10 site tweaks to make your customers actually click “buy”

14 Comments | This entry was posted in @Shop.org, Merchandising, Retail Companies

Shopping cart abandonment.

Few phrases cause more anxiety in the hearts of e-commerce executives, and for good reason. With average abandoned shopping cart rates hovering around 40-50%, it’s easy to understand that converting even a fraction of these deserted carts into sales could substantially add to a retailer’s bottom line. What’s difficult is figuring out how to do that.

Eight by Eight CEO Amy Africa shares tips for lowering shopping cart abandonment

During a session at Shop.org’s Online Merchandising Workshop, Eight by Eight CEO Amy Africa shared incredible insights on the physical reactions involved in buying online, a “magic formula” for trigger emails, and the best ways to test for success. She also offered exceptional suggestions on ways retailers can convert on-the-fence shoppers. Some were simple, some were extensive. Here are ten of them:

1) Make it easy to take the plunge. “Check out now” buttons are a good idea, Africa said. “It’s very important that when someone raises their hand and says they’re ready to buy, you act on that.”

2) Leverage temperature bars. Don’t we all like to see how much we’ve accomplished? Let your customers know how many more steps there are until they’re finished with the check out process by using a temperature or status bar at the bottom. Why? The higher customers get on the temperature bar, the more likely they are to actually pull the trigger on a purchase. Hello Direct and Amazon.com were cited as examples of companies that do this well.

3) Reconsider one-step check out. One-step check out is all the rage in online retail, with a handful of service providers making it very easy for consumers to simply click and buy. While this option is ideal for some consumers, it isn’t best for everyone, said Africa. “In a perfect world, you’ll have a four to five step process for some people and one-click for others,” she said. “It’s your job to know which check out they should receive.”

4) When it comes to buttons, remember: Bigger equals better. “Take your biggest button and triple it,” she said. “The biggest button should be what you want them to do next.” What that means is don’t create a bunch of similar-sized buttons. If your “check out now” button and your “keep shopping” buttons are the same size, Africa said, it confuses people. And then they leave. And then you’ve got to speed right down to #10.

5) Look at your vertical fields. And from the things-I-never-would-have-thought-about department, here’s a good one: Put your city, state and zip codes on three lines, not one. Why? Having these fields on separate lines gives the impression to the buyer that they’re going through the process faster, Africa said.

6) Quit asking pointless questions. Once a customer makes it to the checkout, the process needs to be easy and hurdle-free. So, retailers, stop asking questions that don’t pertain directly to the sale. Shipping information? Fine. A billing address? Absolutely. But don’t ask them for the code on the back of their circular. There’s another time and place to gather that data.

7) Use pop-ups. When a customer has merchandise in your cart and is leaving your site, use a pop-up to ask them if they’re sure they want to move on. Hate pop-ups? So does Africa. So do some consumers. (So do I.) But, quite frankly, they’re a great way to get attention and, if the creative is right, are very effective.

8) Offer a guest checkout option. Yes, we all wish every single customer would want to create a username and password. But they don’t. If given the option, about 30% of shoppers will use guest checkout. Why? The perception is that it’s faster (even if it’s not). For a customer who’s shopping in a hurry, guest checkout might be the deciding factor on whether to move forward with a purchase.

9) Don’t make me ask you again… If you already know certain things about your customers – their name, their shipping address, their email – don’t make them tell you twice. Do them a favor and prepopulate those fields. It will give them more time for, I don’t know, shopping.

10) Send them an email. And another one. And another one. While an abandoned cart program shouldn’t exclusively rely on emailing your AWOL shoppers, reaching out to people who left your website with items in their cart is essential. During the session, Africa talked about the importance of email timing (around lunchtime), personalization (use their name and specific items they abandoned), how many emails you should send (five), and whether retailers should offer extra incentives in those emails to get people to buy (she says no).

For more insights from Amy, or if you just need a good laugh, read her blog – I mean, qlog.


Bookmark and Share
Posted in: @Shop.org | Merchandising | Retail Companies and tagged , , , , , ,


  1. Posted July 14, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Many great points in here. I would caution against the ‘one size fits all’ approach on #10 though.

    5 emails might be right for some ecommerce sites, but will drive away customers at another. Equally, not all shoppers buy at lunchtimes. It’s generally better to use send time optimization rather than a fixed time of day. One person’s lunchtime, is another’s dinner. Many consumers shop in the evenings, so optimizing the timing of your email campaigns to when they’re online already makes a lot of sense, and gives a 25 – 35% lift.

