How to recover upto 87% of lost sales from WooCommerce cart abandonment

Vinay’s note – Shopping cart abandonment is an issue that just about every eCommerce site owner needs to deal with. With losses of $4 trillion estimated in 2014 due to abandoned shopping carts, it only makes sense to optimize your site to stem the loss and engage your potential customers. In this post John Peden shows us how to fix broken WooCommerce checkout processes and reduce cart abandonment. 

Most WooCommerce store owners are losing sales every day… and they don’t even realize how much money their WooCommerce checkout is leaving on the table. The reason?

Cart abandonment!

The value lost to cart abandonment was estimated at around $4 trillion globally in 2014, but store owners are largely ignorant of the issue because the value of their lost carts simply isn’t that obvious to them.

The value of abandoned carts was estimated at around $4 trillion in 2015.Click To Tweet

If you think your WooCommerce store is an exception, guess again.

A typical store loses about 68% of its potential sales to cart abandonment – and while you’ll never recoup all of these, a solid recovery strategy can win back around 30% of them. For most stores, that means a significant amount of extra revenue.

On average e-commerce stores lose 68% of all customers to abandoned carts.Click To Tweet

Let’s say your store is selling $10,000 worth of product each month.

  • At $10,000 in revenue, you’re probably losing around $21,250 to cart abandonment
  • If we can recover 30% of those, you’ll make an extra $6,375/month
  • Assuming you’ve got 50% margins, that’s an extra $3187.5/month in profit
  • That works out at an extra $38,250 annually.

Ready to add that kind of money to your bottom line?

Why are cart abandonment rates so high? What causes visitors to abandon?

Many WooCommerce store owners believe that cart abandonment is caused by customers who have just changed their minds or are time wasters… but the reality is quite different.

Usually, it’s not actually the customer that has the issue. It’s the store.

Many WooCommerce stores have a horribly broken checkout with such an unpleasant buying experience that buyers simply don’t think it’s worth the effort to get all the way through the process.

An effective WooCommerce checkout requires 3 things, as demonstrated by the BJ Fogg model:

The Fogg Behaviour Model explains your cart abandonment

Image source

  1. Motivation: your customer has to have the desire to buy what you’re offering
  2. Ability: your customer has to have the ability to purchase
  3. Trigger: you have to provide the customer with a trigger to complete the desired behavior

Many WooCommerce checkouts fall into 1 of 2 categories:

  • High motivation and low ability – “I want what you have, but your checkout is really frustrating to use…I give up!”
  • Low motivation and high ability – “Your checkout is really easy to use, but I don’t really want what you’re offering right now…maybe later”

We don’t want either of these situations for your WooCommerce site, so in this post, I’m going to explain how you can avoid them.

Do I really need to fix my WooCommerce checkout? Seems like a lot of effort…

Sure – this will take some time, effort and money. You could just spend that cash trying to increase traffic to your site by creating more content or spending more on PPC advertisements.

However, assuming your site is already getting some traffic, this is like pouring more water into a leaky bathtub.

Plug the holes in your bath and you need a lot less water to fill it to the top!

Reducing your cart abandonment has a massive impact on your bottom line, because you’re optimizing your conversion funnel very close to the point at which a visitor hands over their cash.

As it's so close to the money, reducing cart abandonment has a massive impact on your bottom line.Click To Tweet

Even a tiny improvement in conversions translates directly into more cash in your business. The same cannot be said for traffic generation strategies further up the funnel.

Where to start with your broken WooCommerce checkout

Setup (Google) analytics right now

It doesn’t have to be Google Analytics specifically, but without monitoring your conversion funnels, you really have no idea how (in)effective your current WooCommerce checkout is.

Google Analytics actually provides a suite of e-commerce tools you can put to work on your site that will help you monitor how well your site converts visitors into customers.

Assuming you didn’t have this setup already, it’s worth allowing it to run for a week or more. This is to collect some benchmark data against which you can test anything you implement later.

The advice in this post comes with 1 caveat: what I’m about to tell you is considered best practice. But every business is slightly different, and you will have to tweak the strategies over time to land on the iteration that works best for your specific situation.

Everything you do should be driven by the numbers and their impact on your bottom line.

So, let’s dig into the first issue with your WooCommerce checkout and how you can fix it.

Your WooCommerce checkout process is too complex

As I said earlier, in spite of massive advances in web technology and masses of research on user experience, forms haven’t really changed much in the 20 years people have been selling online.

Users don’t like filling in forms because e-commerce store owners tend to make it complicated and customers fear the repercussions of handing over their information to you.

