals with other problems with shipping, including the consumer’s order not being large enough to qualify for free shipping and lengthy shipping times. Examine the threshold for free shipping – if you are getting a lot of abandonments, it might be too high.  Of course it depends on what type of merchandise you sell.  If your goods are more high-end, you might have a higher threshold than if your goods are much less expensive.  Also, consider offering free returns and free 2-day shipping with an enrollment, like Amazon Prime.  Amazon’s customers pay an annual fee and enjoy free 2-day shipping on almost everything on the website.  Very handy especially around the holidays.  And customers love free shipping - a Forrester study found that 61 percent of consumers prefer to shop on a site that offers free shipping. 

Abandonment Reason #3: Not Ready to Purchase.  Sometimes consumers will “window shop” online just as they would in physical stores – walk around, look at the goods, maybe even pick up a few, then put them down and decide to come back later and go off to do some comparison shopping.  Or they wanted to see what the total purchase price would be, including shipping. This is all well and good, but as an ecommerce merchant, you want them to make that purchase! Pop ups or shopping cart recovery emails that remind customers that they have items in their carts or maybe even offering a percentage off the purchase or free shipping if they come back to purchase the items in their carts might give them incentive to come back and complete the sale.

Abandonment Reason #4: Complicated Check-outs. Purchasing items online is all about convenience and ease, and these days most people are leery about giving out information they perceive is not necessary to make an online purchase.  Keep the information you need to just the essentials, and make the forms simple to fill out.  Consider optimizing AutoFill if you can and offer the option to set up an account – this will make the customer’s next purchase fast and easy. Also, consider optimizing your site for mobile.  With mobile commerce reaching $51 billion in 2015, failure to optimize might result in lost sales.

Abandonment Reason #5: Focusing Too Much on New Customers.  It’s happened to all of us – we visit a website from which we have previously purchased something, and we get a pop up offering a discount for new customers. Some websites try so hard to get you to sign up as a new customer, but ironically, it is repeat customers who are likely to bring in the most revenue. A repeat customer’s fifth purchase was, on average, 40 percent larger than the first purchase, and by the time the customer has reached the 10th purchase, it is 80 percent larger than the first!  Repeat customers are also less likely to be as concerned about price as new customers, who may just be looking for a bargain.  Always continue to strive for new customers, but don’t neglect your repeat customers – they are your bread and butter, and then some!

Once you understand the reasons behind shopping cart abandonment, you can boost your conversion rates significantly.  You won’t convert every abandoned cart into a sale, but you can definitely improve your conversions, and by offering some customer-friendly options like free two-day shipping or percent-off of a total purchase, you can also increase your customer base, as well.  A customer who has a positive experience will share that experience with her friends.  It’s just as true in the ecommerce world as it is in the brick-and-mortar one.

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