What is an online shopping cart?
An online shopping cart, or an ecommerce shopping cart, is a type of software that provides the features for consumers to view, choose, and complete an online purchase.
Shopping cart functionality: What is in my cart?
The most basic shopping cart functionality is to allow consumers to purchase something online. Yet, there are more components to the shopping cart than just the ‘Check Out’ button, although that remains a critical component. Instead, an ecommerce cart needs to give consumers the ability to view and select products, edit the shopping cart, input their shipping and payment information, review their full shopping cart, and finally, complete the purchase.
In addition to the high level functionalities, there are many details to consider to ensure a robust shopping cart. For example, the consumer should be able to view what colors or sizes are available, read reviews, calculate shipping costs, change their shipping or billing address, or view a summary of their order before checkout.
As consumers ourselves, these small components are easy to overlook. Yet, think back, what if the shopping cart didn’t allow you to review a summary of your order before you clicked the final checkout button? How would you know you put in the right shipping address or selected the correct size or knew the final cost? These small details add up to significant impacts on user experience. The best shopping cart software should include these basic and detailed aspects, otherwise it can increase the cart abandonment rate.
What is shopping cart abandonment?
Shopping cart abandonment is when a consumer, for a variety of reasons, leaves their ecommerce cart without completing the purchase.
And since the online shopping cart is required for a business to sell their product, the need for it to effectively function properly and smoothly is essential. If you don’t have all of the shopping cart functionality described above (and more), you increase the risk of an abandoned cart. Since there are many steps and components to the shopping cart experience, there are multiple reasons why a consumer may leave their cart. Below describes abandonment commonalities and potential solutions.
Website shopping cart solutions
As explained, there are many reasons for an abandoned cart, yet based on cart abandonment statistics there are a few prevalent explanations that increase the cart abandonment rate. Here is a list of 7 common reasons for an abandoned cart and the website shopping cart solutions.
1. Unexpected costs
- Problem: High shipping costs, taxes, or processing fees can inhibit a customer from the final checkout.
- Solution: Clearly communicating all costs to the consumer from the beginning provides full transparency without surprise fees or costs. When a business is upfront with the costs, the consumer gains more trust in the site and willingness to purchase.
2. Guest checkout not available
- Problem: Consumers are reluctant to create an account if they are new to the website or only plan on making a one-time purchase.
- Solution: Do not force consumers to create an account, instead clearly provide the option to continue as a guest. It is more important to guarantee a positive user experience and to encourage the consumer to return than collect consumer information.
3. Long checkout process
- Problem: When the checkout process is too long, such as having to complete multiple pages of information, it is both inconvenient and annoying for the consumer and can deter completion.
- Solution: Ensure that each step of the process is as simple and straightforward as possible and reduce any unnecessary steps or pages.
4. Security concerns
- Problem: The consumer does not trust your website, therefore will not provide their personal information to buy the product.
- Solution: Add elements to prove your site and business is secure and reliable by ensuring your site is SSL certified and add testimonials, reviews, and contact information to show your business has been used and approved by others.
5. Long delivery time/shipping time
- Problem: As online shopping has increased there has been a rise in the demand and expectation for short shipping and when the user is unsatisfied with the delivery date, they may find a business that will deliver faster.
- Solution: Try and find a way to add an express shipping option, even if it costs more for the consumer, and quicken the delivery process (e.g. shorten the processing time) to meet the shipping standards that consumers expect.
6. Comparing and researching
- Problem: Consumers often compare different companies and products before making a purchase, so they will often leave their cart during the comparing process.
- Solution: While this does not always mean the consumer will not return and complete the purchase, it is effective to provide an enticement to encourage checkout. For example, offer a one-time coupon code that is only available within the next hour.
7. Checkout is not mobile responsive
- Problem: Again, as both online shopping and mobile use increases, the need for the shopping cart to respond to the mobile screen boosts accessibility and conversions.
- Solution: Use a shopping cart that is mobile responsive to ensure access across multiple devices and screens.
While these points explain the potential problem areas and the solutions for an abandoned cart, it is critical to analyze consumer behavior in regards to your specific ecommerce cart to understand personal factors that are inhibiting conversions. To do this, use website analytics to visually map out the consumer journey along the buy stage, use reviews to gauge customer experience, or conduct surveys to ask specific questions. Another analysis tool is A/B testing, or developing two ecommerce cart processes or experiences that measure a focused difference. From there, analyze which version performed better and alter the process based on these comparisons.
A tested, analyzed, and improved ecommerce cart is important to first increase the user experience, and second reduce the cart abandonment rate which ultimately would increase sales.