As every online merchant knows, a very high percentage of website visitors on any given day are there to browse and perhaps seek inspiration or information rather than make a purchase. They come, they look around and then they make their exit.
Far more worrying is the second group of customers who come with the intention of buying – or who make a decision to press ahead with a purchase during the course of their visit – but then have a change of heart. This is perhaps most galling when the potential customer diligently places items in a shopping cart, proceeds to check out but then leaves the site without completing. What you have is a failing or failed e-commerce sale.
More than buyer remorse – Why transactions fail
With average shopping cart abandonment rates standing at between 60 and 70 per cent, merchants can take a dubious form of comfort from the fact that this a universal phenomenon – one that affects every online business. And from there you might reassure yourself that the fault lies within the psyche of the customer. He or she was really just browsing and had no real intention to buy. Or perhaps the thought of an extra item on the next month’s credit card bill triggered a case of ‘buyer remorse.’
But that’s only part of the picture. E-commerce fails are often a problem caused by performance, usability or technical issues on the site – the customer wants to buy but hits a barrier. There are in fact many such reasons why a fail might happen and not only at the check out. These can include:
A simple technical error on the site. The customer finds a product, clicks for more info and gets a “page not found” message.
Poorly designed or rendered pages. A customer progresses to the check out but key information (such as delivery details or options) are sitting outside the screen area and are thus invisible.
Pages load very slowly or crash, causing frustration and then abandonment.
An online customer registration form is confusing or (worse still) isn’t working properly.
Unsurprisingly issues such as these trigger e-commerce failures. Some customers persevere. A great many don’t. The challenge facing retailers is to identify the problem and, where possible, recover the sale.
A real-time view
To both identify and fix the problem merchants must fully understand what’s going on within their sites and how technical, performance and usability issues are affecting conversions.
UserReplay provides a means to record and play back customer journeys, step-by-step and click-by-click, enabling the merchant to track the experience of individual visitors in minute detail and thus identify problems.
In addition UserReplay provides a genuine real-time monitoring facility. Using the UserReplay dashboard, a retailer can access an instant overview of the visitors on-site, through a number of lenses, including rising levels of frustration and the number of error messages being generated at any one time. And if frustration begins to mount or error messages begin to rise, that should be a trigger for action to prevent sales being lost.
Typically that action will involve using replays of user journeys to properly identify and fix problems. Do this quickly and you remove the source of frustration and effectively prevent sales from failing.
Equally when a sale has failed and a problem identified, merchants can re-target the customer. For instance the dashboard provides access to shopping cart details. When it is clear that a problem has prevented completion, a phone call or an e-mail to the customer can often be enough to recover the otherwise failing sale. This kind of re-targeting is a particularly worthwhile exercise when the customer has abandoned a high-value shopping cart. Yes, the monitoring of shopping carts and re-targeting requires resources to be allocated but by targeting high value customers you maximise the returns if the sale is recovered.
No website is perfect, but by monitoring in real time, merchants can significantly reduce the number of failed e-commerce sales.
Image: Maria Elena/flickr cc