Reduce cart abandonment by offering clear and accurate shipping options

There are many elements of developing an e-commerce solution that seem very straightforward as a line in a specification yet open up into a vast array of options once you get into the weeds of implementation. Shipping rules are one such place.

A poorly designed checkout experience that surprises the customer with unexpected shipping costs has been cited as the biggest reason for cart abandonment, it is really important to get this right. By giving customers clear shipping charges as they move through checkout you can create a higher conversion rate for your client.

A well designed checkout process starts with a clear understanding of requirements. Imagine you are taking details of a proposed shop from your client. In your conversation you note down that shipping will be added on before checkout, but before you move on from this subject it is worth getting the answer to the following questions.

  1. Is shipping a flat rate (everyone pays the same) or is it based on weight, size of product or order value?
  2. Where does the shop ship to? For a store based in the UK will shipping to France cost the same as shipping to the UK?
  3. Will anything trigger free shipping?
  4. Will there be different shipping methods? For example regular post and expedited courier delivery.
  5. If there are different shipping methods how are these chosen? Does the customer get to choose, or is it a case that certain products need to be sent via a certain method?

You can ask these questions safe in the knowledge that Perch Shop will help you to implement them.

Shipping Zones

In order to enable different pricing and methods for different locations around the world, Perch has a system of shipping zones. If you were to offer a flat rate worldwide, or if you only ship within one country, then you could create a single Shipping Zone. In the UK it is fairly common for stores to have a UK, Europe and Rest of World rate as this reflects how postage tends to be priced. In this case you would have three zones.

Shipping Zones

Shipping methods

Once you have some shipping zones you can set up Shipping Methods, these are the different methods your store uses to ship items. You could have anything from a single default method to a large number of methods with different rules applied.

You create a shipping method with a title, slug, provider and description that will show on the website. You then decide which Shipping Zones this method is available for and add a price in any currencies that you sell in.

You can also specify a tax group for the shipping method if it is taxable in your location.

Shipping methods

You then have the option to set up various triggers that would make this method available. For example, in the Nest Demo site Courier Shipping is only available if the order is at least £10.

You can also setup triggers for weight and dimension. Weight will total up the combines weight of items in the basket and only offer suitable shipping methods to the customer for the items they have.

Dimensions will look at the longest dimension (we don’t go so far as to work out how your items might fit in a box!)

Setting up when a method applies

A worked example

The UK delivery service Collect Plus has the following options.

Economy Service (5 working days)

Standard Service (2 working days)

To create this as a shipping method for the United Kingdom I would create 6 methods.

I would then also need to create a default option for shipping heavier than 10kg as this is outside what Collect Plus can offer.

I might also want to setup a method for free shipping triggered on the cart value reaching £50.

When adding products I need to make sure that the weight is entered in grams so the calculations work.

What would a customer see?

If these were the only options set up, our customer would only ever be presented with two options to choose Economy or Standard shipping. The price they would see would be dependent on what they had in their cart. If they had items totalling under 2kg then the price for shipping would be £4.99 for economy or £5.69 for a faster service. If their cart reached £50 they would see that shipping was now 0.

This means that you can show shipping costs every time you show the cart. As your customer adds items they can see exactly what the shipping costs are. They won’t get a surprise when they come to checkout and so are at less chance of abandoning due to a nasty surprise.

You can also add any information from your product details right in the cart display. So if you need to use an expensive shipping method due to the nature of your products (fragile or perishable etc.) you can display this in the cart to help a customer understand why shipping might seem high. If you are offering free shipping over a certain value, don’t forget to let the customer know this. They may add an additional product in order to benefit!

Remember that if you also have different shipping zones set up, you need to know the location of your customer to be able to show accurate shipping information. You could have a select menu in your cart to allow them to set this earlier in the process or detect it from their browser location – but make sure you give them the option to change it!

Testing conversion rates

You should be able to launch with a checkout experience that gives customers a clear understanding of the shipping rate they will pay and the choices they have. However, as shipping is such a key component in cart abandonment, it is a great area in which to run some tests. Do customers prefer flat rate shipping? Do they tend to pick cheaper, slower options or more expensive next day services? By offering free shipping over a certain order value do you see customers adding an extra product in order to get over that total? There is plenty that can be tested, and with Perch Shop you can show your customer how to create new options in order to fine tune their process.

You can see examples of shipping rates in our Nest Running Club demo, sign up for the demo here and take a look at the template and page code on GitHub to see how it was put together. You can also read more about implementing Shipping Rates in the Perch documentation.