You’ve developed an advertising strategy, built a social media presence, and built out a website—but you’re still losing customers before they convert. Why?
Even though consumers have more ways to shop online than ever before, nearly 69 percent of ecommerce visitors abandon shopping carts before completing checkout. Recent research by the Baymard Institute indicates that most customers leave a site after putting an item in their cart. This is in large part due to site elements that contribute negatively toward user experience.
In the same study, Baymard Institute found that the number one reason customers abandon their shopping carts is the added cost of taxes and fees. Many users — 27 percent — abandon their carts because sites require an account to check out. The third most popular reason for cart abandonment users cited was that sites made checkout too long or complicated of a process.
User interface (UI) directly impacts user experience (UX), which is how customers use and engage with your site. Fortunately, there are some steps site owners can take to facilitate higher conversion rates. If you experience high rates of cart abandonment, consider doing a quick UX checkup to see where you might be losing people.
Here are seven steps you can take to improve your users’ experiences:
1. Streamline your form flow
The average checkout contains, on average, 5.42 steps and 14.88 form fields. While this is a pretty high number of steps, the number of steps might not impact conversion as much as the number of form fields in the checkout process (although extremely long 8–9 step checkouts do impact usability).
The average checkout process contains twice as many forms as necessary, which is directly tied to users abandoning carts due to overly long checkout processes. The average flow contains 23.48 form elements, which is just about double what is necessary.
There are a few ways to reduce the number of form fields a site presents to users. The first is to display one form field for the user’s name, rather than separate fields for first and last. The second step is to collapse “Address Line 2” and “Company Name” fields, since not everyone will need them. Users with longer addresses will only need click a link to open the fields.
Finally, automatically set shipping and billing as the same address, but give users a link to open more fields if the addresses are different. This reduces the number of form fields by about half and streamlines the checkout process.
2. Visually reinforce security for sensitive fields
If your site handles sensitive information, you likely have a security program and may even have a security badge displayed on the checkout page. However, Baymard Institute’s exhaustive UX study discovered that users feel more secure if payment fields appear to be more secure.
Many users felt more confident in the site’s security when badges were placed in close proximity to sensitive fields (such as payment fields). Sites can further emphasize security by visually encapsulating payment fields. Placing this fields in a border or using a different background color makes them seem more secure than fields on the rest of the page.
Even though security programs protect the entire page, visual reinforcement give users a better “gut feeling” about your website. In Baymard’s study, distrust of site security was the fifth most popular reason for cart abandonment, but up to 89 percent of websites don’t reinforce security fields.
3. Don’t ask for seemingly unnecessary information
If your site asks for information, it might be worth taking the time to explain why your company needs it. Sixty-one percent of companies ask for “seemingly unnecessary” information during the checkout process.
Even though you may have a reason for collecting something like a phone number on an order for a physical item, site users may not perceive it to be necessary. Many customers think asking for “too much” information violates their privacy, but these fears can be allayed in two ways.
The first method is to make these fields optional, in which case only customers who feel comfortable divulging this information will share it. If the information is absolutely required, the second way to alleviate customers’ fears is to explain why collecting the information is necessary. Users who understand why a company might need their information are significantly less reluctant to fill out those form fields.
4. Give precise estimates
You may want to rethink your strategy if your website uses business day shipping estimates.
Consumers who were presented with shipping speeds (overnight, expedited, standard) in the Baymard Institute study often ended up miscalculating the delivery date of their order. Using speed (rather than, say, a delivery date estimate) forces the user to do the work of calculating a number of factors when choosing their shipping option.
These factors are highly conditional and are subject to change, depending on ordering time, processing speed, and non-delivery days.
Instead of telling users to choose a speed, it’s more beneficial for websites to show an estimated delivery date. The difference between “next day” or “two day” shipping can be make or break for some customers. Next day shipping can also be misleading if a customer has missed the internal cut-off time.
Most users don’t want to do arithmetic comparisons to calculate precise delivery dates. They perceive delivery dates more as a guarantee. While this is good because it facilitates a better UX, it’s also important for your website to reflect accurate estimates.
5. Allow guest checkout
In the Baymard study, 35 percent of users abandoned their carts because they were forced to create an account before completing checkout. Some reasons users don’t make accounts are that they were making a one-time purchase, were making a gift purchase, or simply don’t want to go through the extra steps (and extra emails).
Avoiding this type of cart abandonment is simple: Allow users to check out as guests. By giving users the option to sign in or use a guest checkout, your site shows consideration for users’ time. It also prevents sale loss. If you allow users to choose, outline the benefits they would get for signing up (extra discounts, early alerts to sales, etc.). Some users may sign up after checkout anyway.
Regardless, this simplifies the checkout process. Allowing users to sign up when they want to creates a better UX and increases the likelihood they will return.
6. Make your website mobile-friendly to improve UX on the go
In 2017, the growth of online shopping surpassed traditional brick-and-mortar retail growth. This was in part thanks to the rise of mobile shopping — almost half of all online Black Friday retail traffic came from mobile devices, an increase of more than 15 percent from 2016.
Though mobile is still regarded as more of a browsing platform than a buying platform, mobile transactions are on the rise, especially among Generation Z.
Start by making your website responsive. Sites that are desktop optimization on mobile will drive users away for a number of reasons. Small text and imprecise control create navigation difficulties for mobile users. Responsive websites are much more mobile friendly, and auto-optimize your content for mobile devices.
Another thing to consider when optimizing your site for mobile is to reduce the amount of text that appears on-screen at any given moment. Users who have to scroll and scroll to reach a call-to-action button are less likely to convert. Finally, design checkout with mobile in mind. It’s more difficult to type accurately on mobile than it is on a full-size keyboard. Make your checkout as short and easy to navigate as possible.
7. Edit your site for clarity
One of the biggest things that can improve a site’s usability is simply making sure that it is error-free. This builds trust between the user and brand, and makes for a smoother UX. Check for grammar errors. Remove any irrelevant and out-of-date images, blank or incomplete pages, links to inactive blogs, and inactive social media accounts.
Removing broken or inactive content makes it less likely that users will come across it on your website. This also makes it less likely that users will get frustrated and leave.
Finally, part of providing a good UX is making sure information is presented in a clear fashion. The number one reason users abandon shopping carts is due to unexpected fees and shipping. These drive up the cost of the order, causing high rates of abandonment.
While it’s not always feasible to eliminate these fees entirely, put them early in the checkout. Show fees in the shopping bag—consumers will be less surprised by the order total. Additionally, companies can play up their perks. Advertise free shipping over a certain amount of spend, free returns, or offer discounts for first-time buyers. This entices users to buy and eases the burden of tax and other fees.
If you noticed that your site operates with some of the above features, it might be time to upgrade your UX and start improving your conversion rate.