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For any online retailer, transporting a consumer seamlessly from the shopping to buying stage brings its challenges. 

Checkout, the pivotal moment to secure the sale, is still an area where many retailers struggle to provide a customer-centric experience.

Whether the customer is shopping in-store or online, a poor customer experience is likely to result in an abandoned basket.

So, how can you prevent valuable online customers from straying from their shopping baskets?

1. Keep it clear and simple

Many customers are time poor, easily distracted, and perhaps most notably, have a wide-range of other brands vying for their attention.

A complex or lengthy checkout process could send them running to your competitor. Today’s average checkout process is five pages long.

Wiggle's checkout

Too many steps will frustrate the customer, which may result in an abandoned basket and lost revenue.

Implementing a step-indicator, which gives customers a clear view of their progress, will help manage their expectations during the entire process.

2. Minimise queuing time

Bricks and mortar shops try to prevent customers from waiting in a lengthy queue to make a purchase.

The same attitude must be applied online. A ‘guest checkout’ option reduces processing time, enabling customers to complete the purchase without being required to register or set up an account.

A third (33%) of retailers don’t offer this, which has a direct impact on the number of sales they convert.

Of course, capturing customer data via registration is important to enable engaging communications and personalised offers in the future.

You should consider presenting both options and offer incentives for customers to complete the longer registration process.

3. Avoid last minute, unexpected surprises

At this critical stage in the customer journey, you should do everything to encourage the sale, and avoid presenting the customer with any unexpected costs at the last minute.

The continued growth of promo codes, providing free shipping or money off, are a powerful way to encourage customers to purchase.

Reduce the risk of disappointment at checkout by allowing customers to apply codes early in the process. This may also create additional revenue as customers realise they can get more for their money.

Mulberry's single page checkout

You also need to avoid exposing customers to sticker shock. More than a third (38%) of online retailers are guilty of this.

Hitting customers with total costs at the end of the checkout process could put them off the purchase if the price is higher than they expected.

Whilst the majority of retailers display shipping costs on the first or second page of checkout, there remain a few who still don’t reveal the rates until page five.

Display a preview of the shopping basket and associated costs, including shipping costs, as early as possible during the checkout process and provide the opportunity to adjust their preference.

4. Remind customers what they are missing

There are many other reasons shoppers may abandon their shopping basket, and even if you address the majority you will still face abandoned baskets.

However, that does not mean the sale is lost. Commerce marketing automation makes it much easier to follow up with the customer to re-engage them.

Sending automated abandoned basket messages is an effective way to recapture the customer’s interest and remind them why they visited your site in the first place.

In fact, a basket reminder strategy can recover as much as 25% of abandoned revenue. Yet, a surprisingly high number of retailers (59%) don’t do this at all.

A small number (22%) send only one reminder, even though experience shows that a series of messages is more effective.

If you keep customers happy at checkout, and personalise the messages to those that abandon their baskets, you can go a long way toward becoming the retailer that customers come back to again and again.

Georges Berzgal

Published 19 February, 2016 by Georges Berzgal

Georges is Managing Director Europe at Bronto Software and contributor to Econsultancy. You can connect with him via LinkedIn, or follow Bronto on Twitter.

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Comments (1)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, CINO at Fresh Relevance

Cart abandonment rates have been improving for 2 years, indicating that online retailers are learning lessons such as those in the article.

Average cart abandon rates are currently around 56% for shoppers who cart at least 1 product

Sales uplifts from a straightforward browse+cart abandonment recovery program are currently averaging 10%-11% of turnover.

YMMV and rates can be improved by doing more work to improve identification. I have seen individual retailers with much larger numbers (even over 100% extra sales from cart recovery in one case) but these high rates are outliers with special factors.

8 months ago

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