The e-commerce website optimization process isn’t complicated, but it does involve making significant changes to your checkout and shopping cart pages. You might need to ask for assistance from the development team behind your e-commerce platform to make any major alterations.
- Cart abandonment occurs in nearly 70% of all transactions and is a significant hurdle to conversion for e-commerce businesses.
- The lost sales associated with cart abandonment are about $260 billion.
- Most of the reasons for cart abandonment are due to the failure to provide a smooth user experience, which you can solve with certain design and process changes.
- The goal of optimizing the shopping cart and checkout process is to make it easy for customers to pay for their purchases the first time.
- Optimizing the shopping cart and checkout process can improve conversions by up to 35%.
Why Optimizing Your Customer’s Shopping Cart Experience Is Important
Why should you optimize your shopping cart and checkout process? The answer is simple: customer satisfaction.
Most e-commerce site owners invest heavily in design and structure to make their websites accessible to all users and more attractive to buyers.
They choose the best e-commerce website builders to ensure they give their customers an excellent UX (user experience). Weebly, for instance, specializes in customizable themes to make online stores look unique and professional.
Most website builders offer marketing, SEO (search engine optimization), and site analytics tools to improve visibility and performance. They also have integrated checkout and shopping cart features.
But that’s the problem.
You often see those two at the tail end of a feature list, which is counterintuitive. Treating the shopping cart and checkout pages as afterthoughts is a mistake for e-commerce businesses.
The sales funnel is narrower at the bottom, meaning it’s easier to nudge customers in the right direction once they’re at that stage. But the shopping cart and checkout stages are critical since this is where conversion happens.
Everything else leads up to those stages. You don’t want to miss sales at the last minute because you stopped making it easy for your customers to commit and instead prompted them to abandon their carts.
What is the significance of cart abandonment?
How bad can it get? Baymard Institute looked at 48 cart abandonment surveys from the past decade and found an average of 69.99% cart abandonment rate. It’s even worse on mobile, which has accounted for 43.4% of e-commerce sales so far in 2023.
That means the seven out of 10 people you managed to entice to your site after exerting so much effort eventually decided not to buy. About $260 billion in e-commerce sales are lost in the limbo of abandoned carts.
Why do customers abandon their carts?
The same Baymard study revealed that 58.6% of shoppers in the United States abandoned their carts because they were “just browsing.” So roughly four of the seven carts lost on your e-commerce site are not your fault.
But the remaining three carts are on you. Or rather, your checkout process. Below is the breakdown of reasons why customers abandon a cart even if they were initially prepared to buy:
You might argue that the high shipping, taxes, and fees causing 48% of cart abandonment incidents are the inevitable costs of doing business. But what about the other 52%? Most of the other reasons cited ultimately boil down to breakdowns in the transaction, leading to poor UX and customer satisfaction.
For example, 17% of customers had a problem with the checkout process, finding it too long or complicated. Most websites ask customers to fill in 23 form fields when the ideal number only is seven to eight. Lowering the number of fields can reduce cart abandonment by as much as 35.26%.
Other design and UX issues are at the heart of a significant portion of cart abandonment. If you can double your sales by optimizing the shopping cart and checkout processes, that should be your priority.
How To Optimize Your Website’s Shopping Cart and Checkout Experience
Optimizing your e-commerce website’s checkout experience and shopping cart is something you can do right now. Here are the simplest edits to make:
- Place cart button and icons on all pages
- Create an overview of your products
- Add transparency to your checkout page
- Create a simple and secure payment page
- Enable guest checkout
Optimizing your checkout process has one goal: make the UX as seamless, transparent, and convenient as possible to minimize cart abandonment. You want to remove all sources of friction that might cause the buyer to give up. Fortunately, you can do that in a few steps.
Place cart buttons and icon on all pages
Design your product pages so that the customer doesn’t have to look for the “Add to Cart” button. You want them to keep adding products, so make sure they can at any time while shopping. Make the button highly visible, enticing them to click it.
Most website builders add the “Add to Cart” button by default, but the placement might not be ideal. WooCommerce, for instance, places the button under the product description in some cases. You will want to move it to be more visible to the customer.
Some e-commerce builder templates may also disable the “Add to Cart” button. Always check to ensure that the button is placed in a strategic area.
It would help if you also placed the cart icon on the top right of the page, where most people expect it to be. This makes it easier for customers to check what’s in their carts without maneuvering through hoops, an especially ideal feature for mobile shoppers.
Create an overview of your products
A product description is an essential tool in your marketing arsenal. It plays a significant role in the visibility and persuasiveness of your site. But it should still give customers practical information on the product’s benefits without overwhelming them with technical details.
