Few things will annoy users on your website more than a cluttered shopping cart. If your cart or download section requires registration, and information you wouldn’t tell your doctor, then you may be turning away customers; customers you fought long and hard to acquire through SEO and internet marketing.
If your cart currently requires a registration for customers to buy, then consider ditching it. Few industries will need to retain this information, and customers are often not willing to sign up to yet another site. If your product is not one that is often bought, then passwords will be lost, and you will possibly lose business to a site that doesn’t require registration. If you are using the sign in process to record the sales info for the customer as well as for your marketing data, consider implementing an express or guest checkout for those that want to skip it. Better yet, use Facebook Connect, it gives you more information about the customer than a static form, and the customer won’t have to remember yet another password.
Long Tedious Forms
Your form should ask for the bare minimum. Turning your shopping cart form into a mini (or not so mini) survey or questionnaire will definitely kill the sale; even having to scroll down to read the rest of the form can be irritating. Edit your form with a vengeance, and leave the market research for another time.
Errors and Validation
Many forms and shopping carts have fields which are required to move on to the next step, or to complete the purchase. This is necessary for things like getting the correct billing information and shipping address. One common practice is to put an asterisk next to each field required, but many times, these are tiny and can go unnoticed the first time around. Make the required sections obvious, and also if the customer hasn’t filled out the form correctly, don’t wipe the form clean so that they have to start all over again.
A best practice is to use a validation code so that the form doesn’t get spammed. These can vary from the simple (for example asking a question such as ‘What is 2 + 4?’) to the obscenely difficult to read phrases where the writing is curved or scrambled in a way that even human eyes can’t detect it. Use something simple like reCaptcha.
Amazon does this in an almost non intrusive way, by listing “things people also bought when buying this item”. Don’t be tempted to add in pop up suggestions, asking people to pay for memberships or sending them to a page with other items they might like. At the checkout process, your sale is almost won; don’t turn them off by trying to force another item into the trolley, this works with candy at the supermarket, but rarely online.
The moral of this story, is to keep it simple – you’ve lured your customers in with online marketing, excellent content and a product that solves their problem; don’t make the decision hard for them once they are there. A good shopping experience should be an easy one, and a bad shopping cart or form can sour the sale as surely as a surly cashier or sales assistant can.