Converting Online Window Shoppers and Abandoned Carts Into Paying Customers

Indecisive shoppers and abandoned carts will hurt your website’s conversion rate. Learn how you can reduce these incomplete transactions with our list of industry-proven conversion-boosting techniques.

Learn how you can reduce these incomplete transactions with our list of industry-proven conversion-boosting techniques.
Abandoned carts are the bane of eCommerce retailers but while they’re an unavoidable part of doing business, it is possible to recover a significant portion of these potentially lost sales into valuable conversions.

Picture this. You walk into your favorite retail store. Not even a minute passes by when someone from the sales staff approaches you and hits you with one of the all-too-familiar sales-initiating engagement questions: “Do you need any assistance?”, “How can I help you?”, “Is there anything you’re looking for in particular?”, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Maybe, you’re there for a purpose; that you’ll be buying something you’ve already decided on buying. Maybe, you’re there to figure out what exactly it is you want to buy. Maybe, you’re only there to kill time. We’ve all been in this situation before–and, chances are, you’ve probably answered with the #1 response that commissioned salespeople DON’T want to hear: “No, thanks. I’m just looking.” The salesperson’s reaction to said-response will have a direct impact on whether the sale will either be happening now, at a later date, or not at all. An overtly-aggressive salesperson will pretty much guarantee that any potential sale won’t be happening at all.

And that is one of the many reasons as to why today’s consumers prefer shopping online.

eCommerce provides 24/7 convenience and accessibility for consumers to make their purchases whenever and wherever they want. No dealing with set store hours, no waiting in line at a checkout counter, and above all else, no pushy salespeople. Shoppers can, at their own leisure, peruse through countless items on countless websites and hunt for the best deals. If they’re not 100% sure what it is they want to buy, they can find product information on the store’s website or through another informational outlet on the Internet. eCommerce gives consumers more decision-making power when it comes to purchasing goods; ensuring that said-purchases will be satisfactory in both the product itself and experience which led to completing the purchase.

On the other hand, because of the freedoms that eCommerce allows–in particular, the ability to browse and shop without total commitment–the inherent obstacle that frustrates traditional 

‘brick-and-mortar’ retailers is amplified tenfold on the Internet, where the customer pool is far greater than that of a local physical storefront. That obstacle is indecisiveness.

eCommerce retailers have two major hurdles they need to overcome in order to make money: the bounce rate and the conversion rate. These two often go hand-in-hand. A high bounce rate–the rate at which website visitors leave a website without engaging–can be caused by a myriad of problems such as poor website performance and slow page loading speeds, confusing layout and counterintuitive navigation, lack of useful information, insufficient stock, and uncompetitive pricing to name a few. Low conversion rates may be indicative of high bounce rates, meaning that website visitors aren’t spending enough time exploring your web store to make a purchase. Or, if they are exploring your website, something is causing them to not complete their purchase–and that ‘something’ could also be the reason behind the uptick in bounce rate.

A recent study by PYMNTS and Adobe found that, on average, consumers abandon their carts about 8 times a month when shopping on brand websites. The report, based on surveys with over 3,500 participants, uncovered a link between generational demographics and certain shopping habits specific to them.

The generational demographic with the highest number of abandoned carts is the Millennial age group (born between 1977 and 1994). Millennials averaged 5 abandoned their carts over the course of 30 days. Just behind the Millennials is Gen-Z (born between 1995 and 2010), who abandoned their carts 4 times over the same 30-day period. The Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) had the lowest average of abandoned carts; 0.6 abandonments per 30-day period with Gen-X (born between 1965 and 1976) at a medium rate of 2 abandoned carts in 30 days.

