E-Commerce Link: Boost Customer Experience
3. The Transparent Shopping Cart
With cart abandonment rates continuing to hover above 50 percent—and with shoppers ever more ruthless in their search for bargains online—it’s important to be transparent about the total order cost. Add calculators to the shopping cart so shoppers can see estimated shipping and tax charges right away, rather than on the last page of checkout.
Merchants also should ensure the shopping cart provides all the information shoppers need to complete the purchase, including: a link to detailed information about shipping options, delivery time frames and costs; customer service contact information; a link to product guarantee and return information; and certification logos.
4. Smooth Checkout
Although there’s much hand-wringing over the optimal number of checkout steps, research shows a logical flow matters more than the number of pages. But there’s one notable no-no: forced registration. Past MarketLive Performance Index data found that forced registration upped abandonment by 143 percent.
Beyond allowing shoppers to check out as guests, merchants should provide intuitive, customer-friendly error messaging and consider alternative payments. Services to consider include: PayPal and Google Checkout, along with BillMeLater, an instant credit mechanism allowing shoppers to defer payment—a helpful alternative for cash-crunched consumers.
5. Bolster Site Availability
Before shoppers can fall in love with your site, they have to be able to access it in the first place. And they expect sites to be faster than ever. While a 2006 Jupiter Research study found that browsers abandon sites that fail to load within four seconds, a November 2008 survey from Aberdeen Group found that a delay of even one second caused a drop of 7 percent in conversion.
The upshot: Merchants continually must assess site availability and performance, understand the impact of new features and functionality, and consider distributed asset hosting with vendors, such as Akamai, if performance dips.
Regardless of which projects top your priority list, measuring the results of improvements is crucial. Maximize use of your analytics platform to track performance of every promotion and project. By focusing on discrete improvements that enhance the customer experience, merchants can provide measurable proof that e-commerce remains a winner—not only for 2009, but for the long term.
Ken Burke is the chairman, founder and chief evangelist of MarketLive Inc., an e-commerce technology services provider based in Petaluma, Calif. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.marketlive.com/sitereview.