Closing the Sale: Practical Tips for Reducing Cart Abandonment Part Two: Addressing the Causes of Cart Abandonment

In part one of this article, we took a look at how you can use analytics to identify, where people are exiting the purchasing process on your website, otherwise known as abandoning carts. We described some of the tools Google Analytics offers to help you track behavior on your website, and how to look at that as a quantifiable variable that would allow you to narrow down the possible reasons for cart abandonment. If you didn’t get a chance to read that article, you can check it out here.


Okay, so now you know where people are abandoning their carts, now it’s time to look at why and how to fix the potential problems.  As I stated in part one, it is impossible to understand all of the reasons why people abandon carts, because the reasons vary from situation to situation, but if you find yourself losing a whole bunch of people in one place, you can bet that there are some common factors that you can look at to improve your conversion rates.  Below are some common problems that lead to high cart abandonment rates, these problems are all technical and design related issues.  Because the issues that lead to cart abandonment are legion, you can fix many of these issues and still see abandoned carts.  However, these strategies should reduce the number of abandoned carts you are seeing and potentially lead to more sales.

- Technical Issues: One of the most common reasons that people abandon carts is that the checkout functions are not working properly.  Online shopping is supposed to be easy, so when people run into technical issues they are less likely to spend the time to figure it out, because they can get the same thing from any number of stores online or from a regular store. If you find that there is mass exodus on a particular page in your process the first thing that you should do is rigorously test it. Your Google Analytics can provide you with important data like what kind of computers your users are using and what browsers they are using as well.  Test your page in all of the browsers listed in that report and as many of the computers as you have available. It is important not just to test, in different browsers and on different computers but to test a variety of scenarios, such as buying high ticket items, or multiples of an item.  Since the user cannot tell you exactly what path they took, it is important that you test as many possible paths as possible.  In addition, be sure to follow your test purchases to completion.  Your problem may not be in the path to checkout, but a problem that with your payment system.  The quicker you find that technical glitch and fix it, the sooner you can go back to making money.

- Leading Customers Down the Rabbit Trail: Be careful not to get your customers distracted.  A common mistake that cart designers make is leading a customer away from their cart.   Each link that you provide in the shopping cart can be a distraction from your customer completing a purchase.  All links should open in a new window, so the user can easily come back to the original window to checkout; this includes the warranty, exchange policy, and terms and conditions links.

- Too Many Shiny Objects: In addition to making sure that any links open in a new window, it is absolutely essential to minimize the number ads or suggested items on your cart page.  Even though value added/related items may be good for business, you run the risk of making it difficult for the user to get to the checkout button.  If it is difficult to get to the checkout, customers will get frustrated and go find what they need elsewhere. Thus, in an effort to up-sale, you fail to close the original sale.

- Design Matters: It may seem silly, it may sound simple, but where you place your buttons, what buttons you provide, and what color they are contribute significantly to the usability of your shopping cart.  Buttons for both continuing in the purchasing process and going back to make changes to the order should have prominent placement.  However, the continue button should stand out more than the other buttons, so make those a color that stands out, and leave the other buttons in a more muted color.  Google Optimizer is a free tool that allows you to create multiple versions of your page and send it out to users at random.  Use this tool to test different versions of your pages and find out which version is generating the most sales.

- Integrate Your Payment Solutions: It is every online consumers fear that what they are about to purchase is actually a fraud, so everything about your website needs to inspire confidence.  This means that instead of redirecting customers to other sites, like PayPal to collect payment you should integrate the payment options into your website.  You can still use or whatever other third party payment processing company you have chosen to do business with, but the process needs to be seamless.

- When in doubt, ASK!: Be sure to provide a link for customers to leave their feedback, frustrated customers will often let you know exactly what the problem is.  This tip has two advantages: 1. You get direct feedback on what is happening with the page.  2. It will give individual opportunities to salvage sales and company reputation.

These tips will help you reduce cart abandonment due to computer issues, but you should be aware of the fact that technical and design issues on your website are not the only drivers of cart abandonment.  You should also spend some time looking at exactly which products are being abandoned.  You can do this by creating a goal funnel that includes your product pages (for more information on goal funnels see part 1).  Keep in mind that abandoned carts and eCommerce in general can be a driven by very complex factors.  If you find that you are losing a great deal of sales, and having trouble understanding the problem, it would be worth the time and money to get help from a professional eCommerce solutions provider, like Nourtek Solutions.

What other methods have you used to reduce the number of abandoned carts on your website?  Please let us know in the comments below.

For more information on common cart abandonment causes and salvaging the sales on abandoned carts please see the articles below:

Commerce Weekly: Chasing Down Abandoned Shopping Carts

Marketing to the Abandoned Cart

How to Save Ecommerce Sales With Abandoned Cart Emails

17 Tips for Improving Your Abandoned Cart Email Program

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