Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from

Forum Moderators: buckworks

Message Too Old, No Replies

What percentage of visitors actually put something in a shopping cart

Statistics on shopping cart useage.



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

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?


1:17 am on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have been looking at just those stats today. For me it looks like about 5% that enter the shopping cart finish with a sale. I agree if it were a store front it would be a dismal percentage, but I suspect online shopping is a lot different then walking into a storefront.


1:23 am on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Just by it's very design, shopping carts scare away customers. If you think about it, who in their right mind would just blindly fill a cart with goods without checking elsewhere for better deals? Perhaps if you had a condition where you refunded the difference if a better price was found elsewhere within 90 days or so.

I read last year where tonns of people mindlessly fill carts with all sorts of wishful gifts and then never checkout. I believe this is because they're just window shopping and would really have to investigate all sorts of shops for the best deal.

Another option would be just a single-item purchase with a 90 day guarantee if a better price was found elsewhere.


3:54 am on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

We run retail stores and a successful web operation. About 75% of the people who enter our stores make a purchase, but less than 2% of online visitors do. Yes, I often ruminate on those 98% who don't buy, but I think the 1 per 50 ratio is *about* right for what we sell.

Our website costs far less than a mall store and our site gets FAR more visitors. Just getting to a brick/mortar store filters out many tire kickers. If the store is in a busy regional megamall, some stores--those offering non-necessities--get many visitors per sale. How many kids walk into a pet store just to see the puppies?

According to a survey of many large e-commerce sites about two years ago, 1.8% of site visitors buy something. There would be something very wrong with an e-commerce sporting goods store (for example) that sold to 75% of the visitors.
First, I'd think their prices had to be ridiculously low!

A problem with many commerce sites is the hapless shopper must go through the cart process in order to learn: 1) Where the retailer will ship; 2) What the shipping rates are.

It's beyond me why so many sites don't include such key info in their FAQs!


9:19 am on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We see about 1-2% sell thru depending on the time of year. We sell our own product line and also try and direct the customers to our dealers. I think our dealers get the bulk of the business from the browsers.


10:43 am on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>>In a retail store, if 19 out of 20 people walked out without a purchase, that would be pretty dismal<<
Just keep in mind, that online the competition is just a click away, whereas in the real world, someone entering your store has to go/drive to the next store for comparing prices/services.
Although the use of the net has increased and last shopping season was beyond expectations, the net still is most often used for gathering information and not for doing transactions.

About being scared away by shopping carts, it would help to make statements about availability, delivery times and shipping fees before the click. So the user doesn't get surprised when goods are in the cart and she wants to check out.


11:30 am on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi all! We have a rate of 2 - 4 % making a purchase. Over the years I have found that the biggest impact to make this percent bigger has to do with visual design, trustworthy appearance, clear pricing + shipping, fast customer service and fast delivery not so much the price. ( And I know we are no.1 in online sales in Finland for the products we sell )


11:38 am on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

The original poster made an interesting observation. He found that 50% of people entering his shopping card completed the purchase, but only 3-4% actually got to the cart on the first place. This means he has a similar 2% success rate.

Surely the trick here is to not CALL it a shopping cart? Most people only buy one product online - not a cart full. So - why not have a product page that just says "give it to me now" and then go to a single checkout form.

Just checking one of our sites for yesterday that does this (sort of):
Murder mystery games site - 319 uniques yesterday, 11 sales = 3.4% conversion.

Not bad it seems.


1:22 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

As someone who makes purchases on the net often I know that I like to see all the charges up front. I don't like to enter all my personal info in just to find out the the shipping charges are way too high. When I can enter my area code and get shipping / handling charges up front and see my total purchase price(with shipping) I am more likely to complete the sale.

I suspect there are many others, who like me, place items in the cart and go to checkout to find out the total price(including shipping and handling) but abandon the purchase when personal info is required to move further or get the full cost with shipping.


1:24 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I think cart abandonment depends on a variety of factors, among them how the customers use the cart. Some may dump an item in the cart while they look around the site just to remember it and to avoid having to hunt around to find it again. Others may put an item in the cart to check shipping and other charges.

In a physical store, people who put stuff in the cart have a very high probability of completing the transaction. Online, though, I think there's an accurate perception that one's cart is more ephemeral and there's now downside to throwing an item or two in and then leaving without buying.

