An inescapable fact of ecommerce is that most visitors to a site will leave without making a purchase. According to some estimates, abandoned shopping carts cost retailers $18 billion per year; it is particularly heartbreaking because customers have selected a product and have gone through at least some of the steps to purchase it. What’s keeping them from completing the transaction? There is any number of factors, but one is that they are unfamiliar with your particular checkout process. “How long is this going to take? What am I going to have to fill out? I’m bored. Let’s go somewhere else.” Prevent this by adding a shopping cart progress indicator.
Many users site an overly complex checkout procedure as a top reason they abandon their carts. An indicator shows them where they are in the process, and how many steps they have left to go. This can be psychologically comforting – there is an end in sight! It also lets people know what’s coming next.
Whatever ecommerce platform or software you use, make sure that it is customizable and you can install your own progress indicator bar. Think about each step of the checkout process: are you asking people to do too much? For instance, are you making them register before they can check out, or do you offer a “Guest” option (lack of guest checkout, by the way, was another reason people leave their carts)? Pare it down to the bare necessities: shipping, payment method, review and order, and confirm.
Make sure your progress indicator is clear and easily seen. It is usually placed at the top center of the page so people can intuitively follow it as they go through the process. Amazon has a great example of a checkout indicator, if you need some inspiration. Keep it simple, keep it short, and keep it easy. This is especially important as we rev up for the holiday shopping season.