Online Shoppers Wait Two Days to Buy

The average online shopper delays making a purchase by almost two days after initially visiting a retail site, according to data from a leading Internet security company.

After monitoring the shopping behavior of 163 million consumers completing 2.52 million transactions, McAfee SECURE discovered that the average customer waited 33 hours and 54 minutes, or nearly two days, between first visiting a retail site and making a purchase. In 64 percent of the cases, the shopper waited at least one day to buy.

This seemingly cautious behavior, which McAfee calls “digital window shopping,” is really a somewhat normal shopping behavior wherein a potential customer loads items into a shopping cart and then leaves the retailer’s site in search of more information, price comparison data, or even information about the merchant to ensure that the transaction and any customer service will be handled well.

The topic of digital window-shopping came up during a Practical Ecommerce webinar, when McAfee Senior Research Analyst Shane Keats presented data from a recent white paper about the phenomenon and described what merchants could do to close more sales.

According to Keats, shoppers generally balked over cost, service, and safety concerns.

Cost Concerns

Some 46 percent of consumers surveyed in 2009 by PayPal and comScore, said that they did not complete an online transaction because the shipping charges were too high. Some 37 percent of that same group wanted to compare the prices and the shipping charges across more than one merchant, and 27 percent of those surveyed left the cart to look for a coupon code, Keats said in the webinar.

It may well be that these customers later returned and made the purchase, but addressing concerns during the checkout could convert window shoppers into immediate buyers.

To overcome cost concerns, merchants should:

  • Use dynamically generated shipping rates that provide the best possible rate data and consider offering shipping discounts based on order size. The discount offer should be included on the checkout page.
  • Include a list of popular coupon codes in the shopping cart.
  • Offer a price guarantee so that shoppers won’t feel the need to compare prices.

Service Challenges

Keats also said that some 24 percent of those surveyed left the shopping cart because they could not find their preferred payment method, while some 22 percent left because they were not sure how to ask a question or contact customer service.

These sorts of service objections are very easy to assuage:

  • Do your best to accept nearly every valid form of payment, including credit cards, electronic checks, PayPal, and Google Checkout, to name some. Getting the payment should not be the barrier to getting the sale.
  • Include customer service links and data on the checkout page. Be sure to include links that open in new tabs or windows when possible.

Security Concerns

Finally, Keats said that about 21 percent of shoppers left a shopping cart because they were concerned about the safety of their personal or credit card information.

This hurdle could be the most troublesome, since it implies that the retailer has not done a good enough job of assuring the customer that it is a legitimate and trustworthy business.

But even these concerns can be addressed.

  • Consider adding third party trust marks that provide an unbiased assurance that your site is safe and that your business and privacy policies match the industry’s best practices.
  • Add SSL verification to encrypt transactions and to free your site from hackers.
  • Have a well designed website, as nothing demonstrates professionalism and trustworthiness better than good site design.

Summing Up

Many potential consumers will leave your checkout page with items still sitting in the virtual checkout. Some of those customers are gone for good. Others might come back after getting more information. But in both cases, it would be better to convert those shoppers the first time you had them in your cart.

With the suggestions mentioned above you should see an improvement in your conversion rates. Be sure to measure the results of any changes you make.

Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
Bio   •   RSS Feed