Your WooCommerce checkout is, in effect, a form like any other and will be scrutinized in the same way. Are you collecting excessive information? Are you reducing friction for the visitor to get what they want from the transaction?

As soon as you can, take a critical look at your WooCommerce store’s checkout. Is it simple enough that a 75 year old grandmother from Idaho could use it?

Of course ‘Edna’ might not be in your target demographic, but the fact remains that even tech-savvy users hate filling these things in.

Your WooCommerce checkout needs to be as smooth and as simple as possible. Just take a look at this study which was able to – fairly accurately – attribute a 14% boost in conversions from reducing a 5-step checkout to a 1-step checkout.

How much extra revenue would 14% more sales bring into your business?

The point is not to look at this and feel pleased that yourWooCommerce checkout doesn’t have 5 steps. The point is simply to drive home that a simpler and more straightforward checkout converts better than a complex one.

What can you strip out of your WooCommerce checkout to improve it? Here are some ideas:

Support older browsers

As a developer, I used to hate adding support for older browsers or devices. That said, how many of your customers are using IE8? Google Analytics will tell you right away. I’d love to know if it’s even possible for a user to complete your checkout on an old – and admittedly terrible – browser like IE8. You and I might despise it but like I said, you must let the numbers do the talking.

Support mobile users

It might not even be IE8 causing the issue. How many of your shoppers are using smartphones with smaller screens? Does their device support Flash? Are you forcing them to download massive amounts of JavaScript in order to browse? It’s no wonder cart abandonment on mobile devices is estimated at 97%, when the user experience on many sites is so poor. If it’s not done already, make sure you get your site updated to be mobile responsive.

Don’t force users to register

Forcing users to register creates a lot of friction in the checkout process. Friction, according to the conversion experts over at Kissmetrics, is…

“Anything that gets in the way of conversions:

  • Anything – Friction is broad, very broad. It can be anything from a slow-loading page to a typo in the checkout process. It can be a psychological color reaction in the mind of the customer or a broken link on your “buy now” button.
  • Gets in the way of – Friction can slow down the conversion or stop it altogether.
  • Conversions – Whatever its cause or cure, friction is, at its core, an impediment to conversions. Friction is a conversion killer.”

Forced accounts are among the highest causes of cart abandonment. Convince & Convert suggests as many as 86% of people will abandon if you force them to register.

Guest checkouts are OK! You can still collect a reasonable amount of information from your guest checkouts and – with their permission – follow up with them later.

You can encourage users to create an account, but it should offer them something valuable in return like additional information, express shipping, access to your loyalty scheme or a free gift. You can even have them do it on your order confirmation page (more on this later). Just don’t make it compulsory.

Support multiple payment methods

Not everyone has a PayPal account, nor do they want to create one in order to pay you. You should offer as many payment methods as you feel is suitable to your target audience.

At a minimum, I’d recommend PayPal and using Stripe to allow you to process credit and debit card payments. Remember, you must use an SSL certificate if you’re processing payments on your website! Providing a high standard of security is critical for customer confidence.

Enable form auto-completion

I’ll say it again… people do not enjoy filling in forms. You can make your customer’s life infinitely easier (especially if they’re on a mobile device) by supporting auto-completion on your checkout form.

At a minimum, try to autocomplete their address but think about other ways you can make your form intelligent. Would it make sense to collect information from their account (if they’re a logged-in user) or allow them to use a social profile to complete areas of your form?

Don’t collect excessive information

Why do you need the customer’s telephone number? If you’re shipping a digital product, do you really need their address? Customers feel like their privacy is being invaded when you ask for excessive information.

They don’t like the risk of you losing their data (or selling it) and it adds time for them to complete your checkout. Neither is desirable as store owner.

If you really need their phone number, try placing a subscript beneath the input to explain you need it “in case of difficulties during delivery.”

Ensure your cart persists

Most customers won’t buy from you the first time they visit your store. They might want to shop around, they might lose their connection or they might get distracted by a ringing telephone.

It’s your job to ensure that if and when they return to your site, it’s easy for them to complete their purchases. A really simple way of doing this is ensuring your site uses cookies for users to save their baskets for at least 60 days.

Keep your checkout distraction free

When you visit the supermarket, you don’t see expensive items by the till. You see things like batteries and chewing gum. Stuff you can pick up impulsively without much thought. You already have all the information you need to buy them.

So too at your checkout, don’t present users with expensive upsells or cross-sells that might require them to leave to research a specific offering. If you choose to include additional sales offers, make sure all the information they need to make a buying decision is visible at the checkout.

Remember, all of this stuff has to be tested. Test everything you read online, including this post and all the other posts like it, to find out if it will work in your store.

