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Friday, Oct. 26, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Why People Don’t Buy Part 4: Your Website Needs a Doctor

By Mariel Bacci
October 26th, 2012

The first three parts of this series cover the 3 main reasons people leave your website based on a SeeWhy survey.  The survey asked “Why do you browse an ecommence website and then choose not to buy?” This post covers reasons that are so obviously bad, that people forget to mention them in surveys about site experience.  The following site problems might not top a survey, but they ARE the main reasons people abandon your site.  Luckily for you, these problems are the easiest to identify and to fix.

If you missed the first three parts of the series, you can catch them here:

Why People Don’t Buy-Part 1: High Shipping Costs

Why People Don’t Buy-Part 2: They are Comparison Shopping

Why People Don’t Buy Part 3: They Plan to Return Later

If you have any of the following problems on your site, call the doctor!  In Maslow’s hierarchy of Website needs, the following site problems exist at the base:

Checkout Process Too Long or Confusing

If you have not implemented the one page checkout yet, do it now! It is one of the easiest and most rewarding changes you can make on your site.  You should never, ever lose a guest to a lengthy, confusing or untrustworthy checkout process.  After you have invested so much effort/money in getting people to come to your site, figure out that you are the best option for them and choose to give you their money-there is no excuse for letting them leave because your checkout is not optimized.

Out of Stock Items During Checkout

If an item is out of stock, you can handle it in one of two ways.

1. Don’t list it on your site.  When a visitor to your site does all the work of finding what they want and then adding it to their cart, you better not break their heart by telling them you don’t even have it! It is best to avoid this situation at all costs by not going out of stock in the first place, or by omitting out of stock items on your site.  If you have to present the product to your guests, let them know it is out of stock on the product page- before they get to the checkout.

2.Let the guest know you are out of stock in checkout and that you are happy to e-mail them when the item is back in stock. Or offer to ship the product as soon as it is back in stock (an option that will be less effective for time sensitive products).

Long Download Times

People will leave your site due to long page load times.  In fact, many studies have been done that show long page load times as the #1 reason people abandon a site. Do whatever you have to do to deliver your product or service options to your guest as quickly as possible.  Even if you have to invest a little more money on the front end to make a more functional site, it will pay off tenfold.

Poor Site Navigation

Poor site navigation can be one of the more complicated issues to resolve because every site is different and the paths that lead to conversion will differ for each product, service and traffic type.  We highly recommend the use of personas to create persuasive buying paths for the different segments of traffic that come to your site.  If you are unfamiliar with personas or persuasion architecture, you can get a lot of great information here, or if you need help implementing the persuasive scenarios on your site, please feel free to contact us.

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Comments (30)

  1. Having items out of stock is the worst. do you think it has a affect on your backlinks to remove items from your site? I think that it might so having a back in stock notification is essential but I am a young site so I do not have a lot of data to support either side of that argument.

  2. The one you missing out in your post is good customer support I think. :)

  3. Long download times- apparently a lot of people don’t get this one. I agree totally with your point. In fact, I am one who will quickly click back-page when it takes too long to load or has ads that take too long.

  4. Your comment about long download times putting people off a site is absolutely true, there is very little worse. These days everything needs to be streamlined and easy to use; the message should be easily read, comprehendible and the checkout brief and reliable.
    We know all this already but we are still too often not rectifying the problem.
    Thank you for the wake-up call!

  5. Many people still don’t realize that simpler is often times better. If people have to sort through clutter to find what they’re looking for, many people just don’t have the patience in this day and age.

  6. Long Download Times and Poor Site Navigation will badly affect your SEO strategies. These areas need to be worked upon carefully while designing the site in order to run the website smoothly.

  7. Long Download Times and Poor Site Navigation will badly affect your SEO strategies. These areas need to be worked upon carefully while designing the site in order to run the website smoothly.

  8. You can make or break a site with its checkout process. I Try and follow the walmart creed of take their money. I have several forms of payment options and most people choose paypal which for me as a merchant is horrible transaction cost wise but people trust it so I use it, but I give them the choice.

