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What percentage of visitors actually put something in a shopping cart

Statistics on shopping cart useage.

     

lgn

12:55 am on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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We have a well designed shopping cart interface, and if somebody actually puts something in the cart, half of them make it to the checkout.

What bothers me is that only 3-4% of people ever bothers putting something in the cart.

Thats 96% of people who are just browsing. In a retail store, if 19 out of 20 people walked out without a purchase, that would be pretty dismal.

We have a wide range of selection, and is very competitive, so im quite surprized that our level of just browsing is so high.

Has anybody else noticed these statistics,in the retail ecommerce trade?

lgn

2:51 am on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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One thing we are thinking of adding is storing the shopping cart in a database for future access. Right now, we dump the shopping cart after 12 hours (We don't use cookies and we store the shopping carts on our server).

With so many people browsing, I wonder how many gets ticked off, when they find that the cart is gone after 12 hours.

You don't expect your cart to be around after 12 hours at Walmart, but maybe people expect it to be around forever on the web.

3:54 am on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I'm not in the business business - my own sites are all non-commercial. But I do buy a lot of things online. My only recommendation is don't overestimate the usability of your site - you and your customers may have different perceptions, like I did of this one, which clearly cost a lot of money to produce:

[webmasterworld.com...]

5:54 am on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Great thread, lot's of good points. :)

The way i see it is when people begin the actual ordering process (as opposed to just browsing) their anxiety level increases and they start to look for reasons NOT to buy. So obviously you need to address every doubt and reservation they may have. And to reassure them every step of the way.

One un-answered question I see alot is what will happen when I click the submit button? -- Will I get a confirmation page first or does it just charge my card? Will I get a receipt? What happens next? What if there is a problem?

gsx

11:01 am on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I think people do more comparison shopping in the internet than brick & mortar businesses.

It much easier to check twenty prices from twenty suppliers online than offline. I would always expect a conversion rate to be lower in e-commerce.

For example, I needed to buy a new power supply yesterday - urgently - I rang one supplier who had the one I wanted in stock - I travelled there and paid by credit card (I had no cash or cheque book with me). They wanted an extra 2% if I paid by card. I bought it. If an e-commerce site wanted an extra 2%, I would have immediately gone elsewhere - because it doesn't take long - but in the real world, I would have to travel to find other computer shops for this item.

1:15 pm on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Well, explain this scenario. I have never bought something from the Walmart website but I have never walked out of the Walmart store without buying something.
2:10 pm on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I "abandon" shopping carts often. The reason being, many merchants don't tell you upfront or give you a way to find out upfront what the shipping costs will be - even an estimate would be better than nothing. The only way to find out is to load your cart & check the total.

I think another factor is people just being curious. I have lots of "orders" that have "asdf" as every entry. Who the people are who have the time to waste doing that, I don't know, but they're out there. :-)

2:22 pm on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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"I have lots of "orders" that have "asdf" as every entry. Who the people are who have the time to waste doing that, I don't know, but they're out there. :-)"

Hey, that's me! I check out my competitors' sites all the time. I also try out various cart software schemes. My son, Qwerty, sometimes does too.

gsx

2:51 pm on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Hey, I get loads of orders from 'asdf' as well! He never pays :)
5:17 pm on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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what will happen when I click the submit button?

Clicking on our order submit button:

(1) Displays a printable(print button) thank you page with all details of order. Also a note stating that a confirmation e-mail has been sent.

(2) Confirmation e-mail with all order details sent automatically to customer. We do not process any order where this confirmation e-mail is returned to us as undeliverable.

We state on the order form next to the e-mail entry:
"All orders are confirmed by e-mail. If e-mail is returned to us as undeliverable, we will not process your order."
When bona fide customers read this they make extra sure the e-mail address is correct.

Orders where the e-mail is undeliverable are set aside. We attempt to reach these customers by phone to confirm the purchase and get the correct e-mail address. If this attempt fails, the order is cancelled.

(3) Copy of order is sent to our own e-mail address.

(4) Order database is loaded with customer info.

All the above is done automatically from a sendorder.php page which is the form action of the submit button.

Our shopping carts are Javascript and we use session cookies to collect product info. The Javascript cart is faster and, for the customer, more secure as all processing is done on their computer. All validation of order fields including email address, phone numbers, credit card numbers, etc. is done using Javascript rather than dog slow "back and forth to the server" validation as with CGI/Perl carts. We test for cookies and Javascript on product pages with an alert if they try to add an item in the cart without them enabled.

