[su_note note_color=”#ff7885″]Bonus: You’ll find a checklist at the end of the article with 10 ideas to help you improve your checkout process. Download it free.[/su_note]
According to Baymard studies, the average cart abandonment rate is 68.5% . It’s like one day you go to the supermarket and see 7 filled carts abandoned near checkout, while only 3 people exit the store with a purchase.
Does this view also apply to your website checkout? Well, if that’s the case…that’s harsh. It simply means that you make 1, 2, or all 3 major mistakes on your checkout page:
- you make your customers feel friction
- you make your customers feel anxious
- you make your customers think
All these 3 evil-conversion mistakes increase the perceived cost of the cart [actual price + mental factors], such that your customers don’t think that worth its value anymore. But, don’t worry! Decreasing the cart abandonment rate is what this article is all about.
I will address each of these common mistakes found on the checkout page. You just have to test them and find the most efficient combination for your business. Nooow..action!
Friction boils down to any type of psychological resistance caused by specific elements in the sales or checkout process. It negatively impacts the decision-making process, so that prospects incline more towards a “No”.
In the following section, you’ll see how you can reduce the friction to tip the decision towards “Yes”.
Idea 1: Offer Free Shipping
According to the research conducted by Econsultancy, high delivery charges is the number one reason visitors change their mind and abandon the cart. More specific, 74.5% of people abandon the cart because of high shipping prices. So, no doubt that we found a barrier to conversion here, right?
It does seem that paying shipping costs is a shock for your customers…so you should take care to alleviate it. Maybe you cannot afford free shipping like Chubbiesshorts or Amazon but take a hint from Macy’s and offer free shipping with conditions (set a minimum cart value or a minimum number of products).
Though, bear in mind that triple-digits prices can intimidate your customers as the research conducted by Lynda Bustos shows below. If you can afford it, it is recommended to set as minimum value for free shipping the highest double digit as Macy’s does: the magic 99. If the total cost of the purchase = or > than 99, offer free shipping.
Tip: Setting a minimum cart value as a condition for offering free shipping is a good approach if you also want to increase the cart average value.
Are you in doubt and are you thinking over discount offer versus free shipping strategy? Mind this —- as studies show — discount can significantly decrease the perceived value of an offer.
Still in doubt which offer type is more compelling to your customers? David Bell studied this matter and he draw the conclusion:
A free shipping offer that saves a customer $6.99 is more appealing to many than a discount that cuts the purchase by $10.”
Nonetheless, I don’t want to say that free shipping strategy is what you should implement for your business. No! What I want to emphasize is that you have to test it and see what results brings you in terms abandonment rate, conversions, average cart value and revenue!
NuFace , an eCommerce website, wanted to find how a free shipping offer would influence the sales. Thus, they set up a test where 50% of visitors were sent to the original website and the other half were directed to the variation offering “Free shipping over $75″.
Results? The variation where customers were given free shipping incentive converted like crazy. Orders increased by 90% and the Average Order Value also went up by 7.3%.
Idea 2: Make Account Creation Painless
Did you know that 1 in 4 customers abandon a purchase if they are forced to firstly register?
It’s pretty obvious, people really don’t wake up in the thinking: “Today I really want to create one more account.” Nope, they would happily avoid this every time they are “given the chance”.
Requiring customers to register before checkout –as Zappos does–, usually affects the abandonment cart rate negatively. When e-commerce sites impose registration, they just add one extra barrier for their customers.
Checkout as guest is one way to eliminate the friction at this point and decrease the abandonment rate. You don’t ask the customer to sign up but they merely fill in the minimum info needed to process their order. Toms is one of the businesses that got it.
Apple also does it, even cleaner.
Nonetheless, registration does have its advantages for both sides, businesses and customers. Retailers can personalize future offers, customers can avoid typing when they’ll purchase again and so on.
The question is: can you allow a guest checkout to decrease abandonment rate and still have the details of your customers registered?
The answer is yes! The trick is to allow them to opt-in after checkout and just ask them to save (not register!) the details they have already filled in. The chance that they will easily save the info now is significantly higher now than before checking out.
“Save your details for faster purchases”sounds much better than “You must register to make a purchase”, right?
