Your 2021 Guide to Increasing Your Add-to-Cart Rate

Learn what an add-to-cart rate is, as well as its significance to an online business. Explore the variety of ways through which this measure can be optimized for your business's success.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. What is add-to-cart rate?

2. What is a good add-to-cart rate?

3. How can you increase the add-to-cart rate?

  • Help your visitors using a wide variety of devices (especially smartphones)
  • Help your visitors look for the information they need
  • Help your visitors trust you
  • Help your visitors complete the purchase
  • Help your visitors return to your store
  • Help yourself see whether your website is effective or not

4. Final words

Table of contents
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

1. What is add-to-cart rate?

2. What is a good add-to-cart rate?

3. How can you increase the add-to-cart rate?

  • Help your visitors using a wide variety of devices (especially smartphones)
  • Help your visitors look for the information they need
  • Help your visitors trust you
  • Help your visitors complete the purchase
  • Help your visitors return to your store
  • Help yourself see whether your website is effective or not

4. Final words

12 minute read.

What is add-to-cart rate?

Smart Insights defines add-to-cart rate as the percentage of visitor sessions (or unique visitors) to a website that involve a click on the add-to-cart or add-to-basket buttons.

Once a visitor starts browsing your online store, you can imagine the visitor either reading some information about your business first or going straight to the product lists. Not all customers plan to buy your products at first; some will just browse it and compare with other businesses that sell similar items. 

Others, however, will go on to check the products one by one. Some of them will add items to the cart. Those who did so are either visiting your site, already decided to buy a product or two, or got so interested in your products that they wanted to buy them. The add-to-cart rate describes this set of actions being done by the visitor in their process of buying a product or two from your e-commerce store. 

This is not a complete picture of what happens during the conversion process, or the process of getting customers through your e-commerce site. Understanding this process, however, will help you see where you can improve your add-to-cart rates. 

What is a good add-to-cart rate?

Add-to-cart rate during 2020.
Add-to-cart rate during 2020. Image source

Of course you need to know the averages across the industries so you would know if you have a good add-to-cart rate or not. 

Note, however, that one source of variation to the statistics is the different ways add-to-cart rates are defined: add-to-cart rates defined in terms of visitor sessions will yield lower values than the add-to-cart rates defined in terms of unique visitors.

Here is a summary of values:

  • The average add-to-cart rate ranges from around 2.5% (Monetate) to 5.0% (Littledata) and 6.87% (Dynamic Yield).
  • According to Littledata, getting an add-to-cart rate higher than 8.6% will put your website at top 20% of the stores, while getting more than 10.9% will put your website at the top 10% of the stores. 
  • According to Dynamic Yield, stores specializing in beauty and personal care products get an average of 14.03% - the best-performing industry in terms of this metric. Multi-brand retail has seen the lowest average at 1.72%. 

As you can see, add-to-cart rates are not particularly high. This is to be expected, as the internet makes it easier for consumers to compare prices of products sold by different stores before buying them. Nonetheless, we can push our rates a little higher, maintaining the growth of our business. How?

How can you increase the add-to-cart rate?

The color of add-to-cart buttons must match with the theme you are using.
The color of add-to-cart buttons must match with the theme you are using. Image source

If you look at the other guides for increasing your add-to-cart rate, you can encounter ones with long lists of stuff that you can do to improve your online stores.

I beg to differ; I summarized them into six tips that you can easily remember. 

Help your visitors using a wide variety of devices (especially smartphones)

A mobile-friendly online store will see not only higher add-to-cart rates but also higher sales.
A mobile-friendly online store will see not only higher add-to-cart rates but also higher sales. Image source

Chances are, your visitors are using smartphones most of the time. 

You need to make sure those visitors are having a good experience browsing your online store!

According to Dynamic Yield, add-to-cart rates via smartphones are consistently lower than those via desktops, with desktop getting 7.14% while smartphones get 6.72%.

Why?

You don’t need to guess hard: a lot of online stores are not optimized for smartphones.

This is problematic, as the majority of the e-commerce purchases are now being done via smartphones. In fact, Statista estimates that in this year, nearly 3 out of 4 e-commerce transactions and purchases will be done via smartphones!

