Ecommerce Expertise / Ecommerce Marketing

6 Best Practices to Improve Checkout Conversions and Reduce Abandoned Cart

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It’s the biggest problem when selling online: getting customers to complete the purchases they initiate. The numbers are stark: one study calculated consumer cart abandonment at more than 67%.

The good news, though, is that there are several things you can do to improve your online checkout and turn more shoppers into buyers.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes.

Too often, businesses develop websites without experiencing the checkout process from the customer’s point of view. However, doing so can be illuminating. Processes that seem logical from your point of view can frustrate or confuse customers.

Do some user experience testing. It doesn’t have to be professional: ask friends and family — ideally people who know nothing about your website — to try to buy some products. Watch them as they shop and note where they hit snags. Just five or six “testers” can help uncover your biggest problem areas.

Streamline your checkout process.

The more steps in your checkout process, the higher the likelihood for cart abandonment. What may seem to you like a small additional step can be the trigger that causes a buyer to abandon her cart. Weigh your need for data against your desire to complete the sale. Review each field and ask yourself whether it’s essential to complete the purchase.

Weigh the pros and cons of forcing shoppers to create an account.

Requiring a shopper to create an account before making a purchase can stop a sale before it begins. First-time shoppers want instant gratification — and everyone is weary of remembering another account ID and password.

Think mobile.

Today, 1 out of every 3 shoppers uses their mobile phone as part of the purchasing process. Unfortunately, the factors that drive cart abandonment are intensified for mobile: 75% of smartphone users abandon sites that aren’t mobile optimized.

Make sure your site is mobile‑friendly:

  • Accommodate small screens: Ideally, your site’s design should adapt to the device it’s viewed on, working on smaller screens as well as it does on larger ones.
  • Use larger fonts (14 pt. or higher) and bigger buttons: Place call-to-action buttons (like Add to Cart or Check Out) at the top and bottom of each page.
  • Test: There are services that show you what your site looks like across multiple operating platforms and devices. Choose ones you think are most important and make sure your website is optimized on them.
  • Use PayPal to streamline the checkout: PayPal account holders can check out using only a mobile phone number and 4-digit PIN. The experience is optimized for mobile devices — with fewer clicks and less typing.

Keep customers informed.

Giving customers the right information at the right time can minimize confusion and set expectations. To do that, follow these two steps:

  • Eliminate surprises: When a shopper adds a product to the shopping cart, display the description, price, shipping cost, and tax. This gives visual feedback that the transaction is proceeding properly.
  • Provide a map: A flow diagram or numbered steps (e.g., “3 of 4”) can help situate customers, reducing anxiety and frustration.

Offer PayPal as a payment option.

Customers love choice when shopping online. Offering PayPal as a payment method gives your customers a fast, easy and secure way to pay on desktops and mobile devices. And showing shoppers you offer PayPal can have a powerful effect. Customers who use PayPal tend to follow through, too: PayPal transactions have 70% higher checkout conversion than do non-PayPal transactions*.

  • Take advantage of the strongly positive association shoppers have with PayPal: Add the PayPal acceptance mark on:
    • Your home page, ideally “above the fold” so the viewer doesn’t have to scroll down to see it.
    • Product pages, since many customers land on product or category pages via search engines, bypassing your home page.
    • On the checkout page of your shopping cart to reinforce the PayPal association at the time of purchase.
  • Promote PayPal Credit**: Let customers know they have access to financing by placing PayPal Credit banner ads on pages where customers make purchase decisions. It can help drive an 18% increase in sales***.
  • Take the express route: The Check Out with PayPal button gives customers a shortcut, making cart abandonment less likely. Place it next to your standard checkout button on your cart/checkout page.

Boosting conversion rates is a concern for businesses big and small. Luckily, it’s a concern you can address. While businesses tend to see the most positive results when all checkout processes are optimized to work together, the above recommendations can be adopted individually, as time and resources allow.

*PayPal study conducted by Nielsen Buyer Insights in Q3 2013. The study examined online conversion rates for PayPal transactions versus non-PayPal transactions across 11 categories for 34 merchants.

**PayPal Credit is subject to consumer credit approval, as determined by the lender, Comenity Capital Bank.

***August 2013 commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of PayPal titled “The Total Economic Impact of PayPal’s Bill Me Later Financing Banners.” (Bill Me Later is now PayPal Credit.) Data reflects a composite organization’s online incremental sales and a 3-year, risk-adjusted return on investment, based on the organizations interviewed for the study.

Leave a Comment
  • Sally

    Thanks, Chase. Thank you for very informative post. I am very interested in the topic at the moment as I am writing my MA thesis on similar subject. For anyone who’s also in ecommerce and cart abandonment problem, I recently fing a nice infographic:http://www.en.positive-power.pl/blog/2015/03/the-nightmare-of-abandoned-carts/

  • Great Article Chase. The most important thing is to make a payment process mobile optimized because most of your customers are now using mobile device to shop from your site.

    I think this blog on the same topic, you may find insightful http://bit.ly/1zEBPYZ

  • Scratch that, I just found out it’s only available to US customers (as usual). Here’s hoping they may bring it to Australia one day…

  • Thanks! I had never heard of PayPal Credit before and will be implementing that on our site now

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