Have you ever been halfway around the supermarket tackling the weekly shop, only to decide that you really can’t be bothered? Most of us will know the feeling, but how many of us have actually walked away and abandoned our shopping trolley in the middle of an aisle? It must happen occasionally, but probably only a handful of times a week, if that.

So it would be reasonable to assume that the same is also true of online purchases. How many online shopping carts would you suppose are abandoned online in the course of a year? You’d almost certainly expect the figure to be higher than in bricks-and-mortar retail premises, but even allowing for that, would you put the figure as high as 20%? Or 30% perhaps?

The actual percentage of retail shopping carts that are abandoned online comes in at a staggering 75%, although this percentage climbs even higher, to just short of 86%, where mobile devices are used to make the purchase. There are some slight variations in abandonment rates according to industry, with travel and finance incurring even higher percentages.

Of course, the very nature of online shopping means that abandonment rates are always going to be much, much higher than in bricks-and-mortar retail premises. Many shoppers like to browse online shops, for example, comparing prices and shipping costs, before deciding which company they’ll order from. Out of those 75% of shoppers who abandon their online shopping carts, 20% have no intention of completing a purchase in the first place, presumably just enjoying the vicarious thrill of placing something into their basket. A further 16% conduct their research online, before going to a high-street shop to make the purchase.

Are your customers purchasing from your competitors?

Around 16% of people who abandon their online shopping carts do so because they’ve chosen to complete the purchase with an online competitor. This could be for any one of a number of reasons, such as more competitive pricing, better delivery options or even more detailed product descriptions. It’s really important to find out which of your competitors are winning the sales, as it enables you to make any necessary changes to your own marketing strategy. Perhaps you could offer something that your competitors can’t, such as personalised products, free delivery or a discount to use against their first purchase?

Are you forcing customers to create an account?

When questioned, customers gave a variety of reasons for abandoning their purchase partway through the process. Far and away the biggest reason for failing to complete a purchase was the need to create an account. Almost 35% of shoppers refuse to go through the process of creating a username, password and having to fill in extra forms before completing their purchase. This is something worth bearing in mind, if you view the checkout process as an opportunity to harvest customer details for emailing lists. It might be better to suggest creating an account once the purchase has been completed, when the customer feels more amenable towards simply creating a password, which can be applied against their email address to create their account.

Are your shipping costs reasonable?

Almost a quarter of abandoned online shopping carts are due to problems incurred at the shipping stage of the checkout process. Yet for a business that relies on online sales, this is simply unacceptable. There should be a page of your site dedicated to explaining shipping costs and options, but potential customers will expect to see reasonable costs, along with plenty of choices, including next-day delivery and signed-for and tracked services, where appropriate.

Offering free delivery is something that can help to generate plenty of goodwill with potential customers. If this isn’t practical, make sure you offer cheap 2nd Class Mail services, as well as faster, more expensive ones.

Is your site suffering technical issues?

Your site needs to be operating seamlessly throughout every day and night, so if something goes wrong, you need to know you’ve got experts on hand to resolve any issues. But just because your site appears, to all intents and purposes, to be working correctly, it’s still best to leave nothing to chance. Check that you can access your website across a range of devices and browsers. And make sure that it loads really quickly too – the abandonment rate rises by up to 75% for slow-loading sites, so speed is a major factor in influencing conversions.

Are you encouraging shoppers back to their abandoned carts?

Sometimes shoppers just lose faith in their purchase, for whatever reason, leading to failure to complete the checkout process. But a large proportion of those prospective customers can be tempted back, given a little incentive to do so. In fact, some shoppers actively abandon their carts in the hope of attracting a discount, so it’s a popular method for trying to get a reduction in the cost of purchasing an item. Sending out targeted emails offering discounts is a popular method for drawing these web visitors back to complete the checkout process. Or why not offer a generous discount against their second order, giving them an added incentive to keep shopping with you?

Research shows that almost 50% of emails on the subject of shopping cart abandonment are opened, so there’s clearly an enthusiastic audience for them. And with just over 20% of shoppers being persuaded back to complete their purchase, there are highly encouraging signs that an abandoned shopping cart can still ultimately lead to that all-important sale.

Here at Brookstone, we know the tips and tricks that will encourage your site visitors to complete their online transactions with your brand. Get in touch with us today to find out more about how we can reduce your shopping cart abandonment rates.