How To Ensure Online Shoppers Complete Ecommerce Transactions

Have you had enough of abandoned shopping carts? What can you do to eliminate missed sales?

A comprehensive global survey of ecommerce websites earlier this year concluded that three quarters of online shopping carts are abandoned rather than purchased. That might seem shocking, but SaleCycle’s findings are very much in line with previous analysis by IBM and Listrak. Abandonment rates remain extremely high across ecommerce. This is clearly a problem for retailers who have typically invested heavily in attracting customers to their websites in the first place.The thing is what are businesses doing about this rate?

Under Pressure

Delving deeper into the statistics, high-value items like travel bookings are more likely to be abandoned than fashion goods, with abandonment rates of 80.1% and 68.8% respectively. This provides the first clue about why customers might walk away – time pressure. Many tourism-related purchases like airline flights or concert tickets involve on-screen countdown timers, unsympathetically declaring the minutes and seconds a customer has to complete their order before everything is lost. That’s a degree of pressure that really shouldn’t be applied unless it’s absolutely essential – and it rarely is. This is about user experience and it’s time to take that into consideration and be more empathetic.

Return To Sender

Conversely, reputable fashion websites do their best to minimize the hard sell with clear exchange and returns policies alongside detailed sizing information. Customers are more likely to make a purchase when they know they can return it if something’s wrong or unsuitable. However, returning online orders through the post is still a major inconvenience. Meanwhile, comprehensive sizing details reassure people that the item will be fit for purpose. And this is the third golden rule for retail ecommerce – supply as much info as you possibly can on each product. Detailed spec lists, photos from every angle (or 360-degree views), basic instructions…you can’t give a wavering consumer too much data. Your aim is to get them to concentrate and help them press that buy button.

Lip Service

Another useful source of customer information is peer reviews. This requires a leap of faith, since clients can be very critical for relatively trivial reasons. However, encouraging satisfied customers to leave a review (perhaps by offering a discount voucher on their next purchase) will build confidence far more than self-penned marketing hyperbole. In our increasingly cynical age, there is still a surprising amount of trust levied in the opinions of other individuals ‘like us’, reflected in the enduring popularity of sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp. However, this year Amazon has cleaned up their act to eliminate fake reviews. Consumers need to learn to trust those reviews again as they remain powerful evidence for effective business.

Devil In The Details

A recent survey by Baynard concluded that the biggest reason for checkout abandonment was additional costs, such as postage or taxes. It’s best to be completely transparent up front about what customers will have to pay, since deceptively low headline prices will soon be exposed. Other common abandonment issues included having to create an account, complicated checkout processes, a lack of payment methods or site errors. All of these can easily be addressed with streamlined registration and cookie processing, plus a 12-field-or-less checkout procedure offering multiple payment options. Rigorous proofreading and debugging of the site should be conducted regularly, on a variety of desktop and mobile browsers. Fear about adding credit card details and inconspicuous data security also don’t help.

Follow Up

Even if the customer has left your site and all hope seems lost, there are still ways to encourage a conversion. More than 90% of SMS messages are read within three minutes of receipt, so a well-timed text could persuade someone to go back – particularly if it contains a further incentive for completing the deal. SaleCycle’s survey suggested almost 30% of SMS follow-ups led to a recovered sale. Customers were at least considering a purchase if they visited your site, and a time-limited incentive can often tip the balance. A follow-up email is also worth considering, providing it’s a one-off. Few people will be keen to revisit a website if they’re being pestered for having visited it in the first place…

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