How to combat shopping cart abandonment on mobile

Three reasons why users abandon shopping carts on mobile devices and how to overcome them.

Article

Rachel Bodony

October 19, 2020

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There’s no getting away from it—the world of ecommerce is thriving and retailers across the globe need to adapt to consumers’ evolving needs and wants. The convenience of shopping online compared to a traditional brick and mortar store is hard to dispute: you can browse and purchase almost anything from the comfort of your own home. 

The growth of mobile shopping, in particular, is a natural extension of the growing trend towards online shopping. Insider Intelligence forecasts that mobile commerce will reach $284 billion, or 45% of the total U.S. ecommerce market, by the end of 2020.

As mobile commerce grows, mobile user expectations have expanded. Mobile shoppers tend to shop on the fly and expect their experience with your mobile website or app to be quick, easy, and seamless. 

In this article, we’ll dive into three of the most common issues mobile shoppers come across in the checkout funnel and how to overcome them. We’ll start first with the basics: what is shopping cart abandonment?

What is shopping cart abandonment?

Despite the mobile commerce boom, there is something that all online retailers have to actively combat, and that is shopping cart abandonment. 

The term shopping cart abandonment refers to an increasingly common disruption where users fill up their cart with items and then leave the site before completing their purchase. 

For brands, a high Cart Abandonment Rate (CAR) means you’re losing potential customers and missing out on significant revenue. 

Before we dive into how to combat shopping cart abandonment, it’s important we understand what makes mobile shopping unique in comparison to online shopping via desktop.

Key differences between mobile and desktop commerce

Mobile commerce involves shopping through a mobile device (typically a smartphone), while desktop commerce involves shopping online through your computer.

Shoppers tend to use their desktop for purchasing bigger-ticket items which require more evaluation, comparison across brands, and research. For example, a customer is more likely to purchase a new TV on their desktop, as opposed to clothes and everyday items they might purchase on their mobile device.

The smaller interface on mobile devices, whether on a mobile website or app, requires brands to adapt and minimize distractions so customers can seamlessly navigate the purchasing journey. Customers want their mobile website and app experiences to be engaging, personalized, but most importantly, easy to operate. 

There are various many reasons why a user might abandon their mobile shopping experience. When users come across issues or glitches, they quickly abandon the experience and go to a competitor. Others will fill their carts with items as they would “window-shop” with no intention to buy. Some are simply calculating the cost and eliminating items from there. 

Despite the shopper’s intent, they are filling up mobile carts and leaving them by the wayside. When a customer abandons their cart, companies face issues like loss of revenue and inventory uncertainty. 

Let’s dive into three of the most common reasons why customers abandon their carts on mobile and what you can do to combat it. 

Three common issues in the mobile checkout experience 

1. No guest checkout

While marketing teams are eager to capture potential customer emails, offering guest checkout is vital to combatting shopping cart abandonment. 

Customers may be making a one-off purchase and not want to provide unnecessary or excessive information. They’re also keenly aware of the ways their data is used and want to control how they share their data with brands. The hassle of having to create an account before being able to buy is simply causing some shoppers to decide not to continue with the checkout process. If a customer is ready to buy, it’s in the brand’s best interest to let them do so anonymously. 

Guest checkout is a way to build trust with the customer. Allowing them to checkout without registering with the company fosters the customer’s confidence in your brand. 

This doesn’t mean you can’t encourage a customer to register with you. Share the benefits of creating an account but don’t require them to do so. Many customers will abandon the process entirely when asked to sign-up, so offering guest checkout can decrease shopping cart abandonment. 

Educate your customers on the benefits of membership without interfering in their path to purchase. Nike, for instance, details the incentives for joining as a member as the top option for guest checkout.

Consider running a slide-out survey on the checkout page offering customers more information on the perks of membership. The survey might read, “Hi there! Looks like you’re about to make a purchase. Are you interested in receiving free shipping and exclusive offers?” If a customer responds yes, the survey then takes them to a link to create an account. If they respond no, the survey slides away and they can continue their guest checkout.

Also, for those who have registered or purchased items with you before, it’s important to maintain that information. In a recent study conducted by GetFeedback on retail trends, 31% of mobile shoppers reported that when purchasing items, having to re-enter information that should be saved was their biggest frustration. On mobile, it's vital to facilitate a speedy checkout process. Remembering or autofilling shopper information can expedite the customer’s experience.

The same GetFeedback report found that 50% of customers will provide an email address for a one-time discount upon entering a site. This is another way to nurture a potential lifetime customer without requiring them to create a net new account with you.  

Keep in mind that the best way to combat shopping cart abandonment on mobile is to make the checkout experience as quick and easy as possible for the customer. If the checkout process is too long, customers are likely to stop what they’re doing and abandon their cart.