Test, test and test again!

If you’re looking for even more advanced techniques regarding what’s broken on your checkout process, take a look at Inspectlet to start recording checkout sessions.

You might also want to look into setting up exit surveys (using Qualaroo if you’re flush for cash or a custom solution pieced together with Survey Monkey if you’re not) that will quiz users who are about to leave your site.

Your checkout must build trust

You can have the most simple checkout in the world, but if your visitor doesn’t trust you, they’re never going to buy from you.

Earlier, we looked at this article from Kissmetrics about friction, and I explained that friction is anything getting in the way of conversions.

A customer who does not trust you or your site experiences a massive amount of friction. So what can you do to make your visitors feel safe and secure when they buy from you? How do you become trustworthy?

Make sure your store is secure

How obvious is it to users – especially less technical users – that your site is secure?

Your customers might not know or understand what SSL means, so it’s worth providing information to them with a subtle tooltip for example (remember, you have to do this in such a way that it doesn’t distract them from the goal of converting).

What about users on mobile? Is it obvious your checkout is secure for them too?

Make sure your customers know your store is secure

In 2014, SSL.com ran a study of how SSL seals boost conversion rates.

The result? Conversions increased from 10% at the low end of the spectrum to a whopping 87% at the high end.

Actual Insights also ran this 2011 study on trust seals and reported that 61% of customers surveyed chose not to buy due to the absence of a trust logo and 75% because they didn’t recognize it.

Don’t be cheap or lazy when it comes to your trust logo! It will hurt your business.

Why does your store need that information?

A study from Britain’s Office of Fair Trading found that over 60% of online shoppers were concerned about unauthorized access to their personal information. Are you collecting excessive amounts of information from your customers?

Maybe it isn’t actually excessive, but in that case it’s worth explaining to customers why you need their phone number to ship a digital product, for example. This simply reduces the amount of resistance a user feels when completing a form.

Leverage social proof to sweeten the deal

Never underestimate the power of social proof. Granify (a CRO company) identified that social proof was actually more important to consumers than price.

Leverage Trust to improve your WooCommerce checkout

Image source

Amazon uses reviews and comparisons to full effect, and they are absolutely crushing it. You like that book? You might enjoy these other ones even more!

Allow your existing and past customers to do your selling for you. Reviews, comparisons and testimonials are all fantastic sales tools that reinforce your message.

Close the loop for your customers

A customer that still has unanswered questions isn’t ready to buy. You might have failed to provide information to them during the checkout process that they feel they need in order to complete their purchase.

The most common issue I see is coupon codes. How often have you reached the checkout only to see a coupon code entry box? You leave the site in search of  a coupon, and if you don’t have any luck, you feel like you might be missing out.

It’s just basic human nature. Nobody wants to feel like they’re missing out.

In terms of answering their questions, we’ve seen more and more stores using live chat during the checkout process to help get the customer over the line.

This is typically very successful, but can you go the extra mile? What about having live chat and telephone support available to your customers?

We often forget that – with the customer transacting in the virtual world – any form of human interaction goes an awfully long way, particularly if they’re uncertain about whether or not to buy. The feedback you’ll get will be invaluable and can be plugged straight back into your checkout process.

Equally with coupon codes, don’t make them feel like they’re missing out.

Dodocase offers the user a discount from the moment they arrive on site in return for their email address. This opens the door to email remarketing in return for a small discount to the customer that they can use anytime.

Fix your WooCommerce checkout by copying the DodoCase Promo

Keysmart displays an active discount code prominently at the top of their site from the moment the visitor arrives. No need for them to leave now!

Fix your WooCommerce checkout by copying the Keysmart Promo

Leverage trust in your calls to action

You want to constantly shepherd the user through your sales funnel and out the other side. Displaying your trust messages prominently where action is required is a great way to reduce friction and increase the chances of a successful checkout.

Does your WooCommerce checkout resemble the ASOS Checkout?

Try to use subtle tooltips (or popups if you have to) to avoid having the customer leave the page or being distracted in the process. ASOS does this very well during their checkout:

Make your user experience amazing

I’m a big fan of Joe Calloway’s book, Becoming a Category of One. It’s easy to differentiate between brands like Hyundai and Lamborghini, but how do you differentiate Mercedes-Benz and BMW, or Ford and GM?

In your own business, you are probably not as unique as you think. After a while, every product offering is reduced to a commodity and it’s by going the extra mile to delight your customers that you set yourself apart.

In the USA, Zappos.com diverted their entire marketing budget into customer support and are famous for offering surprise overnight shipping. In the UK, AO.com will not only give you a good price on a new washing machine but deliver it for free, plumb it in and remove your old machine as well.

