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A recent survey conducted by both PayPal and comScore was just released to the general public, showing the top reasons why customers abandon an online shopping cart before purchasing. I first saw this referenced by Anil Batra a couple of days ago, who is a well-respected Web Analytics practitioner and blogger, and I wanted to share it with you.
If you remember last week, I blogged about Five Tips for Improving Your Shopping Cart. I didn’t conduct any market-research or any structured surveys for it – as I mentioned in my post, some of my tips were based on gut-feelings and personal opinions from a “Common Sense” point of view. Looking at this PayPal / comScore press release makes me smile, because the top five reasons that survey respondents gave PayPal / comScore are very much in the ballpark with some of my thoughts from last week.
So, if I may, below are the five reasons that are listed in that press release, with the percentage of respondents for each reason, and my personal observations on each one. The survey was conducted from March 25 to April 18, 2008, surveying U.S. online shoppers who had recently abandoned a shopping cart. This includes small, medium, and large-sized merchants.
1. 43 percent of consumers didn’t pay for items in their shopping carts because shipping charges were too high.
Can you really blame them? In our landscape of “Free Shipping” and “Same-day Shipping” and everything else, it’s no wonder 43% of these online shoppers abandoned their carts. Try building some of the price of shipping into the price of the item if you absolutely have to cover shipping charges. Or, drop your shipping charges incrementally, to see if that increases the demand for your product.
2. 36 percent of purchasers didn’t pay for items because they felt the total cost of the purchase was more expensive than anticipated.
There’s that word: anticipated. If you remember last week, I said I hated it when I only found out, very late in the shopping process, what my actual payment amount was going to be, because some websites are not clear or do not disclose shipping, tax, and other surcharges right away. Tell your customers early on about every single penny they have to pay – and present them with the lowest possible shipping price whenever possible. Don’t surprise them or try to sneak one by them – if you believe this survey’s numbers, that’s a lot of disappointed customers.
3. 27 percent of shoppers didn’t pay for items because they wanted to comparison shop at other Web sites before making a purchase.
Comparison shopping is a fact of life. Some people do it to find the lowest possible price, while others do it simply out of curiosity. Other people do it because their friends recommended they comparison shop, while others just do it because they can. However, if you sell good to high-quality items, at a fair price, with fair shipping / tax surcharges, and have a good to great functioning web site and Ecommerce system that is clear, easy to use, and customer-friendly, you’ll find that some or most of these people will eventually come back to you.
4. 16 percent of consumers didn’t pay for items because they could not contact customer support to answer questions.
This can be a big problem. Make sure that your customer service contact information, such as a phone, email address, or LivePerson chat applet is perfectly visible, clear, and functioning on every single page. These online retailers lost 16% of their customers simply because no one was there to answer the phone, or because they couldn’t even find out how to ask for help in the first place. They may just have had a very simple question, and would have bought it regardless of the answer. These are like careless turnovers in the NBA playoffs – completely avoidable.
5. 14 percent of shoppers didn’t pay for items because they forgot their usernames and passwords for their store accounts created with the merchants
If you thought that having a “create an account” function on your Ecommerce system was helping your customers, think again. 14% of these online retailers’ visitors did not convert into customers because of a username and password that you felt you needed to collect. You could make the argument that you could increase sales or revenue by 14% overnight, simply by removing this part of your sales process all together. Remember, don’t get in the way of your customers handing over their hard-earned cash to you. Make it as easy as possible for them to do so.
Think of this real-life example: You walk into your local supermarket for the very first time. You do all of your shopping, and you’re now standing in line with your shopping cart, ready to check out. Right before you start putting your items on the conveyor belt, a lady asks you to fill out a one-page form, which creates your store account. If that’s not annoying enough, because you’re either double-parked outside or have to pick up the kids from after-school or you just want to go home already, you’re only allowed to walk in to the store again after you put in your account access or log-in information at a computer located right at the front door of the supermarket. How frustrating does that sound?
Why is it that I love this Map Overlay report (in the Visitors section) in Google Analytics? Does it give me deep insights as to what my website visitors want? No. Can I measure Key Performance Indicators (KPI) off of it? No. Will it help me discover what keywords are performing well in my paid search campaigns, and which ones I should drop? No.
Is it really cool to play with and spend minute after minute…after minute…rolling over each city in each state in each country, and then zooming out and doing it again on another state or country? Yes, absolutely.
(Editors Note: I am not suggesting I am slacking off while at work. It is merely a hypothetical situation :))
There are a few things that you can do with the Map Overlay. Toward the top-right corner of the map, it should say “Visits”, with an arrow pointing down. Clicking on that will open a menu where you can change the metric that you’re currently viewing. So, instead of Visits, you can view the Bounce Rate, G1 Goal Conversion, or even Revenue, if you have Ecommerce Coding Enabled.
