It's a common problem for any small business owner with an e-commerce enabled website. Clients and prospects abandoning their orders before check out.
Forget the wasted money in driving the prospect to the site--forget the money lost on not receiving the order. The worst part is that you never got a chance to truly sell to an interested prospect that may have become your biggest customer over time.
In my own experience, I have clients that know their abandon-rate off the top of their heads. While it's great to be knowledgeable about these types of statistics, I'd prefer they focus on not accepting cart abandon as a "given" or part of the status-quo.
With the above appearing to be easier said than done, my solution to them is to bring them back to focusing on the fact that e-commerce is really just fancy direct marketing. Back before the Internet existed (a scary thought, given our daily reliance on the Internet in today's business world) businesses focused on direct sales primarily either picked up the phone to make calls or simply waited for inbound calls to come in.
I like to continually remind myself of the "quick question" scenario. Putting myself in the prospect's shoes, it's possible I just have one little "quick question" before I hit the submit button. Don't we all need a little reassurance from time-to-time--and perhaps a friendly, knowledgeable person on the other line--especially before important or financially substantial transactions? And if he does have a quick-question, am I making it as easy as possible to get his question answered and get him on his way to hitting that final submit button?
Fact is, with all the advances in technology today, we're more likely to rely on automation and easy methods of communication before we enter the complex world of verbal communication. Think about how often, at work, you shoot off an e-mail rather than simply walking over for a face-to-face or even picking up the phone to address an issue.
Most of us are guilty-as-charged. And perhaps, as small business owners, we'd think that our prospects would understand -- but we'd be leaving money on the table by doing so. There are so many great, cost-effective, technologies out there these days that implementing them in our e-commerce sites would appear to be a no-brainer if they were to assist us in closing more e-commerce deals.
Simple solutions like adding Live Chat functionality to your e-commerce website certainly answers the "quick question" issue. Services provided from companies like LivePerson (http://www.liveperson.com) and Click121 (http://www.click121.com) are affordable, easy-to-use and implement, with FREE TRIALS available. Furthermore, the mere addition of Live Chat to your website will surely excite the very people who deal with your prospects and customers daily--and make you look like a pro to your prospects who opt to chat back-and-forth with you until the very point they hit that submit button.
Going a step further, solutions like adding Instant Call functions, also available at Click121, additionally alleviate the "quick question" issue--but now going beyond the computer to the phones. Prospects can opt to be instantly connected, by phone, directly to someone from your company that can help them. The software is so easy for both prospect and site owner that even a one-man (or woman)--operation can handle providing a much higher level of customer service.
Bottom-line is, offering added-value services of this sort are really no longer "added"--implying above-and-beyond--but really services that need to be tested by e-commerce site owners who are looking to step-to-the-plate for their prospects AND increase their overall conversion to sales.
In summary, if we put ourselves in the shoes of our prospects and those buying from us online, we'd realize we feel much more comfortable having every opportunity to interact with sellers in order to get our questions (even those of the "quick" variety) answered. So if we're focused on technology and automation in the e-commerce world, let's simply use more technology to give our buyers what they really want--a hotline to the person who's going to make them feel at-ease with spending their hard-earned dollars with your company.