Knowledgebase: Orders

What can I do with Incomplete Orders?


Shift4Shop keeps tracks of orders from the time that a customer adds a product to their shopping cart, all the way to the last page of checkout. This allows you to keep an eye on where/why customers decide to stop shopping on your store.

Before we continue, it's very important to understand that when it comes to e-commerce, it is very difficult to get a 100% conversion rate. To put it simply, not everyone that comes to your store will necessarily finish the purchase process and buy from you. It's very common that someone may add things to their cart, check shipping rates, change their minds, and simply leave.

As a merchant, your goal is to try to convert as many customer visits as possible into actual sales. To help you in this process, we made incomplete orders visible to you so you can see at which point in the checkout process customers may be leaving your store. Most other e-commerce solutions do not allow you to view this information, so you have no idea what's going on in your store. However, the information contained in uncompleted orders can be used to determine if there are any changes that need to be made on your cart. Changes that may improve your customer's shopping experience, and convert those visits into sales.

To get some ideas why customers may not be completing orders:

First, make sure everything is working on your system. Many times a shipping method or payment method is configured, but never fully tested, and it may not be working correctly. Place a test order to make sure that the shipping and payment methods work as you expect them to. If you find a problem with your system please submit a support ticket so that we can take a look and help you correct the problem.

If you determine everything is working properly on the store, then look at your incomplete orders to check at which step the customer left the cart.

  1. Using the left hand navigation, click on Orders
  2. Then click on the Not Completed tab of the page to view your unfinished orders.

The orders displayed in the Not Completed queue will display in chronological order along with a listing of which step of the checkout process the order was stopped. By clicking the "View" button over to the right of each order, you can see the order itself in more detail.

Let's take a moment to show what each of these steps refer to in the order process:

  • *Step 1
    Customer added item to Cart
  • *Step 2
    Customer added their shipping information
  • *Step 3
    Customer went as far as selecting a shipping method and arrived to the "Enter Billing Information" part of the order
  • *Step 4
    Customer submitted a payment

If you are using the "Single Page Checkout" option, steps 2 & 3 will be consolidated and shown as "single checkout."

Using the examples above, you can try to determine what may have caused these orders to be stopped.

Here are a few scenarios to consider when viewing your incomplete orders:

Please Note
The following concepts are not meant to illustrate what happens each and every time you get an incomplete order but rather to give you an idea of factors to consider when viewing orders in the Not Completed queue.

Example 1 - Step 1: No name or email recorded

Let's say that the order shows step 1 but the customer's name and email address were not recorded. This indicates that the customer added an item to the cart (step 1) and got as far as their view cart page but was not logged into their account (or did not create a customer account) and didn't proceed any further than adding the item to cart.

This will be the most common type of incomplete order you will usually see. Most of the time, this type of incomplete order is simply due to someone "window shopping" your site.

If you notice an unusually large amount of not completed orders, it could also be due to bot activity. This type of activity is normal in ecommerce and nothing to be overly concerned about.

If you'd like, you can use Shift4Shop's IP security functions to block the bots from creating these not completed orders, but be aware that blocking robots with 100% accuracy can be very difficult.

Example 2 - Step 1: Name is recorded

Let's say that the name was recorded. This customer got as far as logging in to his account but still left the cart.

As a merchant, you can use the "Not Completed Order Email" automated email script to entice their return or maybe find out what caused their departure. Perhaps they were just browsing with an intent to purchase later on.

Example 3 - Step 2:

In this next example, let's say the customer got up to step 2 where he input his shipping information but the order was incomplete.

Since step 2 of the multi-page checkout process is where shoppers enter their shipping information, this might indicate why they left. Perhaps they wanted to ship to a different location and the store's settings are preventing that. Either way, you have the customers email address and can therefore reach out to them for recovery purposes.

Example 4 - Step 3:

This example is similar to the previous one. Let's say that the customer got as far as adding their shipping information and even went as far as actually selecting a carrier/shipping method to use. However, for whatever reason the order was ended.

Clicking on the order's "Action >View" button shows that the order has a $15 charge on an $8 item. Could this be why they left? Are there any markups in your shipping methods you need to edit? Perhaps you need to reconsider shipping carriers. Maybe you can offer this customer a cheaper alternative.

Other Considerations: At this step in the process, your customer is also presented with your payment method options. Maybe they didn't like the options you have available. Perhaps they prefer using PayPal for their online transactions. Again, you have the customer's contact information, so you can try asking.

Remember that if you set the store for single page checkout, then steps 2 and 3 will be consolidated and shown as "Single Checkout" on the order steps. Therefore, the reasons for the cart abandonment may be a combination of the above.

Example 5 - Step 4:

In this last example, let's say the shopper got ALL the way to step 4. This means they went through each of the checkout pages, input all of their relevant information, selected their payment method and clicked on "Checkout." What caused this order to fail?

Click on the order's "Action >View" button and then click on the "Order Comments" tab. If something was in error with the payment gateway, the error code (from the gateway) will be shown on this page.

Did something change on your account? Is the payment gateway set up correctly? Perhaps the shopper entered their card incorrectly. Test things out on your own and note if you get any errors. If so, contact your gateway provider as well as Shift4Shop support if you get any errors so they can be fixed.

Other Considerations
Rather than the above error, you may see a card decline message. As with the previous 2 steps, you have the customer's contact information. Perhaps you can contact them and try again. Maybe they have a different card they can use.

Feel free to contact your clients that did not complete an order (those that provided their email/phone), ask them if they would like to complete the order via phone, and when possible, ask them the reason why they did not finish the order online.

Keep track of the reasons customers give you and implement changes for those things that come up often.

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