The process leading up to a transaction online is possibly the most critical to a shopping cart’s success. If the buying process causes frustration, confusion or insecurity, the user is likely to abandon the shopping cart, never to return again.
The usability of a shopping cart refers to the efficiency with which a user can achieve their goals on a website. Many of the larger online shopping carts, like Play.com and Amazon.com, are continuously striving to make their buying process as fluent and as effortless as possible. Knowing you can buy a book or film in just 3 or 4 clicks encourages you to return to the same, reliable website.
Having read numerous articles and white papers dedicated to best practice shopping cart design and usability; below I have highlighted five potential design problems in shopping carts that I’m sure many users have encountered.
1. Shopping carts that ask a user to register before knowing if the product is available or not.
It could be quite irritating for a user if they have spent 10 minutes entering their credit card details, home address, telephone number etc etc. only to find out during the checkout process that the product they want to buy is out of stock.
Many shopping carts enable you to present users with live stock availability before the user places their product in the shopping cart.
2. Suggesting the user buys similar products before adding the main product to the shopping cart.
It’s often helpful when a website recommends additional products you may want or need after adding your main product to your shopping cart.
However, I think you’ll agree that it could be slightly confusing if these additional products were offered to you before even adding the main product to your shopping cart? You press “Add to Cart” and suddenly you’re offered batteries, or insoles or travel cases. Many users would be left feeling confused, wondering if their product had been added or not, or if they’d pressed the wrong button.
Best practice guidelines would indicate offering your user the extra products after the user has finished shopping and they’re entering the checkout process.
3. Shopping carts that ask a user to register before they have even added a product to their shopping cart.
Asking for a user’s personal information before they have even added a product to their shopping cart is not a good move.
Customer registration can offer some big advantages to you as a merchant including recovery for abandoned shopping carts, customer loyalty and email contact. However, many users may be browsing a number of websites, adding products to numerous shopping carts for the main purpose of comparing prices and features. If a user has to register personal details before using the shopping carts, a large percentage are likely to abandon the website.
4. Requiring a user to delete and add the same product to shopping carts just so they can change its colour, size or variation.
Editing a shopping cart should be as simple as possible and shouldn’t require the user to delete anything from the shopping cart.
If a product comes in different colours and different sizes don’t make them delete it from their shopping cart if they want it in a different variation. Users should be able to select from within their shopping carts the different options.
5. Websites that do not clearly show the user the contents of the shopping carts.
Have you ever been on a website and added the same product to your shopping cart 3 or 4 times because you’re not sure if it worked the first time?
Many users that can’t see the contents of their shopping cart in the same browser as the one they are shopping on can often feel confused about whether or not their item has been added successfully.
As a merchant it is understandable that you don’t want to take your user away from the page they are shopping on every time they add something to their shopping cart. Best practice guidelines therefore indicate displaying the contents of a users shopping cart in the same browser, in the right hand corner for example. To summarize, the design of the entire shopping experience is of utmost importance. These 5 potential design problems highlighted are five of many common problems found on shopping carts.
Which one is most likely to make you abandon your shopping cart? Tell us about additional usability problems you have encountered! Which, out of those above, do you think is the most irritating and the most likely to cause shopping abandonment?
Mystery shopping is an excellent way to make extra money. In fact, some people make a full time living doing it.
There are many mystery shopping companies that will pay you to shop, eat at restaurants and take part in focus groups.
A mystery shop consists of getting paid to go into a business without the employee’s knowledge and reporting back to the mystery shopping company.
A focus group is when you get paid to sit down with other people who are also getting paid and discuss new products or services.
Mystery shopping jobs and focus groups are easier to find if you live in or near a large metropolitan area.
After you do a mystery shop you answer some questions and file your report with the mystery shopping company. These reports are usually set up as a series of questions and often can be completed quickly.
The reason they have mystery shops and focus groups is so that companies can get feedback on their employees, products and services. That way they can see where there might be problems and make the necessary changes to improve things.
A few years ago I had some free time and I wanted to make some extra money. I took a course, How to Become a Mystery Shopper, at a local community college. After completing the course I registered with a few mystery shopping companies online.
You can do a search on Google for “mystery shopping.” Bypass the mystery shopping websites that are trying to sell something. You want to find the mystery shopping websites for the actual mystery shopping companies. These mystery shopping companies will never charge you any type of fee to register or to do mystery shops or focus groups.
Be sure to read all the free mystery shopping information you come across. There is an art to being a good mystery shopper. Basically you are like a reporter. You will never add your feelings or what you think to a mystery shopping report. Your job is to just answer the questions, report the facts and describe what actually happened during your shop.
You never want to give your own recommendations. That is not why you are hired. If the mystery shopping company wants a consultant, they will hire one. All they want you to do is to answer questions with just the facts of your mystery shopping assignment.
Once you find a few mystery shopping companies you can then register with them. They’ll contact you by email whenever they have a mystery shopping job in your area. You’ll only respond to the emails when you want to do the shop. Otherwise you can just delete the email. You get to pick and choose the shops you want to do.
A couple of years ago I did some apartment shops for the Jancyn Evaluation Company that took me about half an hour to complete. Since they paid $25, I was basically being paid $50 an hour.
You can register with the Jancyn Evaluation Shops Company. They may pay more than $25 today for apartment shops since it has been about two years since I’ve done an apartment shop for them.
Jancyn also does a lot of shops and surveys for the Ross Dress for Less retail stores. I’m not sure if Jancyn still has a business relationship with Ross, but I once handed out survey forms in one of the local Ross stores here in the Seattle area and made $500 for about 30 hours of work.
Here’s the URL for Jancyn if you’d like to register with them to do some shops. http://www.jancyn.com
Another mystery shopping company that I get a lot of email requests for shops for is the Secret Shopper Company. They seem to specialize in shops for Veterinary Clinics. They pay $15 plus up to $100 payment NOT including tip + $10. The only catch is that you have to own a cat or dog, which I don’t, but maybe you do. Here’s their URL http://www.secretshopper.com
OK, I’ve saved the best for last. Fieldwork specializes in setting up focus groups for some of the biggest companies in the US. They pay $50 to $75 for a focus group meeting that usually lasts about an hour.
The last one I did with them was for some research for eBay. They were trying to come up with a name for a new category on their website.
Fieldwork is located throughout the US in major metropolitan areas. You’ll have to visit their website to see if they are located near where you live.
It’s great if you have children since Fieldwork does a lot of focus groups involving children. Perhaps you can talk your kids into splitting the fee with you. Again, the pay usually works out to be about $50 to $75 an hour.
Unfortunately I have no children, but the next time I get an email for a focus group for children I’ll borrow a couple of my neighbor’s children. Here’s the link for Fieldwork. Fieldwork.com
Now you have a basic idea of how the mystery shopping and focus groups work. Start searching for more mystery shopping websites and get paid to shop, eat and taking part in focus groups. It’s easy money!