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GUEST COMMENT Why reducing friction at checkout is central to ecommerce

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There are many reasons why online shoppers don’t go through the checkout and make the final decision to buy an item. While a certain degree of basket abandonment should be expected, due to shoppers simply browsing or changing their minds on a pair of shoes, the latest data from SalesCycle puts the abandonment rate among retailers at a whopping 75.6%. 

This highlights the astonishing amount of revenue that retailers are missing out on and how more needs to be done to not only attract and engage shoppers, but to also entice them to jump over the last hurdle and actually buy an item. With basket abandonment becoming one of the greatest frustrations for online retailers today, what can they do to reduce friction at the checkout for shoppers and increase sales?

The importance of immediacy

The thirst for immediacy and ease, especially where deliveries are concerned, is one of the most significant factors in basket abandonment today. The wide availability of products and services that are now freely available and the immediacy of their delivery in the digital age means that modern consumer patience is dwindling.

In response to this, retailers are attempting to meet their needs by offering next-day delivery or single-click payments to reduce the number of steps involved in putting an item in your shopping cart, thereby fulfilling the need for instant gratification. This puts a huge amount of pressure on retailers and amplifies the negative impact on consumers if something goes wrong.

Reducing delivery and returns anxiety

Online shopping complaints jumped by 84% in 2018-19 in comparison to the previous year, and many of these complaints revolved around delivery. Nothing saps a person’s trust in the checkout process more than going all the way to the end, only to be confronted by a hidden charge or limited delivery options.

To reduce basket abandonment, it’s vital for retailers to ensure that the checkout process is as frictionless as possible. Retailers must recognise that while shoppers now have the freedom to shop at any online store 24/7, they don’t have the same flexibility when it comes to receiving and returning purchases. The fact that many retailers rely on traditional methods of parcel delivery doesn’t help alleviate the consumer anxieties driving basket abandonment. From inaccurate expected delivery times or the condition of the parcel upon arrival, to the hassle involved in retrieving a missed delivery or even having to miss a day of work to receive a parcel, there are many factors that can impact the customer experience.

Complex returns processes are also unattractive to shoppers and add to the likelihood of basket abandonment. We’re hearing more and more about retailers tightening up their returns policy, but flexible and speedy returns can have a direct effect on a consumer’s decision to make a purchase. The amount of repeat business a retailer enjoys can also hinge on their returns offering, because simple and free returns is a driver of long-term brand loyalty. 

From checkout to conversion 

One simple way to reduce friction at the checkout and provide a boost to ecommerce is to introduce parcel lockers. The 24hr automated parcel locker is far better aligned with the fast-paced modern lifestyle than legacy deliveries, primarily because it fits around the online shopper’s schedule, and is also much more accommodating of the demand for fast delivery and flexible returns. Once a parcel is placed in a locker, it’s as good as in the shopper’s hand. Control of the situation is removed from the carrier and handed wholly back to the shopper, who is freed of the feeling of helplessness that legacy delivery options can induce.

Catering to this modern outlook is central to converting sales and ensuring customer retention. Retailers need to align their delivery processes and post-purchase practices to continue to attract consumers and increase the likelihood that they’ll purchase from that retailer again and again, rather than falling at the final hurdle. There are several factors to take into consideration, but it’s quickly becoming clear that automated parcel lockers have a major role to play.

Jason Tavari is UK CEO of InPost

Image: Fotolia

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