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GUEST OPINION Do mobile shoppers have issues with abandonment?

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Many consumers want to shop on mobile – they even get as far as the checkout. Then they abandon. Why is this problem that once dogged online retail still an issue wonders Fadi Shuman, Founder and CEO of Pod1 and what can be done about it?

As we press on into the final quarter of the year and online retailers prepare themselves for the impending Christmas bonanza, it seems a timely point to remind brands of research by US payment validation company Jumio from earlier this year.

The company found that although mobile shopping is exploding and in general customers like the convenience of shopping on-the-go, a number of barriers to purchase still exist, and shopping cart abandonment continues to be a major issue among consumers.

The company found that, while 68% of smartphone and tablet owners have attempted to make a purchase on their device, two-thirds (66%) failed to complete a transaction due to obstacles encountered during checkout. These obstacles range from not being comfortable or feeling secure entering their credit card information to the checkout process being too difficult on their device. According to the research, 51% abandon their cart because they don’t feel confident in actually making the purchase, while 47% give up because the checkout process is perceived as too complex. Meanwhile, 23% more give up because the purchase doesn’t go through.

To my mind, this echoes the early days of e-commerce and is down predominantly to user experience. Five years or so ago we did a lot of work in streamlining the checkout process and helping brands build consumer confidence in their sites. Of course no one’s going to buy from your site if they don’t trust it or if they don’t feel comfortable with the process. This is the same for online as it is for the mobile and best practice in this area should not change regardless of what platform you’re operating on.

Most brands that are selling online have invested a lot of time and energy into their web-based search and navigation over the past few years, as they look to make sure that their customers can get onto their sites and find what they want as quickly and easily as possible. And this goes a long way to building consumer confidence. But having spent so much effort getting people to the checkout stage, these same brands really can’t afford to then be losing shoppers in those crucial final moments of a transaction. Amongst other things, today’s mobile seller needs to avoid customer frustrations around having to type – and often retype – personal information into tiny text boxes and avert users bailing out at checkout.

Some sensible suggestions for retailers as to how to curb checkout drop off, include:

Reduce payment friction: In other words make the process as easy as possible. Making the entry fields as large as possible is one crucial way to do this.

Allow guest checkout: Some of the best checkout processes hedge their bet, giving the user all three options: “Sign in”; “Create an account”; or “Checkout as a guest”. This means that anyone can buy what they want with the minimum of fuss.

Remove distractions: Once a user is in the checkout process, they have obviously expressed a willingness to buy… anything that draws their attention anywhere other than the task at hand is bad. Don’t give people an excuse to drop out of the checkout process.

Leverage mobile UI elements: Avoid issues with typing in details by relying on touch controls as much as possible.

Design for mobile first: By designing a checkout system that works on mobile, you’ll be ensuring that this channel is covered, and because it is the lowest common denominator in terms of platform you’ll also know it will work effectively on a desktop or laptop, too.

Hold your basket: A sensible implementation to ensure that customers can come back in exactly where they left off.

Calm customer fears: Make your mobile site as friendly and professional to interact with as possible. This will go a long way to helping build consumer confidence in your site.

Of course it’s entirely possible that some of these issues may actually be due to people imposing their own cooling off period on purchases. However, it is clear that more needs to be done to make sure m-commerce is capitalising on this obvious market demand. Yes, direct customers to what they want as quickly as possible, but equally then allow them to get out as quickly as possible too.

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