People talk about these companies (and trust them when it comes to handing over their credit card details) because they offer amazing customer service.

This 2013 study showed that in a group of 1500 companies, those who identified as investing more in customer service had 11% better conversions on average.

You don’t need to get super creative or run up thousands in outgoings to start offering amazing customer service and user experience.

Looking for an edge? What are your competition too lazy, stupid or boring to do? Click To Tweet

Just think about how you can go the extra mile and do what your competition are too lazy or boring to do:

Make your site more personal – People buy from other people. How much fun have you had, as a guitar player for example, buying from that old guy who will absolutely wax lyrical about the guitars he sells? You feel like he’s doing you a favor by taking your money. Let your personality and enthusiasm for what you’re selling carry through to your customers.

Provide greater sensory experiences – Your online checkout lacks the sensory input a customer experiences in a physical store. Think about how you can provide a better shopping experience for them with:

  • High-resolution product images that allow their items to be viewed close up and from a multitude of angles.
  • Highly detailed descriptions of your product that directly address their queries and doubts.
  • Reviews and ratings of your product that enhance the social proof of your business and your offering.
  • Audio and/or video recordings of the product in action that back up any claims e.g. an ultra-quiet air conditioning unit.

Even if a customer chooses not to interact with any of these elements, the transparency goes a long way in building trust.

Real-time cart updates

Make the shopping experience ‘real’ for the buyer. By instantly updating their cart with their chosen quantity of product and reflecting this in the price, you help to drive home that the visitor is shopping.

Show them how many items of stock you have available and if you offer free shipping above a certain threshold, why not encourage them to spend that amount to qualify?

Estimated shipping date

Let the customer know when they can expect your order. It’s very frustrating to pick ‘standard shipping’ and then read the small print to find out that it can take up to 2 weeks for an order to be delivered.

Just be direct with your customers and let them know where they stand. Ideally, just offer free express shipping. Everyone will love you!

Offer free shipping

I’ve written about this over and over. There are loads of ways you can do this without going broke and it’s been proven to help convert customers. The simplest option is to bake the cost of shipping into your products. ASOS does this incredibly well. They offer free premium shipping and free returns. Try it out and see how it affects your bottom line.

Ship internationally

Even here in the UK, it can be difficult to get hold of certain items that people in the USA take for granted. I know things are even worse overseas and having bought from the UK when I lived in Thailand, I was then faced with an import duty bill that cost almost twice what I’d paid at checkout. Not cool.

You can be the savior to your international customers by making them aware of these sorts of situations and – while not necessarily doing it for free (bonus points if you can) – shipping to them at a reasonable rate and in a reasonable amount of time.

PPC Retargeting

Be careful with this as you can come across a bit creepy if you overdo it. But consider the power of presenting a prospective customer with a free telephone support number that they can call while they continue to shop around for whatever you’re offering. It’s powerful stuff to be front of mind on a regular basis, and making it easy for customers to come back to your store in the future.

Email remarketing

The customer’s phone might ring, their connection might drop out or their payment method might be refused. There are plenty of reasons that they might want to complete but aren’t able to.

Capture their email address early (like Dodocase in the example mentioned above) and remarket to them in a helpful – not pushy – way.

It sounds fancy, but it’s not rocket science. Just think about some of the good and bad experiences you’ve had when you’ve been shopping online and in the real world. What set the good stores apart? What disappointed you with the bad stores?

Your customers are people not dissimilar from you and I. Put yourself in their shoes – talk to them if you can – and figure out how to delight them. Email gives you a simple way to do that, in a medium most customers are comfortable with.

Where to begin

As I outlined at the beginning of this article, a solid cart recovery program starts with having the visitor want to convert in the first place. Added to that, optimizing your checkout for conversions is incredibly close to ‘the money’, so every fractional improvement you make will translate directly into more cash for your business.

With cart abandonment, even fractional decreases translate into big gains in your bank balance.Click To Tweet

Cart abandonment offers a huge, often untapped, resource for almost every e-commerce store with a bit of existing traffic and momentum. The good news is, if you aren’t already doing anything about it, your competition probably isn’t either.

This is your chance to absolutely dominate your market and reap the massive rewards.

About

John Peden (The Cart Recovery Guy) helps e-commerce store owners increase their profits by recovering abandoned carts. As a special gift to WP Curve readers, John is offering a 20-page guide to reducing cart abandonment on your own site as well as a free 30-minute Skype consultation to help you figure out where to start. Just head to this special link (https://cartrecover.com/welcome/)

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