Shopping Cart Abandonment and What It Has to Do With Web Forms

Can we just be real for a minute? Let’s talk about an issue that a lot of online retailers have: shopping cart abandonment.
Shopping cart abandonment, in the digital world, means that people spent time browsing your online store, picked out a few items, made it to the checkout page, but never completed the transaction.
Pretty frustrating, right? You were so close to making a sale, but it didn’t happen. Just like being one digit off from the winning lottery number, “almost” doesn’t mean you achieved your goals. Instead, you have to figure out what it is that’s turning people off from your website and causing them to jump ship at the last moment.
The good thing (but also a bad thing) is that this is a pretty common phenomenon, which means there’s a lot of research into why people are leaving websites without buying and what parts of the checkout process could be optimized to make them stay.

Insight Into Shopping Cart Abandonment

Shopping cart abandonment isn’t just caused by one thing. It’s not even caused by just a few things. There are multiple different interlocking factors that cause people to either complete a purchase or just stick to window shopping. Before you can do anything to fix a shopping cart abandonment problem, you have to understand why it’s happening.
Let’s go over a few recent insights on what influences users to buy online (or not).
According to VWO research, there are a few things in particular that really turn people off from making an online purchase. As you can see below in this graph from VWO, nearly half of the reasons have to do with money, most notably, shipping costs.
A lot of the reasons are also related to elements of a site that complicate the order process, including a difficult checkout experience, website security doubts, and required account creation. Another large percent of users simply didn’t buy because they never intended to.
image 1
Image Credit: VWO, 2016
Another set of statistics from VWO digs deeper into what people consider the most frustrating elements of the checkout process:
image 2
Image Credit: VWO, 2016
These numbers shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who knows anything about web design. Asking your users to enter information multiple times or fill out extraneous form fields is frustrating for them and so easily avoided.
Business2Community’s roundup of expert advice on shopping cart abandonment includes several insights into what you might be doing wrong on order forms and how you can fix it:

  • “Your conversions will increase if you break up your checkout process into bite-sized chunks…”
  • “A lot of customers are window-shopping and they should be allowed to do so.”
  • “Bad UX, complex checkouts, and non-responsive interfaces are sale-killers.”

(Business2Community, 2016)

The common thread that runs through these comments and through many of the statistics you’ll find on this topic is that users hate anything that makes it harder for them to achieve their objective, whether that’s just window shopping or making a purchase.
What you should strive for across the board, whether it’s something you can do with forms or otherwise, is a reduction of friction.

Reducing Friction

We’ve mentioned friction a few times in this blog post, but what exactly is it? Quick Sprout offers an excellent definition in this infographic:

“Friction is any variable, website quality, or user behavior trend that is slowing down (or entirely halting) the progression of your company’s sales cycle.” (Quick Sprout)

Friction can be caused by annoyingly long and complicated forms, hesitation about price or security issues, and any other web design hurdles that come up during the checkout process (like needing to create an account before you can buy).

So, What Part Do Forms Play Anyways?

Form design can be simple or confusing. It can reduce friction or add friction to the user experience. Though it’s not the only thing that trips users up in the checkout process, it’s still a factor, and one that you can control. Having insight into what users dislike most about the checkout process (duplication of information, too many form fields) gives you insight into what elements of your forms might be annoying your visitors.
While you can and should implement changes like account-free purchases and transparent shipping costs, there are specific changes you can make to your forms to ward off shopping cart abandonment. Here are five tips to make your forms easier to fill out and reduce friction across the order process.
Shopping Cart Abandonment

1. Prefilling

No one likes repeating themselves, not in conversations, not in forms. While users can enable form fill settings on their own devices, you can help them along in this part of the order form with prefilling capabilities that re-enter information from one part of a form to another.

2. Multiple Pages

What’s easier to fill out? One looooong form or 5 micro forms that take just seconds each. (We’d pick the latter.) Give your users a breather if you have a lot of information you need to collect by breaking a form up into multiple pages and allowing easy navigation between pages.

3. Reduce Unnecessary Form Fields

If you can, cut out any form fields you don’t need. Make it as simple as possible to make a purchase and don’t ask for any information that’s not relevant.

4. Include Security Logos on Forms

Your users are worried about security on your site. Don’t take it personally, just do what you need to do to calm their fears. Let your users know that shopping on your site is safe in the form of security seals and verbiage that talks about your commitment to security.

5. Offer Multiple Ways to Pay

Many people choose to use PayPal to make online purchases these days. Giving your users the option of how they pay is a smart choice.
A form isn’t just a way of collecting information. It’s a hurdle your customers have to cross to take a certain action, like buying or signing up. Even if you don’t see your forms as difficult to complete, your users might still view them as a hassle, which could increase friction and negatively affect your conversions and sales. Put these tips in place for your own order forms or donation forms, and let us know how they work for you!
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