Shopping cart conversions are the bread and butter for e-commerce companies. Optimizing and increasing those checkout conversions is paramount to the success of the e-commerce business model. Therefore, it is very important that e-commerce business owners continually test out and make changes to improve upon the existing layout of their sites. A/B testing and usability testing can help you to identify how small changes in color, font and placement of objects or wording of text can help to influence online shoppers to complete their purchase. Testing is also of a great importance because what works for one website and one set of customers may not work for another website with its unique shoppers' audience.
Building Trust Through Online Reputation
As most e-commerce website owners already know, selling online is not a simple process. It is not a “build it and they will come” scenario. Much goes into the planning, set up and advertising to get shoppers to become website visitors and then convert them into customers. One of the important steps in this process is building trust. Asking a shopper for their personal credit card details, address and phone number should not be taken lightly. One of the important ways to build that trust is through social media and online reviews. Once you establish a presence in social media and start generating online reviews from past consumers, reputation management becomes vital to the success of the whole e-commerce process. Monitoring your reputation online may seem like a daunting task, however with tools from companies like Radian6 or iSentia for example, monitoring your media mentions and social activity becomes much more simplified with automated alerts and notifications. Tools like these make your job of selling and providing customer service much easier.
Setting the Groundwork for the Checkout Process
The online shopping cart is definitely the area that can make it or break it for conversions. However, it is also important to mention the process before actually getting to the checkout portion of the process. Much focus is put on the website usability, but oftentimes web designers make the mistake of thinking they are home free once an item is added to the cart. Of course, the search function, product, and pricing are all major factors in e-commerce websites that come into play before the ‘add to cart’ button is pressed. Once they enter the domain of the shopping cart section, then even more careful attention to detail and testing must occur. Here is our list of 10 shopping cart conversion tips to ensure that you have all of the important details and features available for your website’s shopping cart checkout.
Shopping Cart Optimization Checklist: 10 Tips
- Continue Your Branding Throughout the Shopping Cart Process. When shoppers press the “checkout” button if the interface is different and all of the sudden it looks like they are on a different site, it looks suspicious. During the checkout process, nothing should interfere with buyer trust like that. The transition from a shopping to shopping cart to checkout must be seamless. Not surprisingly, a great deal about the checkout process has to do with branding. If your brand is not ever-present throughout the checkout process, it can hurt the conversion chances.
- Do Not Require Registration: One of the first roadblocks that online shoppers run into is a sign up form. Most shoppers want to be able to browse and explore the website and the checkout process before committing any information. When you require them to register before they can investigate, most shoppers will bail on the process rather than signing up for any type of registration.
- Keep It Simple: The more information you require, the less chance each customer has of completing the checkout process. Simple one page checkouts perform the best. Trial and error will help you find the right balance of delivering the necessary information without overloading the shopper with too much information during the checkout process. A simple checkout process does not mean simplified technology. Quite the contrary is necessary. Shopping carts with intuitive features and processes that show what is in the buyer’s cart, and the prices and totals each step of the way are necessary. A part of keeping the checkout process simple is making sure that shoppers see a clear path to follow through the shopping cart all the way to finalizing the order. Most web designers will create a checkout process that is built for the least tech savvy person. In addition to having a simple checkout process that is easy to complete, the shopping cart program should guide users through the process, making it very clear what the next step in the checkout process is. This is usually done by enabling what can and cannot be clicked, or with color coding. Usability testing also helps out here to know which colors or methods your customers respond best to.
- Offer Multiple Shipping Options and List Them ASAP: Some buyers will need their order right away and will be looking for the fastest shipping method available. Other shoppers are not concerned with the speed of delivery, but price is the most important factor. Make sure that you cater to both these kinds of shoppers with a variety of shipping options. Display the shipping costs as early in the process as possible. No one likes hidden charge surprises, especially if they have already taken the time to complete a large portion of the checkout process
- Instill Confidence with Security and Stability: Logos and badges displaying security certificates, awards, buyer group certifications, and similar badges from respected sources should be neatly displayed in uniform icons on the checkout pages. They should also link out to be verified and open in a new window. This way they are there to help reassure shoppers without being too distracting from the checkout process. Social media logos should also be placed there to reassure consumers that your company is real and they will be able to connect with you in the event they need to. In fact, a study showed that 69% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a small business if they are on social media. (Source: Sitepoint)
- Guarantees and Warrantees: Let your shoppers know that you stand behind your products or services and list any guarantees or warrantees that you offer. This can be in text or icon form, but should also be brief and open in a new window. Alternatively, this can be listed on the policies page. Depending on your usability and A/B testing, try out having the least amount of extras possible on your shopping cart pages. This also is where wavering between simplicity and details will come in to see which your specific customers prefer.
- Mine Analytics Data: The e-commerce and goal funnel portions of Google Analytics should be set up correctly to monitor traffic in and out of your shopping cart. When you analyze the data, you can identify areas of weakness during the checkout process and make adjustments accordingly. For example, if you see the bulk of shoppers leaving on the page where the shipping is displayed, the shipping costs might be too high. If you are unsure why, but see a large percentage of shoppers leaving on the same page or in the same time frame, that is when usability testing comes in and can help you identify the problem.
- Display a Clear Confirmation Upon Order Completion: Nothing is more frustrating or upsetting to an online shopper than not knowing if their order was completed. They have already given out all of their information and credit card details and at this point, reassurance is of the most importance. When the order is complete, it should display a large thank you notice with their order confirmation number and explain what will happen next.
- Retargeting: The last step in increasing conversions is having a fail-safe in place when shoppers start the checkout process and do not complete the order. Retargeting is a type of advertising where you can show shoppers that did not purchase banner and interactive advertisements to try and recapture the sale. There are many different companies that help you with retargeting advertising as well as pop up ads that open if a window is closed prior to completing checkout.
Summary and Takeaways
One of the most important things for e-commerce merchants to realize is the level of trust that a shopper gives you when they order from you online. They give their personal details to you and their credit card information with the assumption that their information will remain safe and secure. It is up to you, as the e-commerce merchant, to ensure that this is true and convey that to your shoppers and customers in every way possible. Taking care and paying special attention to your shopping cart process will help increase your conversion rate and lead to better return on all of your advertising investments.
John oftentimes takes the lead as the Agile Project Manager and SEO expert on selected projects, which allows him to be hands-on with the latest trends.