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Friday, Nov. 25, 2011 at 7:30 am

12 Days of Conversions: Day 3- The Shopping Cart

By Mariel Bacci
November 25th, 2011

Shopping Cart filled with Holiday GiftsWe are always saying that one of the best places to start conversion optimization is in the shopping cart.  The customers you lose in the cart are the ones who have already gone through 90% of the buying process and have money in hand. Do not let them leave for any reason other than perhaps, they have to check with their mom or partner or grand-baby first. Here is a list of things to take care of in your cart TODAY, to get the best ROI over the holidays.

#1 Returns/Exchanges

Buying online is scary.  Especially buying for other people.  What if they don’t like it or it doesn’t fit?  What if someone else buys them the same present?  What if it looks cool online and turns out to be a piece of junk? Are you offering your prospects a money back guarantee?  The holidays are the most important time to prominently display that you will exchange or refund purchases. Your buyers should feel like they are making an investment, not a gamble.

# 2  The Dreaded Shipping Charges

The best way to optimize your shipping options in the cart is test different options and then modify your cart experience to reflect the options and placement of options in the way that leads to the most conversions.  It might be too late for traditional testing, so get it on your calendar for next year!  In the mean time, make sure shipping prices are clear, and more importantly over the holidays, offer a guaranteed arrival date. People need to know that their purchase will arrive before the holiday and should be able to muze over whether your shipping charges are worth making sure that happens.

Of course, you can always offer free shipping.  This is a good strategy to increase items in the cart and therefore AOV.  Display how much more the customer needs to qualify for free shipping on your category, product and cart pages.  For example, “You are $xx.xx away from free shipping!  Continue shopping »”  If you have time, offer items related to those already in the visitors cart, or items that other people also purchased along with the original item.  Make the shipping problem (or opportunity) work to your advantage.

#3  Are You The Right Decision?

Make sure you’re saving customer carts for at least 30 days, maybe more for the holidays. If your visitor does need to check with someone else to qualify their decision to buy from you, make sure you are there waiting for them when they get back (perhaps with an increased incentive).  A lot of people will be comparing your prices to other companies, so if your prices are higher than your competitors, make sure your customer knows why.  Maybe you are offering free shipping, have a money back guarantee, or you are a one stop shop for all their needs?  Be sure your visitors know why you are the best, whether it be price or other incentives.

Send “cart recovery” e-mails as soon as the visitor abandons your site, and again in 24 hours.  you want to make sure they have no trouble finding you when they decide they want to make their purchase.  Be sure to mention in your recovery e-mails that you are kindly saving the contents of your visitors carts for them.

#4 The Quest For A Coupon Code

This suggestion is only for certain types of industries where visitors are more price sensitive and are shopping on price as the main factor. Certain types of shoppers will leave your checkout process when they see an ‘enter coupon code’ box to look for coupon codes elsewhere.  Do not let them leave your site!  This heightens the chances they will abandon your cart by being distracted, finding a better price, or a more satisfying product.   Offer a coupon code in exchange for newsletter sign up right on your cart page. This way, not only will people continue with their checkout process, they will opt in to an opportunity for re-marketing later.

#5 Payment Options

Most ecommerce sites offer a good assortment of payment options.  If you do not offer credit card payment, Paypal and money orders as a minimum, get on the bandwagon. Most ecommerce sites have the variety problem solved.  The trouble is, they do not feature the payment options early enough or prominently enough in the cart.  Make sure your customers know their available payment options and that they are displayed as effectively as possible. Where should you display them?  This will be different for every type of industry and every type of check out process.  You need to test what works best for your visitors.

#6 Out Of Stock

Seriously?!  If this is happening on your website, do not go to bed tonight until it is resolved.  When something it out of stock, it needs to be obvious on both category and product pages.  This problem should never reach the shopping cart stage.  If you do not want people to think you no longer carry the item, why not let them enter their e-mail on the product page if they want to be notified when it is back in stock.

You could also figure out when you’ll get product in stock again and offer the visitor the ability to buy today and tell them when the item will be back in stock and shipped to them. Victoria Secret does a good job of this on their site. In addition, offer similar items to your ‘out of stock’ item, so that the prospect does not abandon your site all together.  Again, this occurs before someone ever reaches your shopping cart.  Make sure you do market research before the holidays approach, so that you know what items you will need to stock most heavily so that you don’t run into this problem.

#7 Security concerns

This is somewhat out of your hands…the Web isn’t 100% safe for shoppers, and they know it.  But, Point of Action Assurances, 3rd party security seals, and credibility of design are key to helping your visitors feel secure. Make sure you also have a phone number available for those people who do not want to enter their credit card information over the internet.

If you don’t have time to do anything else, at least spend the time to get your shopping cart in good enough condition so that you’re not losing money at the point in the buying process where visitors are most likely going to hand it over to you. Contact us with any questions you might have about our process and how the analysts at FutureNow can help you get the results you want in the new year!

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Comments (24)

  1. You are spot on with the need to pay more attention to the shopping cart. I’ve found that free shipping is by far and away the best closer for me. I leave it as a “surprise” for the shopping cart area and I rarely lose anyone from that page.

  2. To solve the shock of shipping charges, we offer a flat rate shipping which displayed in the header on the home page. This cut down on the abandoned carts.

  3. We can find very good e-commerce web sites for this. For example Opencart is great…

  4. My most of customer goes in out of stock :( my site is always running out of stock :(

  5. I have the same concern with conversions. The customer places an item in the cart and I know good and well also that they have card in hand also. Are they just adding to cart to price the item-as in tire kickers or possibly more than they feel they can afford?

  6. When an item is added to cart the shipping charges are also added. That could also be another factor in cart abandonment.

  7. Free shipping is definitely a major closer for me. Even though it only costs around $5.99, customers still flock for it. It works perfect for my site.. You’re also absolutely right about the out of stock. Nobody should leave their items out of stock, ESPECIALLY around the holidays. I’ve only had it happen to me a couple of times and I was in immediate panic mode because of it.

  8. The customers you lose in the cart are the ones who have already gone through 90% of the buying process and have money in hand –> Geez you absolutely right about this one. I used to use paypal default shopping chart..and i works like crap. at least by my personal experience it did. :(

  9. nice Share, thanks for pointing that shopping Cart problem. Especially the Security Section is worth it.

    Best regards

  10. We have digital product. do not require shipping charge :)

  11. That’s a nice problem to have Pinakin

  12. Great article, some fantastic tips, particularly relating to Christmas delivery dates (hadn’t thought about that myself).

  13. Offering free shipping is a plus for customers as it gives our tshirt printing company an advantage over competitors. When it comes to custom apparel, every penny counts!

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Mariel is a GA certified analyst at FutureNow, Inc.

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