Have you ever noticed a shopping cart full of groceries sitting next to the checkout stand at the supermarket?
I’ve seen it happen a few times and usually figured that someone simply left their wallet or purse at home and would be back soon to claim their abandoned goods.
It’s not a big problem since most stores are accommodating about the oversight.
But online, shopping cart abandonment is a huge problem!
No one really knows the extent of this loss to e-tailers, but I have seen some estimates that suggest fifty percent or more of all online sales processes are never completed.
The numbers can be surmised from most checkout processes by following the sequence of page clicks from web logs and noting when a potential buyer begins, but doesn’t complete, the page-by-page checkout process.
In a sense, a potential buyer (the prospect) and the web site owner meet at the alter – the shopping cart – where they consummate the customer-seller relationship. But half, or more, of all potential unions are being scrapped by the buyer . . . and often it’s the seller fault.
Why? Studies have shown that buyers get nervous when the process is too arduous, too confusing, too complicated, too long, or too many questions are asked.
For the buyer, there is no embarrassment or penalty for clicking away from a pending sale.
No one sees or knows what’s happening.
Your name is not divulged prior to final checkout.
You can always return and buy the same product at another time, right?
Every web site owner that has a selling process should double check his web stats to see what he can learn about his sales process and the number of abandoned sales he’s losing.
In addition, here are ten easy-to-implement suggestions of ways you might be able to reduce your sales losses and increase the percentage of visitors that become your customers:
1. Invest in a simple online service (ASP) or web sales analysis software product so you can determine exactly where you are losing customers in the selling process.
Once you know the places (pages) where prospects are jumping off the train, you can determine how best to correct the problem in your checkout sequence.
2. Recruit some family members or friends to sit down at the computer and actually buy one or more of your products.
Watch what they do and note the places where they hesitate or get stuck and don’t know where to go next.
Have them explain to you what they are experiencing, how clear the buying instructions seem, and where they are confused about what to do next.
The idea is to learn, first hand, from someone that has never made a purchase at your site before, just how difficult or confusing the checkout process is to them.
3. Have a well placed and easy to understand sales policy.
Make it easy for potential customers to find your guarantee, refund policy, and security or buying safeguards.
Make the customer feel comfortable that his confidential information and his purchase are secure and safe, and that you will return his money if he is not satisfied (for any reason) with your product.
4. Remind the customer of what he will be getting with his purchase (including any bonuses, freebies, or discounts that come with the sale.)
Make sure this same information is given as a sales confirmation email or receipt.
Remind the purchaser how your sales charge will appear on his credit card statement (to avoid a chargeback.)
I have seen some include a short summary of each buying step given in advance so the buyer will understand what he will be seeing and what to expect.
5. Show all charges in advance.
Some people stop a sale when they find out how much it will cost them to have their item handled and shipped.
Show all costs (or give an estimate) before the checkout process begins.
6. Ease customer’s fears of a back order by displaying your number of items in stock and give an estimate of the arrival date, if possible.
7. Keep the amount of personal information you collect at checkout to a minimum.
You can get the information later, after the sale, but give your customers an incentive to get to know them better.
You should be able to collect everything you need on one page of one form.
8. Add a page number, progress bar, or prominent “Continue Checkout” button on each page so the customer can logically see where he’s going and the progress he’s making.
9. Be sure to thank the customer for the purchase and give him all the pertinent information he needs to easily contact you should he have any questions or concerns about his purchase.
10. Include an incentive in your sales message for the prospect to buy right now.
It might be an extra discount, an unannounced bonus, an upgraded product, or any number of other things.
It’s best to make this bonus relevant to, or compatible with, the subject of the product.
If you’ll follow these easy steps, you should see a marked decrease in the number of abandoned sales that hit your web site.
To your online business success,