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Anybody with a shopping cart should ask a NON-tech-savvy friend to 'buy' something from his/her site.
Watch over their shoulder. Watch them agonize over the hoops they have to jump thru blindfolded.
Don't help, just watch. Don't say "you were supposed to click here! -or- You need to do this first".
How are your customers supposed to know that in your absense? -Larry
Ask them questions, like, what are the shipping rates, whats the return policy, do they (we, you) sell this specific product.
Don't show them how, but ask them to do specific things, then watch them try to find them. keep and eye on mouse movements. the mouse moves almost as fast as th eye sometimes, and can give you clues to where they look.
It helps a TON! have at least 5-20 people do this seperatly. (don't let them watch each other.)
You might be supprised how difficult you fancy navigation is. I have been.
Can anybody direct me to studies/resaerch on the shopping cart process? for common mistakes to avoid and for consumer trends behavior...
We are currently designing the shopping system for a client and for that I research the cart process. I see numbers of 5-6% conversion (is that 94-95% cart abandonment...?) for big ecommerce websites.
I think conversion & shopping cart abandonment are different. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think conversion is the percentage of people who buy when they visit the site (i.e. 1% conversion is 1 person buying from 100 people who actually visit the site).
People who put things in the cart and then decide not to buy do not get counted in the conversion rate.
If this is what you are talking about, then 72% abandonment is quite bad, IMO.
Do you have shipping estimates in your cart? If not, it could be that people wonder how much shipping is, and begin the checkout to find out because they have no other way to do it.
5-6% overall conversion is quite good if you are talking visitors/sales.
25% is TERRIBLE if you are talking about people who actually begin to fill in the form but do not successfully finish the checkout. This is after they move on from the cart page to the login/checkout. Should be 80-90% at least.
Most sites have long cumbersome processes. 5+ steps sometimes 10!
My advice is keep it as simple as possible
Don't send people to more pages if you don't have to. If there is only one shipping method why have a 'choose shipping' page. Why ask for a password to create an account unless it is ABSOLUTELY necessary.
The list goes on and on. Also make it clear to the customer how far along in the process they are so they can see the end.
Also on the Confirmation Page make sure it is clear that THEY ARE NOT DONE! Many customers thing ok... I put my cc in, I see my products, everything looks right, I must be done... And close the window.
FWIW I'm pretty sure that my process abandonment rate was less than 10% when I checked a few months ago. My process is 2 pages long. I have no confirmation page.