Is Your Shopping Cart Costing You Sales?

If your primary sales avenue is online (like us) it’s not enough to simply set up your shopping cart software and call it a day. The fact is, you could be losing thousands of dollars (or more!) if you haven’t created a simple and user friendly shopping experience for your customers.  Before taking over as COO of Wicked Good Cupcakes, I spent 15 years in the Interactive Marketing industry. Managing and building web properties for some of the largest companies in the world taught me a lot of lessons about creating a good user experience – lessons I’ve tried to integrate into our own website. But even with large ecommerce sites, I continually see the same common mistakes being made that can result in a large amount of lost sales.

Most companies (hopefully) spend a lot of time creating a simple and easy online shopping experience for their customers. They (again, hopefully) realize that an easy to use website yields more sales and more repeat business. However, most companies (even the larger ones) tend to neglect good user experience when it comes to the actual “checkout” process. For some reason, they feel that once the user has gotten to that point, the rest is a done deal. Nothing could be further from the truth.

According to Listrak, the average shopping cart abandonment rate over the past 6 months is an astounding 74% ( ). That means that the average cart conversion rate is only 26%. This rate indicates the number of users who have placed one or more items in their shopping cart, and actually finished the order. That means that for every 4 people that put at least one item in their cart, only 1 actually completes the order! Let me put that into perspective for you.

Currently, at, we have a cart conversion rate that is well above the industry average. We’ve spent a lot of time tracking this and subsequently honing our process. At our current order volume and average order price, if our cart conversion rate was at the industry average of only 26%, we’d lose over $800,000 per year in sales. That’s right – $800,000! And that’s just in lost sales. Remember, if a user is frustrated with your checkout process, not only will you lose the sale, you’ll also lose any repeat business from that person because they’ll probably never come back. Even if you only do moderate sales on your site, decreasing your abandonment rate by just a few percentage points can earn you thousands more every year.

Frustrated User

A confusing or difficult checkout process will result in a frustrated user who will likely abandon the purchase.

We do a tremendous amount of work tracking our users’ behavior and modifying out check out process to try to make it as easy as possible for our customers.  After each order is fulfilled, we send an email to that customer asking them to rate everything from the taste of our product to the appearance of the packaging. One of the things we ask them to rate is the ease of ordering on our website. They can rate us based on the following scale

  1. Very Bad
  2. Bad
  3. Average
  4. Good
  5. Very Good
  6. Amazing (Wicked Good)

Over the past 10 months, our customers have given us an average score of 5.35 (somewhere between Very Good and Amazing). We’re proud of that number as it shows us that our customers are finding our ordering process to be simple and easy. However, we’re still always trying to improve that process and decrease the abandonment rate even more. If you want to sell successfully online, you need to be doing the same.

Over the next few blogs posts, I’ll show you several things you can do to improve your site’s checkout experience. Before you start though, it’s important for you understand a few things about your site. Take some time to figure out the following metrics.

What is your cart conversion rate? Hopefully between your site analytics and your shopping cart software, you’ll be able to figure this out. If you don’t have a program that gives you this website usage information, you need one. Google analytics is free and simple to set up. Take the total number of orders you’ve received over a given time period (I would use a time period of at least several months to give you an accurate number) and divide it by number of visitors who have placed at least 1 item in their cart. Multiply the result by 100. This will give you the percentage of visitors who’ve added something to their cart and completed an order. This is your cart conversion rate.

(# orders/# users who added item to cart) * 100 = cart conversion rate

What are your average monthly sales online? Simply an average of the total sales you do online on a monthly basis.

Knowing these two numbers will help you see where you are today, and will then help you to track changes that you’ll make to your site. To see how increasing your conversion rate can lead to more sales, simply use the following formula (this is assuming your average sale remains at roughly the same amount).

average monthly sales (in dollars) X (new conversion rate/old conversion rate)

As a quick example. Let’s assume you currently do an average of $5,000 per month in online sales. Let’s also assume your current cart conversion rate is 25%. If you increase your cart conversion rate by only 10% (to 35%), then your monthly sales would increase to:

5,000 X (35/25) = $7,000

So a 10% increase would result in a 40% increase in monthly sales. In this example an extra $2,000 per month! I hope now you’ll see how important improving your checkout process is.

In my next post, we’ll talk about why 33% of users (according to a study by the Baymard Institute)  abandon their cart and never checkout.

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