In brick and mortar stores, a "real" employee is there to help close
the sale and reassure the customer. But, with a business run largely
online, you must rely on the checkout process to insure the customer
completes the sale; how can you reduce shopping cart abandonment on your site?
1. Have a Shopping Cart that is Bug-Free
As an online business, your first goal is for customers to put items for purchase into your online shopping cart. Make sure your cart works! It is frustrating to customers to have an online cart that loses items, doesn't display the number of cart items somewhere on the screen, etc.
Frequently test your shopping cart by making sample purchases
yourself; it's a good idea to have others test your cart periodically
as well. If you get feedback from customers about cart-related issues,
follow up on them immediately. A poorly functioning shopping cart will
lose customers quickly.
2. Streamline Your Checkout Process
Shopping cart abandonment increases when a retailer's checkout process is long and cumbersome, requiring numerous steps before the confirmation. Each additional click is another chance for your customer to abandon his purchase, so require as few as you can. One page checkouts are ideal and are a goal to strive for.
Go through your checkout process, thinking from a customer's perspective: how can you make it easier and reduce the work required? For instance, let customers indicate that their home and billing addresses are the same with a simple click, rather than typing the same information again.
Your site can have the option of registering, but don't require
registration in order to place an order. Make a "guest order" option
available. Many people fear stolen information online and are reluctant
to register with a site, permanently storing their personal information
3. State Shipping Costs Clearly
It's quite common for a customer to put items into a shopping cart and begin checking out, only to stop at the end when they see an unacceptable shipping charge. Spare your customers the "sticker shock" of shipping charges by posting them clearly on your site. Could you put a tab along the top of each page clearly labeled "shipping charges?" Ideally, this information should pop up in a separate window so that your customer is not taken to a different page from the one where they were shopping.
If customers know shipping charges up-front, they'll be more likely
to build these into their overall budget as they begin checking out.
4. Offer Payment and Ordering Options
List a toll-free number for customers who prefer to order over the phone; there are still many people apprehensive about putting their credit card number online.
Likewise, don't make credit cards your only payment option. Paypal
is a widely used payment type. You may also elect to accept payments
via personal checks and money orders.
5. Indicate Checkout Progress
It's helpful to show a bar along the top of the checkout process, which indicates the steps (payment type, shipping address, confirmation, etc.). This helps your customer see his progress and know just when the final confirmation screen is coming. Don't keep your customers guessing about how much longer checkout will take.
These tips should help you improve your checkout process and boost your sales.
Susan Braun is a freelance writer living with her husband, three daughters, 2 rabbits, 2 gerbils and hedgehog in Indiana. She writes at girlsinwhitedresses.wordpress.com and Associated Content.