Strategies for Reducing Cart Abandonment

E-commerce website designers are required to focus not only on graphical appeal and functionality, but also on the factors which influence customer psychology. In this article we will use web design strategy to significantly increase store revenues by reducing sales lost to shopping cart abandonment.

Recent data estimates that e-commerce shopping cart abandonment rose to 75% in the first half of 2011, up from an already high 71% in 2010. This means that only 1 of 4 customers willing to purchase an item actually followed through with the checkout procedure.

But there is significant opportunity in these grim statistics.

Strategies for Reducing Cart Abandonment

Double Your Sales Overnight

What if I told you that you could double your sales overnight without a single bit of SEO or advertising? It is certainly possible when one looks at the math. Simply cutting cart abandonment from 75% to 50% would cause a doubling of sales.

In order to noticeably increase our shopping cart conversion rates, we need to ensure that our web designs take into account customer psychology and behavioral patterns.

Click the Shiny Red Button

While studying e-commerce websites, I was astounded by how many did not have a proper “Checkout Now” or “Purchase Now” button. An effective Checkout Now button should have a simple and strong call to action, such as “Buy Now”. It should have graphical appeal, and should stand out from the rest of the page design.

A shiny, red button works really well for many websites. The button should appear to your customer the moment he adds an item to his shopping cart. This moment is critical. He is ready to purchase, but every second which ticks by the odds will increase that he will abandon the shopping cart.

The Checkout Now button needs to gain the customer’s full attention so that he will proceed as planned.

Relaxed Customers Make Purchases

Studies show that the relaxation level of a customer affects their willingness to make purchases. Stressed customers are less likely to buy than are relaxed customers.

Our designs need to consider this important factor. Soothing color schemes have long been known to relax customers in brick-and-mortar stores. We can and should take advantage of this in our website design color schemes.

Another way to keep a customer relaxed is to be visible and reputable. It should be clear on every web page how a customer can contact you if he has a question or concern. If you have a business phone number, list it. The customer may never need to contact you, but just seeing how accessible you are will increase his confidence in your brand.

Distracted Customers Abandon Carts

If your customer is in a traditional brick-and-mortar store, he is constantly distracted. After choosing the item he wishes to purchase, he will be surrounded by other choices for his money. He will be distracted by other customers and a myriad of external stimuli. Each distraction increases the odds he will place his item back on the rack and decide against his purchase.

In an e-commerce situation, we can control many of these external factors and remove them. Once a customer adds an item to his cart, he should see little or no links on the web page. He should not see a preview for your latest blog post. He doesn’t need to look at other items you have for sale.

If the customer backs out of the sale on his own, then he didn’t want the item as much as he thought and we can accept that. But if the customer clicks away to one of your distracting links, then it is your fault that the sale was lost.

Keep Forms Short and Simple

Once the customer clicks the Checkout Now button, you need to ensure his path to finalizing the purchase is as short as possible. It is inevitable that the buyer will need to enter some personal information in your checkout form.

Only truly relevant entries should exist on your form. If you don’t need a customer’s phone number, don’t ask for it. If a zip code is not required, don’t bother him to enter one. Do you really need   business, home, and mobile phone number entries?

Keep in mind that every entry is an opportunity for him to become frustrated or disinterested, and abandon the checkout process.

Experiment and Improve

When you start implementing changes to your website design, be sure to closely monitor your analytics. Be willing to experiment to find ways to reduce the high rate at which customers abandon shopping carts. The result will be a significant increase in revenues for your web store, and a customer base which enjoys its experience at your website and will be more likely to return for more purchases in the future.

Dan Padavona

Dan Padavona is the founder of Warmpicture Stock Photos, a premier quality royalty free image licensing company. Dan enjoys photography, beach vacations, and is an avid fan of the Tampa Bay Rays. He lives with his wife and two children in upstate New York, and is the son of the late heavy metal icon Ronnie James Dio.

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3 Comments
  1. Alex Parker Aug 29, 9:44 pm

    Some great advice. Some website owners/developers/designers don’t think about these kinds of things as much as they should.

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  2. John Beeby (mediaRotation) Aug 29, 9:58 pm

    Another decrease in abandonment is to offer a simple Live Chat platform that caters and assists the customers who may have a last minute question about the product in the cart. Those last minute questions, either from the customer or not found in the product’s listing, could be the defining factor on whether they hit the “Check Out Now” button or not.

    Food for thought.

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  3. Daniel Padavona Sep 2, 1:40 am

    Thank you for the kind feedback everyone. I’m glad the tips helped you out. I was very surprised when my initial research showed how high cart abandonment was too. But that creates a big opportunity to experiment and optimize.

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