These shopping habits stem from the spending powers and overall economic viability the respective age groups have in the consumer market. While Baby Boomers still hold the largest buying power above all age groups, Millennials and Gen-Z have the highest spending power, thus making them far more attractive to consumer brands than their older counterparts. Baby Boomers, who collectively have higher amounts of disposable income, are much more conservative with their purchases and tend to shop frugally and infrequently whereas Millennials and Gen-Z are impulse shoppers, are more willing to follow or allow themselves to be influenced by consumer trends, and are far less restrained than the Boomers and Gen-X’ers when it comes to spending. At the same time, Millennials and Gen-Z’ers are also more indecisive than Boomers and Gen-X’ers; younger shoppers will load up their carts but not fully commit themselves to completing the purchase as they continue searching through other online sources for better deals, sometimes better products. The older shoppers are more likely to commit to completing their purchases, though at a notably reduced rate than that of Millennials and Gen-Z’ers. PYMNTS and Adobe’s research also found that cart abandonment was remarkably higher for clothing and accessories as opposed to essentials such as groceries and expensive, large-ticket items such as major appliances, electronics, and furniture.

Though, regardless of age group, the one thing that stands true for both traditional retail and eCommerce is that not everyone visiting a store–a physical store or a website–is necessarily there to make a purchase. As the saying goes, “You can’t win ‘em all”, but what you, the eCommerce business owner, CAN do is reduce the amount of indecisiveness, abandoned carts, and window shoppers by implementing tactics that are designed to increase conversions. Here are 5 industry-proven ways eCommerce stores can combat cart abandonment and boost their conversion rates.

5 Ways to Reduce Abandoned Carts and Increase Conversion Rates

  1. Use Automated Abandoned Cart EMails
  2. Ensure Optimal Website Performance
  3. Maintain Up-to-Date Product Information and Pricing
  4. Offer Multiple Payment Options
  5. Simplify the Checkout Process

#1: Use Automated Abandoned Cart EMails

Abandoned carts often happen because there’s no commitment involved when shopping online. eCommerce is, for the most part, a self-serve environment; the urgency to purchase that may be pushed onto you by a particularly aggressive salesperson is eliminated, leaving only yourself to either create or reduce said-urgency. However, without this urgency or any initiative to complete a purchase transaction, it’s easy for a shopper to become distracted and turn their attention elsewhere. Or, they may want to temporarily ‘bookmark’ an item of interest by holding it in a cart while they explore other sellers on the Internet offering the same item for a better price.

Most shoppers realize that there’s no immediate pressure to complete a purchase. Hence, why the practice of cart abandonment has become commonplace. They assume (and they’re completely correct to assume, within reason) that what they do online is their business and their business alone. An abandoned cart EMail uses pre-collected user data (typically, information gathered during the customer registration process) to send an EMail as a reminder that items have been left in a cart and to complete the transaction. This bit of personalization may entice shoppers to return to their carts and finish the purchase. An abandoned cart EMail can also incentivize a shopper to possibly add to their ticket with cross-sells and up-sells. Keep in mind that this method of cart recovery requires shoppers who have already registered with your website. It will not work for random visitors or random shoppers who may have found your store through Google Search. In this case, a pop-up kiosk can also be implemented to alert shoppers that items have been left behind in the shopping cart.

Popular cart recovery EMail apps include chated.io, Recapture, WhatsApp, and CartConvert.

#2: Ensure Optimal Website Performance

Slow loading speeds and poor website performance are major turn-offs for Internet users–especially, online shoppers. Google says that a website should load between 0 and 2 seconds with 3 seconds being acceptable for most users; anything longer than that and you can expect users to quickly ditch your website and go elsewhere. Now, a few of us online may still remember the Dark Ages, with 14.4kbps dial-up modems that took minutes to load a single image. The meteoric advancements in Internet, computer, and communications technologies all within the past 30 years have made such drudgery a memory of a bygone era. Today, most people actually browse the Internet with their smartphones and tablets as opposed to desktop computers. In fact, many of today’s modern mobile devices can rival desktop PCs in speed and performance, which is why loading speed and website performance is absolutely crucial for minimizing bounce rates.

There are various ways you can check your website’s page load speed performance:

  • For Chrome and Firefox users, right-click on your web page in Chrome/Firefox and select Inspect. In the Network tab of the pop-up window, you will find all of the information you need, including the load time, on your web page as it loads. If you want to measure your site’s performance, Chrome also has an open-source automated tool called Lighthouse. To start, click the > button and choose Lighthouse.
  • Google offers a free Internet Speed Test within the search engine itself. Search “internet speed test” and Google will bring up the test in the first result. Or, you can also use Google Fiber to test your performance. Other free and reliable speed tests include Speedtest by Ookla, and Fast.com.
  • It’s possible to set up thresholds for all key website performance metrics, including page load time, with the use of synthetic monitoring tools. These tools provide a continuous view of the website’s various metrics instead of just intermittent bits. It then performs regular tests, and if anything changes from what you have set up, it triggers an alert.