Tip: Even at this stage don’t forget to remember them the benefits of having an account.
- Save details for faster and easier return checkouts
- Store multiple addresses
- Join a community and post reviews
- Receive special offers.
- Check your order history
- Track your orders
Can you see how much pressure is taken off customer only by not focusing on the words “create an account”, “register”, “sign up” ?
Let’s see how ASOS approached the account creation. Can you say, by looking at these 2 checkout versions, what’s the change that reduced the ASOS’s abandonment rate by 50%? Yep, 50% sounds a little bit crazy but that’s what they got.
As shown in this study, the answer is the replacement of the create your account button with continue button.
Even more interesting is that unlike other sites offering guest checkout, ASOS didn’t make registration optional. It simply tricked customers into thinking that they weren’t registering when in fact….. they were. This was back in 2012.
But if you take a look now at the ASOS’ checkout page you’ll see this:
They gave up at the fake checkout detrimental to sign up via social profiles media profiles.This is also another idea to test it on your checkout page.
They merely take advantage of 2 simple facts people want to sign in as quick as possible and they hate passwords (there is even a name for the syndrome of passwords daily struggle – password fatigue)
Idea 3: Eliminate The Unnecessary Fields
Studies suggest that every unnecessary step in your checkout process costs you about 10% of your customers.
Just think at the brick-and-mortar environments……if you have to stay in line, you get angry and just leave not thinking in terms of prices anymore. The time is expensive. Suddenly, adding its cost to the price of the product will result in a perceived cost that you can’t afford.
This view is pretty much the same in the online world — only that here is not about waiting in line but filling in unnecessary fields. So, is it worth to lose a sale just because you want to fill a database? Think about it…
Imagescape run a test within they compared the a 11 field form with a 4 field form. The shorter form resulted in 160% increase in from completions, with no impact on the quality of conversions.
But don’t think that reducing the number of fields with 70% is what you should. It depends on your situation. In fact, Expedia wanted to see how the profits would be affected just by removing one field. Do you see the difference?
Yes, they removed the Company field (that even wasn’t mandatory…) and got a $12 million additional yearly profit.
Maybe you’ll not get millions of additional revenues – or maybe yes – but you have to find the elements that stimulate mental resistance.
Every field that you add to your checkout kills some of your conversions. On average:
- telephone number field kills 5% of conversions
- street address field kills 4% of conversions
- age field losses you 3% of conversions
Next step? Find the unnecessary fields for your business, run an A/B Test (Omniconvert can help you with this) and see how your abandonment rate is affected.
1) Asking yourself if do you really need the optional fields is a good start.
2) CAPTCHA is not friend with usability. Consider eliminating it.
If you now know hot to deal with friction that refers to the psychological resistance, let’s see how we can deal with anxiety that relates to psychological concern.
Simply said, people are concerned about whether they will get the value promised and if the process is secure. Let’s see what actions can you take to diminish anxiety.
Idea 1: Show Them a Testimonial
Bear in mind: 7 out of 10 people abandon the cart. Clear as crystal — assuming our customers are done once they add to cart it’s an obvious no, no for your business.
Social proof isn’t just a group of fancy words. It does work as Muzafer Sherif also proved it in its experiments, back in 1935. Individuals tend to trust more the reality defined by a group of people than their personal belief.
One efficient method to implement social proof is via testimonials.They are just great to reinforce claims about your product/service and to relieve reliability concerns.
Generally, you’ll see testimonials on the homepage, product pages but….. less on checkout pages. But if I say you that 57% of customers look for testimonials before placing an order, would the same thought cross our mind?!
Your chance to be one of the few that rock from the very beginning till the end!
Neil Patel placed a testimonial in the checkout sidebar and split test. He got 6.3% more conversions on the page with testimonials comparing to the checkout without a testimonial.
But what’s even cooler about testimonials is that you can personalized them based on segments. We’ve implemented for one of our clients, RCA-ieftin.ro. Guess what?! We managed to increase their revenues by 31%.
