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The top four reasons customers leave online stores before buying

Technology & Data

The top four reasons customers leave online stores before buying


Chris Brinkworth runs through the top four reasons customers abandon carts and look elsewhere.

Chris_Brinkworth_SaleCycleAre you often hesitating, confused or indecisive about committing to buying something on a mobile version of a website? You’re not alone. In fact, you are part of the norm.

From security concerns to annoyances around hidden charges or high delivery costs, there are a number of reasons why customers decide to leave and purchase from a competitive online store once they have researched or put things into their shopping basket.

Some of the reasons we uncovered recently in our ‘Why people abandon online baskets study’, such as ‘high shipping costs’, ‘high prices’ and ‘just browsing’ are nothing to do with online store or mobile basket design and not even due to a poor customer experience.

There’s a few key issues that online retailers can absolutely fix if they wish. Let’s take a look at the top four reasons people abandon their online shopping baskets.

1. Problem with checkout process

29.3% said this was the issue.

A real pain point for me is a complicated checkout process. If it takes too long, there’s a lengthy sign up or I’m forever having to enter my payment details, then this is a sure fire way to not only prevent me from purchasing for the first time, but also from becoming a repeat customer.

The ideal site for me would be one where I can sign up and have my details saved so that next time I return, the process is streamlined and I can complete my purchase quickly.

Amazon is a great example of a streamlined buying process with their one click ordering. As soon as I’ve decided I’m ready to purchase, there are very few barriers in my way to prevent me from completing that order. It is probably one of the main reasons 44% of all online shopping takes place on Amazon.

Another key barrier to purchase is compulsory registration, something which makes many people abandon their shopping baskets. A host of retailers have wised up and are now providing a guest checkout option, or optional registration once a payment has been made, but there are still a few that insist on it, including many mobile commerce sites.


2. High shipping costs

29.1% said this is why they left their basket.

One of my biggest reasons for abandoning my shopping basket is getting to the end of a shopping basket process, only to find out that it’s going to cost a significant amount more for shipping and handling than I thought. I’m always using price comparison tools so that I get the best deal, and if the shipping costs are too high, guess what? I’m going to look to purchase elsewhere.

There’s clearly a trade off here, as for smaller businesses shipping costs can remain high, but with many of the top online retailers offering free shipping at certain levels, online retailers should be upfront about offering free shipping for orders over a certain level.

A client, Sunglass Hut offers free shipping on all orders, no matter how large or small your order is, and free returns within 90 days and another is active wear giant, Lorna Jane which offers free shipping within Australia on orders over $150. Being upfront about free shipping is a great way to not only reduce abandonment, but encourage customer loyalty and repeat business.

3. Price was too high

28.6% said they abandoned for this reason.

Sometimes I will just go to an online store to check out the prices of an item, so I can compare what’s on offer elsewhere. Shopping around for the best deal has become part of everyday life for me and most sensible customers out there, so online stores should expect this type of behaviour.

Accurate pricing information should be provided on product pages, so customers do not have to use the shopping basket to find out how much they will pay.

Shoppers will compare each retailer’s price, shipping options and service and choose the merchant that offers the best overall value.


4. Just browsing

24.2% abandoned as they were window shopping.

From time to time, I will have a few moments to kill and will look around online, but one thing that has crept into my online behaviour now more than ever is browsing, or window shopping. If I’m in the market for something (like a new pair of jeans or a tech gadget), I find myself browsing multiple sites looking at the things I would like, but don’t really have an intention of purchasing at that exact moment.

I’ll add items to my basket, but that’s about it.

One thing that stands out in that whole process is that although I’m not a purchaser at that precise moment, I clearly have an interest in those particular items. And when the timing is right and the items are still in mind, I could be ready to purchase.

What’s critical here is that the retailer remains visible to the customer who showed an interested in purchasing, but perhaps needs a little help to complete or a reminder.

Sending a well-designed, timely remarketing email with the customers shopping basket details displayed and saved for later, is an extremely effective way of getting some of these hot leads back to complete a purchase.


The future for online retail

The time has come to stop looking at the future with yesterday’s eyes. Online retailers are doing things today that were impossible just a few years ago. And, in just a few years they will be doing things that are impossible today. All online retailers have basket abandonment issues, but there are techniques to ensure consumers make it all the way to the checkout.

They need to react faster than their slowest competitors and learn to listen to the trends that will help them anticipate their customers’ needs.


Chris Brinkworth is chief revenue officer APAC at SaleCycle.


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