I just read Marshall's Webmetricsguru blog about online forms and the incredible high abandonment rates. This post took me over to Groktodcom.com (FutureNows blog). Bryan from FutureNow writes about the shopping cart abandonment rate and I totally agree with him. The shopping cart abandonment is not the real issue when it comes to improving conversion. The real Site abandonment happenes way earlier and improving the shopping cart form is probably just the "fine tuning" of a website.
It's not much different than in the
offline real world: A store tries to present products to their customers in the most pleasant way. The store visitor evaluates the product and decides if he/she wants or doesn't want to buy the product and moves to the register. How long the line for the register is, usually doesn't matter for the majority of shoppers anymore. They are already convinced (there is probably a good term in psychology for that)
If the cashier is slow, it might be frustrating, still most shoppers wait in line (or jump the line). The few visitors, that drop out of the line, are most probably not 100% convinced to buy the product. It might even be a good thing to have slow cashiers (or a slow checkout site), b/c these visitors are probably the customers, who come back and return their purchase,(which creates extra costs).
So what do we learn from this:
Focusing and looking solely on the cart abandonment form is wrong. Improving conversion should happen way earlier!
It's really too bad that I haven't read the Eisenberg's and Marshalls blog for too long. It's the second time, that I have wasted time on things that I should not have. But it is certainly not my fault :-) . I blame the Web analytics book authors for throwing the cart abandonment KPI's in my face (without going into details). They should als be held responsible why designers think that webanalysts are notoriously unreliable!