High Cart Abandonment? Rethink Your Checkout


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Picture this: you’re at a cute new boutique and you’ve found the perfect gift for your best friend. You go to pay and it’s cash-only – and you don’t have cash. There’s an ATM just outside but it doesn’t look secure. So you put the gift back.

Here’s another one: At the grocery store, you decide to splurge on single-origin coffee. But then, waiting in the line at checkout, you open your email. Your credit card bill just hit. Yikes. You put back the single origin and grab a tub of Folgers.

Online, we call experiences like this cart abandonment. And they happen digitally for many of the same reasons they do in real life: the store doesn’t accept the customer’s preferred payment method, the customer doesn’t trust the payment methods, or checkout takes so long the customer has time to second-guess their purchases.

In addition, online buyers are often turned off by unexpected costs or because they can’t check out without creating an account. The good news: there are plenty of steps online retailers can take to help customers make it all the way through the purchase process. Here, I’ll lay out three approaches.

1. Practice Good “Checkout Hygiene”

Cart abandonment may be a big problem for your brand (about 70 percent of digital shopping carts are abandoned), but you may be able to fix it relatively easily.

How? By implementing these “checkout hygiene” best practices:

1. Display all costs at the start. Even if you won’t know tax until a customer inputs their address, a line representing taxes helps communicate what to expect. Communicate shipping and any additional fees as early as possible in the checkout process.

2. Make guest checkout possible. This lets people move faster. Plus: your customers already have too many passwords to remember.

3. Add trust signals. Your customers may not know what an SSL certificate is, but they know that the lock symbol in your URL is good (and that its absence is bad). Also helpful: color icons for each credit card and payment type you accept.

4. Send reminders. Webhooks let you create automated workflows when certain events occur. For example, a customer closing your site with items in their basket might trigger a reminder email.

If you’re doing all of these and still seeing high cart abandonment, read on.

2. Offer “Express” Checkout

For a long time, the gold standard in fast checkouts was Amazon’s “buy now” button. Now the retail giant is rolling out something even faster for US shoppers: “Buy with Prime,” available starting this year on an increasing number of merchants’ sites.

Smaller retailers, of course, can’t mimic that experience exactly. But 17 percent of customers ditch online checkouts because they’re too long or complicated. Express checkout options (Google Pay, Apple Pay, Paypal One Touch) can help small retailers move in the right direction.

Note, though, that these express solutions have limitations.

The biggest is that they’re only truly “express” for customers who are already users of the method in question. Those who aren’t will have to enter payment information as they would for a credit card.
You could get around this by offering multiple “express” options. But that’s not a perfect solution, either, as too many payment choices might make your checkout page unappealingly crowded.

Of course, you won’t know what works until you test. One option to try: add an “express checkout” button to product pages and see what happens. Even if you only reach a portion of your customers, you might see improvements: in-network Apple Pay customers on mobile, for example, can carry out a full transaction in just two clicks.

If you’d rather take a more comprehensive solution to checkout abandonment, read on.

3. Consider a Composable Architecture

If you’ve never heard of “composable commerce,” think of it as a modular way of building ecommerce sites that lets retailers customize their sites exactly as they want.

Each component of a composable ecommerce site (product descriptions, search, catalog, transaction engine, payment gateway, etc.) exists independently and connects to other parts of the site via APIs. This enables, among other things, websites that are much faster and much more customizable.

Both of those things matter for cart abandonment.

For example, Deloitte research found that, for every 100 milliseconds faster a website loads, conversions increase by eight percent. Adopting even a partially composable infrastructure can lead to serious page speed gains, and therefore more conversions.

Another key benefit of composable is customization. Remember that cash-only brick-and-mortar store from above? Retailers that go composable can use whatever payment gateway they want, meaning they can use a gateway that accepts the payment methods most familiar to a retailer’s customers. This is particularly important for international brands, as payment preferences tend to vary by country, and for those who sell to younger customers, who increasingly prefer nontraditional payment options like Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL).

But there’s another intangible benefit to customization. Think of the last time you bought something online. Chances are, you saw a checkout page powered by Shopify. Shopify checkout pages are great – simple, streamlined, familiar – but they’re not particularly easy to customize. This can make it hard for brands to optimize checkout for the best experience possible for their website. That may seem like pure aesthetics, but it’s not.

One thing I’ve observed is that when retailers go composable and customize their checkout pages, cart abandonment drops (for one of our customers, it dropped by 41 percent). Chalk it up to brands understanding their customers best. Composable infrastructure gives retailers the flexibility to try creative solutions and cater to their customers’ unique preferences.

Customers Have Plenty of Reasons to Abandon Carts. Don’t Give Them More

After shrinking in the era of early-pandemic relief funds, credit card debt is creeping back up. With interest rates the highest they’ve been in more than a decade, many consumers may start cutting back on discretionary spending.

For retailers, that means selling will require creating fantastic customer experiences from the moment your site loads through the lifetime of your products. Online checkout is only one small part of that equation, but it’s a pivotal one: give a customer a reason to click away, and, increasingly, they will.

Arnaud Fournier
Arnaud Fournier is the head of growth at Commerce Layer. Commerce Layer helps companies sell their merchandise through any digital channel (web, app, voice, IoT, etc.) by using the Commerce Layer's API. With an API-first solution, and an entire suite of developer tools, Commerce Layer customers can scale their businesses into multiple markets with ease. Based in Berlin, Arnaud has an extensive background in identifying and implementing strategies that drive growth for ecommerce companies, keeping up with the latest developments and trends in SaaS, and finding new technologies to enable brands


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