If you read my post on page load times, you may already be privy to the understanding that there are a myriad of factors that can negatively affect the experience of your users. With eCommerce websites these minor idiosyncracies and headaches can pile up quickly, and given how notriously fickle web users are, this can invariably affect the bottom-line by driving them (and their dollars) away from your site.
For a number of companies, online shopping carts have "quick buck" appeal because they represent the ability to sell products to a wide-audience with minimal overhead and support. But this simplistic understanding is what kills many small eComm sites and hinders much larger operations. The fact of the matter is that good, successful eCommerce sites are more than databases filled with products; they're service-oriented experiences that are designed from the ground-up to minimize frustration, remove needless steps, and maximize consumer visibility.
So what does this all mean? A lot, actually. Conservative estimates claim that the average cart abandonment rate hovers somewhere around 59.8%. That 59.8% figure represents users who have added something to a cart, dropped out of a site and never came back. Having a cart abandonment rate sit at that level across a 11,000-site sample speaks to a larger systemic problem in the way eComm sites have been handeled up to this point; poor design choices, poor management, poor direction.
Below are some of high-level issues to be mindful of when thinking about your online store.
Problem #1: Minimize Frustration
Good carts don't anger consumers or try their patience. While many would see this as a "no, duh" insight, it's not the prinicple itself that people have a hard time understanding; it's the execution.
One of the most common examples of poor execution is the boiler-plate checkout process. For users it's long, arduous, and loaded with potential pitfalls. Worst of all, users who get frustrated during the checkout process are users who have already decided that they want to give you their money. When you have people who are ready and willing to throw their money at you, making their lives difficult is the last thing you want to do.
So how do eComm sites get it wrong? If the shortest distance between any two points is a straight line, then most checkout processes are winding, branching roads. Between pushing users down a different path by forcing them to register an account to making them navigate through page-after-page-after-page of forms, standard checkout processes do a horrible job of providing clarity and keeping the customer motivated.
The ideal checkout process requires no more than two pages; one page being devoted to information gathering and user assessment, and the second page acting as a speedbump for confirmation purposes.
|In the left column are all of the cart items, |
in the right column is the checkout form.
Now was that so hard?