Flash’s thoughts on why yours shoppers may think your shop is broken.

Over the years I have had some of my clients complain about this or that being ‘broken’ when in fact, it was the nut behind the wheel. My dad explained the troubles some drivers have with their car being tracked down to the nut behind the wheel.


Cookie Wearing Disguise

Does your shoppers computer accept cookies? Read this complaint:

On my iMac running 10.6.3 I can’t check out on the Apple online store. I can add items to my cart (doesn’t matter what it is: i’ve tried various items). But once I go to check out it asks me to login and when I do I get taken to a page that says “An error has occurred during your session. Please return to the Store Menu to continue shopping.” No matter how many times I try to checkout, I’ll get the same error. However, if I login to the Apple store from my Macbook Air running 10.5.8 (which recognizes me as the same account as the same items will show up in the cart) I can checkout fine with no problems.

Many internet users have their computers configured for them automatically, or by Geek Squat, their IT expert, or a well meaning friend. They may not even know what a cookie is and whether they have their acceptance turned off or on. This goes for images and javascript too! I have seen instances where a user’s JavaScript has been turned off by the security/firewall software they install on their local computers.

Read More on browsers and cookies:

Early Abandonment

Abandoning a shopping cart before purchase is still a common occurrence in online shopping. MarketingSherpa’s study in 2007 (as cited by Baker, 2007) found that, out of a survey of 1,923 online users, there was an average shopping cart abandonment rate of 52.1%. In another report, Goldwyn (2003) reported an abandonment rate before checkout of 75%. Primary reasons for abandonment include high shipping charges, high cost of items, price comparison with other sites, saving items for purchase later, and cumbersome checkout processes that required too much personal information.

Buying is the final step in the shopping experience and it should not be presumed that adding an item to the cart is a commitment to buy. Users in our studies are very hesitant to click the BUY button and search for an Add to Cart button on the page instead, or some other nomenclature. When they can’t find it, they may decide your shop is broken.

Right Click – Wrong Button

Updating the shopping cart’s content can be tricky to program but should be seamless to the user. Many sites still require a user to enter ‘0’ in the quantity field and click an Update button or link to delete the item (Figure 7). Use of a Remove or Delete button next to an item is a far more intuitive way to achieve this. If it does not jive with their expectations, they may decide your shop is broken.

Credit Criminal?

Credit Criminal in CuffsDeclined credit cards – When I look at the log, I see several DECLINED messages in succession. I also know the shop should be giving the user a visible error message, suggest they get these at the top in big red text: “credit card declined….”. Even then, they may think their card is valid and conclude it is your shop that is broken. If the customer thinks he has a perfectly valid credit card, but it is declined anyway, what else should he think but that you’re website is broken?

Empty Feeling

Failing to reenter information on a field at the checkout because one mandatory field was left blank. When the shopper clicks the Checkout button, but has failed to fill in all the mandatory form fields, such as email address, shipping address, the page will error. Some shoppers will complain that your site is broken, when in fact it is there lack of attention to detail.

Custom Cart of Off the Shelf

Off the shelf shopping carts is where most developers start; and stop when the client is looking for a rock bottom price. Much can be done to improve usability. Why not hire a usability expert? I can reccomend one. Google “shopping cart useabilty” and you will find plenty of reading. Then call me and we’ll put a plan into action. How about a big red ERROR, and your telephone number for cart issues. All carts will have them, don’t ‘cha know?, or they wouldn’t need error messages!

Many e-commerce checkouts are suffering from design problems which can be easily rectified. These include hidden charges, lack of clear delivery details, or poor usability. User registration, shipping costs that customers consider too high, or overlong checkout processes.

Flaky Prospects

Best DealSome carts are abandoned for reasons beyond the control of the retailer. Consider how some people will add items to their basket and reach the checkout when comparison shopping, with no intention of buying. Some carts are abondoned when customers go in search of a coupon code and never make it back; can’t find a code or simply lose there way on the internet shopping highway.

Auto Fill Flop House

Today’s browsers can and will auto fill in form fields. This can be problematic when it comes to shopping carts as they will even fill in credit card information. Additionally, if the software that auto-fills does not recognize a particular field, it won’t get filled in.

Are You Experienced

What level of experience a computer/internet user has, how a person connects to the internet, what quality computer a person is using, what browser they use (current or outdated), and the browsers/computers security configurations all play a vital role in a shopper having a successful checkout experience.


Bob Marley: “You can please some of the people some of the time, but you cannot please all of the people all of the time.”