In another database we collect customer info from those who click off during the checkout process. We try to analyze from where they clicked off (determined by the data collected to that point) why they dropped off. We look at the products they ordered to see if they are priced competitively aginst others offering the same. We add their e-mail address to a special list offering a special discount coupon.

There's a lot more we do but that above gives you an idea how concerned and focused we are on customer conversions.

6:15 pm on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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what will happen when I click the submit button?

Thanks Nell, but what I meant is that this is a question that customers have as they use the cart. Along side my submit buttons I say things like "clicking the button below will take you to the payment form. Your information will be encrypted and sent using a secure connection".

And then below the final submit button: "after pressing submit your card will be charged for $xxx.xx ... for your protection all data is encrypted, blah blah... next page will display a receipt blah blah... if you have any question you can contact us at blah blah... you will receive your product within blah blah... your info is kept confidential blah blah..."

It seems like a lot of info, but this point in the sales process I believe people DO read, and very carefully.

6:38 pm on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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We also use Javascript to limit one click of the submit button. This prevents double orders and resulting customer concerns over double charging.

Also a phone number next to the submit button with a statement "if you have any problems or questions with your order please call toll-free XXXXX"

We have a link on the home page to an "ordering" page. On this page we have links to 4 other brief standard forms.
(1) Order Cancellation Form
(2) Item Return Form
(3) Item Exchange Form
(4) Billing Inquiry Form

After customers read this they feel more comfortable about ordering. On our customer service page we have a simple real time clock with the time displayed. A statement says

"If the time on this clock is between 10am and 9pm M-F a customer service representative is available at toll-free XXX to take your order or answer any questions you may have."

This makes it easy for people in different time zones to know when customer service people are available without having to make calculations or calling only to find you are closed.

9:50 pm on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Online, it's easy to compare prices.
Just open a few browsers and add products to the cart from a few different stores to compare totals.

Also, no personal interaction between customers and sales people.

Our retail customers need this: They want to know, what's the best protein bar or this or that.

If your online store can integrate some kind of interaction between customers and sales people or if you know the type of questions or concerns the customers have, try to address these issues right away.

Most products on the market today are complicated.

When's the last time you just walked into a store and didn't need help?

10:30 pm on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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1. I offer live 24 hr. help through online chat button and through a toll free no. This is displayed on every one of my 18,000 pages

2. Mine is not the sort of product that people dump in a shopping cart to compare prices, they see the total price upfront and then have to fill the receiver's details before add to cart.

3. I am caculating my conversion ratio including abandoned carts. Shopping cart abandonment is a seperate analysis, which I posted in an earlier message in this thread.

4. Vast majority of my traffic is through search engines and niche keywords.

I still have a conversion ratio of just 3% :(

I am puzzled, people are typing in Christmas Widgets Texas Delivery, and coming to my deep page, which is full of competitively priced Christmas Widgets for Texas delivery...yet I fail to get more than a 3% conversion.

I am going to try out some of the suggestions posted here on Monday (already have tech team implementing them), and will report back during the week to see if anything has improved. Stay tuned folks!

10:45 pm on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Is there some way to get the customers to tell you why they’re not buying?

Maybe some kind of gift for filling out a survey.

10:54 pm on Jan 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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One of our most visited pages is the "FAQ/Order Information page".

Make sure it's well written with ALL policies, shipping charts (times and cost), security info, etc.

5:10 am on Jan 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Good thread. Thought I would offer our %'s.

2.5% of all visitors buy
35% of those who put something in the cart buy.

I would think you need to filter out the single hit sessions from the rest. Alot of the single hits are either spiders or someone who landed on your site inadvertantly. How many times when searching do you land on a site and say, nope, that's not it.

9:35 pm on Jan 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Excellent thread!
Two things we also look ar are how many of the baskets people start are actually checked out (60-65%) and how many people complete the transaction after putting in a credit card number (80-85%) these are the people we lost but shouldn't have. We tell you shipping charges in your basket and tax charges if you provide us with a zip code.
10:37 pm on Jan 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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2%

1 of 5 try, try to shoplift in store:(

Hmm, 1 out of 75 or so orders are fraudulent.

lgn

2:50 am on Jan 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

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We put a few impediments as possible in accepting a credit card number. As long as the customer gives us a phone number or email address, we will take their credit card number.

About one out of a hundred people actually trys checking out with an empty cart. (try to figure).

We phone them up or email them and say, you sent us an empty cart, what did you mean to order.