What can you do to adapt to this fact?
Here are some tips you can implement:

  1. Adopt visual hierarchy, prioritizing the most important elements to the top of the page. Admit it: you are too lazy to scroll down most of the time (unless you are hell-bent in ordering the item)
  2. Do not over-design, don’t overwhelm both your visitor and the smartphone they are using. Instead, help the visitor clearly see which buttons to tap when they decide to add the product to their cart or look for other products. 
  3. Avoid pop-ups. They’re annoying.
  4. Ensure the right size of all clickable design elements to aid the tapability in the touchscreens of mobile devices. A bad design and functionality can ruin a visitor's experience enough for them to not add a single product to cart. 
  5. Make the text readable by choosing the right font size and providing enough space between the layout blocks. Visitors read fast, but still read. Also, choose the right words to nudge a visitor to add a product to the cart. 
  6. Stick to conventional navigation design to minimize confusion to the user. A visitor has an expectation of where the buttons to click are located. Bucking the convention may make it too difficult for the visitor to add a product to cart. 

Improving your online store for smartphones involves changing both the look and the gears that make it work. To learn more, head over to our guide for making your ecommerce site mobile-friendly.

Help your visitors look for the information they need 

A related metric–the shopping cart abandonment rate–is also being extensively studied in the world of e-commerce. This is because most shopping carts end up being abandoned (almost 70%). You would think this is inevitable, but it turns out that the number one reason (according to Sleeknote) is something preventable:

Unexpected costs. 

It turns out that aesthetics are not enough; visitors want to read enough information about your business, products, and services before they decide to buy. 

What kind of information do they look for? Here are the following, consolidated from Databox and BigCommerce

  1. What the product looks like - this goes beyond images but also their size and weight.
  2. Compelling product descriptions - besides what the product looks like, you need to describe what the product does in a persuasive way. 
  3. FAQs - this is especially important for more complicated products such as devices and equipment. 
  4. Customer reviews and testimonials - customers will listen to fellow customers before buying your product. 
  5. Live chat software - this is a new trend nowadays. You can add this to anticipate questions from visitors whose answers are not on the website. 

Chances are that a lot of your first-time visitors are also checking other online stores to look for the product that will give them the biggest bang for their buck. Give them enough compelling information to nudge them into adding your product to cart. 

Help your visitors trust you

Trust badges help assure your visitors their data is safe with you.
Trust badges help assure your visitors their data is safe with you. Image source

In this digital world, it’s easier for scammers to quickly set up a legitimate-looking business only to quickly disappear after a few days scamming enough people to pay upfront for the products that don’t exist. 

Trust, therefore, is something you need to earn as early as possible.

Red Website Design lists the five questions visitors ask themselves when browsing an online store for the first time:

  1. Is the business for real?
  2. Can I shop safely?
  3. Will I like this product?
  4. Is there anyone I can talk to?
  5. Do you handle returns?

Payability suggests these 10 ways to build visitor trust to your ecommerce site. We have selected some of these tips and listed them below:

  1. Add an “About Us” page and a blog: Tell your story to make yourself more relatable to the visitors. This is also a big opportunity to pitch an image that you want your visitors to have of you. 
  2. Add your contact information at the footer of each page: Nothing makes a business more suspicious than having no way for the customer to contact you for more information. 
  3. Show off endorsements: Endorsement by prominent figures remains one of the most effective ways to pull sales of products and services. e-commerce is no exception; display them prominently in your online store and in your social media channels. 
  4. Eliminate surprises (especially hidden costs): Nobody likes being surprised with hidden costs, which primarily includes shipping fees. Offer a way for the visitors to check the additional fees before they add the product to cart. 
  5. Secure your site with SSL, and show your site is safe with trust badges: Hackers are abound nowadays, targeting websites and posting account information as “war trophies.” Secure your website–especially the account information. 

Help your visitors complete the purchase

Sometimes it’s difficult for visitors to add items to the shopping cart due to the way the website was designed. Here are some chosen tips to help them complete the purchase, consolidated from Databox and BigCommerce

  1. Make it easy to find the add-to-cart and checkout buttons: sometimes the themes you have chosen for your website make it a little harder for the visitor to find the add-to-cart and checkout button. Check it again to make sure they are easy to find. 
  2. Allow customers to add items while browsing the product list pages: when you have similar products listed in the list pages, visitors would prefer comparing them in the same page. You might as well put the basic but important information in the list pages, so it will be easier for the visitors to choose the right product. 
  3. Let customers view the contents of the cart while browsing the pages: this will help the visitor check if they already added the product to the cart or not. 

