Smarter Spotlight: 6 Fixes for High Checkout Abandonment

Last week on our Smarter Spotlight series we dug into everyone’s favorite campaign--Cart Abandonment. This week, we’ll be taking a look at a campaign that helps prevent customers from abandoning their carts in the first place-- Checkout Abandonment.

Over 68 percent of all shopping carts are abandoned mid-checkout, resulting in trillions of dollars’ worth of losses for the eCommerce industry as a whole. For those of you who don’t know, Checkout Abandonment refers to the number of people retailers lose in the very last step before purchasing. This could be for various reasons: shipping costs, additional taxes, shipping time, technical issues such as bad site performance, too many steps, etc.

Take a look at this Checkout Abandonment research study conducted by Baymard Institute in 2016 with 1,044 response participants throughout the US. In the study, these were the top reasons for abandonments during the checkout process:

According to this study, the average checkout abandonment rate in e-Commerce is 25 percent, meaning if you have a rate of 13 percent or lower, you’re among the top industry performers. When a company has a high Checkout Abandonment rate, it usually signifies the need to improve the checkout process. By understanding why your customers are leaving, marketers can address the issues in the checkout process, thereby lowering the abandonment rate while creating a smoother, more seamless experience for shoppers.

So, how do you fix these problems? Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons shoppers abandon during the checkout process, and what you as a marketer can do to solve them.

1. Know where your customer experienced issues during checkout & message accordingly.
You’re experiencing an influx of shoppers, each of them different from the next. Not every customer is abandoning the checkout process for the same reason, and as a marketer this is an important distinction to make. Using models like ours at SmarterHQ, you can identify where individual customers are hesitating or experiencing issues such as shipping costs, payment issues, promo code problems, and message accordingly.

Once you know the cause of abandonment, target those individuals with messaging based on why they abandoned rather than sending a generic abandonment email,. For example, if someone doesn’t like the shipping costs, send them an offer for free shipping rather than sending a “you’ve left something your cart,” message. These personalized messages will convert an abandonment into a sale.

2. Give your customers all the information upfront.
Nobody likes a surprise when it comes to unexpected costs. Be upfront with your customer and give them all the information they need before checking out. If you don’t, they’ll feel scammed or tricked and turn to your competitors for a better deal. Gain their trust and state the terms of the purchase early to avoid any confusion.

3. Offer free shipping.
If this is a feasible option, do it. With Amazon Prime offering free two-day shipping, and other retailers setting free shipping thresholds, consumers have grown to expect immediate satisfaction when it comes to shipping. In fact, 90 percent of customers said they would take significant actions to qualify for free shipping, including 58 percent who said they would add more items to their cart in order to qualify. Sure, you’re not Amazon, but setting a “free shipping threshold” or working with specialized shipping software solutions such as ShippingEasy, will increase sales while making it easier for the customer to hit that “Complete the Purchase” button. Or, if you know the customer abandoned in the shipping section of the checkout flow, then offer free shipping to encourage them to finish the transaction.

4. Minimize the process.
Consumers are distracted. You know it, we know it, we’re all on the same page. So why do brands still have complex, time-consuming checkout processes? Because online shoppers have a short attention span, minimize the checkout flow and and make it as easy as possible for the customer to complete the purchase. According to research by the Baymard Institute, the average checkout flow has 5.08 steps. Aim for a checkout flow that hits well below 5 steps, and you’ll already stand out amongst competitors.

5. Reduce the importance of registration.
Again, minimize the process. When customers want to get in and get out as quickly as possible, a registration requirement can irritate them, resulting in the loss of a purchase. Need proof? According to eConsultancy, 1 in 4 customers abandon online purchase due to forced registration.

There are a few ways around this, though. First and foremost, make sure to always offer a “guest checkout” option. Another good approach is to wait until the customer purchases, and then offer an account creation on the “Thank You” page. Since you already have their information, such as name and email address, just ask them to create a password along with permission to create an account. Boom, easy as that.

6. Invite them to call.
In the end, it’s all about great customer service. One way to ensure you’re providing your customers with the best possible experience, is to give them an option to contact you directly with any issues. For example, if a shopper abandoned because they were having problems entering their promo code, invite them to call customer support so they can get the help they need to complete the transaction.


There you have it, Checkout Abandonment. If you want to learn more about other essential campaigns, head on over to Smarter Spotlight: Cart Abandonment or our Email Marketing Playbook for more examples. On our next Smarter Spotlight, we’ll be diving into one of our favorite SmarterHQ for Web campaigns, Email Collection Modal.

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