How to Improve Website Performance

Our earlier article, Top 5 Tips for a Faster Website, features 5 easy ways you can improve your website’s loading speed and performance yourself.

  • Optimize images for web use.
  • Limit the use of apps, add-ons, etc.
  • Reduce render blocking files.
  • Minimize Javascript/CSS/HTML5/6 and cut junk code.
  • Keep redirects to a minimum.

Check out our article for detailed explanations and examples.

#3: Maintain Up-to-Date Product Information and Pricing

We discussed the effects of bad data in our previous pieces, Fixing Broken B2B eCommerce, Parts 1 and 2. While these articles dissect the problems that bad data causes in a B2B environment, the same also applies in B2C eCommerce. That’s because today’s B2B eCommerce takes a lot of its current characteristics from regular consumer B2C. When shoppers are performing much of the research and decision-making themselves, it’s imperative that product information is as accurate and as up-to-date as possible.

One surefire way to collect the most precise and detailed information is by going through the source itself, contacting the manufacturer or supplier of the product you are selling. If the products being sold are products you are manufacturing yourself, then it’s to your benefit to list in detail the benefits and selling points of your product as explicitly as possible.

How your website displays the product information is just as important as the accuracy of the information itself. Not only will this help shoppers quickly find what it is they want to buy and help expedite the decision-making process, it will also aid in SEO, thus making it easier for random website visitors to find their goods on your website as opposed to shopping with a competitor.

Tips on How to Optimize Product Pages for Higher Conversions

  • Don’t overdo titles. Try to keep them short and sweet. They should only mention the core information. Don’t exceed 75 characters. This makes your title easier to read complete and as intended. The result is also clearer titles for mobile users with limited screen resolution (such as older computers and mobile devices).
  • Learn how name-brand retailers write their product titles if you sell a common item that is also sold by larger, more prolific retailers. By piggybacking on their keyword search ranking, you can have your product rank higher if your product title is exactly the same as theirs.
  • In regards to product descriptions, you can either write a few descriptive paragraphs or write a few sentences that accurately reflect the product’s features. Be sure to summarize all of the pertinent information and unique traits; inspire shoppers to purchase your product by giving them truthful, factual information. You can also use bullet lists. Bullet lists are a little less formal, but they are an effective and efficient way to emphasize your product’s details while planting the appropriate keywords for effective SEO. For laptops, smartphones, and tablets, this can help get around screen resolution limitations.
  • Product photography is just as important as the written description, if not, more important as they allow for shoppers to view the merchandise and visualize how they will apply it for their own uses. They don’t need to be 100% professional quality, but high resolution photos with multiple angles and enhanced detail will more than compensate for the fact that your shoppers cannot physically touch or interact with the merchandise in-person.

Also, be sure to stay on top of pricing trends by paying attention to similar pricing structures from your top competitors, including major retailers and big-box sellers. The larger and more well-known retailers typically dictate how pricing trends work as they constantly adjust due to supply, demand, and any and all involved logistics. Smaller competitors cannot afford to lose sales to the leading retailers, so they too readjust their prices in order to stay competitive in the market against them. Follow their lead when adjusting prices and, if your budget allows, it may be to your benefit to be proactive and initiate sales and discounts ahead of your competitors to gain a temporary advantage.

#4: Offer Multiple Payment Options

When you offer consumers a variety of ways to complete their purchase on your website, you can reduce abandoned carts and bounce rates, increase conversions and revenue, encourage repeat customers, and build trust between your business and the public by providing them with a variety of options so they can complete their purchase. By using alternative checkout methods, you can lower the risk of identity theft and speed up the checkout process.

