Cart Abandonment: Nipping FUDDs in the Bud

Elmer Fudd With GunWhat are FUDDs? We’re not talking about wabbit-hunters or the beer of choice in Shelbyville. FUDDs are fears, uncertainties, doubts and deal breakers that influence consumers’ purchase decisions. How you address them can have a huge impact on your conversion rates.

PayPal and ComScore recently conducted a study on shopping cart abandonment and discovered customers’ top reasons were

  • Shipping charges too high – 43%

  • Total cost of purchase more expensive than anticipated – 36%
  • Wanted to comparison shop at other Web sites before making a purchase – 27%
  • Could not contact customer support to answer questions – 16%
  • Forgot usernames and passwords for store accounts – 14%

Though it ranks third, I believe the key here is “wanted to comparison shop at other websites before making a purchase.” If a customer has true purchase intent (not just browsing or running out the clock at work), if you don’t ease the FUDDs, he or she is going to find a wabbit (e-store) that does.

Free Shipping – King of Counter-FUDDs

44% of shoppers surveyed by the e-Tailing Group’s research in late 2006 reported they typically compare 3 stores when making a decision, and 84% cited free shipping as “very to most influential” when buying gifts online. It could very well be a dealbreaker between buying from you or a competitor.

So online stores that offer free shipping have an advantage over stores that don’t, right? Not unless the free shipping message gets through to the customer.

Example: I Googled “Jack Lalanne juicer free shipping” and found several products:

I hate to say this is among the worst product pages I have ever seen. Aside from the large block of text and the absence of a buy button, this page actually ranked above the other examples in organic search. As a customer who typed in “jack lalanne juicer free shipping” I expect free shipping and I’m going to hunt for the free shipping information, which you might spot if you have a keen eye:

But what if I came through a comparison shopping engine and had 6 open tabs from different retailers and I was comparison shopping? Would I notice this value proposition? Why is it not in my face near the price and add to cart button?

GNC’s got it right. Free shipping is clearly placed between the price and cart button in a bold, red type. It even assures you the item is in stock.

Walgreens’ incentive is off to the side and easier to miss.

Wal-Mart’s is a bit closer to the call-to-action, but the text link is not as prominent. Again, easier to overlook when a comparison shopper is flipping between online stores.

Overstock has $2.95 shipping which is almost free, especially since it often has very low prices to begin with. Overstock shows the offer at the top of the page above the navigation but not in the content area is not optimal. It’s a good idea to have this value proposition in both areas.

Can you see Kohl’s free shipping offer? Wouldn’t it be easier to see under the price?

You could also include the free shipping offer mid-product description:

Free Shipping on Steroids

As more online retailers jump on the free shipping boat, “free overnight shipping” and “free return shipping” have become the value-added incentives. Again, the key is to flaunt the value proposition whenever possible. offers free overnight shipping and wisely communicates this on product category pages…

…but “drops the shoe” on the product page! Search engine or shopping engine traffic might land right on the product page. Now’s the time to shove your value proposition in the customer’s face. And if PPC ads mention “free overnight shipping,” this landing page has lost its scent.

Pre-Checkout Calculators – Queen of Counter-FUDDs

A customer who add an item to cart from a product page only to experience “sticker shock” in the checkout process likely wouldn’t have added to cart had the full price been shown pre-checkout. That’s why shipping estimator and tax tools are very effective for reducing cart abandonment and improving your site’s usability. Even if you offer free shipping, unless you offer it on everything (no purchase threshold or restrictions on international orders), you should have a pre-checkout tax and shipping calculator.

Know What You’re Up Against

A beneficial exercise is to search for a product you carry and check out competitors’ offers and compare them to yours. Or grab a few people off the street and do an old-fashioned usability test, asking them to pretend they need to buy a certain product, and show them you and 5 competitors (in open tabs). Ask them who they’d buy from and why. You may gain insight into how your shipping offers fare against others, or how effectively you’re communicating your value propositions.

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19 Responses to “Cart Abandonment: Nipping FUDDs in the Bud”

  1. [...] heard this little acronym before this morning–had you? It’s nice that we have Linda at Get Elastic to help steer us [...]

  2. Thanks for the great writeup. We are investigating doing this on one of our sites currently. I’m going to attempt to measure shopping cart abandonment rates before and after the switch to see if there is a measurable difference.

  3. Excellent Brandon, if you feel inclined to share the results with us, that would be awesome :)

  4. [...] Cart Abandonment: Nipping FUDDs in the Bud | Get Elastic – How to improve your basket [...]

  5. [...] versandkostenfreie Lieferung aufmerksam machen sollte, wird recht anschaulich von Lind Bustos im E-Commerce Blog “Get Elastic” [...]

  6. [...] Global Solutions Ann Krause linked to the post from her World of Usability blog. She also linked to Nipping FUDDs in the Bud from What’s a FUDD?. So double thank yous, [...]

  7. [...] quality images and multiple product views, combined with user ratings and review feedback can help ease customer FUDDs (fears, uncertainties, doubts and dealbreakers) and reduce your rate of return, and also improve [...]

  8. [...] strategies for selling on the Internet. Recent posts include: “9 Privacy Policy Usability Tips,” “Cart Abandonment,” and “Dads and Grads: Missed Merchandising [...]

  9. Paul says:

    Thanks for good lesson.

  10. zhenik77 says:

    Great article, thanks! Now i understand why some cart.php in stats don’t result in real purchases. In most cases, i believe, it was just a search for same items free shipping or price comparing before clicking the pay button.

  11. [...] In addition to a strong value proposition, does your website address these FUDDs (fears, uncertainties, doubts and dealbreakers)? [...]

  12. [...] Ships to Canada & check out as you …” This immediately addressed Jason’s FUDD (fear, uncertainty, doubt and deal-breaker) of whether this store would ship to Canada. Even if [...]

  13. [...] product descriptions. Unique product descriptions help your search engine optimization, help overcome your customer FUDDs and ultimately sell more [...]

  14. [...] of creating a positive online reputation, I want to illustrate how retailers can address common consumer FUDDs (fears, uncertainties, doubts and deal-breakers) both on-site (today’s post) and through [...]

  15. [...] quality images and multiple product views, combined with user ratings and review feedback can help ease customer FUDDs (fears, uncertainties, doubts and dealbreakers) and reduce your rate of return, and also improve [...]

  16. [...] online channel has to understand the FUDDs (fears, uncertainties, doubts and deal-breakers) for each category may be different. It’s [...]

  17. Just a visitor says:

    As a consumer, I can’t believe my typical reason isn’t listed: I OFTEN register and use the shopping cart as a “wish list” when one isn’t offered by the website. I didn’t put the items in the cart with any intention to buy them then, I did it to “bookmark” them so that I can comparison shop or make up my mind or whatever and then come back and easily find the items I’d been looking that. Adding a wish list to the site would solve that problem (I find it hard to believe I’m the only person who does this!).

  18. Justin says:

    I appreciate The Simpsons reference.

  19. games5 says:

    Very strange and practical informations. Have you got any ideas for digital contents.

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