No, you’re not losing *that* much money in your cart

I’ve been reading a bit recently on how to improve the online shopping experience, and how to solve the dreaded cart abandonment problem.

You’ve probably seen calculations along these lines …

You have 100 transactions a day that are worth $50 each, but 50% of the people who start a transaction in your store don’t complete it. If you could eliminate the problems in your cart, you’d double your revenue. Whoopee!.

No, you won’t.

Those calculations assume that everyone who adds something to a cart intends to buy, and it’s just your lousy cart that stops the sale.

We all know that’s not true. Visitors add things to carts for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with an intent to buy. They might only want to see the full cost — e.g., with shipping — to decide if they’re interested. They might want to save the product and go look at some other options. They might want to recommend it to their spouse as a good gift idea, and your site doesn’t have a wish list.

Even the most genius, perfectly designed e-commerce site in the world is going to have some cart abandonment.

That doesn’t mean we should be complacent about it. We should try to reduce cart abandonment even though we can’t eliminate it.

Here are some of the top tips I’ve seen.

Avoid unexpected costs, which is one of the top reasons people abandon their carts. Heavy shipping fees can ruin the sale.

Make the site mobile friendly. That should go without saying, but … it doesn’t. A lot of sites look horrible on mobile, and many people make purchases on their phones.

Use trust badges. Norton is the most trusted name, but a security badge is better than no security badge.

Include as many payment options as you can. This can be a big hassle on the back end, so you’re going to have to make a compromise between “what’s good for my cart” and “what makes accounting want to kill me.”

I have a suspicion that adding Paypal or Amazon checkout helps sales on mobile — since who wants to enter all their data on a silly phone keyboard? — but I haven’t seen any confirmation of that theory.

Allow guest checkout. If you make visitors join your club or create an account, you’re going to lose some people. That might be okay, depending on your business model. Just be aware that the more you ask, the more people you’ll lose.

Use product thumbnails if that’s applicable to your business.

Use proper calls to action. “Checkout” should be bigger and bolder than “update cart” or any other functional badge on your page.

There are other things you can experiment with, but those seem like the big ones to me.

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