Your customers are deserting you!
That's what abandoned online shopping carts feel like. But are they really deserting you? Understanding why shoppers leave their carts can help you minimize the occurrence on your site and in some cases, gain insight into their shopping habits and preferences.
- Shipping costs.
Shipping costs are a common reason for uncompleted online sales. Reasons vary. The shopper is comparing shipping costs among several sites; the intended purchase isn't enough to qualify for free shipping; or the shipping cost is simply too high. And the only thing customers dislike more than shipping costs are hidden shipping costs. Don't bury the information until late in the checkout process! And if you offer free shipping with a minimum purchase, mention it often throughout your site.
- The shopping cart as wish list.
Many shoppers treat shopping carts more like wish lists. They put in all the items they'd like to buy then just leave them there. And often the larger the purchase, the longer they take to decide — just like real, live shopping. Although some shoppers never return to their virtual carts, the ones who do often purchase more than they originally intended.
- Changing shopping habits.
Many consumers now shop from multiple devices — smartphones, tablets and computers. They fill their shopping cart using their smartphone in the store to compare prices, but delay the actual purchase until they're on a home computer or tablet. Or some start shopping online but finish the process in the store. Once again, what looks like an abandoned cart is simply one step in the shopping process. Is your website able to serve up the contents of the abandoned cart upon the shopper's next visit on different platforms? If not, you may be missing out on sales.
Consumers are increasingly concerned about identity theft and are becoming savvier about online security. They've been told to look for indications that sites are secure such as SSL (secure socket layers) encryption. Make sure you're providing the level of security your customers expect.
Don't ask customers to supply non-essential personal information. Asking for Social Security numbers and birthdates raises red flags with shoppers who know this information is gold to identity thieves. And when you send emails to customers, never include their complete account number or other sensitive information. Consumers avoid sites where they have concerns about their security.
- Payment flexibility.
The more payment options you provide, the more likely customers are to complete a sale. That means accepting payment through online services like PayPal as well as all major credit cards.
When you find these abandoned carts, consider email to remind them of items still in their carts. Include an offer customized to their cart contents, and you might save a sale that was otherwise lost. There are even programs that will send an automated email to shoppers who abandon their carts, offering incentives for completing the purchase or asking if they would like their shopping cart emailed to them.
An abandoned shopping cart isn't always a bad sign. It's what you do afterward that makes the difference.
For help with marketing, finance, business ideas, management or growing your business, visit your local Small Business
& Technology Development Center.
This story was featured in the August 2013 newsletter