    While Amy is right to be cautious about promotions (risk of training customers to expect a deal), these can be run successfully in remarketing campaigns. There’s an overview of when to run them here:

    Promotions are an important part of remarketing campaigns: the #1 reason who visitors abandon in the first instance is price. Promotions give you the opportunity to change the deal dynamics and win back a customer that wouldn’t buy with out a promotion.


  2. Ellen Davis, VP, NRF
    Posted July 14, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Charles, all excellent points. Thanks for your comment!

    In her session, Amy did mention several times that there is no “one size fits all” strategy when it comes to emails or reducing cart abandonment. She spoke frequently about the need for testing and said that companies would learn through trial and error what was most effective for their unique customer base.

    I should have clarified that in my post – my apologies!

  3. Posted July 15, 2011 at 4:13 am | Permalink

    A very helpful article, thanks Ellen.
    I suppose I knew much of this subconsciously, but have never been able to list it all.
    I can apply most of this to me (as an online buyer who hates having to jump through loops) and obviously I need to keep these in mind trying to sell to people like me! Personally, I favor the guest check out options, however, it does not help me capture details!
    Much of these cannot be implemented by some affiliate sites, however, but I’ll be looking at what I can implement and will get cracking.

  4. Posted July 15, 2011 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    People that shop online are doing so because they don’t feel like going out and dealing with the hassle of stores. They want to save time and want the process to be easy and quick. Unless you’re in an extremely niche industry, there’s probably lots of competition out there so it’s important to give the customer what they want. If another site provides an easier or more straightforward check out process they will take their business there.

  5. Posted July 16, 2011 at 3:55 am | Permalink

    Ellen, thanks so much for these useful points.

  6. Posted July 18, 2011 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Hi Ellen -

    WOW! Thanks so much for covering our session. I am blown away by how much you got down from our mile-a-minute panel.

    I’ve had a lot of email questions on a couple of points so I wanted to clarify them here.

    I am a real-time girl — meaning that I think triggers should be sent in real-time. The “send-at-lunch” part was my recommendation for mobile text messaging and mobile triggers only and it was a good-place-to-start recommendation not necessarily the final destination. I apologize I wasn’t more clear about that.

    When you’re starting out with abandoned cart triggers, I recommend 3-5. I know a lot of providers recommend 3. My experience is that more works better but I definitely encourage testing it. There’s also no doubt that extra incentives work — and I do like them — but if you can’t have them, develop a program anyway. I am not a big favor of the 10% discount in the first email — it’s often unnecessary, especially if you deploy the 1st email within 24 hours.

    If I was only going to perfect one thing, it’d be the timing first, then the offers. (Timing is THAT important.) I realize that a lot of people say they abandon because of price — brain studies (not anecdotal comments from users) show that’s often NOT the case. (Not surprising because the way we say we act is usually VERY different from how we really act.)

    A lot of folks were confused about the number of checkout pages I recommended. I believe there is a difference between one page and one-click (a VERY big difference actually.) I recommend three types for most folks — one-click-type, single pages and multi-steps.

    Thanks again Ellen. I truly appreciate the coverage!


  7. Posted July 19, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    Well written. I wish to add one more point. The shopping as well as the checkout should be easy to understand. Otherwise no matter how good the products are abandoned cart rates will be high.

  8. Posted July 21, 2011 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the great Conversion Optimization tips!

  9. Posted July 22, 2011 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    Amy, thanks for delivering such valuable content. Fabulous research and tips. While we work primarily with new products going straight to brick and mortar, I’m forwarding this to some colleagues. Thanks again

  10. Posted July 27, 2011 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    Timely article as we’re nearing the holiday season its a good time to revisit conversion funnels. A couple additional points I would add is having a quality shipping estimator, one which is accurate and simple to use with minimal input. Keep checkout elements organized on each page, in steps.

    Totally agree with #6.

    And offer Paypal :)

  11. Posted January 26, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    I love #10 and had no idea that you should send that many emails to someone. Also, I would add that if you have a “BUY” button, make sure it says something other than “BUY”. Even when people know they are going to purchase things, buttons like “Check Out Now” or “Continue” seem more enticing mentally. Just a thought.

3 Trackbacks

  1. [...] time, incorporating video will more than likely lead golfers – even amateurs like me – to your online check-out page. Posted in: Events | Marketing | Merchandising and tagged Merch11Interact: Permalink | Post a [...]

  2. [...] Kiat] – don’t have a “blah” call to action button, use something from this page to spice things up.10 Site Tweaks that Will Get Visitors to Buy [Shop.org] – it all boils down to making it as easy as possible.Related Posts:No Related [...]

  3. [...] 10 site tweaks to make your customers actually click “buy” – Shop.org Blog Another article about closing the sale and avoiding the abandoned cart syndrome. [...]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>