9 tips & ideas for optimizing your e-commerce shopping cart for the Holidays

Shopping cart abandonment sucks, especially around the holiday season. Nobody gets a warm and fuzzy “sitting by the fire with a delicious mug of cocoa” feeling when customers go crazy adding products to their cart only to leave your site halfway through checkout.

Get the most out of your e-commerce shopping cart and checkout process this holiday season with these tips and ideas:

1. Reduce risk

Before customers even get into your shopping cart, make sure that they’ve been exposed to clear messaging about price matching, best price guarantees, and shipping and return policies. Reiterate this messaging in the shopping cart and during the checkout process.

2. Up front pricing

One of the leading causes of cart abandonment is the sticker shock that comes along with getting to the last page only to discover $18.67 worth of taxes and soul-crushing rush shipping costs (let’s admit it, we waited too long to get regular shipping in time for the holidays).

Calculate taxes and shipping as early as possible in the checkout process. Let customers input their postal/zip code to get an estimate. If that’s not possible, make sure that there is clear messaging stating that taxes and shipping will be calculated later in the process.

3. Gift options

If customers can send products as gifts, ensure that that’s clear on product pages and then include that option right at the top of the shipping information in the checkout process.

4. Build trust

Use trust marks like Verisign or McAfee to reinforce that the checkout process is secure.

5. Requiring account creation

If possible, delay account creation until after the customer has successfully checked out. Persuade them to create an account by offering an acquisition incentive (“save your information for next time and get 10% off your next purchase!”).

Check out the Amazon $300 Million Button if you need some persuading to think about delaying account creation.

6. Optimizing web forms

Forms can be a big hang up during the checkout process. If they’re difficult to fill out or customers get a lot of errors, the chances of them abandoning start to climb.

Optimize your forms with our web form best practices.

7. Thanking customers

Make sure that your thank you pages are also in good shape – they’re an opportunity to re-engage customers and get them to purchase again. Provide additional incentives to return, particularly for high value customers.

For more thank you page optimization ideas, check out this post.

8. Follow up on cart abandonment

When known visitors abandon their cart, follow up with reminder emails or personalized on-site messaging that reminds them they have items in their cart. Give them a time limit, and consider persuading them to checkout by offering an incentive (free shipping, additional discount, etc.).

9. Make it easy to get help

Inevitably, customers will have problems or will decide they don’t want to buy online. Rather than lose them entirely, make it easy for them to chat live with a customer service rep, find a phone number to call for help, or locate a store. Obvious phone numbers and calls to action throughout the checkout process are the way to go.

BONUS: Optimize the pre-checkout experience too

Need some ideas for optimizing your site for the holidays? Maximize your chances of making the sale. Coming up next week: 15 Tips & Ideas for Optimizing Your Website for the Holidays.

How are you optimizing your checkout experience?

If you’re already working on this stuff, what are you doing and how is it working? Leave a comment below and let’s have a discussion.