Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Checkout optimization: 10 ways to reduce abandonment

Checkout abandonment is a major problem for most e-commerce sites, but many of the factors causing customers to bail on purchases can be addressed. 

Reasons for abandonment include high shipping costs, checkout errors, and the fact that some customers simply want to check prices. 
Here are ten ways to improve the e-commerce checkout process, and minimise abandonment rates...

Avoid unnecessary barriers

Now, consumer surveys on e-commerce sites (and, for that matter, any site) are a fine idea, and they can yield some valuable insights, but there's a time and place for them. 
On Sears, just as I have added an item to the basket and selected the guest checkout option, my progress to the checkout is interrupted by this: 
This is a) annoying and b) a barrier to purchase. Getting the customer through the checkout process is more important than the survey at this point.
Why not ask once the customer has completed checkout, or follow up with an email? 

Remove compulsory registration

Customers don't like having to register before checkout. A recent Econsultancy / Toluna study found that 25.6% of online consumers would abandon a purchase if they were forced to register first. 
After adding items to your basket, what would make you abandon your purchase?
Sites like Amazon may get away with this, but I wouldn't recommend it for most sites. There are examples of sites which have moved away from compulsory registration and reaped the rewards. 
ASOS managed to halve its abandonment rate at the registration page simply by removing any mention of creating an account, and another 'mystery' retailer added $300m to its annual revenues by removing the compulsory registration.
Most US e-commerce sites have seen the light on this issue, with eight of the top ten US etailers providing a guest checkout option. 
One that doesn't is Newegg, which could do with a redesign of the whole site, not just the checkout: 
By offering customers guest checkout with the option of registering later, you avoid the barrier of registration, but still allow easy registration once customers are through the process. After all, once they have entered address and payment details, all they need to do is create a password. 

Enclose the checkout

This is about removing any distractions for customers and concentrating their minds on the task in hand. 
Here's why retailers should enclose the checkout: 
Reasons for enclosing the checkout 
  • By leaving out navigational elements, all unnecessary distractions are removed and this allows the shopper to focus purely on completing their purchase. 
  • Thanks to the removal of these distractions, information which gives the visitor confidence in their purchase is made more prominent, such as delivery details and customer service contact details. 
  • Security logos and messages are more visible, providing reassurances for the security-conscious shopper. 
  • It is made absolutely clear to visitors where they are within the checkout process and how many steps they have left to complete their purchase. 
  • Apart from the homepage link, customers can only head in one direction, towards the payment and order confirmation page. 
Ideally, there should be no link that takes customers away from the checkout process, except perhaps a link back to the homepage.
Some customers may need reassurances about shipping times and costs, or returns. This information should appear in lightboxes which don't interrupt the checkout process. 

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