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Are Your Forms Responsible for Your High Cart Abandonment Rate?


There are plenty of reasons for your customer to abandon their online cart. Price checking against other websites, deciding to place their order by phone or simply running out of time to complete the process.   

In a mature and highly competitive e-commerce sector, you can’t afford to add poor forms to this list of cart abandonment reasons. But how will you know whether your forms are the culprit?

Here are my pointers to ensure your form delivers a slick online checkout process and improved conversions.

Cart Conversion is Critical

When another website is just a mouse-click away, you need to ensure your checkout process is flawless. Your shopping cart represents the tail end of a long chain of activity from capturing visitors to converting them into customers.

Close the deal at the checkout and you’ll cover the costs of all the stages that have gone before. Fail to do so and you’ve wasted time, profit and effort and increased the cost of your lead to customer rate.

With continuously improving online forms and reduced patience among customers for poor user experience, you’re up against stiff competition. Studies have shown that:

These figures aren’t equal across all industries and devices: it can be a lot worse for particular sectors especially when users are accessing your checkout on a mobile device.

Who’s Losing Out?

The Jumio Mobile Consumer Insights Study found 55% of UK smartphone owners have abandoned a mobile transaction. This figure increases to 66% globally.

The main reason for an abandoned cart was usability. Slow load times, complicated payment processes and difficulty navigating the checkout process were the top three complaints. And certain sectors fare worse than others when it comes to cart abandonment:

Industry Cart abandonment rate
Fashion 53%
Food (grocery and takeaways) 39%
Entertainment 35%
Household goods 35%
Events tickets (concerts and sporting events) 30%
Electronics 30%

Jumio Mobile Consumer Insights Study

Marc Barach, Chief Marketing Officer at Jumio, says that although businesses have heeded the warnings and are finally prioritising mobile checkouts, user experience is:

“still far from being as seamless as it needs to be in order for retailers to stem the tide of lost opportunity and put a potential £6 billion back in their pockets.”

You Need to Understand Why People Aren’t Completing Their Purchases

There can be many form-based reasons for cart abandonment as our research shows.

Form analytics will help you identify where people drop out of your checkout form. With these insights, you’ll know what you need to change and what’s already providing a good user experience.

For example, if someone adds something to their cart but doesn’t go any further with the checkout it’s possible the form isn’t the issue. The customer could simply be comparing prices. However, if your analytics show someone has entered certain details three times when completing the checkout process, you know your form is the problem.

Good form design is key to turning visitors into paying customers. Here are some of our top tips to help you do this.

Product Images – The Checkout Completion Carrot

Motivating your customers to complete the checkout process might sound strange – after all, they want to buy something from you – but research shows that it’s necessary. A simple way to do this is to keep people focussed on what they’re getting by including images of the product they’re purchasing.

Not only does this make it extremely obvious that the customer has added an item to their cart but it also moves them one step on from shopping and one step closer to the checkout stage.  

Getting the right size, placement and image clarity is key here and what works in one industry isn’t always appropriate in another.

A good example can be seen on fashion brand Asos’ website below. The product is distinctly displayed showing that it has been added to the basket and a brightly coloured CTA button signposts how to proceed to purchase.

Source: Conversion XL

Beautiful imagery that continues to showcase your product, even at a smaller scale is important in avoiding cart abandonment. Consider how you display your images on the basis of your checkout design; multiple page checkouts will need to ensure product images are continuously visible regardless of the page the customer is on.

Hidden Delivery Costs Make For Poor User Experience

Most people expect to pay postage and packaging costs when ordering online. Clearly signposting these fees is key to improving checkout completion rates and reducing cart abandonment.

Add a hefty additional cost at the very end of the process and the customer could feel that you’ve been less than honest with them. Provoking negative reactions is a sure way to detract from the user experience increasing the likelihood of an abandoned cart.

If you provide free postage and packing at a particular level of outlay, highlight this at checkout. As in the image below, letting a customer know what else they need to spend to secure free delivery incentivises more purchases and can boost sales.

Source: Site Tuners

Customers are far more likely to be receptive to this kind of message than an additional fee leaving them with the sense that they’ve enjoyed a pleasant shopping experience.  

Guest Checkout – a Necessity Not a Nice-to-Have

If there’s one change you make to your checkout process, it’s this: remove the need for users to create an account before they check out.

Forcing people to complete another form before they buy has a devastating effect on your cart conversion rate. 23% of online shoppers wouldn’t checkout if they had to create an account. So remove the necessity by making guest checkout your main option as in this example from ebuyer.

Source: EConsultancy

If you do want to capture user data, you can explain the benefits of a full account. Those who are planning on using you regularly may take up this option and then complete their purchase. But forcing people down this route is a recipe for disaster that will result in more abandoned carts than a Tesco car park.

If you must get customers to create an account before checking out, use single-click social sign up to do it. This takes away a lot of the pain for the customer and also means you’ll get the data your business wants.

Multiple Payment Options

Imagine getting to the end of your online shopping experience and finding that a business only takes payment from a provider you don’t use. You’re hardly going to sign up for a particular credit card or online wallet before popping back to complete your purchase.

It’s far more likely is that you’d feel very annoyed and close the site leaving an abandoned cart in your wake.

Offering multiple payment options is critical to securing more sales. And reassuring customers that their payment details are safe is just as important.

As the image below shows, Ikea allow people to pay with a range of cards. They boost user confidence by including a statement about the security of their site and by highlighting their returns policy. Combined, this information makes people feel confident about buying.

Source: Ikea

It would be interesting for Ikea to add a payment gateway, like PayPal, to their checkout and test their conversion rates. If a user doesn’t have their card to hand, the existing setup could result in cart abandonment. Would a single-click payment gateway increase conversions?

Complexity is Not Good

Complicated checkout processes are another user peeve that results in cart abandonment. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to make the process slick and simple:

  • Remove distractions – separate the checkout from the rest of your site and remove any links that could direct shoppers elsewhere. This will focus shoppers on the task in hand.
  • Make form filling painless – to avoid an abandoned cart, don’t ask for too much information, avoid common form design pitfalls and ensure your error messaging is clear.
  • Indicate progress – if you can’t avoid a multi-step form include a progress bar so customers know where they are in the purchase process.

AO.com provides a single step checkout process that takes your straight from the basket to buying with no need for a user account.

Simply select from the clearly costed delivery options, add a specific time slot, enter your address using automated lookup and provide your payment details and you’re done.

Source: EConsultancy

Measure Everything

There are plenty of ways your checkout form can fail leading to cart abandonment, decreased turnover and reduced profit. If you don’t know what’s going wrong you’re in trouble.

Guessing at the problems in your checkout process could lead you to redesign your form in such a way that you make matters worse.

The only way to gain the insights required for smart optimisation is to assess your form’s data using form analytics. Not only will you be able to analyse which fields are causing users problems but you’ll be able to break down your results by device type and lift the lid on geographical variations as well.

With this level of insight you can identify which elements are obstructing the buying process and causing cart abandonment. By measuring the effectiveness of these changes not only will you deliver a slick user experience but you won’t be another failed checkout statistic.