Things that ruin E-Commerce
Drops at the shopping cart

It's well known that most " lost sales" in E-commerce, happen right at the shopping cart  according to the studies.
My own personal experiences and thoughts, here's a few reasons why.

No shipping information and cart shock:

Sticker shock at the cart end. 65% of all online consumers, according to the stats, bail out of a transaction and drop the shopping cart before the final purchase is made, because nobody likes surprises !

While a customer shops, they keep a running tally in their head of how much they are spending, much the same as they do while shopping in our brick and mortar cousins, while filling up their cart. But they already know how much extra they will pay in sales taxes for their state, and mentally add it.

For E-tail there are added shipping costs however, which varies. If they have no idea of your base line shipping costs prior to the checkout, it means a shock at the cart.  This can be even worse if this information is not revealed until AFTER they put in their credit card information or otherwise pay for the goods, which is typical of many cart set ups. You might make the one sale, but they may never trust you again.

Put the basic information on your shipping rates, in an easy to find location, so they have something to at least approximate it, and reduce the chance of cart shock, as the check out total and their mental tally will come closer to adding up.

Active Server Order Pages that don't work effectively:

Asp pages where the customer fills out a form, to make the final purchase at the cart, then hits the submit button only to be told there is an  "error please go back and correct " and they do, only to find all the information they put in, is gone !

This is easily corrected on most asp form pages, unlike many other forms, by telling it not to wipe the page until the session is complete, but its seldom done for " security" reasons. But what you are, telling your customer by this action is, " I don't care if you have to put everything back, because you missed one little thing." You are telling them their time is not valuable.

Recipe for a dropped shopping cart if I ever saw one ! The reason is a simple one, you have just wasted their time. Your average shopper is a busy person and the most oft repeated complaint is " I don't have time for this" and click goes the mouse, off to somewhere else.

Not telling the customer their payment options, before the sale, or forcing only one option at the cart:

I have said this before, but it bears repeating as massive amounts of money are lost daily in E-commerce due to this inflexibility. It is another major reason for Cart drop.

The sites that make the customer get all the way to the checkout before they say "Enter in your Credit Card Number" as the only option for payment. Which is not made clear right up front. Or only one kind of card is taken, or only ... you see the trend here ?

The customers answer ? Drop the cart.

A growing segment of the population does not depend on or even want to use a Credit card of any sort given identity theft. Whatever their options or limits for payment types, must be known upfront BEFORE  they get to the checkout line to avoid cart drop, as then they can make an informed choice.

Asking for too much information on the order form:

All too often the cart itself, attempts to get demographics on the buyer, age, race, gender etc. along with the order information. Most people find this excessive and intrusive. Again identity theft being foremost in their minds.

If you want demographics, get it somewhere else. Give them a reason to give you that information, have them fill out a survey for a 10% discount on their next order for example, but don't make it part of the buy process.

An almost instant cart drop of this sort is  " put in your Phone number please " seen on many shopping carts. The buyers first thought is, it's for tele-marketing. Others before you, have abused their trust on this matter. If email is good enough to make the order, then email should be good enough to contact them is the current thought. The buyer expects to give you only what you must have to ship them their goods and nothing more.

Making your first time customer log in to add things to the cart:

People like to fill up the cart, it's their wish list, they are comparison shopping, but you have stopped that behavior if you force a commitment to buy before they even begin, by a forced log in.

The prevalent thought is " what I have to give you my name and email and give myself a password to even comparison shop ? " That would be the same as having a doorman at the grocers ask you for your name , address and banking information at a store you have never been to, before they let you in the door. Which of course any reasonable person would resent.

E-tailers have to remember the same rules apply in web stores, as in the brick and mortar shops, which is where most of us formed our shopping habits. The confirm to buy, does not happen until they walk up with the shopping cart and the goods are rung up, Until then, they should have the option of taking things in and out of the cart at will, without hindrance or commitment.

Appearing to Gouge the customer on shipping rates, especially on inexpensive items with flat rate shipping:

The following example is true: The item cost $.99 cents, the item weight 1.05 oz. however, the shipping at the cart was $ 12.00 !

This is what can happen with flat rate shipping costs, which, for the rest of the goods on the site in question was reasonable, on this one item however, it failed miserably. 

Statistics show, customers will risk the least costly thing on the site, to put in the cart for their first tentative purchase. Shock them like this and they will not only drop the cart, they won't even attempt to look at the other goods you have. As they will assume, if the cheapest thing you have is that bad on shipping, the rest of your goods would be worse !

If you must do a flat rate or such a rate works for the rest of your goods, don't carry things that will create this massive disparity at the cart. As this extreme, but true, example would get the cart dropped like a hot rock ! ( or if you must, as you are a 3rd party vendor with a drop shipper, TELL the customer up front this is the case and why you HAVE to do it, and they are more likely to order a most costly item, or several of the smaller ones, to make it worth the shipping you are being forced to charge, due to your drop shipper )

It does not matter how often you say, the cost is only $.99 cents,  the fact is .. its not ... as the above shows the cost is $12.99. The buyer does not break down the cost of the goods VS  the cost of shipping, they see the total at the end of the tape ... that is the "price" ... period !

