By Tuula Fai on Nov 05, 2013
Shopper confidence, or more accurately the lack thereof, is the bane of the online retailer. There are a number of questions that influence whether a shopper completes a transaction, and all of those attributes revolve around knowledge. What products are available? What products are on offer? What would be the cost of the transaction? What are my options for delivery? In general, most online businesses do a good job of answering basic questions around the products as the shopper engages in the online journey, navigating the product catalog and working through the checkout process. The needs that are harder to address for the shopper are those that are less concerned with product specifics and more concerned with deciding whether the transaction met their needs and delivered value.
A recent study by the Baymard Institute  finds that more than 60% of ecommerce site visitors will abandon their shopping cart. The study also identifies seven reasons for abandonment out of the commerce process . Most of those reasons come down to poor usability within the commerce experience.
- Distractions. External distractions within the shopper’s external environment (TV, Children, Pets, etc.) or distractions on the eCommerce page can drive shopper abandonment. Ideally, the selection and check-out process should be straightforward. One common distraction is to drive the shopper away from the task at hand through pop-ups or re-directs. The shopper engaging with support information in the checkout process should not be directed away from the page to consume support. Though confidence may improve, the distraction also means abandonment may increase.
- Poor Usability. When the experience gets more complicated, buyer’s remorse can set in. While knowledge drives confidence, a lack of understanding erodes it. Therefore it is important that the commerce process is streamlined. In some cases, the number of clicks to complete a purchase is lengthy and unavoidable. In these situations, it is vital to ensure that the complexity of your experience can be explained with contextual support to avoid abandonment. If you can illustrate the solution to a complex action while the user is engaged in that action and address customer frustrations with your checkout process before they arise, you can decrease abandonment.
- Fraud. The perception of potential fraud can be enough to deter a buyer. Does your site look credible? Can shoppers trust your brand? Providing answers on the security of your experience and the levels of protection applied to profile information may play as big a role in ensuring the sale, as does the support you provide on the product offerings and purchasing process.
- Does it fit? If it is a clothing item or oversized furniture item, another common form of abandonment is for the shopper to question whether the item can be worn by the intended user. Providing information on the sizing applied to clothing, physical dimensions, and limitations on delivery/returns of oversized items will also assist the sale. A photo alone of the item will help, as it answers some of those questions, but won’t assuage all customer concerns about sizing and fit.
- Sometimes the customer doesn’t want to buy. Prospective buyers might be browsing through your catalog to kill time, or just might not have the money to purchase the item! You are unlikely to provide any information in contextual support to increase the likelihood to buy if the shopper already has no intentions of doing so. The customer will still likely abandon. Ensuring that any questions are proactively answered as they browse through your site can only increase their likelihood to return and buy at a future date.
- Can’t Buy. Errors or complexity at checkout can be another major cause of abandonment. Good contextual support is unlikely to help with severe errors caused by technical issues on your site, but it will have a big impact on customers struggling with complexity in the checkout process and needing a question answered prior to completing the sale. Embedded support within the checkout process to patiently explain how to complete a task will help increase conversion rates.
- Additional Costs. Tax, shipping and other costs or duties can dramatically increase the cost of the purchase and when unexpected, can increase abandonment, particularly if they can’t be adequately explained. Again, a lack of knowledge erodes confidence in the purchase, and cost concerns in particular, erode the perception of your brand’s trustworthiness. Again, providing information on what costs are additive and why they are being levied can decrease the likelihood that the customer will abandon out of the experience.
Knowledge drives confidence and confidence drives conversion. If you’d like to understand best practices in providing contextual customer support in eCommerce to provide your shoppers with confidence, download the Oracle Cloud Service and Oracle Commerce - Contextual Support in Commerce White Paper. This white paper discusses the process of adding customer support, including a suggested process for finding where knowledge has the most influence on your shoppers and practical step-by-step illustrations on how contextual self-service can be added to your online commerce experience.