1) Holiday weekend showed increase in Cart Abandonment Rate

The number 1 data point shown over the holiday weekend was the increase in Cart Abandonment Rate. Cart abandonment rate (CAR) is a really important metric. It shows how much potential sales or revenue was lost or abandoned during checkout. The challenge is that not many web analytics solutions provide us with this data or insight. Marketers are required to go through lots of manual setup to even obtain a peek preview of this information.

The industry predicted cart abandonment rates to be >80%  given the number of choices consumers had during this holiday season. We noticed an overall trend of 20% increase in CAR, in Women’s cosmetics industry alone during the black Friday weekend.

2) Consumers behave different during the holidays

When consumers find something they want, they want to purchase quickly. While they might shop around and compare prices, they are looking for a quick and easy checkout procedure. When the checkout is complicated or has too many steps, they tend to quickly abandon their carts.

Testing a number of variables with Multivariate optimization, instead of just limiting yourself to one variable or running an A versus B test, will certainly reveal much more opportunities for improvement and an easier flow in your checkout process

3) You should optimize during code freeze

Winter has arrived and websites are in code freeze. Development teams are in bug fix and improvement mode. The problem is, this is prime time to be optimizing. Learning about your different user types & analyzing customer segments because your average user behaves differently.

During this time optimizing your checkout on the fly or in real time is extremely useful. Another option is to consider testing seasonal content. Optimizing towards a specific user segment and for a specific device can help improve your Cart Abandonment Rate tremendously.

4) Promotions don’t always work

Promos don’t necessarily work unless you are directly testing the promo itself. Our multivariate tests are designed to serve different visitors at different steps of the journey with effective experiences at all times and if we aren’t tied in with promotional efforts, then there is a high likelihood of statistical noise.

A separate finding shows that many users prefer a clear distinction of items in their cart, they also want to be able to find their product until they decide to remove it. Optimization tests prove users prefer this versus attempting to up-sell to them throughout the checkout process or providing them with some kind of promotion.

5) Outliers skew your data

Outliers, i.e. data skews that lie outside of the range of statistical probability or transactions that are 3 standard deviations above the average value tend to skew data. Over the holiday weekend, these data skews look worse. Standard deviation is a numerical value used to indicate how widely individuals vary within a group. Often during the holiday weekends, groups or bulk purchasers are shopping because of sales. These large purchases send spikes, presenting nightmares for analysts. Luckily the HiConversion tool has the capability of targeting and removing outliers in any reporting suites.

6) Micro Conversions help us understand things more

Optimizing your checkout funnel end-to-end helps move your visitor along, at different steps of the buying journey. Here are a few measures that were taken by some our clients that yielded positive results  – Clearly marking or highlighting fields as mandatory versus making them optional. Removing menu navigation and search functionality as users step through each stage of checkout. Being specific with calls to action, showing what to do now and what will happen next. When things are complicated and the user has too much in front of them or things are not clear, users will quickly abandon their carts and go elsewhere.

7) Always show cost break down

We also noticed that ensuring that users could see all costs throughout the checkout process impacted positively on the overall customer experience. These include costs of each item, costs if any promo codes have been applied, costs of shipping and taxes etc. Anything not clearly visible to users or surprise created at any step in the checkout process tends to lead customers to abandon their carts.

8) Progress & Progression at each step in the checkout process

We noticed that visitors appreciated transparency in the number of steps(from beginning to end)in the checkout process. As users progress through each step, clearly indicating at what step they are at. A clean and concise progress bar is a good example with this.

9) Mobile shopping was the trend of the season

Shopping on mobile was the next popular thing after eating on Thanksgiving.  Smartphones and tablets were the devices to scout for bargains while still spending quality time with family. Mobile sales accounted for 32.3% of the total online sales! Overall, Branding Brand’s Mobile Commerce Index for Thanksgiving Day 2014 shows that three out of five online shoppers were mobile.

10) Avoid unnecessary distractions or barriers

Distractions and barriers were thought to be both annoying, ruining a user’s checkout experience, or again causing them to abandon their cart. Results were favorable, when the primary focus was getting customers through the checkout process. All else, like feedback and surveys etc. can be requested after a successful checkout, or via a follow up email.