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How to optimise your shopping cart process and secure your sales.

WebMorf - Shopping Cart BasicsYou’ve attracted visitors, your content has turned them into buyers and now it’s just a case of going through the shopping cart…

This is where you will lose the sale!

The research company Forrester asked nearly 3000 potential buyers why they didn’t go on to complete their purchase from a website.  The reasons included price, technical problems and personal reasons which included not feeling happy with the over all experience.

The secret to finalising a purchase is:  Make it easy!!

I’ve left a shopping trolley at the final stage myself many times for various reasons, mainly because the process was too difficult or the company wanted too much information or I had to register, create an account and then continue.

I’m never going to do that just to buy something.  I’d rather go into town and do it without all the hassle!  It’s not so much the hassle but rather the intrusion into my personal life.  Why should I tell someone how many times I go to the pictures and what newspapers I read before I can buy something?

So many companies ask for personal information nowadays before you can even try to purchase something.  In any sales environment, every one of these ‘personal information requests’ presents a barrier to the purchase.

Most buyers accept that online, the giving of an email address is paramount to the process, as is giving your delivery details, but it is bad business practice to ask for personal information ‘upfront’ before allowing a potential buyer to buy.

So how do you make the checkout stage as smooth as possible?

Buying is a state of mind!  If you ask a potential buyer to register, make up yet another password, then create an account and enter all their personal details, you will kill the buying mindset, which is: Buying should be easy, distraction-free and enjoyable!

Don’t ask a potential buyer to register before they can complete and never ask a potential buyer to create an account before purchase.  If a buyer has to enter a username and password before buying, they might not remember it and having to go through the ‘remind me’ and ‘password reset’ process will certainly kill the buying mood!

If you want to collect user information, which I agree can be put to good marketing use for later campaigns, do it after the sale!

Don’t even ask for demographic information.  It doesn’t matter where the customer lives until after they have purchased!

Don’t include too many pages and options in the checkout process.  Most national companies have an average of 5 or 6 pages in a checkout process.  That is too many!  Research (also by Forrester) shows that these same companies also encounter a higher percentage of potential buyers that leave the shopping cart very near the final stage.

While keeping checkout pages to a minimum, it is also important to not complicate the process by cramming too much onto one page.  In practice, if you have to cram too much information and options onto two or three pages, there is probably too much information or options being requested!

Once a potential buyer has entered the purchase process, don’t confuse it by adding further calls to action.  At this point, the process should consist of a smooth funnel right through to the ‘confirm’ button!

In fact, this is the trick behind all successful websites as a whole.  KISS (keep it simple stupid) has never been more important than nowadays.

Tip: Include a picture of the item being purchased throughout the whole purchase process.  This maintains the customer’s enthusiasm and keeps them focused on completing the purchase.  Also keep a continuous, instantly updated summary of the total cost on show.

Don’t forget to include a simple ‘amount’ option at the final stage before confirmation.  Often a buyer will unintentionally add more than one item and getting to the final stage of a multi product checkout with no options to remove some of the products other than going back a page or two will put the most determined of buyers off.

Sometimes, a customer will get everything ready in the shopping cart but then put off the eventual purchase until a later time, maybe when they get home from work later that day or after they’ve had time to think about the purchase.  A good shopping cart process should allow for this option.  It should store all customers entered options.

Security plays a massive part in any online purchase.  Somewhere along the checkout process, make sure your customers know that purchasing from your site is as safe as it gets but don’t make this a hyped up glaring statement, this will just make customers think the opposite.  Show your safety certificate or badge on relevant pages to help customers feel safe on your site.  Placement of these safety notices is also important.  They should be placed in the area where customers enter their credit card information.

If your site doesn’t offer a direct telephone service or a live chat option a Q&A button or similar is the next best thing.  A direct phone line to answer any question about the product or sale process will save most dropouts.

A study of internet based sales by Paypal and ComScore suggested that nearly 40% of potential buyers leave a sale process at the final stage because they think the final cost is too expensive.  Adding extras on at the final stage also contributes to these dropouts.

It goes without saying that to attract and more importantly, keep a sale, the price has to be right.  Not just the cheapest, but the best product specification and backup for an acceptable cost.

Sales types are often split into two primary categories; Wants and needs.  Generally speaking, people who ‘want’ something will pay more than those who ‘need’ that same thing.  It seems that nowadays, someone always has a cheaper product, which doesn’t always mean it is the better one; it’s just that it will attract the ‘need’ buyers.

Internet sales nowadays (Nov 2017) means customers not only want or need the cheapest product, they also ‘want’ the fastest delivery time, the cheapest delivery costs, the best after-sales service, the best online shopping experience and price guarantees as well… and many sites offer this very spec!

Shipping costs also account for many lost sales.  If you go onto eBay, you will see many businesses trying to counter this element by playing around with the figures.  For example, in a list of products, you might see one from a company at £8 with £2 delivery costs (£10 in total) and a little further down the list, you might see the same product from the same company at £10 with free delivery (£10 in total).

Some people will only buy products with free delivery, even though they are exactly the same price as a cheaper product but with a delivery charge.

Always be clear and upfront about costs and sales backup from the beginning.

Certain sites, such as are very evasive about the true cost of a purchase and the after-sales service making it almost impossible to return unwanted products and recover any money for their return further complicated by lack of support on the telephone helpline and the need of an ‘RMA number’ in order to return products. (Never buy anything from this site) These tactics will eventually lead this site to closure!

These tactics will only ever work once as customers will never return!

Another tactic that should never be used is emotional blackmail.  Promoting an ‘urgency’ to buy usually has the opposite effect and again, if a customer does buy under this ruse, they will never return.

Satisfied existing customers are always the best buyers in the future – don’t lose them!



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