It’s likely that not all customers would take all of these steps to convert, so determine the key steps that all users must take—that is, shopping cart, order review, and order confirmation—which represent your site’s core business process. Next, consider the subflows that might exist within that process, depending on whether a user has an existing account.
Analysis: Start Broad
Next, meet with your Web analyst partner for an hour to collaboratively examine the abandonment rates for your various flows. Ask that person to first build a fallout, or abandonment, funnel report for your key business process, comprising the essential steps for perhaps the past quarter—assuming there were no significant enhancements made or a redesign of those pages during that timeframe. It’s important to recognize that the data you’re looking at means very little right now, because you have no context or reference point from which you can derive meaning. Plus, while the raw numbers have little meaning, the percentages are more interesting. Sit back and take it in for a few moments. Think about these questions:
- Does the abandonment rate from the first to the last step surprise or concern you? If so, why?
- Does the abandonment rate after any given step surprise or concern you? Why?
- Do you think the data would surprise or concern business stakeholders? Why?
- Based on your usability assessment of this business process, what are your preliminary hypotheses around this data?
- What factors outside the user experience might account for the results?
- Were any enhancements or bug fixes deployed to those pages during that timeframe?
- Were there any marketing efforts during that timeframe that directed customers into the business process? (This is very unlikely for a checkout flow.)
- Were there any unique seasonal issues—for example, seasonal customer buying patterns—during that timeframe that might account for unique fluctuations? (This is also fairly unlikely for a checkout flow.)
- Where are customers going when they abandon at a given step?
- Are they going to a Help or Contact Us page? Does that matter?
- Are they exiting the site?
- Are they backing up within the flow?
- Are they returning to another process—for example, browsing products when they had already been in checkout?
- What does your partner think?
In a larger organization, you might benefit from printing the report and using it as a springboard for discussion with others who are closer to the activity around site conversion. Use that time to understand the site’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the site’s key conversion points.
And it’s worthwhile to keep a copy of the report for your own reference. (Although your Web analytics partner could recreate it at any time.) You may later benefit by noting trends in this data over time—does the data remain stable, or are there fluctuations? Also, try to track down industry benchmarks around this business process. Where does your site’s performance fall in relation to these benchmarks?