7 Ways to Check Out Your Checkout Process
A pro golfer is just one short putt away from winning the championship. He taps the ball, it rolls, teeters on the edge of the cup and then settles at the rim with no intention of dropping in. Argh.
That’s pretty much how online retailers feel when a shopper has filled a cart and made it all the way to checkout, only to have the sale teeter on the edge of completion before disappearing. And sadly, it happens 60 percent to 70 percent of the time.
The shopping cart represents a pivotal point in online shopping. The consumer has found your online store, narrowed down one or more items of interest, and clicked an initial commitment to buy. Once the shopper visits the cart and begins the checkout process, however, the game changes and things start to get real. Order totals are shown. Shipping costs are applied. Taxes are revealed. Payment information must be entered. Promo codes verified.
At Bronto, we wanted to know what retailers are doing to rescue the revenue value when products are left behind in the shopping cart. We examined the shopping cart strategies of more than 100 major U.S. retailers. The resulting report, "Revenue Rescue: Saving Sales When Shoppers Stray," highlights the ways retailers are evolving their tactics to improve the odds of getting shoppers back — and what many of you could be doing better.
The research revealed these top seven opportunities for improvement:
1. Simplify and clarify the checkout process. On average, the checkout process spans 5.5 pages from shopping cart to order confirmation — and as many as nine pages in some cases. However, consolidating these pages could lead to a jumble of confusion. Here’s a compromise: 87 percent of retailers provide a step indicator to show shoppers where they are in the checkout process and how much is left to complete.
2. Highlight your security provisions. Online shoppers have high expectations about how their personal information will be stored and used. A little less than half of the retailers we studied (49 percent) highlight their site and order security during checkout. Help your shoppers buy with confidence.
3. Offer customer service early and often. Help from a human could be the difference between keeping or losing a sale. Many retailers include prominent links to customer service (e.g., FAQs, live chat) within the first page of the checkout process.
4. Let buyers test their promo code early on. Nothing frustrates a shopper faster than getting deep into the checkout process before finding the discount isn’t applying. Conversely, discovering early that the promo code will work could encourage a larger order.
5. Provide a summary of the order before the final click to commit. Given how many decisions shoppers have to make, it makes sense that 70 percent of online retailers offer a way to view and verify order details before checkout.
6. Offer in-store pickup. To help converge the online and in-store shopping experience, offer the convenience and cost savings of in-store pickup. Thirty-six percent of online retailers that have stores offer this option.
7. Make judicious use of cart reminders. Most online shoppers (73 percent) use the cart to store items to view or buy later; 18 percent do this every time they shop. The percentage of retailers sending cart reminders has grown to 41 percent, more than triple the rate we saw in our 2013 study.
The transition from browsing to buying can lead shoppers to uncertainty, indecision and sticker shock. The process may even cause an unwillingness to invest the time to complete an order. To keep consumers engaged and buying, retailers must take a hard look at the way shopping carts are structured, how the checkout process flows and what can be done to reach shoppers who leave their carts behind. These seven steps are a great place to start.
Susan Wall is the vice president of marketing at Bronto Software, a cloud-based marketing automation software provider.