Imagine you are walking around a shop, lazily picking up a few items you might need. As you turn the corner you are confronted with a huge line of people waiting to pay. What do you think? Do you begin asking yourself “do I really need any of this?”, “can’t I really buy it sometime in the future?” or similar questions? Nothing strange there, most customers do.

Online shoppers might be spared from having to stand in line for ages behind the smelly guy buying one frozen pizza with small change or the old lady that can’t remember the pin to her bank card, but still many potential (often hidden) obstacles can still cause a prospective customer to abandon the store before completing the purchase. According to the Baymard Institute, the average documented online shopping cart abandonment rate is a whopping 69.23%. In other words, out of 10 potential clients, just 3 become actual buyers!

The prospect of having to spend too much time to complete the order is just one of the many things that may lead your potential customer to give up the purchase: in this article, we will go through the most common mistakes in the design of sales flows leading to cart abandonment and suggest some strategies that domain and hosting providers can use to fight it.

1) The maze

Let’s face it, most people don’t exactly consider domains and hosting as the sexiest products out there. They buy them because they realize that being online is important for their business, but it’s doubtful anyone finds buying domains and hosting a particularly enjoyable activity.

If the same customer is then forced to jump through hoops and pages after pages of upsell options, chances are that he will lose his motivation before finally getting to the “Pay” button.

What can you do about it? Review carefully the entire sales process on your website, trying to see it with the visitor’s eyes and removing any step that is not absolutely necessary and that can cause a customer to drop off.

2) The interrogation room

For the customers that managed to endure the average check-out process, there is nothing worse than catching a glimpse of the finish line, just to realize a big fat form is still in the way. If your aim is to keep the customer motivated and his drive to buy high, then a long list of questions and details to be filled in is a giant wall that for many can prove too hard to climb (or simply not worth the effort).

What can you do about it? Keep your forms short, ask just for the info you really need to complete the check-out. If you still feel you need additional details, you can probably find a better place for all the other questions after you have closed the sale. You may even consider moving these additional registration fields to the “thank you” page (after-purchase), rewarding his registration with a coupon or similar.

3) The “surprise”

Frustration is another emotion you want to avoid during the purchase process and few things are as annoying as seeing the total due change at the Checkout step.

Not only you want to keep the customer motivated, but also happy to buy from you and to create a trustworthy and long-lasting relationship that gives you the possibility to upsell and cross-sell in the future.

For these reasons, hiding in the cart stuff like setup costs or special extra requirements to access a promotion and showing them just when the customer is about to pay is a bad, bad choice.

What can you do about it? Be clear from the beginning, and don’t be too creative with offers that are “too good to be true” if in the end you need tricks to make them work. If you think the real numbers will make the customer drop off, then consider a different approach or try to sweeten the deal with some special offers.

4) The crash

There are different ways technical problems can nullify your efforts to win a sale, from cryptic server error messages to the payment system not accepting the payment to the cart not updating with the new products added by the customers: all these obstacles will turn your prospect’s motivation down and likely making him slip away from your sales flow.

What can you do about it? A well-functioning sales flow is crucial to the success of any online business, so make sure to test any changes you make using different browsers and mimicking all possible scenarios before you deploy them to production. Clearly, every now and then things might still malfunction, in which case it is also good practice to have clear error pages that can explain to the customer what went wrong and how to move forward.

5) The “hard to get”

Knowing what customers might ask for and making sure to have it in stock and ready to ship is one of the biggest headaches for merchants dealing in physical goods.

While this problem might feel foreign in a world of cloud servers and unlimited gigabytes, most hosters forget that the frustration deriving from the inability to find what one wants lurks on each of their customers at the very beginning of the sales flow as they are asked to pick the domain they want.

While you might not think about domains in terms of stock and limited quantities, there is a big gap between the perceived “infinite choice” typically associated with domains and the domain the customer would actually consider buying. When you consider that 57% of domain searches today are for a string not available in .com, it’s easy to see how the domain industry does have a “stock” problem of its own.

What can you do about it? This situation feels even more absurd when you consider the hundreds of other domain extensions that are available on the market today. The issue is really not about being “out of stock”, but rather of finding a way to match each customer with something in the available inventory that they would be happy to buy.

Big retailers like Amazon have learned to master this problem by building advanced systems that can recommend alternative products that are a good alternative fit to the one the customer searched for. According to McKinsey, already a few years ago Amazon’s recommendation engine was responsible for 35% of its revenue.

When it comes to domain names, tools like DomainsBot Name Suggestion Tool are the best ally of the Registrar and Hoster that is determined not to let the customer slip away empty-handed.

On average, 15% of the domains sold by DomainsBot’s partners are the result of our domain suggestions. When one takes into account all the revenue deriving for other products attached to those domains, it’s easy to see how investing in the most advanced domain recommendation engine on the market is the smartest (and easiest) move any domain professional can do today.

Image credit EM. The text STOP! was added to the original picture by The Blog Editor