According to Statista, the average online shopping cart abandonment rate in 2020 was 88.5%. For many websites, the place where the bulk of abandonments take place is on the checkout page. Research has shown that there are several reasons why people halt a purchase at this stage of the journey and that making improvements to the checkout page and elsewhere on the website can help bring abandonment rates down. Here, we explain how to improve your checkout page to help get those sales over the line.
7 main causes of checkout abandonment
Why do customers suddenly decide to abandon a purchase at the last minute? There are plenty of possible reasons but studies indicate that there are seven main causes. These are:
- Unexpected or hidden costs
- Delivery restrictions
- Requiring buyers to create user accounts
- Complicated or lengthy checkout process
- Poor website performance
- Poor security
- Lack of payment options
How to improve your checkout page
1. Be transparent about costs and show them early
Keeping some of the costs, such as VAT or shipping fees, hidden until the checkout page can cause users to re-evaluate the purchase, especially when the amounts have a substantial impact on the original price. Charge £2 shipping for a product costing £2 and the price is doubled! Avoid this by declaring additional costs early, like on the actual product page and include them again on the checkout page. This way, you are being transparent, which improves trust, and there are no nasty surprises for the customer at the last minute.
2. Give clear shipping details
It doesn’t take much to add a paragraph about shipping to your checkout page detailing where you deliver to, the shipping options you offer, expected arrival times, cut-off dates for occasions like Christmas and your shipping costs.
Making this information available will prevent people from abandoning orders once they find out that the shipping isn’t right for them.
3. Simplify the checkout page
A lengthy or complicated checkout process can have a very negative impact on abandonment rates as users get frustrated and eventually give up. This can also stop those who have purchased from you once from returning in the future.
You can reduce abandonment by streamlining the checkout process so that there are fewer steps for the customer to take. Start by making sure that the checkout page has a clean design that looks easy to use and then keep things as simple as possible. Provide guest checkouts so that customers don’t have to go through the long-winded process of giving lots of information to create an account (and the customary verifying of an email address it entails), and ask only for the information you absolutely need, like their name, email address, delivery address and payment information.
Lots of websites try to boost sales at the checkout by adding steps that tempt the customer with additional products, upsells and special offers. Businesses need to look carefully at the analytics of these pages to see if they are having a positive or negative impact on overall sales. If they earn the company £10,000 a year in additional revenue but cause £15,000 of sales to be abandoned due to lengthening the checkout process, you might need to rethink using them.
4. Improve site speed and performance
Slow-loading web pages and sluggish responses to user interactions are a big issue when it comes to the checkout page. It’s bad enough elsewhere on the site where frustration with slowness causes many users to hit the back button and look for a different website. While checkout pages can have this issue too, the additional fear in the mind of the user is that the payment might stall halfway through and they will be left in limbo not knowing whether the sale went through or if money has been taken out of their accounts. On big shopping days, like Black Friday, this is an issue that even some major online stores have experienced. It is because of this fear, that many people abandon checking out if they experience poor performance elsewhere on the website.
Avoiding this is simple. Websites need to ensure they have hosting that is adequate to their needs. They must have the bandwidth, RAM and processing power to handle all their traffic, particularly during spikes when they might have many more customers using their site at the same time. For most websites, upgrading from shared hosting to VPS is the best solution. However, for sites that are expecting very large numbers of simultaneous visitors during peak times, the ultimate solution is cloud hosting which provides the instant scalability needed for high performance regardless of demand.
5. Make your checkout secure and trustworthy
Online security is a major concern for all customers and they need to have confidence in your website and your business in order to buy from you. The most important element your website will need is an SSL certificate. With an SSL certificate, your website will be labelled as secure by browsers using the padlock icon on the browser address bar. Without one, your site will be labelled as ‘not secure’ and users will be warned not to provide payment details when they visit. This is because an SSL certificate verifies your website’s identity and encrypts payment data sent to you by customers so that it cannot be stolen.
In addition, you need to add other features to your checkout page that increase trustworthiness. These include company name, address and registration number, VAT number, security badges, logos of the payment gateways you use and your company’s rating on review sites like Trustpilot. The footer is often a good place for these.
6. Offer more convenient payment options
With customer experience being so important today, websites need to cater for people’s preferences when it comes to payments. They may be able to use their bank or credit card on your website, but that might not really be the way they want to pay. It can be more convenient and offer them greater payment protection if they use alternatives, like PayPal, Google Pay or Apple Pay. The more you cater for their preferences, the more likely they are to buy from you.
According to Barclaycard, the average UK shopper abandons over £350 of online sales a year, costing UK businesses around £18 billion in lost revenue. Much of this is lost at the checkout stage for the reasons mentioned above. Hopefully, the advice given here will help you reduce your abandonment rates and improve overall sales.
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