I suppose a clever marketer could add a discount, free item, etc., to try to increase the completion rate of cart transactions. ("Thanks for putting an item in your cart! With your order, you'll receive a FREE 24-page instruction guide...")

The real money, though, is getting a few more the 95% who don't put an item in the cart at all to make a purchase. That's where the factors already mentioned really come into play - inviting design, easy ordering, appearance of trustworthiness, etc. If 95 out of a hundred visitors do nothing, even a slight change in behavior could have a big bottom-line impact. E.g., a design change that caused only one out of fifty do-nothing visitors to make a purchase would approximately double a 2% close rate.


2:06 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I get between 3%-4% of my traffic clicking on the buy button. Sometimes, not all make it to the final page. The main reason we found for this (using various types of research including calling up customers) is that they have cookies disabled and thus our system gives problems. Am launching a new cookie free shopping cart and will post here on how that goes.

Another factor we found is that there are credit card gateway problems. A friend of mine who manages one of the major online portals tells me that infact they have disabled live transaction processing and now record the card details and process the transactions through a seperate routine. Reason being: card gateways do not function properly very often, especially in peak periods. At their volmues, this can make a differance of a few million $ in a day!

The other point that we are working on is the low % of people that actually click on the buy button. This has puzzled us as most of our trafic comes from search engines using very niche keyword strings. We are trying to improve the conversion ratio by putting more information on our site, lowering prices and also improving the order flow.

Will let you all know how all this goes.

If others could also please input techniques they have used to better conversion.


3:11 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have done a lot of research into different interfaces, whether to have it all on one page.

But what I have learned mostly comes from my instincts.

(1) As long as the interface is reasonably easy to use, the design/layout does not matter.

(2) Building trust thru your brand name, by delivering quality consistent service matters most. People will repeat buy from people they trust, or if a friend/relative has bought from you and they got good service, it will catch.

(3) Make sure you can handle any possible problem, and offer any available help to make their be no doubt as to their satisfaction in completion of this order.

Although i personally wish there was a place like coolhomepages.com which has screenshots of different types of sites, but one that showed screenshots of shopping carts,so as an industry we can learn from each other's mistakes.

At least this is what I think.


4:49 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Just to echo a few other posts, I think the hidden charges aspect is huge. it makes it very difficult to directly compare actual, final prices if shipping and taxes etc are left until late in the checkout process. No wonder so many customers are wary of even starting the process (by putting an item in the cart).

One other thing, and sorry if its a daft question, but when you say 96% 'of people' are browsing - do you know that these are actual people, rather than spiders and bots etc? If 20% of traffic is non-human, then the conversion rate would actually be higher. Or have you all filtered the traffic stats already?


4:51 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I purchased a number of things from the internet. And, i often put things into the cart so i can get the total price i will be charged, print that page, and then leave to come back later. Many sites don't give all transaction details untill you are ready to checkout, so i've gotten use to using the cart to get a price quote.

Sometimes i get prices for goods for a few other people. In which case i fax the page that contains the total price. And, many times they want prices for a variety of simular items but are only interested in one of them.

So for me putting things into the cart is almost still window shopping (or should i say, CRT shopping), but i am getting down to the nitty gitty on how much is it actually going to cost, would be a good time to let me know about price guarantees if say the item should go on sale, or anything else that may close the sale.


4:59 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have noticed that these trends are particular turn-offs to prospective customers:

1. No way to circumvent using a credit card. At least 15% of our clients pay with money orders (or checks) and not credit cards. This can make the difference of a small business making $5000 a month instead of $3600. People also like to see a brick and mortar address assocated with a business. It makes them feel more secure... that it's a real business they're dealing with and not some guy sitting at his computer, processing their orders as he's spilling YooHoo and Twinkie filling on them.

2. The cart was hard to use - or crashed the buyer's browser. The ability to add an item to the cart should be on the description page of that item (This causes an impulse to order much like sell-through items in a food store.) No fancy javascript stuff besides form validation should even be considered for order/product pages - I don't care how fancy you want your floating pull-down menu to be. :)

3. The customer was "tricked" into entering the shopping cart in the first place. Some companies try the "Only $10 a month!" ploy, and the buyer falls for it... until they get through the three page form, wasted their time, and reviewed their invoice for $1000 because they had to buy 100 months of service to get it for $10 a month. I've seen *so* many businesses go bankrupt using this sour tactic (and a few of them actually had the gall to think..."Why did they leave our cart right before ordering?")

