Studies Show Shopping Cart Abandonment Rates Still High – But Why?

Tue, Jul 6, 2010

Business Tactics

I caught an interesting article over at MarketingPilgrim about some reports following the rates of abandonment from online shopping carts. This is of interest to anyone who wants to do business online, and it certainly raises questions about the value of online sales.

So let’s have a look at two studies quoted. The data was drawn from eConsultantcy Reports and came from a wide range of sources, but the article focused on two studies specifically.

One study by Forrester was quoted as stating that 88% of consumers had left shopping carts in the dust before, and they gave the top 5 reasons customers often abandoned a website shopping cart. Here’s the data presented:

  1. High shipping costs – 44%
  2. Not ready to purchase – 41%
  3. Price checking – 27%
  4. Price too high – 25%
  5. Wanted to save products for later – 24%

A second survey by Webcredible gave another picture.

  1. Hidden Charges at Checkout – 41%
  2. Having to Register to Buy – 29%

Other reasons in the Webcredible study included a long process for checking out, unclear delivery details, and no phone number provided, but each of these reasons constituted only about 10% of the abandon rate.

So let’s have a look at these different data.

First off, it comes to no surprise as me that high shipping costs or hidden charges led to abandonment. In fact, I find it extremely annoying that so many internet marketers make you wait until you check out to see a price – does that even make any sense at all?

That phenomenon also leads to the “not ready to purchase”, the “price checking” crowd, and the “prices too high” in the Forrester study. Not to mention the 41% responding to hidden charges in Study 2.

So the real question is, why are marketers continuing to do this? Well, the ones who do must be convinced that getting more people to their shopping cart will mean more sales, regardless of why they are there. The thinking here is understandable, but I think flawed.

For one thing, by building up a sense of distrust with your customer, you make it much less likely they’ll buy. Think about how you feel when you click all the way through just to find out how much a product is and find out it is exceptionally high, or you click through just to be surprised with an extra charge, almost as if it were being “snuck in” there? Do you feel like buying from that person?

I think it’s best to just get it out in the open immediately. Make it clear how much your product costs and all charges involved so there are no surprises. Your customers won’t feel like they’re trying to dupe them, and you’ll get a much better idea of where your losing the prospect’s interest and why because if it’s out of their price range they won’t go clicking away just to find out.

Not to mention that I can personally confirm having left web pages simply because I saw no price…sometimes because I assumed the worse and other times because I didn’t feel like wading through a shopping cart for possibly no reason at all.

How about the other reasons given? Well the first study mentioned that consumers’ wanted to save the product for later, which makes it that much more essential to get their email address and stay in contact with them; however, if we look at Study 2, we can see that a lot of people detested the thought that they were being forced to register before a purchase.

It’s a bit of a contradiction of interests. Obviously, if you were in a store, you would say, “Great, you’re ready to buy – don’t worry about the registration for now then, and if you want to sign up for updates later, here are our details.”

But an online site is a bit too static to make those decisions for us. Still, you can make up for it by not forcing anything on your customers. They’ve got so many passwords and accounts spread across the Internet, the last thing they want is more – but if you make a COMPELLING enough reason for them to register, they will.
But don’t make that reason be the right to buy your product or you just might lose a sale. Make it optional, and make it attractive whether they buy or not.

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This post was written by:

Jonatas Leonel - who has written 19 posts on SEO Blog | SEO Marketing World.