A common frustration among merchants who sell online via a shopping cart is the percentage of people who abandon their cart and leave the site never to return. This is known as the shopping cart abandonment rate. It is not unheard of for companies to experience as high as a 99% abandonment rate. Getting the abandonment rate under control can go a long way towards increasing the income your company earns from their online venture.
1. Don't make them register until they have to
A common complaint amoung web shoppers is the irritation and invasion of privacy they feel when they have to register for a new account before they can even use the shopping cart. If people have to share their personal information with you before they even know if they want to buy from you, they'll often click away never to return. Whenever possible, get them to register after they know how much something will cost them including shipping. This will help them to feel good about your company and will result in more sales.
2. Make it easy for your prospect to find out how much it will cost them
Many people will use your shopping cart to price out what your product will cost them after shipping. On the web, everyone knows that a tangible product must be shipped. Knowing this, the number one cost people are always reluctant to spend on is the shipping. People want to know what the final price they will pay to get it to their door. If this price is reasonable to them, only then will they go through the trouble of registering for an account.
3. High Shipping Costs
Almost anyone who has purchased a product online has run into a company that was charging a sky high rate for shipping. Do everything you can to keep your shipping costs as low as possible. Shop around for a good rate. Try to include a shipping estimator from the company that will be handling your shipping featured on your website. Make it easy for your customers to find it.
4. Keep the number of steps they need to take at a minimum
Many shopping carts take people through four, five or six steps before they can finalize their purchase. Every extra step you force people to take in your shopping cart system is one more chance they have to abandon the shopping cart. Collect as much information as possible in as few steps as it is reasonable for you to take. This will encourage fewer people to click away.
5. Keep outbound links to a minimum
Don't give your prospects an easy way to exit the shopping cart process. Forcing them to click the back button will at least make it more of an effort for them to click away. People can sometimes have second thoughts that an extra link on your website may encourage. For this reason, keep any links on your order pages to only the most necessary.
Overall, if you treat your prospects with respect, make it easy for them to find the information they need, and streamline your checkout process to make it easy for your prospects to buy from you, you'll succeed at making more money and lowering your shopping cart abandonment rate.
This article was written by Joe Duchesne, president of http://www.yowling.com/ , a web hosting company that specializes in helping online business owners increase their website traffic. Copyright 2004 Yowling. Reprint Freely as long as you link back to my website from this resource box.