Saturday, March 22, 2008

Understanding abandonment - how thoughtful ‘checkout’ design pays dividends

Good design sells products ...

"I’ve been doing a lot of my shopping online recently and it has gotten me thinking about the opportunities for designing ecommerce systems that we often don’t bother spending time on. We just plug in ‘off the shelf’ solutions and this means that all too often we’re not thinking about ways that we can design the shopping experience so that it better supports the way that people actually want to shop online.

It seems from many online shopping experiences that there is an assumption that the online shopping experience has just a few simple steps:

1. locate the product you want to purchase
2. select that product (put it in the basket)
3. pay for the product and arrange delivery

Although, for some people some of the time, the process is this simple, very often there are much more complex pathways that people take when shopping - both online and offline. Unfortunately, very often the design of online systems doesn’t support this additional complexity. Very often just a few small changes would make a great difference.

Here are just a few examples I’ve come across lately.

Scenario: I’m in the market, but I’m not quite ready to buy.
Design requirement: Save shopping basket

There are many reasons why people don’t quite complete a transaction, but one that I find is really very common is this one… I’m just not quite ready to buy yet. It could be that it’s a large transaction and I need to be completely certain that I want to buy it, it could be that I’m comparing your product or price or service with your competitors, but quite often I’ll do the first and second stages of the shopping process - locating products and putting them in the trolley - but not be quite ready to give you my payment details.

It is amazing how many e-commerce systems ‘forget’ all the shopping I’ve done - some apparently deliberately, with time out error messages to boot. This means that, when I come back with my credit card out and ready to shop, I have to start all over again - finding the products and putting them back into the basket. Depending on the size of your product range and the state of your information architecture, this can sometimes be a particularly daunting task - daunting enough to perhaps result in abandonment.

Where is the value to anyone in ‘forgetting’ what’s in my basket? Who benefits from this? Certainly not your customer who has to go to extra effort when they return to make their purchase, and not the business either, who will almost certainly be losing revenue as a result of this design decision."    (Continued via disambiguity)    [Usability Resources]

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