Pumpkin Spice & Everything Nice: How can independent retailers prepare for their share of the holiday pie?

A 10-point checklist to ensure your shopping cart is optimized for conversion success

Pumpkin Spice Latte, Pumpkins
Brigitte Tohm, Unsplash

The first day of fall may be September 22 and despite a summer heat wave upon us, Starbucks signaled an August autumn last week with its return of the iconic Pumpkin Spice Latte.  

Meanwhile, CNN Underscored reported its lineup, “From coffee to candles, the yummiest pumpkin spice products of 2021.”

At RWS, we’re also in holiday season à la mode. Digital predictions for e-retailers abound for holiday season 2021 from an extended ecommerce-driven season to the importance of delivering a steady flow of mobile ads and promotional offers.

Deloitte underscores the “digital first” mindset for retailers in the new environment, citing several digital-first considerations in its “Post-COVID strategies for retailers: Reopening stores.” Among them: 

  • Continue to improve frictionless, contactless payment options 
  • Use AR-enabled product detail pages online to create immersive store-like experiences
  • Allow store associates to sell virtually through digital channels such as mobile and e-commerce orders.

RWS retailers are primed to deliver on these insights thanks to several digital initiatives such as Instant financing with Wells Fargo and Synchrony integration on WebFronts®, and AdRocket™ Ignite’s seamless deployment of advertising content, integrating promoted products and brand messaging into retailers’ websites.

eMarketer forecasts:

  • The total U.S. holiday retail sales in 2021 will rise 2.7% to $1.093 trillion
  • E-commerce sales will rise 11.3% to $206.88 billion
  • E-commerce will account for a record 18.9% of total holiday season retail sales.

As an independent retailer, there are actionable steps you can take now to prepare for this holiday season. One great place to start: The shopping cart.

Shopping cart abandonment is real

For online retailers, combatting shopping cart abandonment isn’t new. Increasing numbers of online shoppers did, however, leave their carts behind amid the coronavirus pandemic. Total Retail reports, “From the onset of the pandemic through mid-June 2020, shoppers’ cart abandonment rate stood at 94.4 percent, compared to 85.1 percent during the same period in 2019.”

A TODAY.com article explained the reason behind the uptick: With the consumer surge in online shopping, many shoppers were treating online shopping carts—once thought of as the final step in the customer journey—like window shopping. 

Today’s average cart abandonment rate has improved slightly. It is just under 70 percent, according to recent data from the Baymard Institute, which calculated data from 41 shopping cart abandonment studies.

With roughly seven out of every 10 shoppers not completing their transactions, cart optimization is essential to ensure your shopping cart is the destination in the shopper journey, not a mere stop along the way.

Research conducted by the Baynard Institute points to the top five reasons that trigger shoppers to abandon carts at checkout:

  1. Extra costs too high                     55%
  2. Account is required                      34%
  3. Checkout process is too long       26%
  4. Unclear pricing                            21%
  5. Didn’t trust the site                      17%

This goes to show why it’s critical for retailers to price as many items as possible on their sites and to be transparent with extra costs. Also, retailers might consider offering free or discounted shipping as numerous consumer research studies have shown people are more likely to purchase when there’s free shipping.

Use this checklist to ensure a secure, fully transactional cart that’s optimized for conversion success this holiday season and beyond:  

  1. Safeguard consumer information. This is priority No. 1 as your customers trust you with their private information. WebFronts® has you covered so you can automatically take these critical steps to protect customer data: Secure Socket Layer (SSL); Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS); and credit card information encryption and purging.
  2. Provide fast, easy and secure transactions. PayPal integration ensures a frictionless checkout experience. PayPal, the leading online payment system for fast, easy and secure transactions, is available across all WebFronts levels.
  3. Offer instant financing. The latest payment method in the world of e-commerce, instant financing is another important tool in reducing friction at checkout, as well as increasing consumer buying power. A Wells Fargo “apply and buy” integration is available as a free extension of Level 4, as well as integration of instant financing from Synchrony Financial.  
  4. Feature delivery options. A lasting effect of the pandemic, contactless delivery options are here to stay. Clearly display all the ways customers can receive products that include contactless options such as curbside pickup.
  5. Display inventory status. Consider a seamless shopper experience before they reach the cart. Display inventory tags to communicate the status of the products shoppers are interested in purchasing. An Advanced Availability feature in WebFronts allows retailers to create and adjust inventory filters, using automated rules, informing consumers of product availability levels such as “in stock,” “out of stock,” “special order” or “low inventory.”  
  6. Confirm credit card information via Luhn validation. This alleviates consumer frustration by immediately indicating if the card number is invalid (typos happen!). It also saves you from wasting time on orders that don’t include valid payment information.
  7. Use interactive delivery calculation. Your cart should allow you to create rules that automatically vary delivery fees according to items purchased, delivery location, type of products and total order price. Also, make sure your cart features robust and variable distance restrictions.Some manufacturers only allow online transactions within a specific distance from your physical retail location. Make sure your cart can handle these restrictions and vary them by brand.
  8. Prompt for add-ons. Asking customers to add related accessories, warranties and/or complementary products to their order saves them aggravation and maximizes sales. Ensure they can see related items on product pages throughout the checkout process and can easily add them to the cart.
  9. Provide auto-complete forms. Your cart should auto-populate all information consumers have previously entered, even if that information was provided outside of the shopping cart.
  10. Allow out-of-cart pricing. Some manufacturers allow certain discounts inside the cart only. Make sure your site supports showing a different price outside vs. inside the cart and adds appropriate verbiage around these prices to make consumers aware of, and comfortable with, this variation.

Don’t assume all digital providers can provide the secure and seamless transactional cart experience your customers expect. Contact RWs today and learn more about WebFronts®, the industry’s most secure, fully transactional cart.

See Top 10 Tips to Ensure Your Shopping Cart is Optimized for Conversion Success

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