2. Checkout process is too long

As mentioned before, mobile shoppers can be particularly fickle. They want to make their purchases when they’re on the go and need the experience to be efficient. They certainly don’t want to take longer than necessary to checkout. Every extra step they have to take to complete a purchase is an obstacle for you to make a sale. 

Baymard’s Checkout Usability reported the average checkout flow contains 23.48 form elements and 14.88 form fields. Consider how many of these fields are optional and cut them out of the process. Ensure any optional fields you want to include are clearly marked. If a customer can’t figure out which fields are optional and which are required, they are likely to become frustrated from the cognitive load. The anticipation of a longer and more arduous process leads customers to abandon carts. 

Keep the number of steps in the purchase process to a minimum and only ask for what is required. You may also consider designing the entire checkout process to take place on one single page. This way, the customer knows exactly what’s expected of them upfront and doesn't have to wait for slow-loading pages. It’s all done in one go. 

To test if your checkout funnel is too long, run an exit survey on your checkout page. When a user motions to exit the page, an exit survey can be deployed to capture insight from the customer just before they abandon the experience.

Consider asking a Customer Effort Score (CES) question in the exit survey. CES is a straightforward CX metric that tracks how much effort it took a user to complete the task at hand. 

Using a CES survey, ask customers how strongly they agree with the following statement: “[Your company] made it easy to complete the checkout experience.” 

Customers respond on a scale from 1-7, where 1 is “strongly disagree” and 7 is “strongly agree.” To report CES, look at both the average of the scores (aim for a score above 5) and the distribution. Interactions that result in a low score should be analyzed to see what friction customers have experienced. Tracking response trends in this survey over time shows you if your checkout funnel is too long and needs to be simplified for higher conversion.

Another way to shorten the checkout process is by using Google Autofill to enable, certain forms to be filled out automatically. Google Autofill usually takes care of forms like name, address, and email address which saves the customer time and effort.

Again, consider mobile in your optimization initiative. Filling out forms on mobile devices is not as easy as doing so on desktops and laptops. Make sure that text boxes are not too crowded and that autofill is available.

In GetFeedback’s retail study, 22% of mobile shoppers reported, “It takes too long to make a purchase (e.g. too many clicks/swipes)” as their biggest pain point. Simpler designs for checkout that keep speed in mind help cut down on shopping cart abandonment. 

Where applicable, enable customers to use various payment options such as Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, PayPal, etc. Google Autofill also maintains the customer’s payment information (if they’ve opted in), which makes the process much quicker for the customer. 

Customers want to know what’s expected of them and the checkout funnel is no exception. Help the customer stay aware of where they are in the checkout process with a progress bar. Share the approximate amount of time it will take to complete the process to set realistic expectations.

If a customer makes it to the payment stage on your mobile site or app–you’ve done well. That is until they start to question whether or not they should enter their payment details. Security is a major component of the checkout funnel, and its imperative brands are aware of the impact security concerns have on cart abandonment.

3. Security concerns

Mobile devices have become a dominant part of our lives. Many people use mobile websites and apps to do everything from communicating with friends and family to shopping online to completing their banking. 

Customers are concerned with their security when sharing credit card information online. Due to the rise of hackers and phishing on mobile devices, customers have become cautious about where to enter their credit card numbers, and rightfully so. Customers look for sites that have a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate, which now is reflected in the “lock” icon on most browsers. Some sites go even further, showing the customer secure status in the URL during the checkout process.

Gap’s website reflects this throughout the checkout experience.

Gap's check out safe url

Selligent ran a report which found that 64% of respondents say privacy is more important than online experience. That doesn’t mean the experience isn’t important, but rather that security is of the utmost importance to potential customers. 

They want to know what steps your brand has taken to secure their personal information. Be sure to display your security measures clearly across the purchasing journey to avoid losing customers to security doubt.

If a user does come across a security issue or an error in their payment process, it's important to have a channel of feedback open to them to report it immediately. 

The checkout funnel, with its form fields and payment options, can often lead a customer to an error page. Consider running a survey on all error pages. This way, if a user comes across an issue in the checkout funnel, you can hear about it right away. Ideally, there is a place for users to add their email so you can follow up and close the loop with them.

GetFeedback Digital error page survey on mobile

(GetFeedback Digital error page survey on mobile)

Clearly outlining your brand’s security measures throughout the checkout process as well as having an open channel of feedback instills confidence in your customer. That confidence motivates them to complete their purchase and can increase your conversion rates.

In conclusion

When shopping on a mobile device, customers expect speed, fluidity, and security all throughout the experience. When they come across glitches or unnecessary steps, they’re likely to abandon their cart. Offering guest checkout, minimizing form fields, making security a priority, and enabling in-the-moment customer feedback, will help decrease shopping cart abandonment and delight your mobile customers.

How to combat shopping cart abandonment
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