RE: Web media... shopping cart statistics

Subject: RE: Web media... shopping cart statistics
From: SusanH -at- cardsetc -dot- com
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 11:03:54 +1100

In a mail I posted yesterday about web design I quoted research that showed
that more than 60% of people who started out shopping with the cart
abandoned the action before checking out.

Here is the summary of that research.
Anderson Consulting reported yesterday (10 Jan 2000) that 88% of Web buyers
abandoned their online shopping carts at some point during the 1999 holiday
season and 40% reported various problems nevertheless 73% ranked Internet
shopping the highest in terms of overall satisfaction compared to brick &
mortar stores and catalogs.

A few techwhirlers wrote in with their observations on shopping carts. Each
had their own reasons for abandoning the purchase AND all understandable
user behaviours: "just browsing", "just checking out possible purchases" or
"just checking prices".

I don't think businesses who offer online shopping expect that all 88% of
the people who abandon shopping have lost their way BUT the percentage is
TOO large (and the complaints too frequent) not to look more closely at the
very delivery mechanism of online shopping.

I ordered 6 international standards from Standards Australia last year. In
fact they were two standards, one with four sections and one with two
sections. To make my purchase I had to
1. Search for the standard I wanted.
2. Select add to cart.
3. Confirm the addition at a separate screen.
4. Return to the search screen.
5. Search again..
6... Start the whole process again for EACH section of EACH standard.

The ordering took more than half an hour. THAT was a very poorly designed
shopping cart. They may have determined in their user analysis that people
would want to purchase standards online BUT they didn't take into account
the 'other' objectives people have such as doing the task quickly in the
middle of a busy day.

I went to a US booksellers web site last week and went through page after
page of text, all part of the shopping cart activity. I abandoned that
purchase out of frustration. I also wrote to the bookseller to say that I
really do want to be able to order online from them in the future but "XXX"
was what made me give up this time.

I really do believe that "analysis that is performed from the customer/site
visitor's perspective" is critical input to good web site design. "Web
design" as a skill set is currently a land that is being staked out by many
different people (programmers, graphic artists, marketing people, writers).

In many ways, "web design" is following the normal pattern of technology
experts gaining the early ascendancy. I hope that, when the dust settles,
technical communicators will be in there contributing TO THE DESIGN (not
just the content) since they bring the user-focus that we see valued by
many on our list (maybe everyone, deep down).

Susan Harkus

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