By Simon Horton, ecommerce plugin supplier ShopIntegrator

So you’ve done all the right things to drive traffic to your website with successful marketing of your products and services. All the hard work has been done so it’s time to sit back and watch the money roll in, isn’t it?

The reality is that a significant proportion of shoppers are abandoning their carts without completing their purchases. Shopping cart abandonment is when a customer starts adding items to their cart but then disappears before the sale is complete, which means all the time and money you’ve invested in building those potential customers has gone down the drain. If this scenario sounds familiar then you are certainly not alone.

According to research compiled by the Baymard Institute, the current average shopping cart abandonment rate is a staggering 67.91%. The top reasons why shoppers abandon their carts are:

57% of shoppers were just looking and not ready to purchase
56% of shoppers were saving items for later
55% abandoned their cart due to high shipping costs
25% of shoppers left because website navigation was too complicated
17% of shoppers had concerns over security
16% of shoppers felt the delivery options were unsuitable
11% of shoppers felt the checkout process was too complicated
7% of shoppers preferred payment option was not available

Here are my top tips to encourage your shoppers to complete the checkout process.

Firstly, think about your customers’ shopping experience by putting yourself into their shoes. Objectively evaluate the shopping experience you currently offer customers. From here you can identify what you do well and focus on what needs improving.

1. Checkout your checkout: It should be easy to use and navigation needs to be straightforward. Ask someone unfamiliar with your business to make a purchase as they can highlight anything you've missed. Research shows that bigger buttons with a clear call to action make it easier for users to navigate, reducing cart abandonment by as much as 33%.

2. Shipping, delivery and returns: Three key areas with a huge impact on whether customers complete their orders. Your policies need to be fair, offer as many options as possible and need to be as flexible as you can.

According to a study by ComScore, 42% of shoppers have abandoned their carts because of delivery times; 76% believe e-tailers should offer tracking information; and 63% look at the returns policy before making a purchase.

3. Security: Your website and checkout process must actively reassure customers so they feel safe handing over personal information. It pays to display trust logos clearly as 61% of shoppers say they've not completed a purchase because there were no trust logos present.

4. Payment options at checkout: Offer customers several online and offline payment options, such as credit and debit card, bank transfer, PayPal, even a posted cheque.

5. Guest checkout: When people are in a hurry to make a purchase, the last thing they want is to have to enter reams of information about themselves and create an account. So ask if they want to register after they’ve paid.

6. Abandoned basket reminders: A timely email to customers with items in their shopping baskets can work really well. Some customers may have simply run out of time, or were saving items for later but got distracted. A gentle reminder goes a long way to encourage such customers to complete their order.

It will be well worth the time spent to examine your checkout process, implementing the recommendations above to encourage customers to complete their online orders and reducing your shopping cart abandonment rate. If you have your own tips, tweet me on @ShopIntegrator.