The #1 Reason Your Ecommerce Funnel Is Leaking... and How to Fix It

This guest post is written by James Corr, a growth consultant for eCommerce businesses at Only Growth (and a Privy partner).

If you run an ecommerce business, we don’t need to tell you about the weakest point in your sales funnel. You know exactly what it is: your shopping cart.

The exact numbers vary from study to study, but they all tell the same sad story: more than 70 per cent of high-quality shoppers abandon shopping carts without becoming customers.

Now, you might have a great system in place to bring people back through engaging abandonment emails and irresistible incentives. If that’s the case, good for you!

But why not address the root of the problem – the friction in your checkout process?

Understanding two types of friction

Friction is the #1 reason your visitors aren’t buying. There are two kinds of it: psychological friction, and technical friction. Your shopping cart could be plagued by one or the other, or a mix of both.

To understand what the problems are, analyze and troubleshoot all aspects of the checkout process, all the while asking yourself, “If I were a shopper, what would make me mad?”

In other words:

  • Are there persistent technical issues that create frustration and prevent the shopper from completing an order?

  • Are there psychological issues that distract the shopper, disrupt their natural thought sequence, or create mental resistance?

Likely suspects (technical):

Loading timesaccording to Radware, a 2-second decrease in page load can double conversions for an ecommerce brand. Long loading times on checkout are consistently named as #1 reason for abandonment.

Bugs – if the content isn’t displayed correctly, or the buttons aren’t clickable, or payment processing takes forever, your customers will leave. They might sincerely hope to come back and finish the purchase later when the site stops having issues. But chances are that they’ll forget all about it within the hour.

Non-responsive design – according to 2015 Internet Retailing study, over 40% of ecommerce sales are made from mobile. If your checkout is not mobile responsive, you are doing a disservice to a big chunk of your target market.

Likely suspects (psychological):    

Unnecessary actions – the more a customer has to refresh the page to add/remove stuff, calculate shipping etc., the higher the abandonment rate will be.

Excessive steps – there is no reason in the world for a shopping cart to have more than 1-2 steps. Yet it’s not uncommon to see online stores with 3, 5, or even 6 steps to their checkout process. The more seamless and immediate the checkout experience is, the better.

Forced signup – if you want every new buyer at your store to create an account before purchasing, you are massively undercutting your conversion rates. Accounts can be automatically created later, once the transaction has been made.

Cognitive dissonance – the copy and design on your site need to have a consistent tone throughout. Otherwise your conversions drop simply because the customer will get “hung up” on the difference. In this brilliant case study, you can see an example where a bad and incoherent marketing message and checkout design actually helped conversions… because that’s what the customers expected to see.

Distractions – those could be anything, from clunky design elements that serve no purpose to clickable ads on the sidebar and even coupon fields. Anything that suggests an additional action, or obscures the main call to action, will reduce conversions.

Reducing friction and boosting conversions

Identifying conversion-killers is just the first step: next, you have to iterate and test. The good news is, you don’t need to overhaul your checkout process completely. Sometimes all it takes is one small tweak to see a measurable increase in conversions:

  • make the checkout button bigger, and a brighter color;

  • create a responsive version of your shopping cart;

  • take off 1-2 extra steps from checkout;

  • ditch the shipping calculator and charge a flat fee instead;

  • remove unnecessary fields from checkout.

In the field of ecommerce, little things can lead to big wins. For a complete list of 20+ changes you could make to your eCommerce website for more conversions (and sales), get in touch for a free site audit.