May 29, 2006

Study Data: 1,120 Online Shoppers Say Why They Abandon Ecommerce Sites

SUMMARY: No summary available.
By Anne Holland, President

Why do more than 90% of the consumers who visit an ecommerce site leave without purchasing?

Marketers tend to attack the problem in two ways: either by tweaking creative -- copy, design, merchandising, offers and/or by data analysis, reviewing piles of charts, spreadsheets and path analysis reports. Both tactics work, and work best in unison. But I feel they display the Achilles Heel of marketers -- our inherent shyness.

Let's face it, the outgoing folks went into sales and service. We marketers are the desk-bound, the readers, the thinkers, the … introverts of the sales and marketing crowd.

So, we're more likely to examine reports and build A/B test strategies than to ever do the one obvious thing that's guaranteed to raise sales: ask shoppers themselves what went wrong.

This spring, MarketingSherpa partnered with Directions Research to reach out to real-life online shoppers. 1,120 consumers who actively shop online agreed to participate in our survey, on order to tell ecommerce sites how they decide which online stores to visit and what they find disappointing in a store. The results, included in MarketingSherpa's Ecommerce Benchmark Guide 2006 (link below) were naturally fascinating.

Here's one of my favorite charts. We asked shoppers: "Which factors keep you from doing more online shopping?"

Site/cart too complicated: 14%
Return/exchange policy: 41%
Fraud/Identity theft: 49%
Sharing personal info: 53%

When we sliced the data by "heaviest online shoppers," the results were fairly similar except for two categories. At just 21%, heavy online shoppers were dramatically less concerned about Fraud/Identity theft. (That said, we have plenty of anecdotal evidence from multiple Case Studies that adding various security icons to your site, even if you're a very famous brand name, makes a significant difference in conversion rates.)

Also, at 39%, heavy online shoppers were somewhat less concerned about sharing personal info than average shoppers were.

Naturally, the heartening news here is the difference in attitude between heavy vs. average online shoppers. More experienced shoppers tend to be less fearful about possible problems. As average shoppers in turn become more experienced, we can expect a matching rise in conversion rates.

In the meantime, these stats are an excellent source of ideas for A/B tests to lessen your shopper abandonment rates. Consider the data above and then review your own site's most frequently abandoned pages. Where do most shoppers leave? What content could you add to that page to address concerns?

Example: While I often see general guarantee copy and credit card security info within the check-out process, I rarely see merchants including reassuring blurbs on their Easy Returns/Refunds Policy.

Then why not run your own abandon survey? Ask shoppers who bailed, why? Getting closer to the customer is always worthwhile.

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