Add-to-cart rate is a pivotal indicator of your ability to efficiently monetise your website. But are you doing everything you can to optimise your add-to-cart (ATC) rate?
When a visitor adds items to the cart (or ‘basket’), they are revealing a high level of buying intent. As such it is a critical step in the purchase process, and is something that you should try to optimise.
So what affects add to cart rate? And how might you go about improving it?
Let’s explore why this is a crucial ecommerce metrics and take a look at what affects it.
How to calculate ATC rate
The formula is straightforward: you just need to figure out the percentage of visitors who have added an item to the cart / basket.
Why is ATC rate important?
Add to cart rate is one of the main metrics to keep an eye on if you manage an ecommerce site. It tells you so much about your product selection, pricing strategy, traffic acquisition tactics, merchandising, and user experience.
For example, a sudden decline in ATC rate following an increase in marketing spend may be the result of targeting the wrong type of visitors after launching a new ad campaign.
Or, it may be that your pricing is out of sync with the market. Likewise, if you’re charging for delivery then shoppers may look elsewhere to save on shipping costs.
These things can be quickly adjusted, but only if you’re keeping an eye on ATC rate, and can figure out what is affecting any decline in click rates.
How do I know if my ATC rate is good or bad?
The average ATC rate is around 4%, though beauty, travel and retail sites tend to perform better than that.
You can compare your own performance vs your peers via Littledata Benchmarks, which tracks performance data from a sample of more than 12,000 ecommerce websites.
If you connect Google Analytics you'll be able to see your own data alongside the market average. We use AI to determine your category, though you can manually override our selection should you wish to do so.
The key things to get right
Your inventory is probably the first thing you should analyse. If your visitors are looking to purchase something that you don’t sell, then it’s game over. You can’t expect these people to click the add to cart button.
After that, look at the specifics of your product offering. Are you pricing products competitively? Some competitor research will help you to bring your pricing into line with the market average.
You should also review perceptions of trust. If your site isn’t trustworthy then people won’t want to buy from it. Conduct some user testing to find out whether you’re sending out the right trust signals.
Merchandising also plays a huge part in driving up ATC rates. You need to do a good job of selling, and not just the product in question but also related products and add-ons. Up-selling and cross-selling strategies can improve ATC rates, as well as a bunch of other ecommerce metrics.
I’ve already mentioned visitor intent, and that’s something that is going to play a big part in whether people add items to the cart. Are you targeting people who are ready to buy, or people who are not so far along the purchase path? There are of course very good reasons for targeting both, and it’s important to think about ATC rate in the context of multiple sessions and an elongated buying journey.
Finally, there are a whole host of user experience pitfalls to dodge, and some optimisation tactics to test...
How does the user experience affect ATC rate?
If we put the product / pricing / people challenges to one side, we can focus on some of the onsite areas to address. So how might a poor user experience cause problems for prospective shoppers?
Well firstly, there’s the simple matter of findability. Being able to easily find products is absolutely essential. That means providing shoppers with intuitive navigation, strong scent trails, excellent onsite search tools, and the ability to sort and filter items.
Then, when it comes to clicking buttons, there are all sorts of basic things to get right. Button optimisation is the science of enticing clicks through good practice and persuasion, but it’s also about making sure that buttons can actually be clicked (especially for mobile users).
There’s also the gentle art of copywriting, which is a proven winner when it comes to the things you can easily test. Words are incredibly powerful and tiny changes can have a dramatic impact on click rates, and all sorts of other metrics.
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What can I do to increase my ATC rate?
You can work your way through the above areas when conducting an ATC rate audit.
Let’s also narrow our focus towards the onsite experience, as I have some specific ideas to help you optimise your buttons. I will outline these below. These ideas are taken from our button optimisation basics mission, which is aimed at improving ATC rate.
1. Add some 'bonus text' within or below the CTA
Spicing up your CTA with an extra message around it can work really well. ShipStation uses this tactic with their landing page, as shown below:
If you weren’t already tempted to start your trial, you might become more willing after taking the 'no credit card required' message into account.
2. Allow shoppers to add items to cart on product list pages
On product listing pages the primary objective is to get the user to buy, not to read information.
As such, you should allow shoppers to be able to buy directly from list pages. It will provide a fast-track to the checkout for anyone in a rush to buy.
Make your list pages scannable and use contrasting colours for ATC buttons to improve visibility.
3. Create great micro-copy
Optimise your micro-copy and CTAs to ensure they never fall on deaf ears. Use of power words in every CTA and super descriptive headlines.
4. Design a button big enough to touch
Fitt’s Law states that the bigger a button is, the easier it is to click on. Simple, really. And it usually pays off: studies have shown that increasing a button size by 20% lead to a jump in conversions.
Optimising for a mobile platform is a key part of this, as a comScore study found that consumers spend 69% of time shopping on mobile devices. Buttons need to fit inside the screen and be easy to read, before they can be touched.
Buttons should be large enough to be clickable, without distracting from the value proposition.
5. Leave enough space between tappable links
Mis-pressing is common on mobile devices, as evidenced by all of your embarrassing typos. You don’t want your customers getting frustrated that their finger keeps pressing an unwanted button or link, so ensure that they're a) big enough and b) there is enough space is left between them.
6. Keep conversion elements above the fold
Peep Laja has stated that content placed above the fold grabs 80% of our attention. As such this is the obvious place to start when optimising the key conversion elements on your website.
Meanwhile, an eyetracking study by Nielsen Norman group found that 102% more attention is paid to information above the fold, compared to that placed below the fold.
Things to optimise at the top of the page include your primary call to action, buttons, navigation, basket, personalised content, and merchandising.
6. Lower the commitment (‘shop now’ vs. ‘buy now’)
One A/B test compared conversions between three versions of a CTA, which were: “buy now”, “order now” and “add to cart”. The latter saw a significantly increased conversion rate (approximately 11%) in all three sites tested.
“Add to cart” does not imply the act of kissing goodbye to your cash quite as much as the other variations do. A shopper may feel much more inclined to react positively to this lower level of commitment.
7. Place risk-reducing messaging next to buttons and CTAs
The only way a customer is going to purchase your product is by making them feel comfortable enough to click on all the buttons that stand in their way.
Copyblogger emphasises the importance of risk-reducing messages around buttons. It found that one small variation in text produced 34% more conversions than a version that didn't provide any reassurance.
8. Use "click triggers" adjacent to buttons and CTAs
It would be great if every visitor to your site would follow your well-intentioned CTA and add things to their carts. Fortunately, it has been shown that this could happen more often if you provide a nudge or two.
Nudges can be as simple as declaring potential savings should a customer buy your product during a sale.
Other click triggers which can boost your site’s performance include ones which eliminate doubt, simplify the purchase process or provide some kind of guarantee.
9. Use a text call to action for your ‘add to cart’ button
Many studies have shown that it’s better to use text within the button as a call-to-action, as opposed to an icon (though you can use both).
One such test was undertaken by Fab, which replaced a small, icon-focused button with a larger, text-focused button.
This simple test increased ‘add to cart’ clickthroughs by a seriously impressive 49%.
10. Use action words for button labels
The language you choose for your CTA can have a real impact on its performance. Words like ‘get’, ‘try’, ‘go’ and ‘add’ are all well worth testing.