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I'm working on the e-commerce checkout experience and the GA shows we have quite a big drop-off rate.

I assume, the users often don't finish the checkout process, but just add the items to the cart and then observe the full order price.

I know the 4 most popular reasons for the calls from the user support. Our CEO wants (of course) to reduce the drop-rate and suggests to use the user feedback popup when the user leaves the page. I see this as a dark pattern that makes our website perceived as needy and distractful.

The option that I usually see is showing this popup when cursor is moving up the page, towards the tabs. NNg say it could be not attempt to leave, but just the intention to switch to a different tab and then probably return.

Another option I thought of is to add the pretty subtle "back" button and ask the user about the leaving reason after they return to the previous page.

What do you think? Shall I use one of two options mentioned, or something else?

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    Personally, I find the modal pop-up window by moving the mouse away from the page, a perfect reason to close the browser tab and leave the page. – Danielillo Mar 18 at 16:35
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Do you mean registered users? If so you may use their e-mail to ask anything you want or try to attract user to complete checkout by any available marketing tool.

Do you mean unregistered users? Attract user to register first using available marketing tools. Then - see above.

Imaging that you are leaving off-line store without any purchase. At exit somebody stops you and tells - 'Hi, we are doing our best but why are you leaving us without purchase?'

Workaround may include gathering and learning of uncheckouted buskets - type of goods, price, unfilled payment or delivery options, etc. Then hypothesize and make adjustments to test it.

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Users Hate These Options - All of Them

  • Popup when you are trying to leave the page

How dare you do that, I'll jump out even faster just out of spite and now I won't come back even though I was thinking of it before.

  • "Different" back button action

I'm trying to navigate around the site. Maybe I want to double-check something before ordering. Maybe I want to see what else is available before I finish the order but now I'll just leave because you won't let me do my shopping the way I want to.

About the only thing that doesn't, to me (and plenty of people I know), seem quite annoying is to offer an extra discount. If done right, that says "we know you're leaving but here is an actual reason to stay". Almost anything else is somewhere on the scale between mildly annoying and dark/creepy/obnoxious.

People Leaving the Page are Not Always Abandoning

People leave a checkout page for a LOT of different reasons:

  • Want to get as far as they can to make sure they have all information needed before getting approval for the purchase

  • Price/product/etc. comparison shopping

  • Competitors checking your pricing

  • Search engines or other robots (they stop when they get to a real form submission)

  • Tire Kickers

  • Research on mobile or on work computer but come back to actually buy from a regular computer (or from their personal computer)

Many of these will never buy. Many of them will buy, but it takes them multiple visits (which may not even be "connected" because of private browsing, multiple computers/devices and other reasons). Some of them may buy eventually but, particularly for large purchases, will take a long time to finally complete the transaction.

There are a lot of variables. But one thing is consistent: Users like the near anonymous, flexible, laid back, at their own pace, experience of buying online. Start nagging them and they may just say "I'll go elsewhere", just as they might walk out of a (non-Tesla) car dealer with a pushy salesman.

Let your products, prices, special features (whatever they may be) sell the products. Make the best web site you can - don't bother users if they seem to be going away - if not bothered then they may actually come back when they are ready to buy.

Direct user research - e.g., focus groups, user testing, etc. has definite value. But don't put your anonymous real-world users through a "why are you leaving" interrogation, no matter how small it may seem.

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It's very possible that if you asked a real user why s/he abandoned the cart, the response would be, "It's none of your business." So, you might want to be a little sneaky and install a tool like Hotjar (there's a free version that you can try). Watch the click maps, scroll maps and especially the screen recordings for clues on why the user abandoned the transaction.

This also sounds like a great case for incentivized user testing (even just basic testing with 3-5 in-person users), having them go through similar "problem purchasing paths" that you are seeing in your analytics.

  • Stacy, thanks for your reply. I already use something like HotJar and I can't understand the reason for the customers to leave the checkout. I'm afraid, the in-person usability test was not helpful, as the test participants were using the fake credentials, address and credit card for the checkout. That's why I would like to be "a little sneaky" and observe "through a keyhole", but how can I do it? – Anton T Mar 18 at 17:14
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What do you think? Shall I use one of two options mentioned, or something else?

You should simply let the user drop out, don't ask him anything in this moment, don't interrupt his actions (leaving the page, switching tabs etc.).

For registered users, use their e-mail after some time has passed and simply remind them that they have items in their shopping cart and haven't checked out yet, you can combine that with a discount code to give them more reason to return and checkout. Thats one way to get more conversions.

If your interested in their feedback you can write them another e-mail when time has passed and directly asking them why they haven't checked out, a simple form with 5-7 common reasons which they can click straight from their e-mail for example.

Combined with UX-Tracking software like Hotjar etc. you should get a pretty good picture of what might be the reason and how to change your page/process to get more conversions.

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