How can you act to prevent basket abandonment?

Basket abandonment is a common term used in the ecommerce sector. This refers to the situation when a visitor adds a product to their virtual ‘basket’ but exits before completing the purchase.

There are several reasons as to why this might occur but it ultimately leads to a loss of potential sales. But with over 75% of online shoppers choosing to leave a site before completing a purchase[i], this is one of the most crucial problems facing online retailers today.

So as ecommerce retailers continue to battle basket abandonment, it’s important to think about two things:

  • 1. Why did the customer leave your site without completing the purchase?
  • 2. What can you do to fix the problem?


Common causes of basket abandonment

Using analytics tools will give you a clear picture of at what point customers are leaving your site. This knowledge will allow you to test specific areas of your site for any issues and inform the design of a solution to help minimise the loss of sales.

In its study[ii], the Baymard Institute defined the 10 most common reasons for online basket abandonment:

  • 1. High additional costs – undisclosed hidden costs such as shipping, tax or processing fees were found to discourage 55% of customers.


  • 2. Compulsory account creation – 34% of customers would be deterred from completing their purchase if the site required them to create an account to check out.


  • 3. Lengthy checkout process – 26% of customers are prompted to leave the site if the checkout process isn’t quick or straightforward.


  • 4. Unable to see order total – if an order total cost isn’t entirely clear, 21% of customers might be deterred from completing their orders.


  • 5. Lack of trust – 17% of customers had abandoned their basket as a result of not trusting the site with personal or card details.


  • 6. Website fault – website errors or crashes caused 17% of customers to abandon their basket.


  • 7. Delivery was too slow – if a customer needs a product urgently, it can cause them to leave your site and order elsewhere. 16% of customers abandoned their purchase as a result of slow delivery.


  • 8. Unsatisfactory returns policy – the importance of returns cannot be overstated [internal link to returns blog], an unsatisfactory returns policy caused 16% of customers not to complete their purchase.


  • 9. Lack of payment options – 6% of customers didn’t make their purchase as there wasn’t enough options for payment.


  • 10. Credit card declined – credit card declines caused 4% of customers to abandon their purchase.


So what can you do about it?

Thankfully, there’s a lot ecommerce brands can be doing to minimise their basket abandonment or to recover sales once the customer has exited the site.

Here are eight ways in which your online business can adapt its purchasing process to reduce the risk of basket abandonment:


  • 1. Make sure your customers have a choice – providing your customers with a choice is crucial to securing a sale. Delivery, returns and payments are three key areas which you can adapt to ensure your customers have a choice:


  • Delivery – the ideal ecommerce delivery would offer your customer several choices such as click & collect, specific time of day deliveries, or the option to pay extra for urgent items, asking them to select the most suitable for their individual requirements.


  • Returns – a clear and straightforward returns process can build trust between your brand and your customers, encouraging them to complete their purchase with you. This would include providing a returns label, clear packing instructions and an option for free returns.


  • Payments – make sure there are enough payment options so that your customers can check out quickly and simply.


  • 2. Be upfront about additional costs – if delivery is an extra fee or tax isn’t included, make your customers aware from the moment they view the product. This will avoid them leaving at a later stage due to the surprise of additional costs.


  • 3. Keep any forms quick and simple – form-filling is a necessity to checking out online but it can be frustrating for your customers. Use shortcuts where possible (eg address look-ups) which can make the process quicker. Also use a progress indicator to let your customers see how far along the process they are.


  • 4. Make sure every area of your site is optimised for mobile – basket abandonment rates on mobiles are 86.65%[iii], much higher than the overall rate. Ensuring your site is geared for mobile use is essential.


  • 5. Provide all the relevant product information – leave your customers with no unanswered questions. Make sure your product descriptions are clear and concise to quickly answer any questions your customers might have about your products.


  • 6. Offer a guest checkout – don’t force registration. Offer your customers the option to checkout as a guest (you can always give them the option to sign up once the checkout process is complete).


  • 7. Offer to save the cart – provide your customers with the option to save their cart, this can allow customers to come back and complete their purchase at a later time.


  • 8. Follow-up – follow-up any basket abandonment with emails for those customers who were logged in on your site. These emails should showcase trust and highlight the specific products the customer was intending to purchase. Be careful not to give too much of an incentive here – eg discount codes – as customers may come to expect this from you, actually increasing your basket abandonment rates and decreasing your sales value.


Ultimately, successful ecommerce retailers rely on trust and loyalty between the brand and its customers. Customer loyalty is essential to growth. Reducing your brand’s risk of basket abandonment will slicken your online checkout process, providing a greater incentive for customers to order from you again.

Want to know more about how you could build customer loyalty? Visit our blog.

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