Katie Traynier explains how luxury accessories retailer Radley+Co addressed its issues around abandonment rates and what we can learn from its experiences.
Basket abandonment is something online companies are well aware of nowadays. I think the latest stat regarding basket abandonment is around 70% and according to Forrester Research this has been a pretty stable statistic for the last few years.
Most companies now use web analytics to identify if they are victims of high abandonment rates and many are also employing an email marketing solution to recapture some of these lost sales. However, there does seem to be a missing link. Analytics identifies abandonment is happening and email finds a way to treat the outcome, but nothing addresses the problem itself. Why do users abandon?
Luxury bags and accessories retailer Radley+Co had exactly this problem and recently employed a conversion rate optimisation (CRO) programme to address the issue.
After analytics highlighted a problem with high abandonment during the checkout process, Radley+Co invested in a series of usability methods, to gain a deeper understanding of the online customer experience and accurately identify why so many customers abandoned. The usability research started with a two day usability test conducted with participants matching the retailer's target audience.
Spending time to watch customers using your site is one of the best ways to understand customer behaviour. If you were managing a traditional bricks and mortar store and you noticed a large amount of users abandoning their trolleys and walking out, it wouldn’t take you long to ask someone what was happening. You don’t have this luxury online. In a bricks and mortar store you see your customers, you talk to them, you interact with them; you observe their problems and therefore can fix things. Online is different, and if you’re relying purely on analytics, all you have is stats highlighting the problem, with no way to identify the right solution.
Testing and analysis
For Radley+Co, collecting and correlating all data and insights (from analytics and usability) helped the company pinpoint exactly where abandonment took place, and what the reasons were for it happening. Using this information the retailer embarked on a user centred design project to optimise the checkout process. Even the high fidelity prototypes used to demonstrate what changes could be made to optimise the checkout process were subjected to usability testing, helping Radley+Co really understand how proposed changes would affect the customer experience. This meticulous testing procedure ensured it made an informed decision about what changes would have the greatest impact on user experience and checkout conversion.
A common trap for online marketers is to guess at what is causing abandonment. Analytics identifies the problem, but few companies seem to take the time to really identify why their users (customers who have taken the time to browse the website, select an item, and add it to their online basket) suddenly decide to pull out.
In 2009 Forrester Research asked nearly 3,000 web buyers why they abandon online purchases. The top 10 reasons can be categorised as user experience, indecision, technical issues and total order cost. The truth is not every sale can be saved, some users may abandon due to being distracted elsewhere. However, knowing the main reasons why customers are abandoning makes it much easier to combat the problem. If high delivery charges are an issue, maybe you should consider making delivery costs clearer in an earlier stage of the process, or in fact lower the cost. If total order cost is the problem, then maybe improvements need to be made to ensure a clear running total is implemented as users add items to their basket.
And it’s not always about cost. The customer experience can play a huge part on whether users abandon. Is the checkout process easy enough to use? For Radley+Co simplifying the process by identifying three easy steps of basket, registration and payment and delivery, made a huge difference.
The level of testing and analysis the retailer went through may seem a lengthy process, but it enabled the company to constantly touch base with real users and understand how any changes it made to its website would affect the online customer experience. The full project resulted in a 28% reduction in users abandoning and 10% increase in online conversion.
For any companies who notice a high abandoned rate, but don’t bother to assess the reason why it happens, it’s easy to make the wrong changes. One possible solution to high abandonment rates may be to remove asking users to input their contact details until after the transaction is complete. However, what if the actual problem is users not feeling secure when inputting their details? Or maybe the calls to action aren’t clear enough? Or maybe the process itself is just too long? Or maybe the real problem actually came before they even entered the checkout process? How do you know? Without further investigation you could waste precious time, resource and money testing and changing the wrong thing.
The truth is without talking to your customers or observing what is causing abandonment all you can do is base solutions on guess work and personal opinion.
Katie Traynier is marketing manager at RedEye.