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Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment with Themed Navigation

Oct 8, 2007
According to the MarketLive Performance Index 2007 approximately 96% of visitors to an e-commerce website will not make a purchase and nearly 58% of shoppers will abandon their cart before completing their order.

To put this into perspective, imagine a brick and mortar store had the same statistics: only 4% of the people who visited the store made a purchase and 58% of the people who did put items in their shopping cart simply walked out of the store, abandoning their cart without making a purchase. How long do you think this store would stay in business?

Avoiding Shopping Cart Abandonment

This is a serious problem facing online business owners. Having a website that sells products may seem like an easy way to make a living, but it is actually quite the opposite. An e-commerce site is a tricky proposition, because so many factors are involved in making a sale online. When evaluating the effectiveness of the site you are looking at the psychological reasoning of what makes a person buy, as well is how effectively the website interacts with the consumer, so that a sale can take place. Both components of the equation have to be there to create the right balance of confidence for the consumer to make a purchase.

Product Page

Let's start by looking at the product page of a website. If people are taking the time to visit the product page and not opening up a shopping cart, the three areas you need to look at are: content, photography, and navigation.

Product Page Content

The content on a product page is critical to making the sale. The information needs to be scannable and detailed. Look at it from the consumer's viewpoint. What information do they need to make a decision? Think about the questions they might ask and include those answers in the description.

Along with the description of the product, be sure to include the benefits to purchasing the product. Remember, people buy for emotional reasons. Create enticing copy that appeals to your audience and makes them reach for their credit cards.

Also include information on the product page that helps build consumer confidence in making their purchase. Include shipping information, in-stock status, policies on returning merchandise, and guarantees.


The photography of a product is crucial to meeting a shopper's expectations. Consider having multiple angles of the product and enlarged views that open to a new window.

Even if you are a small home-based business, use professional photography of your products. A poorly lighted or fuzzy product picture could cause shoppers to lose confidence in your site. They might think you are untrustworthy and worry about their order ever being received.

Product Page Navigation

Poor navigation of the products page is probably the biggest reason for shoppers not opening a cart. According to Forrester Research, shoppers said they didn't open a cart because it was simply too difficult.

Make it easy for consumers to buy from your site by making simple changes to the "add-to-cart" button:
*Place the button above the fold.
*Give the button a color that stands out on the page.
*Make sure the button is visible when new windows open on the page.

Themed Navigation

Consider using navigation on the homepage that takes visitors to more than just product categories. Use multiple navigation paths to make it easier for shoppers to find your products.

One highly effective technique is "themed" navigation. According to the MarketLive Performance Index 2007, sites using themed navigation earned 40% more revenue per visit.

Rather than selling a product by category, you create themes like: daily specials, holiday sales, seasonal specials, or appeal to a specific group like new moms. It works the same way as if you were shopping in a store for a pair of pants. When you find the pants, they are displayed with a matching shirt and jacket that look fantastic together. So in addition to buying the pants you end up buying a shirt and jacket.


If you haven't considered using themed navigation, take a look at your website and see how you could logically group some of your products together and create a bundle that is irresistible to a shopper. Use themed navigation, along with improved content and photography to reduce shopping cart abandonment.
About the Author
Michelle Howe, MBA, president of Internet Word Magic, specializes in writing irresistible copy for websites. Transform the way you do business. Visit her website at http://www.InternetWordMagic.com for a FR^EE chapter download of her new book "Turn Browsers into Buyers".
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