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Nearly half of online shoppers would abandon their shopping trolley if confronted by 'hidden' charges during the checkout process, according to a survey from Webcredible.

Webcredible polled visitors to its website in September, October and November, asking them what would make them abandon an order when shopping online.

This is what annoyed online shoppers:

  • Hidden charges at the checkout - 37%
  • Having to register before buying - 30%
  • No clear delivery details - 13%
  • Lengthy checkout processes - 10%
  • Phone number not provided on website - 10%

Although online retailers in general have had a successful Christmas, Webcredible CEO Trenton Moss thinks usability was crucial to the success of some sites over the festive period.

For instance, John Lewis, which ranked in the top five sites in their usability study, increased their online sales by 60%.

He adds:

“If online retailers concentrate on making the buying process as user-friendly, simple and transparent as possible they will see a big difference to the bottom line and ensure they achieve a greater share of the booming online retail market.”

As well as problems with the checkout process, other factors, including poor site navigation, can put customers off their purchases.

Here are a few tips on how to improve conversion rates from our Online Retail User Experience Benchmarks 2006 guide:

  • Remove all sources of friction throughout the shopping journey that may reduce purchase momentum, including poor navigation, ineffective search, cumbersome checkout and sources of mistrust.

  • Always provide details of price, availability, and delivery times and charges. Make sure your customers can see this information without having to scroll up or down the page.

  • Make sure the design of your link navigation helps customers find the products they are looking for and minimises ‘confusion zones’.

  • Don’t mislead your customers by letting them start to purchase an item that is not actually available. Clearly distinguish between products available within a manufacturer’s range and those in stock and currently available for purchase from your site.

  • Always keep your promises to customers. If they click a link in the clear expectation of finding a product or type of product, make sure they do actually find it when they arrive on your site.

Graham Charlton

Published 17 January, 2007 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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