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Monday, Jun. 22, 2009 at 9:04 am

The Shopping Cart: How to Answer the 5 Unanswered Customer Questions

By Brendan Regan
June 22nd, 2009

The ecommerce shopping cart is a great place to run tests, as simple changes (layout, copy, color, etc.) often yield fantastic results.  There are unanswered questions in the minds of our customers that we think are obviously answered on the page, but they’re not.  If you’re not sure about what those unanswered questions are, you can back up a few steps and use personas or user testing to uncover them.

Here are 5 key, unanswered questions (beyond shipping costs) of the shopping cart:

  1. Do you offer alternate forms of payment (aside from credit card)?
  2. Are you safe and secure?
  3. Why are you asking for this information?
  4. Do I have to set up an account to buy?
  5. Do I get to review my order before we transact?

I recently bought a Father’s Day present online from a gift retailer, and their overall shopping cart process was “OK.”  I would give it a “B-” grade; it was good enough to get me through the purchase without bailing, but not nearly good enough to earn brand loyalty.  But, they did a good job of clearly answering the 5 Questions, and it was enough to help them “Get The Cash.”

I captured some elements of their billing page so you could see how their design answers the 5 unanswered customer questions.  When you click on the screenshots, can you pick which design element answers which question?

Are you adequately answering the 5 unanswered questions? Whether your confidence level is low, high, or somewhere in between, we know you could run some interesting tests to validate your assumptions about how well you’re doing, and you might increase your funnel conversion rate in the process!  Want help?  Let us know.

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Comments (35)

  1. My favorite feature in an online shopping cart is a progress bar that clearly indicates how far you are in the process and how much you have left to complete the transaction. We are definitely less patient online than we are offline.
    I hate websites that make you “register” and enter all sorts of information when you haven’t yet decided if you will be making a purchase.

  2. The last 2 I have differences about, I do NOT make people create an account to shop with us, and in fact I do not even have a way to set up an account. I have always thought this was an annoyance to the shopping process not a positive. Yes, I know return customers are supposed to be able to log in easier. I do have people who have bought up to about 10 times from me over the years. Another reason I do NOT really like this feature is have you ever forgot a password?
    The second thing is I read for small cost items, under $75.00, an order review page actually reduces your conversion rate so I remove the order review page from my shopping cart process.

  3. @ Audio Bible: <>

    I have never heard of that before. Care to elaborate?

  4. @ Audio Bible – sorry, my quote didn’t show up. I was specifically asking about removing the review order page from your shopping cart process.

    Where did you read that? Has it improved your conversions?

  5. If you’re wondering where to start your testing with these items, I highly recommend improving the “safe and secure” step. By simply moving a security badge (Verisign or otherwise) above the fold you can increase your completion percentage by several percentage points — nothing to sneeze at.

  6. @Pat I actually found the soft copy of the report. I emailed you a copy to the support email address at your business. The report is about 1 to 2 years old. But I thought there was some useful information in the report. Now you can easily test with Google.

    Originally it was here, http://www.elasticpath.com/ecommerce-checkout-report

  7. Brian, I would love to hear your perspective on having customers buy with or without creating an account.

  8. Ricardo,

    I published my thoughts on this a while ago with the post ‘Why Must I ‘Register” Before Checkout? – http://tr.im/plaK .

    Thanks,
    Bryan

  9. @ Audio Bible – thank you! I received the report.

  10. I think I recognize that shopping cart, if I’m guessing correctly I find it interesting that you gave this shopping cart a “B-”considering this website is consistently in the top three top conversion rates every month (especially in February & May, it’s two biggest holidays fall on those months)
    What could they have done better to increase the grade?

  11. Nice tight list. As someone who has been building shopping carts and doing Ecommerce for many years, you would think that most now get this ..but they do not. Since the article is about these 5 funny though you gave them a B- as they met the criteria.

    One last thing, SEO Ranking really hit the target, PUT YOUR TRUST BADGES ABOVE THE FOLD (sorry for the caps but people persist on putting them at the bottom or below the fold).

  12. “PUT YOUR TRUST BADGES ABOVE THE FOLD”

    I never quite understood why people put this info at the bottom anyway. A lot of “large” sites do this as well.

  13. Audio Bible, is it possible for me to get a copy of that report as well?

  14. @ PetRight at what email address?

  15. I think the shopping cart is one of the most important areas for a business to focus. If a visitor has made it into their they are really ready to buy so make it smooth.

  16. @Joe & @Curtis: My “B minus” grade was given from a customer perspective as opposed to a Persuasion Analyst perspective. The page that all the screenshots came from (Billing page) was extremely strong and gets an “A” grade, but earlier pages in the checkout process presented, IMO, way too many cross-sell offers, 3rd party offers, etc. It got distracting. I liked that I could “guest purchase,” but I just felt like they were throwing too many offers my way while I had “tunnel vision” towards checkout.

  17. [...] The Shopping Cart: How to Answer the 5 Unanswered Customer Questions [...]

  18. [...] been reading an article by Brendan Regan on the FutureNow blog, in which he looks at five questions that customers may have in their minds [...]

  19. Thanks for heads up. Thanks for Audio Bible too for sharing results. I would also try to test these.

  20. [...] The Shopping Cart: How to Answer the 5 Unanswered Customer Questions (via grokdotcom.com) – Here are 5 areas your site should answer that customers look for before buying. [...]

  21. [...] week, Brendan tackled how to answer the 5 unanswered questions customers face in the shopping cart (other than shipping costs). According to a recent study by PayPal and comScore, 45% of US online [...]

  22. [...] week, Brendan tackled how to answer the 5 unanswered questions customers face in the shopping cart (other than shipping costs). According to a recent study by PayPal and comScore, 45% of US online [...]

  23. Great thoughts. Site conversion strategy can be as complicated as SEO and can REALLY improve your bottom line. Traffic without conversion is a waste. I always have my clients install a Trust Badge above the fold, at the middle of the page, and especially in the checkout process. This site: http://tr.im/hAbw gives you three kinds of trust badges and has a code that you can install on your checkout page that will show a “walk on” video of a woman telling customers why the site is secure. Verisign and some other companies are charging people a couple of grand for a security badge and PCI Scanning. You can get the same thing (actually a lot better) for $50-60 month.

  24. If someone need the Ecommerce Checkout Report I found it also here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/335164/Ecommerce-Checkout-Report

  25. [...] 原文标题:The Shopping Cart: How to Answer the 5 Unanswered Customer Questions [...]

  26. This article is informative
    i like it.
    In my opinion,the shopping cart is one of the most important areas for a business to focus on.
    Thanks for the sharing

  27. poemorella.. I visited your link, but I think this report is not very punctual.

  28. @ Audio Bible:

    I have never heard of that before. Care to elaborate?

  29. [...] [...]

  30. Customers have to enter their shipping address if they buy so why not just give them the option to register that information as account or not. Its the same information they can decide if they want to use it again at a later point.

  31. I believe checkout without requiring account creation is essential. Since it is usually seen at the beginning of the checkout process, it is definitely an obstacle that ruins conversion.

  32. [...] Do I get to review my order before we transact? via grokdotcom.com [...]

  33. [...] [...]

  34. [...] [...]

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