More shipping problems: The shipping is more than the single item itself legitimately even at cost and how to avoid Cart shock:

Now it's possible the shipping will be more than the item costs, if you are selling something costly per unit to ship due to odd shape or weight.  Single votive candles come to mind as an example, as such candles are several ounces, odd sized, easily damaged and can melt, all of which means they require special handling and packaging, but are typically very cheap per unit in price. There are many things just like it.

A better solution is to sell the " cheap " items that have high per unit shipping rates, in fixed lots, say 10 units minimum, then the ratio of goods to shipping costs, is more balanced, therefore less chance of cart drop.

Another option is raising the cost of the item, to be more than its shipping will be on one unit.

As with the prior example: Almost nothing will make a customer drop the cart faster than if the item costs more to ship, than the item itself is worth. They will find a local alternative instead.

Adding excess fixed rate shipping to out of the country sales, drops the cart:

It is a given it will cost more to ship outside the country of origin, than within it, but this is another area that has been much abused, mainly due to an attempt to fix a rate to cover all possibilities.

I tell all international orders to email me first before they order. I do this so I can compute exactly what it will cost them. I get letters every week from potential buyers who are almost afraid to ask me what the shipping will be. Why? Because they have been systematically gouged for it by other sellers who automatically tack on X amount for out of country, no matter what the real costs are.

It comes down to a simple fact, people can add. If you charge $15.00 extra shipping for out of the country which might cover the furthest it might have to go and be considered reasonable. But for closer in it arrives with $5.00 postage affixed, when they paid $15.00, well, what would you think ? You would feel ripped off of course, and so do they. So when they see this fixed rate, drop goes the cart. Even asking them to email you is risky, as they figure its so bad you don't want to post it, but it works better than over charging them a flat rate.

Charge what it really costs, on a case by case basis and not a penny more. And you will find a lot more repeat out of country buyers.

No Pricing Information so they are afraid to add to the cart:

The customer figures this way, there's no price listed on the items means " it's going to cost too much " and won't even ask, they just drop the cart empty and leave. It's no different than unmarked merchandise in your local store. They are afraid to add it to the cart as they don't know how much it will ring up. A perfectly reasonable thought on their part.

Always, always have a price, even if it must be a range for services they might pay, give them an idea at the very least.

The price on the site or at the cart, is less than it should be due to an error:

Say you, as the seller, make a mistake and undercharge for something at the site or the cart.

Most online E-tailers won't honor this mistake and challenge the buyer, whereas a brick and mortar shop will honor it and everybody knows it. Their are few of us who don't believe, that  " what the price tag or Ad says is what you pay ". We have truth in advertising laws in most states that demand this, even if the store posted it in error. We have all seen this, heard of it, or taken advantage of it.

Most E-tailers however, refuse to honor the sale, as complete. This is worse than cart drop on the part of the customer, as it's the seller who drops the cart, due to their failure to own up to their own error.

A better solution, is sell it at the price stated and take the loss and keep good customer relations. Then go correct the price at the cart.

It says X price on the site but they are charged MORE at the cart:
This one will not only cause cart drop, but if unchecked, will be the Kiss of Death for the site.

Mis leading sales pitches or specials that aren't, that cause cart drop. even though they are legal:

Tactics that will not only cause cart drop, they may lose you a customer for life. Example from my own life recently:

I  Wanted to buy X, went to major X seller. Noted a special " orders over $ 40.00 shipping is free" , which was plastered everywhere. Two hours of merry shopping later, hit the cart and was charged shipping on a 60.00 dollar order !  Come to find out, unless I shipped the order to a certain country, which I don't happen to live in, no free shipping !!

No where did it say on these notices of free shipping, "subject to limitations". beyond must total over $ 40.00

I was livid. This was massive cart shock, as it nearly doubled what I was expecting to pay. I wrote the company. The company defended this action saying " it says right under all the notices of free shipping, see details "

I went back to look. Even told it was there, I still had a hard time finding it. Why ? Because it was in a font size one would need a magnifying glass to see, no link color unless you hovered the mouse over it and the font color nearly matched the background ... all to make sure you didn't notice it.

Which made it perfectly clear they did this, knowing full well what impression it gave .. which is exactly the one they intended. That you would fill up the cart thinking you were getting a bargain and would buy the lot anyway, once you found that the " special " didn't apply to you. Making it sound like it was your own fault for not noticing the "see details" link, if you complain of it, even though they did everything possible to make sure you didn't see it.

I told them what they could do with their dance around the truth, even if its legal.

I will never shop there again and up to now, have been on my way to being a regular customer ..

This sort of bait and switch with the " fine print" is a very old abuse of the buyer to the point of being cliché and your customer will react most strongly. They will not only drop the cart, they will most likely drop you from their list of places to go ... permanently !

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