Why are people abandoning my shopping cart?

- June 2, 2008

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?

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