Par exemple, let’s say that I’m from Berlin and I want to buy a bike from your site. Once I am on the checkout page, a pop-up with a testimonial from John, that lives in the same city as me — Berlin, appears. All of sudden, the pop-up would not be an intruder in my life, but I would be surprised and enchanted.
Tip: Another approach to increasing the perceived reliability and overcorrect consumer anxiety is to bring out a person from the top of the company. As Flint McGlaughlin said, “People don’t buy from companies; they buy from people.”
Below, you can see how Neil Patel does it for QuickSprout.
Idea 2: Add Visual Clues To Your Credit Card
One section that we cannot neglect (please, don’t), is the credit card section. Here is where the money comes in. Here is where customers start consider security.
Take a look at these 2 card entries and say me: which looks more secure? I think we both agree that the second.
Encapsulating the credit card fields and adding visual clues like border, different background is one way to increase the perceived security. Studies show that customers feel less anxious when handing over such sensitive information if the payment section seems to be more robust than other sections. You’ve never thought about this small detail, isn’t it?
Tip: Ask for credit card info last — Getting your visitors to make small micro-commitments normally increases conversion rate. One way to leverage this on your checkout page? Before asking for credit card info, get your visitors used to saying “yes”. Firstly ask for name, email, address and only after bring into play sensitive info like credit card info.
Idea 3: Add third party seal
The words “internet fraud” are one of the least sexy words for online shoppers. Only in 2013, the total loss from this type of fraud was $781,841,611 (which is a 48.8 percent increase since 2012!).
So… the 17% cart abandonment rate caused by “concerns about payment security” shouldn’t surprise you.
How can you solve this issue if not by reinforcing trustworthiness and leveraging trust badges? Trust elements, like those below, tend to increase perceived security of the credit card transactions.
Central Reservation Service tested how adding a trust seal would benefit them and what they observed that adding the security sign helped them convert 30% more customers. This is indeed a surprising result, generally you don’t expect a rocket boost in your conversions just by adding a trust badge.
The idea here is that no matter of how much would you decrease the abandonment rate on your checkout page, no client dislikes more security!
Tip: Place the security badges where the security is the biggest concern of your customers — in the very proximity to the credit card. Right place, right time.
Eddie Bauer does it well. Not only places the trust seal close to the credit card but also encapsulates the credit card fields. Kind of right hook.
Idea 4: Live chat
Can you remember one frustrating moment when you needed so badly one piece of info……. and you wanted in real time …… and you called the customer support……… and the line was busy…… and you ended up even more frustrated and with unanswered questions………?
It just happened to me some days ago. And not only some days ago.
As the studies show, the customer service channel that offers the highest satisfaction channel is the live chat. The main reason simply boils down to the need for speed and real-time answers.
And checkout is undoubtedly that stage when you do want to be really fast, isn’t it? 76% of customers want to chat about checkout issue. Undoubtedly, you should include the live chat within your checkout AB tests. (I really hope that you A/B test, for the sake of conversion rate).
Apple offers live chat on the checkout page and given its position, it’s important for both sides — business and customer.
Tip: Don’t forget about segmentation. According to CustomerThatStick, the live chat is more preferred by Millennials (56%) compared to customers aged 35 and older (27%). This being know, when testing the live chat analyze the results across the segments to get accurate statistics.
Don’t Make Them Think
As a rule of thumb, people really don’t like to puzzle over how to do things, to make endless decisions based on a wide set of choices…
This is why, when building your checkout you should make things obvious. Don’t lose the customers’ focus and also stick to the Krug’s Principle: don’t make customers think.
Idea 1: Don’t Offer Them Escape Routes
As Barry Schwartz says, “Infinite choice is paralyzing and exhausting to the human psyche.“
Enclosing the checkout process has proved to reduce the abandonment rate. Why? Because once the visitor arrives, there is no “escape route”. This way you allow them to focus on the checkout process and keep away from decision fatigue, that is a really frustrating condition nowadays.
The researchers from MECLABS know that the goal of the checkout page is to encourage a one-way movement towards placing the order. With this purpose in mind, they analyzed the checkout page of a client and identified the main elements that got customers distracted.
They tested a variation that removed those elements. The most drastic change was brought by removing the left navigation and top navigation, increasing the checkout completion rate by 10% and revenues by 19%. Great results just by increasing the customer’s decision-making ability.
