#1 Website Shopping Cart Mistake

The #1 website shopping cart mistake isn’t one that you make when you’re building your shopping cart. The mistake was made back in college when you decided that Psychology 101 was so easy you could skip half the classes. Because it’s what you would have learned in psychology that will drive more sales to your bottom line.

And ultimately – this is a really simple fix to a common mistake.

To fully understand why you need to do this you can either read Frank Kern’s new book, which I don’t even think has a title yet, or read Influence by Robert Cialdini. Both of them cover this concept quite thoroughly.

In a speech Cialdini gave to students at Pepperdine University, he told them about a restaurant that was having a hard time with it’s “taking reservations” policy. The group figured out they were losing a good bit on money on table turn-around with people who didn’t actually show up for their reservations. So they were thinking of going to first come, first serve only.

Fortunately, Cialdini made a suggestion that severely reduced their reservation no shows. (I’m sure you haven’t forgotten that we’re talking about the #1 website shopping cart mistake. Don’t worry – I haven’t either.)

Prior to the change the host had been taking the reservation, confirming the time and date and asking the customer to call and cancel if they weren’t going to come. Before I continue, this is the part of the website shopping cart where they type their information in and press “continue” to move to the credit card phase. In both cases, the customer is merely raising his hand and saying “I’m interested in this” – no commitment has been made.

So Cialdini made one very minor change to their “taking reservations” script. You’ll think the change was minute. He said do this: “When you’ve taken their information and confirmed the time and date ASK THEM if they will call if they need to cancel. Get them to say ‘yes, I’ll call”. That’s why skipping psychology was a bad thing to do.

Yes, if you ask them if they’ll call when their plans change, they have to go against their word if they plan to skip out. Basically, they’ve committed to you they’ll call. And that small difference turned their 12% no show rate into a 1% rate overnight.

And you can do this in your shopping cart, too. The reason it is the #1 website shopping cart mistake is because designers try to reduce everything down to one single click – but that fails you two ways. It fails you because the customer has made no commitment and because you’ve achieved nothing at this point.

So in your website shopping cart you’re going to make this small change. When they click to order, you want them to go to a page that says “Yes, I want to test drive this great software because I’m committed to becoming a better (gardner/ writer/basket weaver/internet marketer”). And then have them fill out the email opt-in box to move on.

When they hit “submit” then send them to the shopping cart page (on your site or someone else’s). If they don’t buy at this point, they’re going against their word here as well. It’s not that they’re going against a virtual pledge they made to you – but rather against a pledge they made to themselves. They’d have to break their word to do something other than what they already agreed to do. And it changes things dramatically.

And a little ninja trick to do with your autoresponder is to have the actual “buyers” on that list moved to a “Product buyer’s” list and offer the original “potential buyer’s list” that they agreed to in this new “commitment page”. That leaves all the people who “pledged” to themselves to buy the product but didn’t actually follow-through on a list by themselves. That’s a list you can do well marketing to and thereby increasing your sales.

So basically, the #1 website shopping cart mistake is not taking into account the personal psychology of the consumer buying process. What has been your experience with increasing your shopping cart sales?

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