Make sure users purchase what's in their shopping carts before they leave your site. Adopt these user experience best practices.
The average online shopping-cart abandonment rate is a whopping 70%, according to a recent Newsday article. Getting shoppers to stay on task requires you to be dedicated to a superior online user experience.
Use this checklist of e-commerce shopping cart best practices and you'll see your sales increase dramatically.
1. Site Flow
Consumers define good online experiences as quick and easy. They love websites with few screens and fields. The most successful sites limit the amount of customer information required to only the most essential. Web users also need to understand at all times where they are in the checkout process. Make sure you build a clearly labeled step-by-step process that guides users through to purchase.
2. Pricing Strategy
Make the total price tag of the shopping cart clear upfront--and always before requiring financial information. This helps build trust. Many users abandon checkout because they get surprised in the process by shipping, taxes, or other expenses.
3. Product Pages
Your product pages must have high-quality photos, detailed specifications, and ratings or reviews. Most importantly, the "Add to Cart" call-to-action should be prominent and easy-to-find. Customers won't add an item to the shopping cart if it isn't presented in a compelling and straightforward way.
4. Shopping Cart
Many consumers use the cart as a place to review and compare items before they purchase. Facilitate this activity by including thumbnail images of the selected items, and by ensuring product names in the cart link to more extensive descriptions. Customers should also be able to easily find and do all the basics in the cart: change and update quantities, remove items, proceed to checkout, and continue shopping. The "continue shopping" option should always take customers to the area of the site where they were most recently shopping--not to a page at a higher level than where they had previously drilled down to discover an item.
5. Customer Login
Allow customers to recover a forgotten username or password without leaving the site or losing their place in the purchase flow. Offer to check off "remember me" so users can return to the site and purchase more easily next time.
6. Account Sign-up
Not all customers will want to create an account. Some may be in a hurry to complete a purchase. Offer guest checkout (or account sign-up) as part of the flow. Also allow customers to use email address as a username; it's fast and easy to remember.
7. Checkout: Shipping
Customers want to see all the costs before they provide payment information. Give users multiple options for shipping speed, and always provide costs as well as estimated arrival time for each option. Default to the least-expensive shipping method.
8. Checkout: Billing
Don't make customers enter information twice. Give them the option to pre-fill billing address with shipping information previously entered. Make it clear users will not yet be charged in this step, but can review orders in a subsequent step before a purchase is official. Give users the option to have credit card information stored with the site for future purchases. At this step, site security should be especially prominent to help consumers trust their financial information will not be compromised.
9. Order Review
Organize information on the order page in the same sequence customers completed the checkout steps. Most importantly, enable customers to make a change to the order or cancel.
10. Purchase Confirmation
The final page of the purchase process should include a very clear notification that the purchase has been made. Customers also want a quick summary of what they bought and when they will receive those items, as well as the ability to print this all. Also, give easy access to your return policy, and the option to create an account and help drive a second visit.
AMY BUCKNER CHOWDHRY: Amy is chief executive and co-founder of AnswerLab, a digital experience research consultancy in San Francisco. In 2011, Amy received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneurial Winning Woman Award. @amybuckner