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Monday, March 20, 2006

DIY Tip: Shopping Cart and Checkout Improvements

Posted by @ 6:28 pm
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When e-commerce business owners review their websites based on conversion and revenue, the one area that is all too often forgotten is the shopping cart and checkout. It’s amazing the impact a poor shopping cart or difficult checkout area can have on your website’s conversion and sales.

I was reading a recent review by Devin Comiskey for the E-Commerce Guide on the shopping cart and checkout area of a case study site, and some extremely important suggestions were raised for improving your website’s purchasing process. I have provided a brief summary below of some of the key points:

Shopping Cart Recommendations:

  1. Your cart represents the perfect opportunity to increase your customer’s basket value. Once they are in the cart, they are ready to spend, so cross-sells should be most effective at this point. Always provide a few options to cover your bases with appropriate copy to link in the products.

  2. Take customers to the cart after they add an item. This helps them confirm the right product was added, and will guide them to the appropriate cross sells (as mentioned above) and guide them through the purchasing process.
  3. Provide text links to the last few product pages the visitor has viewed. This will make their comparison shopping on your website, and remove viewer navigation frustration.
  4. Build in smarts to your system to recognize the best cross sells for your customers. If they have already selected one of your standard cross sells, then your system should present the next best options to the customer in the cart.
  5. Use cart abandonment emails. As most cart abandonment is unintentional, figures suggest you could recoup almost 25% of these sales. Send the emails with a direct link back to the customers cart (pre-populated with their previous choices) and allow them to complete the purchase they tried to make.
  6. Prominent promotion / coupon code placement. You should include the facility to enter coupon codes in both the cart and the checkout. This will help customers to see the immediate benefits of the offers and discounts you have given them.

Checkout Recommendations:

  1. The checkout is the crucial part of the purchase process. So the easier it is the better. Step through the check out process and determine how many clicks it takes to complete the sale. Even reducing the process by one click can substantially increase your conversion and sales.

  2. Give customers several ways options for logging into your site to complete a purchase. The more options you give, the easier you make it for new and repeating customers.
  3. When gathering information for purchases, make the email address the one critical field in your data gathering. It gives you the easiest option to provide customer service and re-market to these customers in the future.
  4. Remove any distracting links in the checkout area. The only links available at this point, other than confirming the sale, should be to help reinforce the purchase (ie. Guarantees, or conditions of purchase).

While this is not an exhaustive list of suggestions for enhancing your shopping cart and checkout, it definitely provides you with some basic improvements that should see you increase your website’s conversion immensely.

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Rene LeMerle Rene is the marketing manager of ineedhits.com - a global search engine marketing company. He also leads the marketing for Gooruze.com - a web 2.0 style community for online and digital marketers. Rene has been in the industry since 1997 with much of that time spent helping businesses embrace the best of the internet and digital world.

View Rene LeMerle's profile






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