RE: Web media... shopping cart statistics

Subject: RE: Web media... shopping cart statistics
From: Janet Valade <janetv -at- systech -dot- com>
To: "'SusanH -at- cardsetc -dot- com'" <SusanH -at- cardsetc -dot- com>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 09:46:55 -0800

<<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.>>
> --------------------------
As a researcher, I would need to know more about the research before
feeling I understood the findings. How did they define "Web buyers"? How did
they identify them? How did they define "problems"? Did they use valid
sampling techniques? Actually, the wording of this summary has connotations.
"Abandoned" has a meaning that may not accurately reflect the process.
"Abandoned" implies that users started a purchase and "abandoned" it in the
middle. Perhaps the users, or some percentage of them, did not intend to
purchase from the beginning. Perhaps a more accurate statement might be: 88%
of Web buyers used their shopping cards for purposes other than puchasing

<<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.>>
From the business's point of view, 88% may be too large. The
e-tailer would like every site visit to result in a sale. But, in a user
analysis, perhaps 88% is just right. Perhaps users prefer to use the site
for non-puchasing purposes 88% of the time, e.g., window shopping, price
research and comparison, etc. An analysis of the problems reported would of
course be useful for a user analysis.

I am not trying to make any definitive statement about shopping
carts or web design. You report frustrating experiences with shopping carts
that lost sales for the e-tailer. I, OTH, have never left a shopping cart
out of frustration, but have left it frequently for other reasons. I am sure
that both of us represent a percentage of users. I am only trying to comment
on the possible complexity of user analysis and the need for thorough
research before formulating design decisions. The current/ongoing
discussion/debate of "the magic seven, + or - 2" is an example of this. Some
perfectly valid research was conducted and reported. However, its
generalizability to situations other than the memorizing of nonsense
syllables generates vigorous debate.

Many of us have to depend on our past experience and/or education,
mediated by limited knowledge and second hand reports of user wants/needs,
when developing documentation because there isn't very much generalizable
research and because many of us have little or no access to users for
purposes of user analysis or usability research. We just need to be aware
that we are always biased by our own views, that more data from users is
always desirable, and to always be alert for any opportunity to obtain user


Janet Valade
Technical Writer
Systech Corporation, San Diego, CA
mailto:janetv -at- systech -dot- com

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