  9. @Gregory- Paypal is not only trusted, it is EASY. People do not have to pull out their credit card and enter in all of those 16 numbers plus expiration date and turn the card over to find the security code. It probably is time for a cheaper version of Paypal to become the industry standard.

  10. Not being able to find the shopping cart or the checkout button is still an issue with some sites. Problems with the checkout process, such as card numbers being deleted if security code isn’t entered first time, can really annoy some customers to the point they never return. When it’s a new customer with no established loyalty you have one chance to get it right.

  11. Great information shared about websites maintenance.I got important information from this blog.

  12. We have found since adding a video to our page we have increased page time greatly averaging over 5mins per visit now really helped our bounce rate

  13. Great article and it would be useful for all e-commerce owners – wish they were made to read it even before making a shop online. I’ve come across all these problems more than once and it’s really very annoying, and if there is any alternative would certainly leave such site

  14. Load time of a website is very crucial for potential clients. Many people have a brain span of roughly 10 seconds- If your site doesn’t engage them by then forget about it.

    I optimized my website after its existance in 1999 – all I’ve done was change photos, removed all FLASH stuff and trimmed down the page size per section.
    Great article!

  15. Yep long loading time is definately a good method to chase customers away. Also an unprofessional looking design makes people leave real fast.

  16. One thing i find annoying is not displaying the p&p upfront, i have gone through all the process of the checkout putting all my details in only to find that the p&p is much to high and i click of the site in fact i now look for the p&p before i start the process of filling out my details, also why do some checkouts have to be so time consuming and confusing you only need my address payment and email so make it simple

  17. Thought-provoking. Thanks so much! You hit the nail on the head. A lot of psychology goes into bringing free website traffic. That is, if you’re doing them correctly! I been struggling with getting traffic to my website & I hope that your advice will help me out. Long Download Times, Long check out process & Poor Site Navigation affects badly in bringing websites traffic.

  18. Long process of checkout and the case of product scarcity irritates the buyer a lot. And the navigation of the site matters alot to facilitate the visitor.

  19. Great post. Missing and outdated info is really bad. I went to a bar’s website yesterday and a bunch of links went to blank pages. For example, if the bar has seasonal beers on tap, that should be listed and updated. Band schedules should be updated too. I realize that’s a little off topic since its not a ecom site, but that type of website is not going to help bring people into a bar. It seems like some business owners just don’t care.

  20. We have found since adding a video to our page we have increased page time greatly averaging over 5mins per visit now really helped our bounce rate

  21. Many people still don’t realize that simpler is often times better.thx

  22. I am contemplating using more video on my site and am curious if there has been any measurements on how it incereases purchases?

  23. Many people still don’t realize that simpler is often times better. If people have to sort through clutter to find what they’re looking for, many people just don’t have the patience in this day and age

  24. If an item is out of stock, don’t list it on your site. I recently ordered for Fifa 13 game, on the site it was available but then they sent me an email that it’s out of stock. I was so frustrated. Hope they look after this article and give good customer service.

  25. Having good support is also very difficult and is much needed.

  26. According to me Poor site navigation is worst thing with any site. It leads to create negative impact on our visitors on the site. Add proper categories in Sites Navigation menu to avoid this

  27. Yep long loading time is definately a good method to chase customers away. Also an unprofessional looking design makes people leave real fast.

  28. Absolutely agree with long download times. In this day and age, people are impatient and don’t want to wait. I often find myself guilty of this as well.

  29. Well it should be more of interactive session between the hosts and users. That’s why one should follow social mediums as a source of connection. Websites like Facebook and twitter are the best at it. Brands like Hollister have a great customer relationship thus leading to a great demand of their brand.

  30. Hi Mariel, Excellent post! I think the pyramid graphic really sums it up well. Also it’s also good to to cater for different personas within your content strategy which can help people through the buying cycle. Also page load times are becoming more important than ever before for a great user experience. Overall you’ve covered most of the issues when people want to buy online. Thanks!

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Mariel is a GA certified analyst at FutureNow, Inc.

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