If you are like most ecommerce site owners, you probably cringe when you imagine receiving a call, email, social media post or other communication from an angry, frustrated and disillusioned customer of yours.
At an individual level, humans are hardwired to shun confrontation and conflict. So quiet customer service phone lines and empty customer service inboxes are often viewed with a feeling of satisfaction. Unfortunately, while angry customers are not a desirable outcome, you’d rather have an outspoken customer than one who quietly walks away. The latter leaves you with numerous questions trying to figure out what it is you did wrong. Silent disappointed customers have caused the demise of countless businesses.
If there’s one place ecommerce businesses silently bleed customers, it’s at the checkout stage. A review of various studies points to an average abandonment rate of about 70%. And it’s expensive.
By the time a current or prospective customer gets to the checkout page, they have decided to buy the product. So each time a customer fails to follow-through on their intent so late in the process, you’ve lost a valuable, near certain sale. Also, consider the amount of time, money and effort you’ve put in to get the customer to this point. All that investment goes down the drain if your customers are silently falling on the wayside at the checkout stage.
Here’s 5 reasons customers drop off at checkout and how to fix it.
1. Mobile-Unfriendly Checkout
Responsive ecommerce web design has caught on and it’s increasingly difficult to find a website whose pages haven’t been streamlined for mobile navigability. However, it’s one thing for your general pages to be responsive and entirely another to ensure the same for your checkout window.
In 2018, a staggering 1.4 billion smartphones were shipped globally thereby dwarfing the 260 million computers that shipped the same year. There’s no denying the world is going decisively mobile. Your checkout has to do the same.
You can make your stores checkout more compatible with mobile devices by ensuring legible font size, well-sized product images, large and well-positioned navigation buttons, well-formatted pages, fewer forms or fields to fill out, and clear shipping information.
2. Absence of a Progress Indicator
Your customer has finite time in their hands to search for, evaluate, select and eventually purchase your product. Once they get to the checkout stage, they expect that the process is almost complete. Frustration can quickly set in if your customer believes the checkout process is taking longer than it should. This is especially likely to be a problem if checkout means going through multiple forms or screens before they can complete the purchase.
Reducing the number of checkout forms or screens to just one is ideal but that isn’t always possible. A more practical solution would be to include a progress bar that scrolls (or shows the count of what step you are currently on) as the customer moves from one screen to the next. By demonstrating a clear path to transaction completion, your customer is less likely to abandon the cart.
3. Lack of Payment Options
All your customers will not necessarily want to pay with one particular method. So if someone wants to buy something from you but finds you only accept credit cards but not PayPal as they’d have preferred, that one thing could cause them to abandon the purchase.
For ecommerce stores, multiple payment options are crucial. The major ones like PayPal and credit cards are critical but depending on the audience and market you serve, you should consider other alternatives like bank transfer, direct debit, e-wallet, check, cryptocurrency and mobile money.
Make it clear to your customer early in the checkout process the different ways they can make payment. Seeing something they’d want to use on the list of alternatives can be a powerful motivator for them to proceed.
4. Requiring Membership or Login
It’s the dream of every online business to build a formidable arsenal of customer emails. This is often the rationale of the many ecommerce sites that will require login or registration before a prospective buyer can complete checkout. It’s a costly error and one of the most common reasons for cart abandonment. Sometimes customers feel they just don’t have the time. In other instances, they are a little wary about sharing too much of their personal information.
Online behemoths like Amazon can get away with it. The smaller your ecommerce store, the less receptive your customers will be to the requirement of registering first. The customer’s single most important goal of proceeding to checkout is to buy the product. Membership and login is an impediment to that objective. Instead, you should allow them to check out as a guest or only sign in if they already have an account.
5. Lack of Conspicuous Security Features
The Internet has been a mass market product for more than 20 years. Coupled with the ubiquity of smartphones today, you’d perhaps expect that by now, ecommerce would be drawing higher sales revenue than brick and mortar stores. That hasn’t happened. While ecommerce is certainly huge, a headache it has to constantly grapple with is the public’s distrust of online shopping. It doesn’t help that every so often, news of a major data hack affecting millions of customers, grabs international headlines.
If your ecommerce store therefore doesn’t have conspicuous indicators reassuring customers of the security of their confidential data, many will hesitate to go through checkout. Checkout is where the customer shares their most sensitive data so you must ensure each step of this process includes multiple trust signals. Your website almost certainly has the basics right such as SSL. However, some customers may not understand what this means. It’s up to you to break down information by explicitly stating the security measures you have in place. That will give them the confidence required to complete the purchase.
Shopping cart abandonment is a persistent headache for online retailers. Much of the blame falls on a poorly-thought-out checkout process. By addressing these 5 challenges, you can improve your sales and generate thousands of dollars each year.
Will Schneider is the founder of insightQuote, a match-making service for B2B services, and writes informative posts about fulfillment services at Fulfillmentcompanies.net. He is passionate about helping businesses find the right solutions to improve their operations. When not working, Will enjoys coaching youth basketball.