If you’ve ever added items to an online shopping cart, only to leave them there indefinitely, know that you’re not alone. A recent study from Milo shows that more than half of all online transactions (67 percent, to be precise) are never completed, resulting in what the industry has deemed “abandoned” shopping carts.

To break it down further, 55 percent of consumers leave their carts as a result of “sticker shock” from unexpectedly high shipping costs, while 40 percent are turned off by shipping costs being presented too late in the checkout process. Meanwhile, 57 percent of shoppers are simply window shopping, and collecting items they wish to purchase at a later date (say, after a price drop).

How to Combat Abandoned Shopping Carts

Internet retailers are not oblivious to this practice: abandoned carts can result in a loss of revenue and even customer loyalty. However, only about 15 percent of 1,000 of the top eCommerce stores choose to do anything about it, per a Listrak study. Some stores though, like big-name retailers such as Best Buy and Lands’ End, are proactive in reminding customers of their forgotten goods via an email (or two, or several). Other retailers, like ThinkGeek, even go an extra step and offer a modest coupon discount to entice consumers to return and complete their purchases.

Now, that’s all well and good, but given our online shopping experience, we have this idea to toss into the ring: make the shopping cart experience less terrible. Some sites have flawless, seamless cart systems that bring our deal writers great joy, but for every shining example, there’s another site that hides shipping costs, make it impossible to find promo code boxes, and worse. These frustrations are enough to make a potential shopper abandon ship for something more streamlined. So here are some of our suggestions to improve the checkout process that could keep carts occupied until the very end.

The Simpler The Checkout Process, The Better

If your store offers coupon codes, that’s great. If you make customers jump through hoops to find a way to redeem them, that’s just frustrating. Shopping carts that are difficult to navigate, buggy, or just plain unintuitive can defeat the purpose of buying online, which is to be a convenience. Shoppers will be reluctant to return to a store that has a cluttered or uncooperative shopping cart, regardless of how much stuff they already added to it. Streamlining the checkout process — that is, featuring prominent information in an organized and easy-to-understand manner — will result in satisfied customers (and of course, a sale for the retailer).

Make Sure Shipping Costs Are Explicitly Marked

One of our online shopping pet peeves here at dealnews is being forced to search for shipping costs; it’s also irksome for the average online shopper. In every deal we craft, our staff takes into account the “total” price, that is, the price of an item plus applicable shipping costs, since this can make or break a deal. A 12-pack of ballpoint pens for $3 sounds like a great deal … until it’s revealed that shipping tacks on nearly twice as much. Presenting this information on the product page or even in-cart will allow consumers to make a more informed decision before clicking forward; making them waste their time first will only aggravate them.

Similarly, it makes sense to prominently state when shipping is free, or even better, when upgraded shipping is free or discounted. Several merchants, including Amazon, now offer same-day delivery on applicable items, and Amazon actually observed that displaying an icon on a product page that indicates this increased conversions to 25% (up from 20%). Interestingly enough, however, most consumers opted for the “slower” 2-day delivery, perhaps because of the fear of not being available to accept a delivery with such a short turnaround. Regardless, even the promise of receiving items in under a week is enough to motivate customers to buy.

In Short: Retailers, Be Vigilant!

Consumers aren’t likely to abandon the practice of ditching occupied shopping carts any time soon. Online shoppers will continue to walk away from potential buys for their own reasons. However, retailers can make sure it happens less frequently by being vigilant in providing the optimum online shopping experience for their clientele.

Featuring shipping information on the product page (or in-cart), combined with offering an easy-to-navigate checkout process, will ensure that consumers will want to successfully complete a purchase. And for those indecisive shoppers who walk away from their shopping carts, stores should not be reluctant to remind their potential customers of their leftover goods by way of a coupon discount. Should merchants follow these practices, we guarantee that 67 percent shopping cart abandonment rate will take a mighty dip.

(C) dealnews