Cart abandonment – it’s an issue that all online merchants face. But did you know that during this past quarter, online businesses captured only one fourth of their potential sales? The effect on the bottom line is causing businesses to look for ways to improve the checkout process. But before you can make improvements, you need to know where people are becoming discouraged and why.

BI Intelligence, a research service from Business Insider, found the following reasons why shoppers abandon their carts:

 

  • Entering shipping or delivery address (20%)
  • Entering billing address (20.9%)
  • Shipping costs become available (35.7%)
  • Checkout login (37.4%)
  • Payment process (46.1%)

 

Today’s average checkout process does not seem to meet customers’ expectations. But what areas can businesses alter to make it more efficient?

 

The order review stage

The order review process is one of the first points where customers may abandon their carts. But why are customers calling it quits so early? It could be due to two things: window shopping or a lack of cost transparency.

With online shopping, customers can now browse products more conveniently than ever before. Instead of physically going to a store and browsing their inventory, online shoppers can now check out multiple stores without ever needing to leave their home. In fact, 37% of shoppers are there just to browse and aren’t ready to make a purchase. But how can stores bring interested shoppers back? Follow up emails are an effective way of recapturing customers. In a survey done by VWO, they found that 58% of customers that received an email with a discount returned to the website. If email alerts aren’t working, customers could be leaving because a store lacks transparent pricing.

The lack of transparency with additional costs is seen as one of the most common reasons for customers to abandon their purchase. Besides taxes, when a customer shops at a physical store they aren’t hit with random costs once they reach the till. So why shouldn’t it be the same when shopping online? Being honest and upfront about the total cost of an order could save you lost sales and save your customers frustration.

Continuing through the checkout process, customers quickly reach the next roadblock – the login phase.

 

Memberships vs guest logins

Before a customer finishes shopping and checks out, they often have to create a membership. Unfortunately, just over twenty percent of people aren’t interested in creating profiles. Instead of forcing customers to sign up, businesses should promote them as a way to improve their experience. Incentives for members can go a long way. Take Amazon Prime for example. Although this membership comes at a cost, the variety of benefits they offer are well worth it for the avid online shopper. Amazon has also benefited from a good membership program as their average Prime users spend more than twice as much as non-members.

It’s possible that customers may never want to become a member. If that’s the case, businesses should offer guest checkout as an alternative. Interestingly enough, top ranked retailers don’t require customers to be members and are able to decrease checkout times by half a minute by offering a guest checkout. But why does speed matter in the checkout process? Well, filling out too many fields frustrates customers and inevitably leads to a slower checkout process and higher cart abandonment. Although profile creation is a large reason for cart abandonment, the payment process is far worse.

 

Not enough payment options

Why are customers dropping out at the final stage? The customers are ready to buy, but sadly the payment part of the checkout process has the highest abandonment rate. It could be a lack of payment options.

When a customer is ready to buy, they might run into a big dilemma – they don’t have their credit card on them. It’s most likely nearby, but this gives them time to debate their purchase. With 5 out of 6 shoppers guilty of impulse purchases, you don’t want to give them a chance to question buying that new high-end laptop. In fact, this example isn’t too extreme as 30% of people who make above $75,000 a year have made impulse purchases of $1000 or more. But how can you help shoppers who don’t have their credit card handy? Make checking out as easy as entering a username and password, which is just one of the benefits of offering memberships for your site. By allowing shoppers to save payment information in their profile, you can make checking out as simple as signing in.

But what if a customer doesn’t own a credit card? It turns out that 64% of millennials don’t and 67% of this generation prefer shopping online rather than in-store. That’s quite a few customers and without suitable payment alternatives, you could miss them. Adding payment options such as debit cards enables your customers to enjoy the convenience of shopping online without needing a credit card. And while many online merchants worry about overwhelming shoppers with too many payment options, top rated retailers actually offer an average of 8.7 payment options. Don’t give customers a final reason to leave the store empty handed.

 

Conclusion

With so many online retailers, competition is at an all-time high. If the checkout process doesn’t meet your customers’ expectations, you are going to lose sales. You can be assured that if your checkout isn’t optimized, one of your competitors will be. By paying close attention to where shoppers are dropping off, you can identify what improvements will bring the biggest gains. Although it is a constantly moving target, the goal is to give your customers what every shopper wants – a frictionless checkout experience.