We’ve all abandoned our online shopping cart at one point or another. You spend time on a company’s website with intention to buy and click the Add to Cart button. But when you proceed to checkout, you change your mind for one reason or another, and the retailer has no idea why. The reason that prevents you from committing to a purchase is extremely important to e-commerce websites and ultimately costs them a conversion and new customer.

Reasons for abandoning an e-commerce sale are many – bad user experience, difficult path to checkout, questions about the product, shipping costs, lack of trust in the retailer, or a simple distraction on the user’s end (like not having a credit card at hand when they need it). The solution to eliminating much of that friction is with live chat. Chat helps a customer find the product they need, add it to their cart, address any questions about the product, shipping or delivery and gives the company a chance to upsell. Conversions increase, AOV increases and abandoned carts decrease.

E-commerce sales show no sign of slowing

Studies show that e-commerce sales generated over $2 Trillion in 2017 and are predicted to generate nearly $5 Trillion by 2021. The tsunami of online buying will clearly continue to dominate into the next decade and shows no sign of slowing.

But if businesses want to sell online, It’s not enough to simply hop on the e-commerce bandwagon – you have to understand why buyers make decisions. A shop owner must understand the features of an ecommerce website which affect the buyer’s behavior and which of those are the deciding factors in purchase. Once those behaviors are understood, a strategy to address them can be implemented.

The giver and the guarantor

In the digital consumer world, there are two groups of people: the giver and the guarantor. The giver is the consumer giving a company money for their product; and the guarantor is the company guaranteeing the consumer their product. Trust needs to exist between both in order for the giver to make a purchase from the guarantor. When the giver and guarantor don’t have an established foundation of trust, it’s due to what e-commerce conversion experts call friction. Friction is what makes the consumer not want to buy and reduces the number of conversions on your website.

How to build trust with buyers and get the sale

Trust is the key to obtaining a conversion. Consumers need to know that your site is the right place for the right product, which means they need to know your e-commerce site is not only secure, but user-friendly. Eliminating friction is one of the clearest paths to building trust – confidence in the sale – but how can you accomplish that when there are so many potential friction points and no one to guide the shopper?

Live chat is highly effective at eliminating friction and increasing conversions. A live chat operator, or “Advocate”, can address nearly any question or point of friction in the buyer’s purchase path: Does this item come in a different color? What material is it made from? How long will it take to be delivered? What add-ons can I get? Even though many of these questions may be answered somewhere on the website, perhaps even in the product description, some buyers prefer chatting with an actual human to get answers and build confidence.

Live chat allows advocates to communicate with customers directly. It builds trust and helps customers:

  • Narrow their interest
  • Assist in finding the specific product a buyer is looking for in real-time
  • Offer recommendations

Effective live chat provides shoppers with

  • Prompt response: buyers enjoy live chat because they get the answers they’re looking for quickly. If your site sells handbags and your customer wants to know if you also have laptop cases, they want the answer in real time so they can make a quick decision to explore your site further or leave.
  • Personal response rather than automated: Humans answer questions better than a robot simply because they can provide a personalized solution and understand nuance. Automated responses follow a pre-designed template that doesn’t always align with the consumer’s specific need.

Needle’s Live Chat is operated by a company employee or an Advocate and is completely customized for your website.

More ideas to eliminate friction on your e-commerce website

  • Make navigation easy
    • Optimize category labels: Make it easy for consumers to find the product they’re looking for using clear and concise categories and subcategories.
    • Optimize subcategory labels to make it easier for the customer looking for a very specific product
  • Limit the number of fields in forms: If the consumer has to fill out too many fields to make their purchase, they’re less likely to commit and convert
    • The customer wants to make their purchase quickly
    • Make forms as simple and concise as possible to deliver the information you need without slowing down the purchase path
  • Keep design consistent and clean throughout the site
    • Simple headers and footers
    • Product pages should have well-lit photos, clear, concise descriptions and an obvious Buy Now button
  • Have good copy and an enticing Call to Action
    • Persuasive text convinces the buyer to take action
    • Consider an incentive to give someone a reason to make a first-time purchase
  • Display ‘trust marks’ that let consumers know your site is secure and any information they give you is safe
    • Security badges (Norton, McAfee, TRUSTe, etc)
    • Customer reviews to build trust
    • Transparent pricing – make sure your customers clearly know how much they’re paying
  • Create ways to address cart abandonment
    • Set up emails that remind customers of the items they left in their cart
    • Include copy or an incentive that motivates them to finish their purchase

The buyer’s journey can be a complicated one if your e-commerce website is not optimized for sales. But it’s understanding the buyer’s behaviors, the “whys” behind buying decisions and implementing solutions to overcome friction that will give you more conversions.

About The Author

Jordan K Pusey is a contributing blogger who brings 20 years of high-tech industry experience to the table. During his tenure, he has worked in IT, systems management, security, IT infrastructure, software sales/marketing, website creation, and online digital marketing. Jordan uses his extensive background in high tech marketing to provide advice and best practices, showing online companies how to attract customers for rapid growth. He's also an avid mountain biker, drummer, skier, and father of three amazing kids.