When setting up your product listing, ensure you have at least three images, price, size, and color options displayed immediately. Place the “Add to Cart” button before the full product description and answer any additional questions your customer might ask.
Most consumers rely on product descriptions when deciding on their purchases. Engaging and clear descriptions go a long way in improving your UX and minimizing cart abandonment. Consult our article on how to write compelling product descriptions to help you with this step.
Add transparency to your checkout page
As mentioned earlier, more than half of cart abandoners cite extra costs as the reason. You can avoid that situation by being upfront about extra costs, such as shipping or taxes, on the checkout page itself. This ensures customers don’t have to wait until they get to the payment page to find out how much they owe.
Aside from shipping fees and taxes, include icons for all the payment options you accept on your site. If you offer free returns, discounts, and money-back guarantees, include them there as well.
Shopify is one of our picks for best e-commerce platforms because Shopify Checkout excels in providing transparency, even on mobile.
Putting all these options together on the checkout page improves customer satisfaction. If your shoppers are aware of the small extras that get added onto the final bill, it increases their trust and considerably improves your conversion rate.
Create a simple and secure payment page
One of the biggest hurdles for most e-commerce owners is the final click confirming payment. Aside from the 17% that thought the checkout process was too long and complicated, a good 18% of consumers in the Baymard Institute survey identified a lack of trust in the site’s security as the reason for cart abandonment. You can solve this by making the payment process as simple and secure as possible.
This is done by displaying as many payment options and security seals as you can on the page, gaining your visitors’ confidence and removing any payment barriers at the same time. Offer them the option to save their payment details to make things run easier and quicker on their next visit.
If you don’t have a website yet, choosing an e-commerce platform designed explicitly for that purpose can also help. A good example is 1ShoppingCart, which is PCI (payment card industry)-compliant and offers multiple payment options.
You can also consider other platforms, such as Shopify, BigCommerce, Volusion, and CoreCommerce, which have all been reviewed here on Digital.com.
Enable guest checkout
Another top reason for abandonment is the annoyance of creating an account right when the customer is ready to buy. People are so tired of signing up for a new account that they choose to leave instead. You’re essentially stopping someone from completing a purchase so you can make them sign up for a newsletter or store card.
Enabling guest checkout means the customer can buy first, then you ask questions later. In most cases, a customer is more willing to register for an account after buying from you. Doing so can allow them to track delivery, review products, and/or ask for more direct, timely assistance, so there’s a perceived value for them to sign up.
Tips for Optimizing Your Shopping Cart and Checkout
Optimizing your website just takes a few steps, but you still want to keep some general best practices in mind when implementing your checkout and shopping cart strategies, such as:
- Making sure your site is mobile-friendly
- Removing distractions from the Add to Cart, Buy, and Pay buttons
- Enabling autofill for customer information
- Having social login options
- Motivating your customers to return and complete their purchases by saving their carts until their next visit and sending them reminders through email
- Reducing the number of steps from Add to Cart to Pay
- Providing repeat customers with one-click checkout options
- Paying attention to the visual impact of your checkout and shopping cart design
- Making it easy for the customer to edit their shopping carts
- Including real-time stock notifications
- Making sure customers can use the back button
- Providing live chat support and a comprehensive FAQ (frequently asked questions)
- Offering limited discounts and incentives to make purchases
Frequently Asked Questions About E-Commerce Website Optimization
What is e-commerce website optimization?
Website optimization, when specifically discussed in an e-commerce context, means ensuring that every design and development aspect of your site encourages customers to end up exactly where you want them to: the purchase confirmation page. This is a relatively straightforward process, with several helpful best practices protocols already established.
What are the major success factors of an e-commerce website?
A typical e-commerce website’s metrics for success include, but are not inherently limited to, the following factors:
- Simple, streamlined purchasing process
- Quality products
- Transparency regarding fees, taxes, shipping, and other costs before purchase
- Transparency regarding return policies
- Transparency regarding when your customers’ products will be shipped, as well as any possible delays
- Accepting a wide range of payment options
- Safe and secure methods for handling your customers’ data
- Friendly, informative customer service
- Real-time inventory and price updates
- Fair pricing
How much does it cost to run an e-commerce website?
Your budget ultimately determines how much money it will cost to own and operate an e-commerce website. It can be as simple and cost-effective as using a free template from a hosting service or as unique and expensive as paying a professional website designer and/or developer to build you a digital storefront from the ground up using custom code.
There are plenty of options for small businesses just getting their footing in the e-commerce sector. A little research can go a long way in launching your e-commerce website, even if you have no startup costs to work with.