Basket abandonment - why 68% of customers don’t complete their purchase

Imagine you have a store full of customers...

They’re browsing products and many have picked up items they intend to buy. But before they reach the counter, two-thirds drop their basket and leave. What if this was happening every day, week after week, month after month? It would be an alarming trend and one you'd no doubt be determined to understand and address.

Whilst this may not be happening on the high street, it’s a real problem retailers are facing online. A recent aggregated average of basket abandonment rates revealed that 68% of shoppers fail to complete their transaction.

The good news is that measurement tools give you the data you identify problems like this quickly, but you may need to delve a little deeper to understand the reasons why and the ways to change behaviour. In the first of our two-part basket abandonment article, we look at some of the most common reasons why customers fall away during their online shop.

High shipping costs

Shipping costs are a huge factor in an individual’s decision-making with regards to shopping online. If they’re too high, or the cost of delivery doesn’t marry to the overall order value, a customer will simply find a cheaper alternative.

Estimated shipping costs can also cause real problems - users want to know how much they’re going to pay for delivery; providing an estimated value probably won’t fly with most.

Forced registration

In an age where consumers expect quick service, forcing them to register an account can be a huge stumbling block. It may seem trivial, but many individuals abandon their baskets for this reason alone.

Clothing giant ASOS reportedly halved the number of abandoned baskets they were experiencing by simply introducing a ‘guest checkout’ option. If it works for them, it’ll probably work for you.

Hidden charges

Nobody likes being surprised with hidden charges. Many retailers are guilty of springing them on customers, like adding credit card charges or handling fees. If absolutely unavoidable, charges like these should be fully communicated to users before they even begin progress to checkout.

Delivery options

Most users will want to be able to choose a delivery option that suits their needs, whether that be next-day, express or standard delivery, or click and collect. Ensure you have a variety of options available for your customers to choose from.

Estimated delivery times can also deter users from completing a transaction; they’ll want to know exactly when they can expect to receive their products, so try and be as definitive as possible.

Payment methods / security

Ensure that all bases are covered with regards to payments. From debit and credit cards, to PayPal and the emerging e-wallet solutions; you’ll need to give your users to widest choice possible to make sure they’re able to complete their transaction.

With the payment process in mind, consumers will also want to know that their transaction is being handled securely. Be sure to highlight the security measures you have in place, display any security certificates and include information around any third-party payment providers you work with.

Design & Navigation

It may seem obvious that your checkout needs to be simple and straight-forward to use, but sometimes this is completely overlooked by retailers. Keep the process to as few pages as possible, helping your consumers complete their purchase quickly and easily.

Also ensure that your checkout remains in line with the branding of the wider website and includes pages that still allow for a superior user experience to be delivered. This is the most important stage of the buying cycle, so you don’t want to deter users with uninspiring pages and non-intuitive forms.

Technical issues

Customers don’t like encountering technical issues, not least when money and online payments are concerned. Ensure that your checkout process is capable of delivering a seamless process through thorough testing and have a stable hosting provider in place.

Slow loading times can cause great concern for users – ensure your site is running as smoothly as possible and is capable of dealing with high volumes of traffic during busy periods.

Position in the sale cycle

This one is often out-of-the-hands of retailers. Sometimes customers are simply not ready to commit to a purchase; they may be browsing, or comparing the price or your products with those of your competitors.

While there’s not much you can do if a user chooses to abandon their basket based on this reasoning, there are a number of tactics you can employ to ensure they stay engaged with your brand. Display advertising and remarketing campaigns, for example, can play a key role in this.

Now you've read why it's happening, check out part two of our basket abandonment article, which looks at how you can improve your conversion rate.

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