Thursday, July 10, 2008

How long does it take your customers to checkout?

We have all had the experience of standing in a checkout line for what seems like an eternity. None of us like it and for most of us, it’s rather irritating. I ran across some statistics the other day that were rather interesting. These statistics are focused on the physical world shopper but they also have relevance for online shoppers and merchants.

A survey from M/A/R/C Research found that four out of five shoppers are satisfied with wait times--of about four minutes or less--at stores in most cases. But it also found that 10 percent were exasperated enough to leave a checkout line if the wait becomes too lengthy. Have checkout times become an even more important component of the shopping experience?

Assuming this information is correct, it raises an interesting issue for on line merchants. The entire internet experience revolves around the concept of instant gratification. As such, if people can’t find or obtain what they want at a given web site quickly, they just as quickly move on. The same is true for the purchasing process. Abandoned Shopping Cart figures indicate that if the checkout process is too elaborate or long, customers just click away and move on.

Since so many on line merchants use third party payment processing (PayPal, Google Checkout, ect.) entities to handle their customer checkout and payments, it really leaves the merchant with little control over the whole process. Because of this I started asking myself “What can the merchant do to help expedite the checkout process?”.

In my opinion, the number one thing any merchant can do is to make sure that the customer completely understands the cost of what they are buying. This includes shipping and handling charges which are frequently involved with the overall sale. Explaining completely the costs involved with any products sale in the products description and in your TOS plus any other location that might seem appropriate can help insure that the customer isn’t hit with a surprise at checkout time.

If you are not doing this, you may very well be able to help your sales by doing so.

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