Now that you’re in it, you might as well extend the improvements in the add-to-cart process to the checkout process. Here are some tips, from Neil Patel and UPS (yep, that shipping company):

  • Minimize the information needed to complete the purchase
  • Make a guide and add a progress bar throughout the checkout process
  • Allow guest checkouts by default
  • Offer several payment options
  • Include the price in the local currency of the visitor
  • Secure the payment process and use badges to indicate as such

These will further nudge the visitor not just to add items to the cart but to also complete the purchase.

Help your visitors return to your store

We do not want one-time customers; we want customers who will come back to buy our products. An increasing number of repeat customers over time is a good indication that your e-commerce store is growing, and it reflects in several metrics, not just in add-to-cart rate. 

How can we ensure there are visitors who will return to our online store to buy our products? Here are some tips, consolidated from eCommerce Booth and Paldesk:

  1. Encourage new customers to create an account after checkout. Some new customers, even before finishing their checkout process, have already decided to return to your online store to buy products in the future. Make their checkout process easy: encourage them to create an account to expedite the checkout process. 
  2. Enclose free samples or extra gifts to first purchases by new customers. A little love will go a long way in convincing them to return to your online store to buy again. 
  3. Regularly email your customers. This is one of the best ways to inform your customers of new products and promos. A lot of customers return because of new products and/or new promos and discounts. 
  4. Start a loyalty program, and advertise it upfront. Incentivize your regular customers to return regularly through additional perks when they reach a certain total price of purchases within a period, for example.
  5. Start a blog and be active in several social media channels. Customers sometimes do not purchase again if they think the online store is abandoned. Besides regularly offering new products and promos, starting a blog and being active on social media are also good ways to show that your store is active and running. They also signal to the customer that you are dedicated to your online store and the related ideas to it. 
  6. Offer customer service through several social media channels. Let’s be honest, it’s easier to ask questions via the social media site that we are using than by drafting an email or two. Use that tendency to not just convert one-time customers to repeat customers but to also attract new customers.

Help yourself see whether your website is effective or not

Every online store is unique! 

Even if the first five tips are proven to work, you still need to see how they fit with your online store. Sometimes, they don’t work. Here are some suggestions for what you should do:

  1. Tweak and test your e-commerce checkout process: You should test the changes you have made to your online store before deploying them, and tweak them if they do not perform as expected.
  2. Be proactive in tracking your add-to-cart rate: You can only see whether the changes you implemented work by tracking the add-to-cart rate over time. Make sure you can track the metrics, preferably as real-time as possible!
  3. Use cart abandonment software: the reasons visitors do not add products to the cart are similar to the reasons why visitors abandon their carts. Use a cart abandonment software to track the abandoned carts and target them by sending emails to nudge them to finish their orders. 
  4. Implement a browse abandonment campaign: when you see more and more of your visitors quickly leaving your online store without adding at least one product to the cart, you should be ready to try wooing them back. You can do so by sending an email (if you got that information from them) or even by adding a so-called exit prompt, which appears in the page when a visitor tries to leave the store. 

Final words

First and foremost, every business is unique–something that also applies to online stores. 

You will then know how many changes should you implement to improve the add-to-cart rate of your online store. 

Then, follow which tips here will work best.

But I guarantee you, there is a lot of room for growth, and every improvement in your business is worth it. 

We have more tips for you to improve your online store:

Beginner's Guide to Making Your eCommerce Site Mobile-Friendly

6 Data-Driven Tips to Increase Your Blog Engagement | AnthonyGaenzle.Com | Marketing Blog

How Has COVID-19 Affected Brand Marketing? Industry Research & 5 Ways to Adapt

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SECTIONS

1. What is add-to-cart rate?

2. What is a good add-to-cart rate?

3. How can you increase the add-to-cart rate?

  • Help your visitors using a wide variety of devices (especially smartphones)
  • Help your visitors look for the information they need
  • Help your visitors trust you
  • Help your visitors complete the purchase
  • Help your visitors return to your store
  • Help yourself see whether your website is effective or not

4. Final words