There have never been more options in the world of shopping. Customers can go old school and visit a brick-and-mortar store. They could see a retailer’s post in their social media feed and add to their cart there. Or they can go to a company’s website, which might now be considered the “traditional” online shopping choice.
It’s no surprise that many consumers choose the digital shopping experience. Shopping from the comfort of their home without the complications of in-person browsing — like traffic and crowds — is enticing. There also isn’t as much pressure to buy. They don’t interact with salespeople or see something on the rack they just have to have. That can make shopping less stressful and less apt to produce buyer’s remorse.
But what’s good for consumers may be less so for e-commerce retailers. Online shopping can reduce a customer’s feeling of urgency and lead to delayed or never completed purchases. That has big bottom-line implications for businesses. Digital window shopping and abandoned carts don’t pay the bills. So it’s a good idea to implement strategies to encourage purchases — without annoying your customers.
1. Engage in Some Self-Examination
Before you go running after cart abandoners pleading for them to return, consider that the problem might not be them, but you. Look at your website analytics to determine what’s causing customer defections. If your site is underperforming, that could be the reason for abandoned carts.
Maybe your site’s load speed is so slow that people get frustrated and close the tab to shop elsewhere. A bug may be creating a discrepancy between what they meant to add to their cart and what is shown when they revisit later. Or perhaps there’s a price disconnect that prevents them from completing their purchase. This could range from high shipping and handling costs to promo codes that fail to go through.
While all of these examples aren’t immediately resolvable, having an understanding of where the drop-off occurs is invaluable information. From there, you can prioritize finding and deploying solutions that reduce frustration. Your behind-the-scenes efforts will result in happier customers and more sales.
2. Focus on a Good, Logical Layout
After identifying the problem(s), it’s time to start building out a retention marketing plan. You want previous purchasers to return, and you want not-quite-yet purchasers to come back and seal the deal. For an e-commerce business, both objectives depend on your website. Good websites have everything a shopper needs in one spot. Great websites build on that by displaying information in a logical design that creates a seamless user experience.
Again, looking within will likely produce better results than sending your shoppers dunning reminder messages. Investing in user experience research will give you an understanding of how customers use your site. It can identify other issues, too, like confusion about layout functionality and organization.
For example, if your “Add to Cart” call to action button is in an obscure or hard-to-find place, it can prevent people from buying. Moving the button up or changing its color can make it easier to find. That small adjustment can trickle down to completed purchases without any overt communication on your part.
3. Incentivize Purchases
Encouraging customers to complete their orders with incentives can be a game-changer. Loyalty programs, in which customers earn points toward discounts or other rewards, are a proven way to keep people coming back.
There’s an art to loyalty programs that work. Focus on clear communication and an easy sign-up process to encourage enrollment. Incorporating a sign-up opportunity in the checkout process is a great way to build traction. However, specifically calling out its benefits on your homepage and in promotional content is essential.
You can even explore pop-ups and emails that remind shoppers of the items in their carts. While reminders can be helpful if there’s low inventory or deals are about to expire, they can annoy customers. So opt for pop-ups and email notifications that provide value, such as a discount on their next purchase or a free shipping offer. Otherwise, these notifications are just another thing to click out of or delete that could distract customers from their shopping experience.
4. Streamline the Checkout Process
After spending time perusing your website, customers want a simple checkout process. If they’re making a one-time purchase, such as a gift, they probably don’t want to create yet another account. In that case, a guest checkout option will be appreciated. Although repeat customers are beneficial to your company, one-off purchases can be big revenue generators, too. So keep that audience in mind when strategizing about checkout procedures.
Offer an array of payment options, including integrating established mobile payment types like Apple Pay or Google Pay. If that’s not possible, make sure your site makes entering payment information easy. Offering a scanning capability for credit cards helps reduce customer effort and is great for the overall experience. Having a numeric keypad pop up for phone numbers or ZIP code entries is a nice touch, too.
Remember that not all customers will be using the same device. Test your checkout process on different mobile phones, tablets, and computer screens to see how it works. Conduct regular quality checks to ensure everything runs smoothly and request feedback if there are still concerns.
Today’s customers want to purchase the items they’re looking for and be able to check out in a seamless transaction. If you fail on either count, you’ll lose them to other businesses offering the same or similar products.
By taking the above tips into account, you can keep the customer experience as your central focus. Ultimately, you don’t want your website to be the reason you lose business. Being proactive and instilling a customer-first mindset can ensure that’s not the case.