You can also change the detail level of the map. By default the Map Overlay shows you corresponding detail level (so, if you’re looking at the individual country level, your detail level will also be set at country). If you change this option to “city”, towards the bottom-left hand side of the page, directly below the actual map, you can get the very popular “chicken-pox” view of the map:
See how the fun just never ends? Maybe I just like Geography more than the average person, I don’t know. I think that everyone should think about what their favorite report or reports are, and think about why they are your favorites. I would say that the Map Overlay report is my favorite because of functionality and ingenuity. I’m probably not alone in feeling this way. Can you imagine a Google Analytics platform where more [important] reports were as cool to use and as friendly as this one?
Part of my job here at MoreVisibility is helping our clients with their current shopping cart systems. A lot of times, I analyze how they function and I look for certain things that could be improved upon. I do this from two angles simultaneously – from the “Web Intelligence” angle, where I really use data from Funnel Visualization and other types of Ecommerce reports, and then I use the “Common Sense, Everyday Shopper” angle, where I really use my personal experiences and gut feelings to explain what I’m seeing, or what I think will work best.
In the grand scheme of things, I’m a regular person, just like you. I shop online, I comparison shop, I used sites like SlickDeals.com to find cheap stuff, and I get frustrated and leave websites in a hissy fit of sorts when I don’t get my way. Yes, I’m very high-maintenance when it comes to online shopping.
So, let me share with you five tips for improving your current Shopping Cart / Ecommerce system that (in my opinion, of course) can improve your sales, conversion rates, and keep your customer’s blood-pressure as low as possible.
1. No, I don’t want to create an account – I just want to checkout.
My apologies for the harsh tone of that first point. However, this is sometimes how shoppers feel after they’ve clicked on the “Checkout” button of your shopping cart. Often times, instead of starting to fill out their billing and shipping information as they probably expect to, they are required to create an account, a username and a password, and in some cases, enter in the security question and the answer to it (The problem isn’t sometimes the answer to the security question – it’s remembering what security question you selected in the first place!). This can be frustrating, and it could lead to a quick exit off your website. Try experimenting with removing the “create an account” process from your website all together, or, if your system absolutely requires it, find a way to use the person’s first and last name as the username, creating it automatically for the shopper. Yes, I understand that you are doing this so that your returning visitors will have their information saved, or for a certain tracking system that you may have. Remember, a returning shopper has to be a new shopper first, so make it as easy as possible for them to buy that first time, then think about encouraging them to create an account later on.
As a last resort (if you absolutely cannot remove or move the “create account” function), add in a “guest” option that allows someone not to have to create an account first before purchasing something.
2. Show me the money!
Jerry McGuire was right. Don’t wait until the very end of the shopping cart process to tell me exactly how much I’m paying for shipping, tax, and other surcharges – I want to know what I’m paying right away. No-one likes hidden or surprise fees, especially as they have their credit card in their hand and waiting to type in those magical sixteen digits. If your cart does this, find a way to get it to calculate everything – especially shipping – within the “My Shopping Cart” page, before a user clicks on “Checkout”. List them as line-items, so that it is extremely clear what the full cost of everything is, including the breakdown of tax, shipping, and non-member fees. You may get a person to shop at your website and purchase something that first time, but this is something that is frustrating enough that the person may not come back again.
3. Cancel all page-refresh functions
OMG, I cannot even begin to tell you how frustrating this is for me. For example, I could be merrily filling out my address, city / state, zip code…only to see (and hear) the page refresh out of the blue, because I added in six digits to my zip code or my shipping charge is now higher than it was before, because I live in Florida as opposed to living in New York, sending me back to the very top of the page (and sometimes, erasing or clearing whatever information I already put in there in the first place). ERRRR!!! Please do your customers a great favor and find another alert system when they make a mistake. Have the system wait until they click on “Next” or “Continue” to tell them what went wrong (and, find a nice way to do it, in a nice language that doesn’t come accross as mean or over-bearing).
4. When I add an item to my cart, please take me to my cart
This is something that can be debated about for hours on end. For me, when I add an item to my shopping cart, I would like to be taken to the “My Shopping Cart” page, so that I can then checkout, change shipping options, or see how much the new Blu-Ray player that I probably don’t need but I can’t help myself from buying it will cost me. What I don’t like is when I add an item to my cart and the page simply refreshes, sending me back up to the top of the page. “Did I do something wrong?”, “Is the site broken or not working?”, or “What just happened?” are some of the things that I immediately say to myself when this happens. Sometimes, I don’t even notice the “1 item in your bag” text notice, tucked away in a small font in a remote corner of your product page. Sometimes, it could be too late – I’ve already left the site because I thought it was broken or just not working.
5. Fewer Pages + Fewer Distractions = Higher Conversion Rates
Finally, it’s about as simple as this formula. Give me one or two pages to fill out all of my information (including a summary of items purchased), cut out the “noise” that could be surrounding the shopping cart process (like far too much cross-selling, calls-to-action for subscribing to your newsletter, and other jazz), and chances are that you will simply sell more things and make more money, while keeping more people happy. The worst possible thing to do to a customer is to frustrate them, especially considering that they have the entire internet at their disposal, armed with dangerous things like back buttons and “X” buttons on their browsers. Keep it simple, easy, smooth, and hassle-free, and you will really increase the chances of selling profitably online.