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Why Do 9 Out of 10 Consumers Abandon Transactions?

Before you all scream "high shipping fees" which are often the culprit for eTailers, let me go a little further in my definition of "transaction" and how it relates to the August 2007 Tealeaf Technology survey I’m referencing.

For the data I’m discussing from Tealeaf, all survey respondents conducted either a "shopping (retail), travel, banking or insurance transaction within the prior year."

Now that we’ve got that straight, a whopping 90% of these consumers experienced an issue that caused them to abandon a transaction. I kid you not! But here’s the good news: even though the issues are serious (ranging from nightmare technical problems to mind-numbing functional problems), the issues are also addressable. Take a look at this list:

37% reported difficult navigation
34% received error messages
30% reported login difficulties
29% reported insufficient, incorrect or confusing information
22% reported endless loops blocking transactions
21% reported the search function not working properly
20% were automatically kicked off the page

See what I mean? There is no excuse for this type of stuff. I get especially ticked when I see that almost 1/3 of the lost transactions are the result of "insufficient, incorrect or confusing information". This is all about understanding the consumers’ wants and needs…their intent, if you will.

After all, every visit to your site is backed by some type of motivation. Since so much traffic arrives via keywords, let’s talk about that for a minute. If someone is kind enough to tell you what they’re looking for via a keyword search, why aren’t the landing pages responding with the right information? Isn’t that Marketing 101?

Let’s consider the keyword arrival of a consumer visiting an online store I’ll call Bikinis-R-Us. Now let’s pretend it’s someone searching for a red polka dot bikini. Great, now apply this intent to find a red polka dot bikini to the walk-in arrival of a consumer visiting one of Bikinis-R-Us brick and mortar locations. In this scenario, it’s kind of like imagining someone walking in to a store with a post-it on their forehead reading “I want a red polka dot bikini”. In this case, a salesperson would instantly respond to the shopper, deliver it and complete the transaction. 

But at the e-store, this ability to complete the transaction gets railroaded by sites that fail to instantly respond and deliver according to every unique visitor’s interest and intent. When you consider that 1 in 3 potential transactions fail because of poor messaging information, it’s alarming. It’s especially alarming considering web personalization can effectively address this very challenge.

Want to get really scared? Consider the business impact of lost transactions. Online competition is fierce and the sites that thrive will be the sites that create positive, personalized online experiences that meet and exceed what we’ve come to expect in the offline world. The bar is high!

One Comment

  1. Dave Ferguson
    Dave Ferguson March 29, 2008

    A certain chain sells no clothing I want to buy, but I wanted a gift card for my adult daughter.
    Online, I tried for five minutes to FIND OUT if they had gift cards. In frustration, I emailed the chain (after ordering a card from a competitor).
    The eventual reply said all I had to do was… go to the brick and mortar store.
    Few things can improve the computer experience like designers and their clients having to observe someone attempt to work through the interface.
    As Maurice Hanoy said, it “can be excruciating…It’s like watching a horror movie you’ve seen before…You know they’re heading for big trouble. You want to be able to yell at them, ‘No, no, don’t go in there! You’ll never get out!'”
    The difference, of course, is that the customer can get out. And will.

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