4. There's no proof that this is a secure or private transaction. Do you have a privacy statement that's easily accessible? Do you have a privacy statement promising clearly that their name won't be spattered across the Internet? I have left many a web site that I felt may go for the sale - and then greedily whore-out their client list. Also, does your cart link to a privacy statement or other page that would erase or overwrite the cookies or session they were using with the cart?

5. They have to do way too much to order your product or services. If they have to create an account, just to find out that they then have to create another because you're using MIVA Merchant, then supply all of their address info again, then supply a seperate set for billing info, feh... I wouldn't even order from this site. Sad to say, but in most cases the transaction has to happen hastily before the client changes their mind or gets bored or even worse, confused by the process. Bang in the sale as fast as you possibly can without dilluting the full descriptions or pitches of what you're selling. This is when it comes in handy to know how to create effective copy.


7:03 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

On our product pages we have dropdowns for shipping charges, expected delivery times and currency conversions.
We also have a statement that credit cards are charged only at the time goods are shipped. Credit cards are not charged online only to have either a backorder or chargeback situation if the goods are not in stock. We have a order tracking link that allows customers to enter the last 4 digits of their phone number together with the order destination zip code. The UPS tracking number is then displayed with a link to UPS tracking. It cuts office phone time dealing with those order status inquiries and they can get their tracking number and delivery status online after the office has closed.

All this adds up to the customer comfort. Customers feeling at ease before ordering. People know what to expect before entering items into the cart.


7:31 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

There are a lot of other things at work than just simple conversion, and you should keep in mind that those factors have a much bigger impact on your performance than industry standards or practices.

For instance 4.5 to 6.5% of all uniques to our commerce section purchase. That number varies because we are in a seasonal business. Once you get into season we see an immediate increase in our conversion to purchase.

One thing that bugged me for a couple of years was that our conversion was always better on the weekends, and I never knew why until I was able to figure out who was coming to our commerce section.

We run something very similar to a wish list business, actually the thing the wish list concept is based on. I figured out that people checking to see what was bought off of their own "wish list" actually made up a significant amount of visits to the site. Once I knew that, I was able to figure out that:

a. our actual conversion was a lot better than we thought because those people needed to be stripped out.

b. conversion to purchase was better on the weekends because people tended to check their own "wish list" from the office during normal business hours.

So my point is that conversion figures are all relative and the variables that define your business are key to understanding what is a good conversion rate for you.

If you are a widget site then you can probably use industry averages, but if you sell something that is not standard or in a way that is different from what most people do, then you need to come up with your own idea of what a good conversion figure is.


7:50 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I too have been toying with the idea of putting up a statement on all my pages that "we only charge after good are delivered", but am afraid of increasing chargebacks. What is your experience?


7:57 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

High conversion rates raise questions, too.

Prices too low?
Site only reaching a tiny, highly targeted customer group?
Too many offerings (followed by huge markdowns)?
Too few offerings (selling only highest demand products)?
Fraud (anyone can get orders from some places!)?
Return policies too lenient?
Focusing too much on convesion rates, not the big picture :)


8:17 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Interesting perspective, jsinger. I guess one must put the idea of "boosting conversion rates" in the context of "increasing or at least maintaining traffic". People will suboptimize to meet a particular goal - it would certainly be possible to boost the conversion rate by eliminating sources of traffic with low conversion. Conversion rate goes up, but total sales go down.


8:33 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I'm another one that puts things in the shopping cart and takes them to checkout to see what the final costs are.

It's a pain in the butt to have to do that to get the real costs, but experience has long ago taught me that shipping and handling costs often carry a surprise, and it varys greatly among online merchants. The irritation level is pretty high when I go to a lot of trouble only to find the particular merchant's fees are way out of line. I never go back.

