7 Proven Ways to Boost Your Shopping Cart Conversion Rate

Did you know nearly 60%–80% of your customers who click the “buy now” button drop out without completing the checkout sequence? It’s a shame, because you have worked so hard to bring them to your website and funnel them through to the checkout pipeline, only to find out there’s a gushing hole that’s causing most of your ready-to-buy customers to bleed away. These were the people who actually wanted to buy your product, so what went wrong?

Why do people abandon shopping carts?

The Pain of Paying

Imagine you just bought something and have the option to pay with credit card or cash. Which one would you feel more comfortable and less unpleasant using? Most of the people say they’d feel more unpleasant when paying cash. James B Duke, professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics, calls this type of behavior the “pain of paying“. When people buy something, they try to minimize, or whenever possible, avoid this pain of paying. And that’s the self-defense mechanism working against you throughout the checkout sequence.

While you can never possibly make 100% of your customers complete their purchases, there are triggers in your shopping cart and checkout sequence that can influence customer behavior and boost conversions. Let’s take a quick look:

Shopping Cart Optimization Tips

#1. Need for Speed

Loading times are extremely important for the overall user experience, but they become critical during the checkout sequence. Hubspot reports that a 1-second delay in Amazon’s product-pages loading time would cost them $1.6 billion in annual sales. And, according to stats reported by Kissmetrics, 40% of your customers would abandon your shopping cart if the pages are taking more than 3 seconds to load!

Slow loading times give your customers more time to think, and with their self-defense instincts on high alert, the slightest of reasons may be sufficient to send them packing. Your page loading times depend on a number of factors including the hosting quality and the way your site is structured. Make sure your checkout pages don’t take more than a blink of an eye to load.

#2. Make Prices More Digestible

I have a site hosted with GoDaddy . I have the option to pay $120 for an annual renewal, or pay $10 monthly. Which option do you think I take? The pain of parting with $120 all at once is much greater than “losing” $10 monthly. But, there may be situations where paying in breakups may take the fun out of the whole experience. For instance, imagine dining at a restaurant that charges you on a “per-bite” basis. Hypothetically, this kind of pricing may cost you the least amount of money, but will take the fun out of the meal.

A U-PEN research involving more than 13,000 people breaks down your customers into three segments based on the pain of paying they experience when buying.

Research also shows that a marketing message focused on the experience that the product delivers is more effective for the Unconflicted and Spendthrifts, than a message that emphasizes low pricing. However, 24% of your customers (Tightwads) need to be convinced about the utility of the product before they loosen their grips on their wallets. Your pricing strategy would depend upon your product or service, but it must take into account all types of your customers.

#3. Offer Free Shipping

A free shipping offer that saves the customer $6.99 is more attractive for many customers than a price discount of $10, according to an Internet retail research carried out by Professor David Bell of Wharton School of Business. Free shipping almost always boosts conversions, and the lack thereof is one of the biggest reasons for shopping cart abandonment.

NuFace skincare increased their conversions by 90% and the average order value by 7.32% when they added free shipping for orders above $75.

Conversions went up by 90% when free shipping was added (Source)

#4. Use High Quality Images

You must look for creative ways to showcase your product during the checkout sequence. Technology has made it possible to add 360-degree spin to your product images, and companies were able to amplify conversions by 27%–40% by using the 360-spin functionality.

If you don’t have a physical product, consider adding a video to reinforce trust and kill the pain points.

#5. Display a Progress Bar

It’s a conversion best practice to break down a longer checkout sequence into several easily palatable steps and display a progress bar, showing the step that have been completed and the steps that are yet to be completed. Several tests have proved a progress bar delivers higher conversions almost 100% of the times. In the following example, John Nye achieved more than 28% increase in conversions after he added a progress bar to the shopping cart.

#6. Create Urgency

Have you ever made up your mind to buy a product and didn’t complete the purchase thinking, “Oh, I can buy this another time”? How would you respond if you knew you won’t find that product when you come back next time?

Urgency is created when your customers know that your product/offer is either scarce or time-barred. You can use a “low-stock indicator” to tell the customers that only so many items are left in stock, so they better hurry.

Here’s another way to create urgency, by making your offer time-barred:

Creating a sense of urgency can slash the number of dropouts and boost conversions significantly, by as much as 332%!

Bonus Tip: Follow Landing Page Best Practices

Provide a price comparison; use clear action buttons; write original product descriptions; optimize your call to action; use white space to make your images and key messaging stand out; use the right color combinations; and do a lot of testing to keep improving your conversions continuously.


Optimizing your shopping cart and checkout sequence is going to take creativity, hard work, and investment. But, in the words of Jeff Eisenberg, “it’s easier to double your business by doubling your conversion rate rather than by doubling your traffic”. Trying to grow your business by driving more traffic to your website without optimizing your shopping cart for conversions is like trying to pump more water into a leaky pipeline without first plugging the holes.

Author bio: Wynn Zhou is the founder of Novage Communications – a leading web design company in Singapore. She specializes in SEO and loves applying her skills to help local clients. She has successfully set up a baby online store in Singapore.

Feature image curtsey of: Gustavo Zambelli

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