Ecommerce Spot

Creating Easy to Use Shopping Carts

Creating Easy to Use Shopping Carts

Shopping cart abandonment – where a customer drops out part way through a purchase - is a common problem for merchants. Statistics show that most shopping cart abandonments happen because it was not user friendly enough for the customer. Customer usability is a must, and should be a large factor when you are determining which shopping cart is right for your business. You’ve probably been shopping yourself where you gave up in sheer frustration.

In most cases, the developer of the shopping cart system will have a demo shopping cart set up. Try out that demo, and view it from a customer's perspective, as well as an administrators perspective. A key feature to look for in terms of customer usability, is clear direction. Will the customer easily know what to do next? Once they add an item to the shopping cart, will they easily see the option to keep shopping, or to check out? Is searching for products easy? If possible, have someone who isn't computer savvy test the demo, and get their opinion of it.

Your online shopping cart pages should be easy to navigate. If your customer can’t figure out how to get from one page to the next, you will lose them. Furthermore, the pages need to load quickly, so no large images or flash on your site. The ability to suggest cross sell or add-on products may increase sales as well as provide useful information to your customers. It may say something to the effect of "Customers who purchased product A, also purchased product B, C, and D."

Your customer should not be required to have any special programs installed or turned on, such as flash or JavaScript. Some customers won't even understand what these things are, and requiring them makes your shopping cart unusable by many – statistics show as many as 10% of users don’t have these enabled. If a customer cannot figure out how to use your shopping cart, it won't matter how interactive or pretty it is.

Availability of products should be clearly noted, as soon as the product page loads. You will lose a customer for life if they go all the way through the shopping process, and the checkout process, only to discover that the product they wanted is unavailable, or that it must be back ordered. Also, each time your customer interacts with the shopping cart, they should be made aware that their action was noted. This will prevent the customer from performing the same action - over and over - in frustration.

Customers should know what their payment options will be before they start adding products to their cart. It’s frustrating to go through the selection process, only to get to the checkout and are not able to pay using the options listed. Make the options clear from the very beginning.

Finally, the actual checkout process must be user friendly. This is where the majority of the shopping cart abandonments occur. The checkout process should only be used to get the customers shipping information, and billing information. People don't like to share their information, and asking for too much information, along with billing information will most likely cost you sales.

The more user friendly your shopping cart is, the more positive your customers shopping experience will be. If you made it a good experience, the customer will probably return to buy more from you in the future.

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