With the high speed internet, I find customers are really not watching what they are doing (ie deleting and adding items quickly and not waiting for the full refresh before going to the order screen, etc). { Gee, I didn't think I deleted that}

Order form validation, makes it difficult for the customer to complete the transaction. They may even say, did I really want to buy that. Trust me, you don't want to break that buy-buy-buy train of thought.

3:24 pm on Jan 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I did some more research on this.

Here is what I found:

Average conversion rates would look something like this:
===========
Paid advertising .3 - .5%
Banner ads .5 - 1.5%
Search engines 1 - 2%
Product recommendations / buy alerts 1 - 3%
Personal endorsements / testimonials 3 - 8%
===========

If you are getting 3 - 4% from your visitors, your web site is doing a good job.

We do about 4%.

I personally feel we can do better. I think it has a lot to do with copy write also.

You may want to get an expert copy write person to review your website and order process.

Somebody really good will probable cost BIG bucks, but it may be worth it.

3:47 pm on Jan 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

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We decided at the very beginning to offer free shipping on all orders and quick delivery. We do not discount our price, ever. I think that this has something to do with our high conversion rates. A lot of would be buyers abandon their shopping carts(at other sites) when they see how much freight will add to their purchase.Sticker shock.
8:55 pm on Jan 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Hi, thought I'd let you all know that we are 3 days into our new cookie free shopping cart and we are seeing a significant drop in aborted orders.

Will post further in a week to let you know how substantive the gains are.

8:58 am on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Namaste,

What are you doing in place of using cookies? Are you including identifying information in the URL?

That's how I originally wrote one shopping cart, but I don't think it would be Google/Froogle friendly.

What technique is used to make a shopping cart Google/Froogle friendly while avoiding cookies?

9:04 am on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I think a website's conversion rate is going to depend on the type of product being sold. For instance, a site selling items that are $1,000 each are going to have fewer conversions than a site selling items that are $10 each, because people probably do more research for the $1,000 item than they would for a $10 item (which is more of an impulse buy).

I've noticed the conversion rates noted in this thread are between 2% and 6%. What types of products are your sites selling? High/Low dollar? High/Low profit margins? And do your conversion rates tend to vary from other sites that sell higher- or lower-dollar products simply because of the price ranges or types of products?

8:38 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Nick, we are using a combination of 6 factors like I.P., Browser Type, etc. and writing these to the database. This does not pose any problems with Google. You should be able to find more on this via Site Search here on Webmaster World.
9:06 pm on Jan 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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new cookie free shopping cart and we are seeing a significant drop in aborted orders.

But are you seeing a significant increase in completed orders? Is there a direct correlation for you that tranlates as "No cookies=higher sales", or is it just "No cookies=fewer abandoned carts"?

Interesting thread...

8:03 pm on Jan 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

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10 days into the cookie free shopping cart and I am definetly seeing a significantly higher degree of completed orders.

We have now identified yet another area that is causing shopping carts to be abonded: javascript disabled. Apparently many banks' and high security administrators disable the javascript on employees browsers. With paranoia on security growing, I see steps like these increasing. We are now working on making our shopping cart javascript free. Will let all know how that progresses.

4:35 am on Jan 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I think everyone is enjoying this thread and exactly what WebmasterWorld is here to provide :)

Cookies and js give your customers the ability to disable the cart, unknowingly. I stick to server side functionality but the one downside is the inability to save the cart automatically for the customer unless you ask for personal info before they put items in the cart, which I oppose.

Another issue I've seen recently: Just a few problems with AOL's parental controls that, if set too high, disable transition from HTTP to HTTPS and the session drops when proceeding to checkout. Maybe it changes session state, haven't investigated too deep.

Along with a younger generation, I also cater to an older age demographic (lot's of AOL users) who are nervous about putting their cc information on the internet and lock down the parental privacy to the max at first. I just treat them like family and now they're regular customers ;)

Goctobert

6:30 pm on Feb 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

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People shopping in a store are a captive audience.

Online is very very different- the phone rings, a college or family member walks in, IMs pop-up, e-mail, the radio, TV and even the weather can distract.

Distraction is normal, the problem then becomes how to provide the user the rapid means to bring them back to the buy page.

Of course the clever website owner could use a bookmark injection software product link my Linkzilla product and know that end users have a permanent embedded invitation to return to their store and not htt://www.yoursite.com/store/cart/dsfhfr983428hklkjfsdkjrewi.htm
try it: www.netjumper.com/officedepot.htm

Gil Borman

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