According to a study by PayPal and comScore, 45% of U.S. online shoppers had abandoned shopping carts multiple times in three weeks. Another study by the e-tailing group reports that 64% of U.S. online retailers experienced cart abandonment rates of more than 20% in 2009. Nearly one-third of these surveyed retailers encountered rates above 50%.

So how can you avoid becoming one of these cart abandonment statistics? My last post on this subject introduced a couple cart features you might want to test to keep shoppers engaged. Now, it’s time to explore how testing and tweaking your forms on the path to purchase can make an impact.

1. Test your forms.

Consultants the world over will tell you that less is more when it comes to the checkout process, where fewer steps is ideal. And that’s not bad advice, particularly if you test and optimize each step. But keep in mind that a one-step checkout process isn’t always the most strategic. Why? Because when people see the resulting long forms, many are likely to abandon the process.

Shorter forms tend to yield higher conversion rates, so consider testing and optimizing a checkout process of at least two steps.

When looking for ways to shorten your forms, make sure you’re only asking for information you need. Ask yourself, “Do I really need to ask them for their password again? Do I need that mobile phone number if we have no plans to send text message offers?” Only ask for data you are going to use to provide value.

2. Remove the guesswork.

Visitors tend to be uncomfortable giving out their information online, and forms are often full of frustrating glitches that lead them to jump ship before a purchase is completed.

To reduce abandonment at this critical point, take the guesswork out of the process:

• Label required fields clearly. If you know exactly what information you need from a visitor, they should too. Required fields shouldn’t be a mystery.

• Tell them when their info looks wrong. When people mistype a phone number, password or email—or skip a required field—create a message that indicates precisely which fields need modification and why. Why make them guess?

Monitor data input and respond in real time to catch mistakes. If a customer enters  a phone number that looks good, try having a green check mark appear. People like positive reinforcement, so it might even motivate them to complete the task. It’s definitely worth a test! When an email looks amiss, a pop-up window asking consumers to take a closer look can help them easily find and correct mistyped info.

For more tactics proven to reduce shopping cart abandonment, download The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Shopping Cart Abandonment eBook.