MS Web Development Project – Dissertation
Online Shopping Cart Development
Chapter 2: Problem Definition
In this chapter an overview of the online shopping carts and the reasons behind their abandonment are going to be discussed in addition to the privacy problem, which the web users (especially the tiny business customers) are suffering from. This overview will be useful in drawing out the provisional requirements of the customer mode tinycart. After that a general idea of the open source projects will be given.
2.1: Online Shopping Cart
Doing online shopping, the customer is likely to wont easily recognisable similarities with traditional shopping but in a faster and a simpler way. For example, the store shelves need to be replaced with an online catalogue from which the customer can choose items, the shopping carts also need to be replaced by online shopping carts where the customer can place his selections until he decide to do the check out. Making the customer assimilate the behaviour of a real cart to a virtual one, is the reason behind using the same term “shopping cart” (Chaparro, 2001).
In their report Nielsen et al. (2001) describe the online shopping cart as “the single page on an e-commerce site that shows items the customer has chosen to purchase”.
Successful online shopping cart should not be only an informative page; that is used for displaying selected items; it should be interactive, where the customer can modify the product attribute’s values and quantities and from which he can decide what the next step will be.
Deborah & Baker (2003) outline the history of the shopping cart as Electronic businesses introduced them in the mid 1990s, but when first introduced, they were not user friendly and unwieldy. In 1997, Amazon’s “One click” technology was considered an important development in the shopping cart; the website captures the buyer information, stores it on his computer together with a unique identification number, and uses it each time that customer buys again without the need for re-entering that information; all he needs to do is to click on the “buy now” button. Another technology is the Apex interactive 1999’s” drag and drop shopping cart” where the customer drag the image of the product and drop it on the shopping cart page which remain displayed all the time; so that the customer can always see what is inside his cart .
Nielsen et al. (2001) summarise the functions of the online shopping as:
• Show all the items the customer has selected
• Contain links to the individual item’s product’s pages and other information that the customer may like to make sure of before purchasing , such as return policy
• Allow the customer to modify the quantities of the selected items and remove one or more items.
• Allow the customer to return to shopping or start the check out process.
2.2: Shopping Cart Abandonment
Shopping cart abandon happens when “customers ditch many or all the items in their cart before completing the sale” (Maguire, 2006)
NetIQ (2004), which is a leading provider of system and security management and web analytics solutions in New York, USA, conducted a telephone survey about online shopping behaviour in Dec 2003. The study included 632 adults aged 18 and over and its results gave the merchants some explanations for customers’ abandonment of online purchases, which included:
• Additional cost or lengthy delivery times, 35%.
• Asking too much information to make the purchase, 30%.
• Lack of product information, 17%.
• Personal reasons (ex. “changed their minds and opted to purchase from a ‘brick and mortar’”, 14%.
Chaparro (2001) provides designers with some tips for designing shopping carts that helps to decrease the abandonment:
• Call the shopping cart a “shopping cart” ,nothing else
• Name the “add to cart” button as “add to cart”. Don’t name it “Buy”.
• Give the customer a good feedback when an item has been added to the cart.
• Avoid offering the customer other related items before adding an item to the cart.
• Avoid asking the customer to register before adding an item to the cart
• To remove an item from the cart, don’t require the user to change the quantity to zero, to make it easier.
• Make it easy and apparent how to update items in the cart.
• Show the customer the final cost including the shipping and cost before requiring the customer to enter shipping, billing, and all personal information.
Improving shopping carts and trying to avoid previous design mistakes, dose not guarantee a reduction in cart abandonment. Nielsen et al. (2001) point to one important issue; when customers add items to their cart that is because they are considering it, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are going to buy it, and this is what the merchant needs to understand. In support to that, Denise & Power (2006) mentioned an idea of Mark Friedman, chief digital marketing officer at Warnaco, that people should not rely on the cart abandonment rates to represent shopper’s behaviours, as those shoppers may be using the shopping cart as a “wish list” not intending to purchase all its contents.
The mentioned ideas give an insight into why the cart abandonment rate is not declining in a way that reflects the improvements being made on the shopping carts design. Gatti & Joseph (2004) referred to the “DoubleClicks 3rd annual mutli-Channel shopping Study” to show that there is a progress in the design of shopping carts, as the study shows that in 2003, 16% of people attributed abandonment of shopping carts to the poorly designed or confusing shopping cart; compared to 23% in 2002. The results are based on online interviews with 1,000 consumers during December 2003 and January 2004.
However cart abandonment is not good for the business, since it means less revenue, and also less customers, in case that the cart bad design was behind the abandonment. In their article, Levey & Richard (2006) mentioned a recent study made by Allurent (an online consultancy in Cambridge, MA) on 775 respondents by email. It was found that 63% of consumers abandoned their carts after beginning the check out, and that 82% of the customers who where upset while shopping from a site, are less likely to return to it. Clearly, good cart design and checkout procedures and options are very important in keeping the business customers and attract others.
2.3: Persistent shopping cart
Nielsen et al. (2001) pointed to one of the big weaknesses of the shopping carts, which appeared if the customer return to his cart hours or days later, and find it empty. This may result in loses of lots of orders.