Avoiding the Abandoned Shopping Cart
Tuesday, October 10, 2000
by Mark Hurst
E-commerce sites are still making the basic mistake of trying to solve a simple problem with expensive, complicated technology. A well-intentioned Wall Street Journal piece yesterday describes all the ways e-tailers are trying to keep customers from abandoning their shopping carts:
Specialty clothing retailer J. Crew is offering shoppers an audio connection in real time over the Internet to operators who can answer questions about shipping and billing at checkout. Macys.com and gap.com are offering prerecorded customer-service information. [Macys] also is considering using [audio] on its home page with a link that shoppers could click to hear about a daily or hourly promotion.
That's great news for companies that sell the audio software, but what about the customer? In our own recent research, Creative Good found that customers abandon their carts during checkout because of simple problems like not knowing how to log in. (And why should first-time customers have to log in, anyway? Exactly the problem.)
These e-tailers are making a strategic mistake. Customers are confused by the complicated website; obviously the correct solution is to simplify the on-site experience. This means taking things away from the experience that shouldn't be there, like log-in interfaces. Instead of taking the customer's perspective and embracing simplicity, these e-tailers are just throwing their money at yet more complex technology -- the cause of the problem in the first place.
Simplify the experience by taking things away, not by exposing even more technology to the customer.
Stay tuned for Creative Good's release, this week, of our Holiday 2000 E-Commerce report, which details our findings about top e-commerce sites.
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