One of the biggest challenges faced by any eCommerce site is the problem of cart abandonment. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many visitors your site had if no one follows through with a purchase. Here are some fundamentals to ensure your site is on its way to shopping cart success.
You’ve gotta start with the basics, which includes the navigation experience. Effective navigation is simple yet robust; you don’t want to overwhelm the user with every single level of faceting in the top navigation bar — save that for the product/search results pages. But at the same time, you do want to make sure to inform the users of where exactly they’re at on your site. Just don’t give more details than necessary in the process (breadcrumbs using the broadest possible categories provide context without distraction).
Another relatively basic point, but one that needs to be in place. The best product detail pages include detailed information such as a description of the product, plentiful pictures and/or videos to provide some visual context, customer reviews, clear pricing and shipping information, and some featured related products.
One-sentence version: follow Amazon’s model for your product detail pages.
Keep the main thing the only thing when it comes to calls to action. In other words, figure out what your call to action is, and emphasize that and nothing else. This means that you shouldn’t have multiple calls to action on the same level on the same page. For example, let’s say you have an “Add to Cart” and “Add to Wishlist” button on the product detail page. The cart button should be larger/more prominent and more distinct from everything else on the page than should the wishlist button. Or, on a checkout page, it’s not that you can’t have both “Sign In” and “Checkout as Guest” buttons, but don’t make the user think hard about which one to choose — make one obvious and the other secondary. Or, simply eliminate the second altogether.
Page load speed is vital when it comes to the user experience. And it might not be a coincidence that so many carts were abandoned in 2013 — it could be tied to the slowdown of eCommerce sites. As cart abandonment is fairly closely tied to the user experience, it would definitely be a good idea to optimize your pages for speed. If you’re looking for a place to start, then check out our article on how to improve page load speed. Also, if at any point during checkout there’s a redirect or just a page that has to process payment and is a bit slower, be sure to provide some sort of visual indication for the user to know that the process is actually progressing.
With all of the other pieces in place, you’re going to want to make sure to support it all with exceptional customer service. If a customer has a question about a product or the checkout process in general, make it easy to get help. This could take a variety of forms, but most common would be a customer service hotline and, more popular these days, live chat functionality. And while easy access to a customer service agent will help the most to reduce cart abandonment, another fundamental to have in place for the overall experience is a forgiving returns policy. Obviously, you don’t want to be having tons of returns, but depending on the nature of your product, making it easy for a customer to return an unwanted item might give the extra assurance needed for the purchase to be made (even though the return will hopefully never even be an issue).