20 Tips to Minimize Shopping Cart Abandonment, Part 2

  |  August 15, 2003   |  Comments

How to get shoppers to complete the sale. Last of a two-part series.

Last week, we discussed shopping cart abandonment and reviewed 10 tips to help minimize that abandonment. Below are the remaining 10 tips. This isn't an exhaustive list but should give you a few new ideas:

  • Offer the option to call. If visitors have a problem during checkout or feel uncomfortable using a credit card online, offer a phone number. Devote a dedicated toll-free line for tracking purposes. Also offer a printable order form so customers can complete orders by fax, if they prefer.

  • Make the most of cross- and up-sell. It isn't always effective to up-sell on a product detail page; sometimes this is best left for checkout. Recommend items based on what's already in the shopping cart. Look at how Walmart.com sells flowers and up-sells a vase, versus how Proflowers.com does. Try interstitials or pop-ups to capture up- and cross-sell options.

  • It's about new customers. Make the checkout process even easier for new visitors than registered customers. Acquiring new customers is much harder than selling to the loyal ones. Registered customers will find a way to sign in (if they don't have a cookie). Don't position registration and log-in as an obstacle between new visitors and checkout.

  • Add third-party reinforcement messages. VeriSign, Better Business Bureau, and credit card logos either greatly boost conversions or at least keep them neutral. In other words, they can't hurt. A HACKER SAFE rating certification helps clients across the board, especially those with larger-than-average order sizes. Its maker, ScanAlert, claims the certification can increase average orders 15.7 percent.

  • Handle coupon codes with care. Don't decrease your conversion rate90 percent, as my friend Brad did. Think carefully about where you present the option to enter codes and how you label it.

  • Offer a price guarantee. If you sell name-brand products and your store is price competitive or truly provides better value, try a "Lowest Price Match" guarantee.

  • Provide multiple payment options. Follow Wal-Mart's lead and add more payment options. Allow visitors to pay by credit card, check, PayPal, or any other means you can.

  • Reassure customers at the right time and place. How often is critical information buried in tiny type at the bottom of the page or deep within a site? In a brick-and-mortar store, it's fairly easy to find product warranty information. Offer customers this same opportunity online, at the point of action (POA). Link to product warranties, shipping costs, return policies, testimonials, even optional extended service plans. Or, provide the information in a pop-up. Make the best use of your assurances at the right time and place.

  • Track your mistakes. Develop a system to keep you notified of errors during the checkout process. One client noticed a portion of his visitors had cookies turned off. He developed a cookie-free checkout option. His conversion rate and sales jumped.

  • Use an exit survey. If a visitor abandons checkout, offer an incentive to complete an exit survey. She may tell you why she didn't complete that order.

Now you have 20 different ways to reduce shopping cart abandonment. Every site is different, of course, with its own environment and issues. Don't obsess about abandonment rates. Many people use shopping carts as place holders for considering items. Help those who want to check out and may have questions, doubts, or obstacles holding them back.

Some of these tips will result in dramatic improvements, others may not do much at all. Test each one that's appropriate. Improve conversion rate one step at a time. Let me know what you tried and how it worked.


Bryan Eisenberg

Bryan Eisenberg is co-founder and chief marketing officer (CMO) of IdealSpot. He is co-author of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times best-selling books Call to Action, Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?, and Always Be Testing, and Buyer Legends. Bryan is a keynote speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as Gultaggen, Shop.org, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others for the past 10 years. Bryan was named a winner of the Marketing Edge's Rising Stars Awards, recognized by eConsultancy members as one of the top 10 User Experience Gurus, selected as one of the inaugural iMedia Top 25 Marketers, and has been recognized as most influential in PPC, Social Selling, OmniChannel Retail. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of several venture capital backed companies such as Sightly, UserTesting, Monetate, ChatID, Nomi, and BazaarVoice. He works with his co-author and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at BryanEisenberg.com.

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