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March 30, 2009

Your Shopping Cart Setup: How To Grease the Tube

How is your online shopping cart setup? Does it make the transition from interest to closing the sale slippery so the prospect just slides along and automatically hits the Pay button? Or are there catches along the way which frustrate the client so they end up abandoning the shopping cart?

It is obvious that ‘greasing the tube’ so the client effortlessly glides through the ordering and payment procedure can make a huge difference to your profits. If you just reduced shopping cart abandonment by 10-20%, what would that do for your business?

When thinking about your shopping cart setup, it’s always helpful to compare your online shopping process with your own personal offline shopping experience. When you select items in a shop and make your way to the Pay Desk, what things irritate you or would irritate you? Have you ever selected a number of items and then had to look around for the Pay Desk. If it is hidden in some corner and you go round for 10 minutes trying to find it you know how you feel by the time you get there.

What if the cashier delayed your check out by trying to offer you other items, even trying a hard sell approach? Some may not mind, but I suggest that the vast majority would prefer to just take their items straight to the check out, pay for them, and leave the store to get on to other business.

Is a potential customer’s mindset any different online? Not really. Most people see what they want, and then just want to pay for it, and move on.

With the offline shopping experience in mind, here is a list of key points to bear in mind when considering your online shopping cart setup:

1. If you have “Add to Cart” buttons by each product, be sure to include a “Check Out” button beside it so the customer can easily go and pay for whatever they have selected quickly.

2. Let the customer check out easily with trying to push extra products on them. This is not to say you can’t try an upsell arrangement, but it has to be done gently and discreetly. One main domain registrar I use, mainly their prices are low, does irritate me with the number of options and extra bells and whistles they try to thrust on you before you can check out. At times I have a problem finding the checkout button because the page is so loaded with offers. I find that annoying and frustrating. Perhaps you do to.

On the other hand, Amazon have mastered the art of discreet upselling. Along the bottom of the screen once you have made your selection they gently tell you that other customers who were interested in ‘this’, were also interested in ‘that’. When I buy on Amazon, I don’t get the pressured feeling I do on the domain registrar site. The whole upsell process is carefully and discreetly woven into the shopping cart setup.

3. Make it easy for your customers to change their order. Your shopping cart should provide the option to delete or change the quantity of any item at any time with a convenient button in the cart.

4. Reassure, reassure, and reassure the customer that their ordering information is secure. Briefly explain the security measures you have in place or put badges and certificates alongside that indicate the whole procedure is going through a secure connection.

5. Minimize the number of steps to the final Pay button and make the buttons clear. Don’t confuse the issue with gawdy graphics and unnecessary steps. It’s a good idea to count how many times the user has to hit the enter key or mouse button from the time they add an item to the cart, to the click on the Pay button which actually processes the transaction. Your aim should be to eliminate any unnecessary steps. So within 2 to 4 clicks, the whole thing is finished and the payment is in your account.

If you’ve ever enjoyed a day at a water park with the family and taken a ride down the water chute, you know once you take that first step over the edge, there is no going back! You are on your way. Likewise with your shopping cart setup. Be sure to grease the tube by making the payment process, clean, simple, and as effortless as possible.

Scrutinize every step, familiarize yourself with all your shopping cart setup features, and utilize them fully. Rather than throwing money at more advertising, why not re-examine your shopping cart setup and add to your profits considerably.

For a free walk-through tutorial highlighting ways to customize your shopping cart for maximum sales, see how Michael A Jones has setup the shopping cart on his body care site: