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Abandoned Shopping Carts: Enigma or Sloppy E-Commerce?

People don’t abandon shopping carts without a good reason. And the
phenomenon of the abandoned shopping cart – this blight upon the Internet
retail landscape – is not merely a wayward hobby or Internet prank or
something hackers do in their down time. These are real shoppers, potential
customers with products in hand, evaporating before your very eyes.

Statistics indicate that over 60% of online shoppers abscond before
completing an online transaction. Some sites report a 90% consumer
etherization rate after a product has been selected for purchase. What’s
going on? What’s giving these people the shakes? Did Bob the web designer
forget to include the “Buy Now” button?

The fact is, there is no single trigger for the abandoned shopping cart
phenomenon. Rather, there seem to be several impacted causes – many of them
obvious. But even after we eliminate the obvious, there are other more
insidious website factors and e-commerce influences that can initiate
consumer trepidation or the dreaded shopping cart ‘panic reaction’.

Let’s start with the obvious. Imagine you are shopping online and have
selected an item. It’s in the cart. But now you need to log in or get a
password or fill out interminable forms or confront required fields for
seemingly irrelevant personal data or you may not even understand what the
procedure is and there are no instructions, help features, or telephone
numbers to get you through the transaction.

…Or the item in your cart is an impulse buy. By the time you get through
this maze, you ask yourself if you really, really need this particular item.
Doubt sinks in. You get shopping cart remorse. Or you smell the toast
burning. Or the coffee buzz begins to wane.

…Or you select a product but then there are these questions, these
important, lingering questions you need answered about product
specifications or shipping. There’s nothing in the FAQ, not enough in
Features and Benefits. Product’s there, in the cart, but you really need
these questions answered, you need to be reassured, and there is no one to
talk to, no communications interface, no support number, and the customer
service email contact is ten web pages back, somewhere in the About Us
section.

…Or it’s time to submit your credit card data and you realize that you are
on a un-secured, non-SSL order page. No https, no encryption, no security,
certainly no real-time authorization, and no concern for the safety of your
personal data.

Whatever the cause – technical, obstacle, or communicational – you bolt. You
have abandoned the shopping cart. And as you can see, these all-too-common
shopping cart protocols have instantly become barriers between your desire
to buy, the actual process of buying, and reaching the past tense bought.

That’s the obvious side of shopping cart abandonment. The solutions:
simplify the protocols, shorten the forms, eliminate password log-in or make
it optional, highlight customer support numbers, offer clear navigational
paths to your FAQ, Features and Benefits pages, include shipping details,
and use state-of-the-art payment processing with SSL security.

Now let’s look at the less obvious reasons for your customers to take wing:

Sometimes it’s the technical components of the shopping cart itself that
turn your customers away. Many of these widely available “free” shopping
carts do not have the capacity to be customized or fail to provide product
attribute options like color, size, quantity etc. When consumer choice is
restricted, consumers bail. “Free” or “Cheap” sure sounds nice – until you
find out that your customers think your shopping cart ain’t the cat’s meow.
Then they vote with their feet.

Additionally, a low quality shopping cart – or a poorly designed catalog
interface – will undermine your online credibility instantly, even if your
homepage looks professional.

And that’s the main problem with these newer stopgap payment processing
solutions, where you basically send your customer off-site and off-world to
some generic shopping cart or order page. These solutions look low-tech and
that makes them high-risk for shopping cart abandonment.

More than that, you can’t work with design or attribute options. No logo or
company identity. No familiar color layout or navigation bar. Primitive
e-commerce. And to make things worse, besides scaring most of your customers
away, these types of payment processors will probably take a nice percentage
out of your proceeds.

The point is, if you do e-commerce the right way, intelligently and
seriously, you will radically decrease the rate of shopping cart abandonment
on your site. Full-featured shopping carts that integrate seamlessly with
website design, that simplify the buying procedure, that function
intuitively, that are streamlined for sales, that signal secure,
state-of-the-art e-commerce – all this will help you close the deal.

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