4 great ways lose conversions...and how to get them back

By Kathy Heslop |

April 22, 2014 | 5 min read

As eCommerce has grown-up over the past few years, so too has the standard online shopper. No longer the impressionable youth in awe of the wonders of the internet, your modern day customer has blossomed into a perceptive, discerning, and tech-savvy teen who’s all too ready to roll their eyes at any aspect of the user experience deemed as ‘meh’.

While it’s true that trust in eCommerce has grown over this time, so too have competition and customer expectations, making abandonment a constant obstacle to be navigated by all in the space. So it’s unsurprising to see average abandonment rates actually rising across the board.

It’s true that people will abandon for a whole bunch of reasons, but listed here are some of the more bullet-proof, sure-fire ways to lose sales…accompanied by the ways you can get them back.

1. Surprising shoppers with hidden costs

This is the mortal sin for eCommerce companies. Normally taking the form of shipping costs, handling charges or the shadowy administration fee, tacking on these additional costs at the last second is a devastatingly effective way to aggravate your customers.

The reasoning behind it is clear enough – introducing these fees later in the process will get more people further along the buying cycle…etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. But similar to a diner who’s been stumped with a cutlery rental fee at the end of their meal, your customer will leave with a sour taste in their mouth.

Informing the visitor of any additional costs from the off is best practice here, and there are ways to do it without sending your visitors scampering for the hills too. Among the best of these is to put an incentive in place to earn free shipping – “spend $50 to waive delivery costs” for example. This way you're being transparent and honest, while still incentivising them to buy.

2. Complicated check-out forms

The checkout process should be as comfortable as possible for the user. Restrict information fields to the absolutely necessary and eliminate all complicated or repetitive actions, otherwise the impatient customer will abandon the cart and leave.

Our research shows that roughly 1% of your customers drop off for each field you ask for. So while this info can be great for marketing purposes, demonstrate careful consideration before asking for fax, nationality, star sign, or anything else that could be filed under “useful, but non-essential”.

People are busier than ever before, but by keeping your checkout as lean as possible the chances of customers running out of time, or being distracted mid-way through the process are dramatically decreased.

3. Leaving Security Concerns Unaddressed

While most people feel comfortable entering credit card details with bigger brands, lesser known eCommerce sites can often still be viewed with some hesitation. And it’s this fear of phishing or other fraudulent activities that’s to blame in many cases of abandonment. The most straight-forward way to inspire more trust is to get certified by a recognised authority and display their security badge as a seal of approval.

Highlighting alternative contact details at the checkout stage is also a great way of adding that additional element of reassurance. While for eRetailers, offering product tracking can have the same effect - if financially viable of course.

4. Failing to re-engage

When a shopper in the high street changes their mind on a product it’s usually final - the customer journey ends and the sale is lost. Yet in eCommerce it’s not quite that simple. Just because a user has abandoned their cart, doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the lead has gone cold.

The reality is that people use shopping carts in a variety of different ways. Sure for some they’re used in for their more traditional function (i.e. to buy things!), but much the time shoppers will use them as wish-lists, test runs, or simply entertainment. And in many of those cases visitors still have some degree of intent to purchase, they’re merely earlier on in the buying process.

This is where email re-engagement is your greatest ally. Online merchants making the proactive decision to re-market to these customers will gently nudge customers along the purchasing path, turning a lot of those almost wins into recovered sales.

I hope this article helps boost your conversion rate, and I’d love to hear your thoughts/tips on closing any other abandonment man-holes in your website.


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