The shopping cart challenge: reducing checkout abandonment or else?


You have done lots of efforts to get customers to your e-commerce website. Now you want them to buy. However, you notice that quite some people abandon the shopping process during checkout. Sounds familiar? Time to reduce checkout abandonment. But, why this somewhat confusing blog post headline? Well, is it really about reducing shopping cart abandonment? What else? Or is there more?

First things first: there is no question whether you should reduce checkout abandonment or not. There are literally dozens of improvements you can make to reduce it. And of course you need to apply them, hence the tips you find in this post and in others on this blog. However, reducing shopping cart abandonment is not enough. There is indeed more.

I recently read a post by Graham Charlton on Econsultancy. Graham reminds us, as many other bloggers do, about the ways to reduce shopping cart abandonment. There's nothing wrong with that. On the contrary, they can't be repeated enough.

In a nutshell, Graham, advises e-commerce web site owners to avoid unnecessary barriers (focus on the facilitation of the buying process and the customer experience), remove compulsory registration, reaffirm, keep things clear, reassure and trim the fat: everything that might take the attention of the shopper away from his activity, namely buying.

There are more tips and understanding the psychology, language and behavior of your buyer are all essential to succeed. You can read Graham's tips here.

However, let's take a step back and see what else we can do to lose less potential customers during the checkout and other stages. What else can we do to have to worry less about shopping cart abandonment with to begin with?

Touchpoints and micro-persuasions across all channels

After all, the shopping cart, checkout or transaction is merely a part (and not the end) of chains of interactions that people had across various touchpoints, leading them to this stage. Whether they start shopping after having searched in Google, clicked an ad, received an email or because someone told them on social or in real life: there is a journey and the checkout process is part of it.

Success begins in the earliest stages of the journey and continues across all touchpoints that occur in an often non-linear way. This is what optimization is about and why consistency are so important. It's not just about consistency regarding the brands or messages. It's about doing everything you can to prepare potential customers to that crucial stage of persuasion: buying. And, in the end, that depends on all other potential previous micro-persuasions.

There is an element we often forget in improving the e-commerce process: what happens before it. Many of Graham's tips as mentioned boil down to human and emotional elements: reassuring, facilitating, focusing on the customer journey, making it easy and clear. You need to start doing that before people even decide to buy. It starts in that first touchpoint and continues after that.

Making sure that customers feel confident enough when they actually start buying, is crucial. Perception, credibility and trust are not excuses for a bad checkout process but they need to come on top of all the tips and tricks you need to apply to reduce shopping cart abandonment.

Or as the saying goes: you only have one chance to make a good impression. So make it, live up to it and continue it all across the journey, including the buy.


Guest post by J-P De Clerck

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