Why do shoppers abandon my on-line store?

Your store may be experiencing "store abandonment". Visitors start the ordering process, and then abandon it. There are several reasons why this might be happening. Some you can fix easily, others you cannot stop but might be able to minimize. The main reasons are: 

Shipping costs too high - Often shoppers do not find out what the shipping costs are until they start to check out. Then they discover that the shipping is going to be as much as the product itself, so they leave your store in mid ordering. Some ways to stop this is to tell shoppers upfront how the shipping will be determined. Is it based on individual products, the total of the order, or the total weight? A great way to get people to try your product is to offer them free shipping.

Site is slow to respond - This holds true for any site, be it e-commerce or a simple static site. Make sure that your pages download quickly. You can control some of this by limiting the size of the graphics you use, avoiding needless plug-ins such as Flash or background sound, and avoiding banner ads from other sites. If you do all of these things and are still experiencing slow downloads, then contact your hosting provider to find out why. If they can’t fix it, find a better provider. This is a classic case of "you get what you pay for"... you are not going to get Amazon.com performance out of a $10.00 per month hosting service.

Lack of trust  - The biggest hurdle you have to overcome is the trust factor. Online shoppers are asking themselves several questions; Will my product arrive as described? Will my credit card number be safe? What if I don’t like the product, can I get my money back? You have to answer these questions right at the start and convince them it is safe to order from you.  Click here for ideas to make your site trustworthy.  

Non secure ordering -  Web shoppers are becoming smarter and will no longer type their credit card number on a form that is not secure. Put them at ease right away and tell them you offer secure shopping right on your home or store front page.

Unclear privacy policy - You should have a statement on your site saying what you will do with the personal information you are collecting. Shoppers don’t want you to sell their name to other companies and be bombarded with even more telemarketers or spam. Let them know that the information is for your uses only and that you will not sell or give the information to another company.  

Ease of shopping around - Unlike driving around town to find the best value, shoppers can use their mouse button to shop around. Many people have no intention of buying your product, but are simply price shopping. Once they learn the price, they leave your store often to buy the product locally. The only way to combat this is to offer the best price you can and sell them on your service and the convenience of ordering on-line.  

Unanswered questions about product/service - After reading your website or product descriptions, the shopper still doesn’t understand all the features. When designing your site, keep two things in mind. One, that the shopper cannot pick up the product and feel it. You need to include pictures, sometimes several, and a very clear description. Two, in the descriptions, describe EVERYTHING in terms that are easy to visualize. Assume your client has never seen your product and has no idea what it does. It is far better to give too much information then not enough. 

Shopper gets confused - This happens at stores that offer hundreds or thousands of products. The owner wanted to put everything in the store, but didn’t take the time to follow how the site flows. As people click links within your site they are taken to other pages and then other pages, and then still more pages. Soon they don’t remember what they were looking for and can’t find their way back to the "home" page. On every page of your site and store have a link to the home and contact pages. This way shoppers can start again or call for help. You may want to break your store into two or three smaller stores.   

Ordering process is too complicated - If your online store is too hard for people to use they will leave. They don’t want to have to sign in or search for the "checkout" button. One of the reasons they are buying online is to save time.   

Loss of Internet connection - This is one thing you cannot control. They may lose their electricity or their Internet connection. This of course stops the ordering process. Unfortunately most of the time people don’t come back to your site. Either they forgot where they were or they lost interest in buying the item. The best thing to do is make yourself memorable so that they will come back.  

Their credit card type is not accepted - The shopper has decided to purchase your item, they start the ordering process only to discover that you only accept Master Card and Visa and not American Express. So they abandon the order. What can you? Well, you could accept all the possible cards or if you don’t want to do that, then clearly say on your home and store front pages what cards you do accept.  

Credit Card is rejected - This is another reason that you can’t really control. A credit card could be rejected for several reasons. It could be stolen, they typed in the wrong credit card number or expiration date, or there was a glitch in the system. The best way to deal with this is to remind the shopper to carefully type in their information and to check it before completing order.  

Needless questions as part of ordering process - This is a pet peeve of mine. I am just about to complete an order and I get bombarded with pop-up windows. One asking me how my experience was, one telling me of a special offer, one is an ad for a related product, etc. I get enough pop-up windows just surfing the Web... I don’t need them when placing an order. Having a pop-up window letting me know of a special on a product related to what I just purchased is a good idea. For example: If you are selling go karts, have a helmet pop-up. For surveys, send an email thanking them for their order and ask them to complete the survey located at (give URL). Offer an incentive. Maybe a discount on their next order or enter them into a drawing.  

Testing a Stolen Credit Card - This is a growing problem and is costing online merchants money, and at this time there isn’t anything you can do about it. What people are doing is stealing a credit card then going to an online store and placing an order but they never finalize the order. All they are doing is seeing if the credit card is still good. They then take it to stores to purchase items.

January 1, 2002

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