Increase Your Conversion Rate: Love Your Shopping Cart


April 8, 2010

Some of our most important pages just don’t get enough love, and shopping carts are certainly in that category. Too often, we just copy them from other company websites and don’t take the time to learn what works well for ourselves.

Here are ten ideas on how to put more time, though and love into your shopping cart (and increase your conversion rate.) Remember that they are just ideas; what works well for someone else might not work well for you.

  1. Make sure that your cart allows visitors to shop without registering. This one is a no-brainer. Sure, it’s nice to get the registration, but wouldn’t you rather get the order? Get a password from them as they fill out their info, and you’ve got their registration.
  2. If you do want to get registrations, give people a reason why they should bother. For example, you could keep track of what products they purchase and make it easy for them to reorder. Keep track of their gift ship-to addresses. Maybe a good place to start is to decide why you want a registration in the first place.
  3. On the one hand, your cart may need to accept a coupon or discount code. On the other hand, if visitors know there are discounts, they may leave and start looking for coupons. Perhaps you can have the best of both worlds by renaming it (“marketing code” or “key code.”)
  4. Reassure people at the right time. The visitor gets to the shopping cart and has doubts. Are they going to use my email address to send me lots of spam, he wonders? (So, link to your privacy policy right there.) Is my order secure, she wonders? (So, show off your Dasient Safesite icon or other similar “protection chicklet.”)
  5. Show a summary of what the visitor is buying on every screen of the shopping cart. There is nothing more infuriating than the requirement to type in a credit card without being 100% sure what product is in the cart.
  6. Speaking of every screen, try to get your shopping cart down to one screen. Clicks are precious – every time someone clicks is another opportunity for them to reconsider the purchase. But if you need too much information, a long cart can be intimidating — so with multiple pages, let them know where they are in the process.
  7. If your cart needs to include both a bill-to and ship-to address, be sure that the customer can check a box after the bill-to information is done to indicate that the ship-to information is identical.
  8. Don’t force the customer to enter information in a specific format. This is usually a problem in the telephone number field and in the credit card number field, where the shopping cart doesn’t want dashes or dots. In fact, when the customer uses dashes (or dots) it becomes much easier for him to enter the information correctly
  9. Your customer service phone number should be in your shopping cart so that people can call with questions and problems. If your company isn’t big enough to support a full-time customer service staff, you can discourage too many calls by including a phone number that is not toll-free, having your voicemail pick up the call during non-business hours (a lousy solution but better than none) and including your email address. Any contact information is better than no contact information at all.
  10. Don’t include your persistent navigation (top navigation, left navigation bar) in the shopping cart – instead, you need to have your branding without navigation. You want to close the sale. (You have to balance this advice with opportunities to up-sell and cross-sell and keep the customer feeling secure about you as a company.)
  11. Bonus: On the “Thank you for your order” page, suggest to customers that they go back to your site and purchase all the items that they forgot the first time.