Shipping costs: Avoiding a Conversion Stopper

Avoiding abandoned carts due to high shipping costs

It would genuinely be difficult to overstate just how important shipping is within online shopping. For both consumers and business owners, shipping can either be a deal-maker or a conversion stopper.

Obviously, if you own or operate your own online business, you need to avoid the latter. But how? How can you minimize the number of people who abandon their carts due to the company’s shipping costs or policies? To answer that question, you need to first understand why shipping can be a potential conversion stopper. 

Unsealing the deal 

Unexpected shipping costs are the primary cause of abandoned carts. 

As KISSmetrics contributor Neil Patel reported, a 2014 eCommerce survey from Visual Website Optimizer highlighted just how big of an issue shipping can be when it comes to losing out on potential sales. The study found that 28 percent of shoppers tend to abandon their carts if they come across unexpected shipping costs. This represented the single most popular reason for cart abandonment, followed by being forced to create a new user account (23 percent), conducting research rather than intending to buy (16 percent), concerns about payment security (13 percent) and confusion surrounding the checkout process (12 percent).

Given those stats, it’s clear to see that any online business owner who doesn’t focus intently on customers’ shipping concerns will miss out on a lot of sales opportunities. So what should you do about it?

1. Embrace clarity

Make your shipping costs transparent from the start to eliminate surprised and angry shoppers. 

The key recommendation offered by Patel was the need to ensure that shipping costs are clear from the get-go. As he explained, most customers understand that shipping costs are unavoidable, so it is not necessary to aim for free shipping in every case. However, consumers react very negatively when they are surprised by a company’s shipping costs and policies late in the game. He asserted he’d rather lose a few potential customers early on by informing them of necessary shipping fees from the start, rather than let them go through the whole sales funnel and then abandon their carts at the very end.

2. Lower costs 

If at all possible, attempt to lower your shipping costs and use lower costs to offer cheaper shipping for customers. 

Of course, it’s also important to offer customers the lowest reasonable shipping possible if you want to maximize your sales figures. To that end, it can be extremely valuable to develop a relationship with a shipping firm, be it FedEx, UPS or anyone else. Many of these firms will negotiate with you for lower rates, and you can pass the savings on to your customers. However, for that to be the case, you need to ensure your online store is capable of supporting these negotiated rates, which isn’t always the case. Only a more advanced eCommerce platform will provide this level of integration and adaptability.

3. Look for flexibility 

Offer your customers a variety of shipping options so they feel like they have some control over the costs they pay. 

Additionally, you should strive to offer flexible shipping options for your customers. The better you can accommodate varying preferences, the less likely consumers will be to abandon their carts. Such flexibility should include a variety of shipping partners and varying costs for different speeds and locations. Once again, though, you will only be able to support this level of customization if you have a sufficiently advanced eCommerce platform.  

Zoey offers some of the most flexible and customizable shipping tools of any eCommerce platform. To learn more about these tools, start a free 14 day trial!

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