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July 31, 2008

17 Tips to Prevent Shopping Cart Abandonment

Recent research from Marketing Sherpa has pegged online shopping cart abandonment at almost 60 percent. That’s right – 60 percent!

Some advertisers will have their shopping cart right there on their landing pages. Others will link to it with a big BUY NOW button. Whatever method you use, the important thing is that you don’t contribute to the 60 percent fail statistic. Make sure your shopping cart process doesn’t sabotage the sales groundwork that your landing page has done for you.

Here are 17 tips to help you avoid shopping cart abandonment:

  1. Short Process – Keep the purchase routine to as few steps as necessary to prevent customers from changing their minds. Don’t ask for unnecessary personal information.
  1. High Security – Provide high server security for customer details and credit card numbers to make their purchase seem risk free. Make your security protocols more obvious by displaying your third party security logos on your site and always use a secure certificate and server address (https).
  1. Progress Indicator – Always let customers know exactly where they are in the process. Use a status bar, cookie crumb trail or tell them what step they are at out of the total number of steps.
  1. No Compulsory Registration – Don’t make customers register on the site before they buy. If you must grab their details, ask them to register at the end of the process.


  1. Site Search: Ensure your internal site search is up to date and fast. Customers may search for a product by name, model or manufacturer. Make sure they find what they’re looking for no matter what search terms they use to find it.


  1. Sorting of Search Results: Once visitors have performed a site search, let them sort search results by product type, name or price rather than just sorting by alphabetical order. This is particularly important if you have a large e-commerce site with hundreds of products.
  1. Product Description – To reassure the customer of their purchase, use a product image and link to a detailed description from within the checkout.
  1. No Distractions – Keep customers on track by not distracting them during the process. Don’t use advertisements or any information that’s not important to the sale. Don’t link off the page if you can help it. Enclose the process by not providing a full navigation menu or distracting links. Use popups for necessary information such as FAQs, a privacy policy or terms and conditions.
  1. Easy Cart Editing – Make cart editing easy and logical. Allow a one-click process to add and subtract items.
  1. Make it Obvious – Use established patterns and ways to collect information. Make it obvious what you want customers to do next. Don’t make customers think too hard or cause confusion or frustration.
  1. Offer PayPal – Many customers prefer using PayPal instead of their credit cards. Give them that option.
  1. Shipping and Delivery – Provide shipping and delivery information early. Some customers will want to know when they will get their items before they buy. Many will want to know shipping costs before they buy so don’t make it a last minute surprise. Tell them early in the process.
  1. Stock Availability – Show the availability of stock in real time so customers know if the item they want to buy is available. Don’t let them add products to their cart if they’re not in stock. Or at least, give them an ETA for when they will be in stock again.
  1. High-Risk Alerts – If you can’t legally ship products to some States or countries or don’t accept credit cards from certain countries, then make that clear before your customers reach the end of the checkout process.  You can usually use IP sniffing technology to detect where your site visitors are located.
  1. Meaningful Error Messages – Use logical error messages so customers don’t have to guess what they did wrong. Don’t make errors sound like their fault.
  1. Prominent Contact Details – Provide easy to find contact details if customers have problems or questions. That means a phone number, email address and physical address so they know you are a *real* business with real staff. Offer a Live Help option if you can.
  1. Option to Save Order – Some customers use shopping carts to comparison shop or save items that they aren’t yet ready to buy. Offer a wish list option. Or let them save an order and come back to it later.

Article by Kalena Jordan, one of the first search engine optimization experts in Australia, who is well known and respected in the industry, particularly in the U.S. As well as running a daily Search Engine Advice Column, Kalena manages Search Engine College – an online training institution offering instructor-led short courses and downloadable self-study courses in Search Engine Optimization and other Search Engine Marketing subjects.