And incidentlly, I will never, never, never give out personal information up front in order to get the final costs. If it must be, then I shop as Daffy Duck until and unless I make a final decision to buy. I don't wish to get bombarded with spam email or junk postal mail, and I don't believe most of those 'privacy' statements that says the site won't abuse the information I give them. You'd be amazed at the amount of junk mail that shows up in my mail box addressed to Daffy Duck after visiting those 'privacy-respecting' sites. Daffy's mail goes in the trash without a second glance.

The utopian online shopping site would show prices, shipping & handling, and taxes in a corner box after I put in my zip code and go around clicking on items of interest.


8:41 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

I worked for a large e-commerce site and we actually spent money on usability testing ot find out how to increase cart checkout.

Wasmith and newbieatseo have hit the nail on the head: people will put stuff in the cart to see how much it costs to receive the item: they want to see total cost shipping and all.

We found that just by promoting free shipping with $X purchase helped conversion rates considerably.


9:06 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

(Just went back through some notes...)

Another thing we noticed was that sometimes people were confused by pricing. Make sure the price of the item is clear. If the item is on sale and you have a 'Was' price and a 'Now' price, make sure the 'was price' is crossed out.

Sometimes people use the cart as an adding machine: they add things to the cart to see how much the sum total is...many budget conscience people -- read women -- did this.

Also, if your site uses an e-coupon or a number code for a discount, people want to see that up front: as in page one of the cart.

The utopian online shopping site would show prices, shipping & handling, and taxes in a corner box after I put in my zip code and go around clicking on items of interest.

If there is any part of your site for which you have personalization, the cart is the place to do it. At the very minimum, just a place to hold a zip code so you can estimate the shipping costs and taxes up front for your consumers.

Why else would Amazon defend their 'one click' shopping process so much?

[edited by: grnidone at 9:11 pm (utc) on Jan. 17, 2003]


9:08 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Namaste: we only charge after good are delivered

That's not what we do. We simply verify and charge credit cards off-line before the order is shipped. We experience very, very few charge backs.

No backorders.
No partial shipments.
No online charging of credit cards.
Credit card charged when your order is ready to ship.
Immediate notification if any item is out of stock.

Our order form is in 3 steps so people won't shy away from a single long form. Shopping Cart info carried along with each step.
(1) Billing & Shipping Info. If shipping is same, use checkbox instead of having them repeat info.
(2) Selection of Shipping Methods.
(3) Credit Card Type, Number & Exp. Date. - Final Submit

Once into the checkout process, we remove ALL links except one to "return to shopping". We don't want anyone to be tempted to abandon the order checkout to visit some other attraction. As I said above, we carry the shopping cart with the checkout so they can add or subtract items to it.


9:12 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

OH, and one more thing:

People want to see a confirmation number on the last page of the shopping cart.

That is a MUST. They want to know if there is a problem with the order they have a number they can reference.


9:33 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Namaste: we only charge after good are delivered

I used to do this. WorldPay support told me to never, ever do this. Even if you have a pre-auth number from the bank to validate the card, it can be cancelled at any time and without warning.

With WorldPay the pre-auth is done at the time of order. The next day the card is stolen, the day after it is reported, the day after that and you ship the goods. They get them the day after and then you charge the card. You will get a failure.


9:41 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

which brings us to the question of what can we do to hike "normal" conversion


10:31 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

We get around shipping cost uncertainty by charging a fixed amount regardless of destination or amount of purchase. Works as a penalty against small orders and as a discount on very large orders. We only ship within the U.S.

Also makes things a bit cheaper for people who live a long way away from us and therefore have to wait longer.

Almost never had anyone complain about the one-price shipping method. Simple for us and easy for the customer to understand.


11:17 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Wow, I must be doing something really wrong. The site in my profile has a conversion rate of only about 0.32% :(


11:35 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Raw traffic conversion on merchant sites must be pretty abysmal, else the comparison shopping business wouldn't be so good! I work for one comparison shopping website that has bottom-line pricing (for years we were unique in this regard, but no more) for most of our merchants. It's one reason our conversion is so good once our site visitors make it to our merchant sites -- people already have a good idea (it's not perfect) of how much their purchase's final cost. Trying to get this consistently has been an ongoing headache -- there's understandable but ill-considered reluctance on the part of most merchants to provide it -- but we find it almost always benefits the merchants who give us reliable shipping charge data.
This 59 message thread spans 2 pages: 59

Featured Threads

Hot Threads This Week

Hot Threads This Month