Nonetheless, you should provide the customers the info they need to place the order: delivery terms, return policy, contact, security. Place the links in the footer or even better, display these links in a pop-up layer over the checkout page
Don’t send them to another page, you may lose them.
Wiggle is one of the businesses that applies this trick.
Amazon is also one of the sites that understood that is very important to keep the customer focused. By looking at their checkout, you can see that it’s enclosed. You are given 2 options: either you checkout or close the window. As simple as that.
1) By narrowing down the choices, important elements will stand out: trust elements, checkout buttons, continue buttons, discounts.
2) Include all the relevant details on the final checkout page, so the customer doesn’t have to go back
3) Pay attention to the coupon codes. About 27% of people who search for a coupon don’t return on the checkout page. Macy’s also saw this like an issue to solve, so they decided to place in the proximity of “Have a promo code?” field — the link “Find one now”. But the great idea was the customers were redirected to a Macys’ page, so they would find the code on their site.
Idea 2: Minimize Errors
The first way to minimize the errors on the checkout is to make your form descriptive and as specific as possible. As the researchers from Baymard concluded, if the users don’t get the error they simply think that the site is broken and that’s the end. You lost them.
Sounds like a piece of cake but 92% of e-commerce sites don’t do it right.
To be the exception to the rule, mind the user’s questions that appear within checkout process:
- How should I format the input? (passwords, phone numbers)
- Where can I find it? (credit card security code, coupon code)
- Why do you need it? (date of birth, phone number, address)
The basic idea is to make the fields feel superfluous by following some guidelines.
Just think in how many ways the user could fill the phone number: “(123) 456-789” or “123-456-789” or “123 456 789” or “123456789”…….Why don’t making it clear which is the phone number format from the very beginning?
So….., you failed to place the proper description close to the field, the customer incorrectly filled the phone number and gets an error message:
- Invalid (this message is not helpful at all, he already know that sth is wrong).
- Not A Valid US phone number (ok…., there is one insight, it should be an US number — but it may not be this the issue.)
- Not a Valid 10-digit US phone number, do not include spaces or special characters (this third variation offer enough hints to solve the problem right away).
But even more important is to avoid error validation by offering insights and data example from the start. Zara does it in a clean and smart way by using dynamic description (the info is revealed only when the field receives focus).
Positive feedback increases our intrinsic motivation to act. So, how should you leverage this insight on your checkout page?
Simple! Use inline validation and provide instant feedback by showing green checkmarks when the fields are correctly filled. So if a user fills in the email field with a format like [email protected], that field’s edges will go green and a checkmark will appear. If the input is not correct, a hint should appear in the close proximity of the field.
Luke Wroblewski, form creation guru, found out that displaying green check marks increase conversions by 22% and nearly halves the form completion time.
Explain why you need the data
You may think that some fields are self-explanatory and the label of the field is a sufficient description. Who doesn’t know what an email address look like, or how to enter the birthday. You may be right, but here is a great opportunity to explain how you are going to use the data.
Shortly said, why do you need my phone number, my birthday or other sensitive info?
Idea 3: Make the call to action stand out
It happened to me too often to not easily spot the checkout button on the checkout page. Crazy, right? Normally, this is the number one reason for being here on the checkout page. To checkout.
Make your call to action big enough, try to use a color that hasn’t been used already on the page & simply make it stand out.
As you can see on the Zappos checkout page, the checkout button not only stands out but it’s added twice on the page. This gives them a visual and a straightforward checkout process.
Design a better checkout experience
It is true that there are many more details to offering an amazing checkout experience but if you adhere to these 10 guidelines, you will significantly decrease the abandonment rate.
Having a frictionless checkout process, cutting into anxiety and making things more clear and focused on placing the order go a long way to creating an amazing checkout experience.
How much would you revenue increase this year if you would decrease the abandonment rate by 40%, or 30% or maybe just by 20%? Do yourself and your customers a favor and try it out for yourself.
Analyze your checkout page and AB Test the ideas that I’ve mentioned. If there is something I can help you through the process, let me know in the comments below.