If you’ve got great products at great prices and a trustworthy website with lots of visitors, you should have healthy sales. If you haven’t, then potentially, the issue could lie with your buying process. If it’s too slow and people have to jump too many hurdles, many will just abandon their shopping cart and go elsewhere. Here, we look at ways you can remove barriers and make the online buying experience more frictionless for your visitors.
Answer customer questions
When people look at a product, they will have questions about it. Friction is caused when the answers aren’t apparent and the visitor is left to find them for themselves. You can remove the first hurdle by ensuring that the basic product information is clearly displayed and easy to read on the product page. As for the information you need to display, that depends to a great extent on the type of product you are selling; however, as a minimum, you will need price, product description, shipping costs and delivery times, together with any product options. Ideally, to answer more detailed questions, you’ll also need a product spec (size, shape, weight, colour, format, compatibility, etc.)
Additionally, customers will want to see what the product looks like – and some products require multiple images, including from different angles and with the ability to zoom in, so that, for example, they can see details like stitching in clothes.
Sometimes, more advanced forms of technology are needed. Rather than write lengthy paragraphs describing how to use a product, it would be better to create a demonstration video. Augmented reality (AR) tools are also useful, as they provide answers you wouldn’t be able to give, such as how will this look when I’m wearing it or will it go with my living room? AR tools are becoming widely used on websites today; customers use them to choose spectacles, clothing, hair dye colours, carpets, furniture and more, as they get to see what they or their home will look like with the product.
Prevent cart abandonment
Once you’ve done a great job ensuring your product pages provide all the information customers need, the next task is stopping customers from leaving before they have finished checking out. Surprisingly, the average cart abandonment rate across all sectors in 2021 was 69.6%. Essentially, that means after all your hard work getting customers to click ‘buy’, seven out of ten won’t go through with the purchase. That’s an enormous amount of revenue slipping through your fingers.
While you cannot control last-minute purchasing doubts, many of those lost sales are down to friction. Quite simply, the sales process is too long and arduous for the customer. On some websites, this is because all the customer wants to do is buy and leave and the website won’t let them. Before they buy, they are having to trawl through various pages offering them upsells, addons and other offers that make the process frustratingly slow. Any additional revenue gained through last-minute purchase offers is probably lost by the numbers of customers it causes to jump ship. A better approach would be to get the sale in the bag and then redirect them to a special offer page for ‘valued customers.’
It’s not just upselling which causes friction issues either; asking customers to input too many unnecessary details during checkout, requiring them to create and verify an account or using a payment method that takes ages to process will also increase abandonment rates. Frictionless purchasing should be simple, straightforward and quick.
Abandonment can take place even right at the end of the checkout process when friction makes it difficult for customers to buy. This is often because their preferred payment option is not available. With speed becoming ever more important for customers, few people want to go through the hassle of digging out their bank card, filling in 16 figure card numbers and providing all the other details required. It’s much more convenient to pay via PayPal. And with so many people now purchasing over the phone, where inputting details is even more difficult and prone to errors, using Google Pay, Apple Pay or even a banking app is both quicker and easier. Ideally, to remove this last friction hurdle, websites need to offer payment options to suit all their customers.
While you might have put everything in place on your website to remove friction from the buying process, sometimes it’s the backend of your site that causes abandonment. The chief cause of this is if your website loads slowly and takes a long time to respond to customer interactions. Slow loading and response times can be sped up by using caching, compression, image optimisation and by deleting unnecessary plugins. However, the underlying cause of poor performance is usually older hardware and a lack of computing resources in your hosting package. Upgrading to a larger plan or even to a more powerful hosting solution, like VPS, cloud or dedicated server, can significantly boost the speed of your website, especially if your new server uses fast technologies, like Intel Xeon processors and SSD drives.
The more obstacles in the pathway to a purchase, the fewer the visitors who will make it to the end of the sales funnel. Making the sales journey as frictionless as possible is the best way to reduce abandonment rates and increase sales. This can be achieved by answering questions, reducing the number of hurdles during the checkout stage, providing a wide range of payment options and speeding up your website.
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