Communication is Key in Driving E-commerce Sales

By guest author Alexa Lemzy

Ask any e-commerce business what their biggest problem is and there’s a good chance they’ll bring up cart abandonment. There are a number of reasons why a potential customer might not complete a purchase, which is why it’s important for businesses to communicate with shoppers in a way that is proactive but not pushy, in order to help them convert from browsers to buyers.

Here are some key areas to focus on:

Transparency

Nobody enjoys checking out online only to find out that there are hidden fees tacked onto the total. In fact, 61 percent of customers abandon carts because extra costs were too high and 24 percent abandon their cart because they weren’t given enough information to calculate the total cost upfront, according to 2016 Baymard Institute Checkout Research.

Being upfront about shipping costs and options is essential. Transparency makes the customer feel they can trust you and trust your brand. Otherwise, they may wonder if you’ll honor return policies and warranties or if they’ll have to go digging for information to find out what your actual policy is.

By holding back the actual cost of shipping or misleading customers by advertising a shipping price that only applies in special cases, the customer feels tricked. Give them the information they’re seeking up front to build trust and allow them to make an informed decision.

Cross-selling

A shopper is considering a product on your e-commerce site. Cross-selling by showing them complementary items to go with the initial product might be the difference between an abandoned cart and a completed purchase.

For example, a customer buying a laptop may want to buy a portable printer, an external hard-drive, a carrying case or screen cleaner. Putting these products in front of a shopper (and making it easy for them to add these items to their shopping cart) lets them know you’ve got all their needs covered.

Amazon estimates that 35 percent of their profits come from cross-selling. Cross-selling is a win-win: it helps customers have a better experience with the product they’re buying and makes the company more money.

Texting shoppers

Connecting with a shopper as soon as you can after they’ve abandoned their cart is essential, and texting is an excellent way to follow up with undecided customers. A reminder message should be sent between one and three hours after the shopper abandoned their cart, and the sooner the better.

Text messages have a 99 percent open rate and 94 percent of texts are read within five minutes. Texts can be used to great effect for a variety of purposes:

  • Reminders – Let your shoppers know that their purchase is waiting for them.
  • Cross-selling- Let them know about other products they may be interested in based on what’s in their cart.
  • Send a discount – A well-timed offer may be just the push they need to complete their purchase.
  • Run polls – The best way to find out how you’re doing is to ask. Text to find out what the customer thinks of your checkout procedure.

Simplify forms

Long and complicated forms, asking customers to provide the same information multiple times, and order pages that crash (particularly after a customer has already input their credit card information) can make a potential customer flee your site, never to return. In addition to making sure your forms are simple, it’s also important that they work across several platforms.

By 2020, mobile commerce, or m-commerce, is expected to account for 45 percent of the total U.S. e-commerce market. In the case of mobile, simplicity is even more essential. Be considerate of customers who are pecking out information on small screens and who may be on the go when making their purchases.

The easier you can make it for customers to complete the form, the more likely they’ll make it to the finish line.

Tempt them to sign up, don’t demand it

Requiring customers to create an account in order to check out may be such a deal-breaker that they decide not to go through with a purchase. Why not try a different approach?

Instead of mandating that they hand over their information to do business with you, offer them a discount for signing up. This can eliminate the percentage of customers who abandon their carts because they don’t want to give their personal information. You can also give them an option to check out as a guest.

How your e-commerce business handles company and customer information can make or break your conversion rates. Simplified forms, mobile-optimized checkout pages, follow-up texts, effective cross-selling strategies, optional sign-up policies, and transparent shipping costs can all help you reduce your abandoned cart rates and increase sales.

About the author:

Alexa Lemzy is the customer service manager at TextMagic, a business texting software company. She writes about mobile marketing, customer loyalty, and tactics to grow e-commerce sales.

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