Online sales continue to boom in the UK, with the ONS (Office for National Statistics) revealing that this sales channel alone is now worth £130 billion per year. Indeed, according to the latest research from Barclays Corporate Banking, UK retail could benefit from a £10.5 billion boost over five years by investing in strategies that will make online purchasing easier.
Small businesses that already have an online presence, or are developing their e-commerce systems now, need to pay close attention to how they handle the checkout process. With sales via mobile devices – and increasingly via apps – continuing to expand, as consumers browse and buy on the move, it’s critical that they can order and pay with frictionless systems.
“Ultimately, the fundamental reason many businesses have a higher basket abandonment rate is that they don’t understand their customers enough,” says Adam Morrell, UX and optimisation director at digital marketing agency Banc. “If you know your users’ motivations, how they behave online and where they struggle with your site, you can build digital experiences to maximize the chance they will convert with you.”
Fast checkouts are also vital for time-poor consumers. “Our past research has shown that almost half of all consumers will abandon their online shop if the checkout process is too long,” says Chris Boaz, head of marketing at PCA Predict, a provider of address validation services. “Streamlining this process is especially important as online shopping moves increasingly to mobile. Consumers are becoming less patient with poor mobile experiences, and given that smartphone shopping is set to make up two-thirds of UK e-commerce by 2020, online retailers can no longer afford to ignore these problems.”
Conquering cart abandonment
Crafting a checkout process that’s fast and efficient, and which works seamlessly on desktop and mobile devices, not only means designing an engaging experience for your customers, but also requires an intimate understanding of what they want. Here are a few top tips on how to reduce cart abandonment across your business.
Full price transparency
Confusing pricing has always been a major barrier to completing a sale. Over a third of baskets are abandoned because of unexpected additional costs, such as VAT or shipping, which were not clearly visible when browsing. Making the total price crystal clear upfront should boost the chances of a customer completing their order.
Guest is best
Stopping a sale dead in its tracks to ask a new customer to create an account is often the reason a sale is abandoned. Offering customers the ability to check out as a guest can therefore be a great way to increase your conversions. Once the transaction is complete, you can ask them whether they would like to create an account to make their next visit faster and more efficient.
The continued rise of cybercrime that is increasingly targeting mobile devices means consumers are cautious about making payments that they are not confident are secure. You should make it obvious that your checkout process uses the latest security technologies, and don’t ask for personal information you don’t need to complete the transaction.
Reduce the confusion
Many consumers complain that the checkout processes they encounter are complex and confusing. Think about how you can reduce the steps needed to make a purchase to the absolute minimum. Does your checkout process work with the click of a mouse on a desktop, but also a tap on mobile devices?
Supporting consumer behaviour with your checkout is critical. Often, customers will start their browsing on one device, yet ultimately checkout on another. Your processes should be integrated to enable multi-device checkout to occur seamlessly.
It can be hard to resist placing your latest offers at every stage of the checkout process to encourage upselling. However, this might prove a distraction to many customers. Interrupting the checkout process in this way can be fatal, as once a customer has abandoned their cart, it is difficult to re-engage them.
If you know your users’ motivations, how they behave online and where they struggle with your site, you can build digital experiences to maximize the chance they will convert with you.
Adam Morrell, Banc
Accommodate for discount codes
Often a customer will come to your store as they have a discount code. It’s vital that they can easily apply this code to gain the promotion they are interested in. Make it clear where they need to insert the code and then reflect the discount instantly in their basket summary. This should ensure they remain engaged and move promptly to checkout and payment.
More in-app conversion
According to research from Criteo, in-app purchases offer consumers the ultimate in fast, efficient checkouts. As a result, in-app order value is now higher than desktop or mobile browsing. If your business is using apps, ensure in-app purchases are as seamless as possible to take advantage of the three times more conversions that they can deliver compared to mobile browsing.
Integrate price and stock availability
A study from KPMG revealed that having stock availability information and price similarity across all retail channels is highly attractive to consumers. They want to see if stock is available either online or in-store. In addition, the worry that the item could have a different price, whether online or offline, is a pressure point that can prevent a sale. Displaying stock availability and the best price at all stages of the process should reduce these anxieties in your customers.
Personalize the checkout experience
Greeting a returning customer by name, and using their previous purchasing history to trigger discounts, personalized services and other loyalty benefits is a tried and tested way to reduce cart abandonment. However, be careful not to bombard them with offers, as this can easily have the opposite effect.
There is no silver bullet to 100% conversion. However, investing in website development, paying attention to customer behaviour and making closer personal connections with your customers ultimately leads to fewer abandoned carts, higher cart value and long-term loyalty.
About the author
Dave Howell has been working as a freelance writer, journalist and publisher for the last 20 years, operating as Nexus Publishing. He specializes in technology and business subjects, with his work appearing in the national press, as well as a number of leading technology and business magazines.