How To Decrease Basket Abandonment By Optimising The User Experience

By Klarna

Luke Griffiths - GM of Klarna UK

Online retail spend shows no sign of abating. 2016 proved a bumper year for ecommerce, with figures estimating online retail spending in the UK rose to a record high of £133bn – approximately 16% more than the previous year.

Read the full guide on customer experience here


Smartphones are a driving force behind these digital purchases. The rise in on-the-go shopping means that purchases made on mobile phones jumped by 47%, to account for 54% of all mobile device sales over the festive shopping period. It’s clear that the nation’s reliance on smartphones and demand for convenience is radically changing the way UK consumers are shopping. Customers are now able to shop at anytime, anywhere, meaning they are “always on” and therefore always open to shopping.

The gradual shift away from bricks and mortar shops to the internet is a lucrative opportunity for many retailers, who can benefit from reduced overhead costs, reach a wider customer base, and offer greater flexibility and services.

But it’s not without its challenges. Customer expectations are higher than ever before —  their demands are greater, and their tolerance is lower. Traditional models of loyalty are on the wane because of the explosion of consumer choice the online shopping revolution has created. This mean that customers will simply go elsewhere if a retailer’s online shopping experience fails to measure up.

So, with this in mind, let’s look at how to optimise the online retail user experience (UX) to decrease basket abandonment.

Optimising the online retail customer journey   

It’s crucial, then, that retailers take a holistic view of the customer journey to encompass every touchpoint. Each stage of the online shopping journey needs to be built with the customer in mind. Retailers are gradually responding to these changing shopping patterns – smooth and simple browsing across all devices is offered by the majority of retailers, rather than hailed as a best practice case.

But while there’s been a dramatic improvement in the browsing element of user experience, pitfalls still come later down the journey. Too often, the checkout and payment process remain clunky – full of friction and frustration for today’s impatient, time poor, on-the-go consumer. 

The modern online shopper no longer has the patience to trawl through lengthy sign up processes or multi-step checkouts. So retailers who concentrate their efforts only on browsing experience, and neglect the payments process, risk alienating consumers by not optimising the user experience for those who otherwise would have represented a guaranteed sale. 

That’s why it’s vital brands concentrate on making their checkout process as seamless and simple as possible, offering consumers clear and uncluttered checkout pages and looking to decrease basket abandonment in the process.

The dropped basket case  

With this in mind, it’s easy to see why one of the biggest challenges facing online retailers is abandoned baskets — where consumers drop out of the buying or checkout process before completing their purchase.

In fact, recent research we conducted showed that over two-thirds (68%) of consumers have abandoned an online shopping basket. This is costing each British online retailer an average total value of £37,062 per year — a total £5.5 bn annual loss to the economy across the estimated 150,000 online stores in the UK. 

With a massive 63% of those total baskets potentially recoverable, it’s a huge challenge – but also a big opportunity – for savvy online retailers.

To help businesses make sense of these figures, we asked shoppers why they abandon their baskets. The findings shed new light on consumer spending habits and shopping choices across devices. A recurring theme was that offering choice and flexibility at the point of purchase was a key consideration for consumers – and focusing on this area may lead to a decrease in basket abandonment rates.

Simplifying the payments process

It’s said that the average adult’s attention span is now just eight seconds long. This means that the modern shopper – particularly the one shopping on-the-go – no longer has the patience to go through lengthy sign up processes or multi-step checkouts.

Simple factors such as consumers not having their details to hand are now reason enough for 19% of the shoppers we surveyed to abandon a basket. Other reasons included the checkout process taking too long (13%) and retailers not offering a customer’s preferred payment option (12%). And unsurprisingly, it’s the digital natives who are less likely to stand for unwieldy checkout processes: 16-24 year olds abandon their baskets 3.8 times a month, versus just once a month for over 55s.

It’s clear that the more loops a customer has to jump through, the less likely they are to make it to the confirmation page. Similarly, a customer making a purchase on-the-go via mobile is unlikely to finish the payment process if they need to pull out their wallet and input their card details in public.

The overall takeaway for retailers is that the buying experience must be simplified if they are to cash in on a chunk of the customer’s wallet.

Flexibility is key 

The good news, however, is that these problems are easily fixable.

Retailers looking to simplify the buying process could consider a range of options from introducing a “digital wallet” that automatically saves a customer’s payment details, setting up simple one-click payments, or using smart data to remember the customer’s preferences during the checkout process.

Retailers could also support customers looking to offset the immediate costs of purchases by offering a monthly re-payment scheme or a Buy Now, Pay Later option. 

Today’s customers are increasingly expecting to be able to pay how and when it’s most convenient for them. Giving customers greater peace of mind when shopping online – such as the option to pay once they receive and inspect their goods – is one option for helping to drive ecommerce sales. As well as offering financial flexibility to the customer, there’s also a big convenience factor – customers can make a purchase on-the-go and fill in their payment details further down the line.

Perfecting the path to purchase

While many retailers are focusing on the path to purchase, some still lag behind in terms of optimising user experience — particularly when it comes to making the most of mobile. 

With a huge number of online sales now coming from a mobile device, retailers need to ensure they are providing channel responsive messaging and functionality for consumers shopping on their smartphones, whether it’s offering mobile optimised design, tailored offers or punchier content. Design-wise, retailers can also incorporate functionality specific to mobile behaviour, such as swipe to like and short-term surveys.  

Growing use of smartphone shopping is also an opportunity for brands to inform the customer’s journey across all channels. A customer may start their journey on one device and then go on to complete the purchase on another. Using progressive data collection means brands can effectively target consumers across all devices, informing the journey every step of the way, and making the experience as seamless as possible.

eCommerce done right

Done right, capitalising on the ecommerce opportunity is all about reflecting consumer purchasing habits to provide appropriate functionality and flexibility on-the-go. This extends to payments, too, as giving consumers the freedom and control to buy immediately means fewer barriers to purchase.

Ultimately, ,making the payments process as simple and convenient as possible for consumers translates into direct benefits for retailers, helping to boost loyalty, customer retention, and crucially sales. 


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