Several apps are available that allow users to enter their checking or credit information into a POS terminal, and then scan their phone with the app of their choice open on their smartphone with NFC capabilities, such as PayPal Checkout, Amazon Pay, Google Pay, and Apple Pay. BNPL services can assist retailers with high-ticket items or large orders by allowing shoppers to spread out payment options, which can help them persuade shoppers to complete purchases.

BNPL services like Affirm, PayPal Credit, and Karma are popular alternatives to payday loans that are offered by banks and are more accessible for people of all ages, including those with poor credit and those looking to rebuild their credit, as well as consumers who would simply like to space out their payments according to their own convenience.

Also worth noting, there is a greater likelihood that mobile users will make a purchase if they have a variety of payment options at their disposal. eCommerce websites need to review their payment options if they wish to remain competitive in light of the heavily-increasing use of mobile devices in the coming years. As a result of providing customers with more payment options, they can also take advantage of new trends, thereby enhancing customers’ shopping experiences and delivering a more personalized service.

#5: Simplify the Checkout Process

A staggering 70% of online shoppers abandon their carts, according to the Baymard Institute. That’s a lot of lost money and conversions left out on the table. There are, of course, many reasons as to why shoppers abandon carts but one of the most common issues has to do with the checkout process itself. What should be the final step in converting a sale often ends up being its own undoing. Having a lengthy and complicated checkout procedure can be confusing for customers, which may cause them to abandon their shopping carts. In order to optimize your checkout procedure, you should strive to keep it as short and straightforward as possible so as to keep your customers happy.

You can simplify the checkout process for your customers by using a one-page checkout system. When a customer uses a single-page checkout system, all the required information, such as billing, shipping, and payment information, is available on the same page. This makes it easier for the customer to find exactly what they need and complete their purchase without any difficulties.

Another alternative would be to offer a guest checkout option. While asking shoppers to enter their contact information and registering with your website may aid in delivering personalized experiences and, in a way, inviting them to come back and shop with you some more, they can also be put off from doing business with your website if they’re required to hand over personal information or commit to registering with a website, especially if they’re only there to purchase one item and one item only, one time only. Offering a guest checkout option helps to alleviate the anxiety a shopper might have over submitting personal information just to complete a purchase. It also speeds up the checkout process (especially, when tied to a service such as PayPal) which might have the side effect of the customer actually returning to make another purchase at a later date and willingly registering to become an invited customer with your store.

Shop Pay by Shopify

There is also a plethora of verified, 1-click checkout integrations available that utilize the most popular and commonly-used payment gateways. Shopify’s Shop Pay is one such checkout system. Customers can use Shop Pay when returning to a website in order to store their credit card, email address, shipping information, and billing information, and then use that information when returning to the website. Shop Pay helps small businesses facilitate faster payment processes on their websites by encrypting, storing, and retrieving payment information when a customer places an order. The information is encrypted, stored securely, and only accessible to stores. Shop Pay customers are much less likely to abandon their shopping carts when they use it automatically because it remembers and applies their payment information to them automatically. As well as saving customers a lot of time when they are checking out, Shop Pay also expands merchants’ shipping options by offering local delivery and pick up services. It is possible for sellers to accept payments on other channels, such as Google, Facebook, and Instagram, using Shop Pay.

The Shop Pay Checkout Process

  • A six-digit code is sent to Shop Pay customers via EMail or text after the authorization of the purchase. The six-digit code must be entered on the checkout page in order to process the order.
  • So long as the customer uses the same device that was used to make the original purchase, they won’t have to verify themselves again.
  • All Shop Pay customers have the opportunity to update their account information and opt out at any time.
  • Depending on the business, Shop Pay may offer pick-up or delivery options for customers.
  • Various languages are supported, including Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, and Vietnamese.

Conclusion

As much as you’d like to do so, it’s impossible to be able to turn EVERY visitor to your website into a paying customer. It’s just the nature of retail itself. There will always be window shoppers, indecisive shoppers, and believe it or not, people who are still suspicious of eCommerce. Remember the goal here is to REDUCE the number of abandoned carts by converting them into paying customers and with the tips and techniques addressed in this article, you’ll be able to recover what would’ve otherwise been lost sales.

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