September 12, 2002, 12:00 AM

27% of abandoned shopping carts could be prevented with better design

12% of bailouts are due to slow page downloads and 9% to confusing online order forms. Improving both will improve sales, says Jupiter Research.


Roughly two out of three shopping carts are abandoned before the shopper completes an online purchase and in most instances, the bailouts are for reasons that have nothing to do with cart design, such as a shopper’s decision not to pay shipping charges. But says Jupiter Research analyst Ken Cassar, "27% of cart abandonments are for reasons attributed to flawed carts” and could be prevented.

A Jupiter survey found that 12% of shopping carts are abandoned because pages loaded too slowly or because web sites crashed. Another 9% of abandoned carts have order forms deemed by shoppers to be too confusing or long. Improving those design factors could significantly lift conversion rates, according to Jupiter.

That means increasing download speed on shopping cart pages and improving their reliability. Speeding page downloads starts with cutting out what doesn’t need to be there. Another Jupiter survey found, for example, that of 500 top-visited web sites, 21% could have eliminated four seconds of load time per page on a 56K dial-up connection by cutting unnecessary white space and HTML comments. Abbreviated URL architecture that shortens long URLs and query strings that weigh down pages, and hooking up with outside services that improve web site performance, such as content accelerators, can also help speed page downloads, Jupiter notes.

As for the shopping process itself, retailers need to keep it simple for shoppers by reducing steps in the checkout process, as well as the number of pages. Ebags, for example, has a one-click button that lets shoppers set the shipping address in the billing address space automatically instead of requiring them to fill out the address twice. Placing shipping fee information higher in the process also will reduce cart abandonment at checkout time, Jupiter says.


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