David Smith, managing director of the Interactive Media in Retail Group, the industry body for internet retailers:

“The question to ask is – where is the customer dropping out? It may be a simple thing like not having upfront delivery costs so people are disappointed when they get to the checkout and find out how much it is or that they can’t have the item delivered to a certain address. It might also be that people buy something as a gift and get turned off at the end because you don’t offer a wrapping service.

“It is about getting as much information upfront and putting yourself in the customer’s shoes.”

Saul Klein, partner at Index Ventures, a venture capital firm:

“A lot of this is starting with the principle that these things matter. People are very focused on how much money they make every week. They are not very focused on how much money they lose every week.

“It is about really focusing on all the steps that people take between hitting your website’s front door and parting with their money, measuring them and working out how to stop people leaving at each of these points.

“If you are offering people a free trial, which a lot of businesses now do because of the “freemium” business model, you have to ask why a customer has trusted enough in my product to try it, but hasn’t been made into a paying customer? Very small changes can end up making a very significant difference.”

Simon Black, managing director of Sage Pay:

“Tackling the payment process or online checkout can be challenging. It’s important to get it right because that’s ultimately where you get people to part with their cash.

”We found that those achieving above average conversion rates have fewer checkout pages and none ask customers to complete more than three steps during checkout. Most successful e-tailers make it easy for customers to find their shopping basket too.

“Another trick is to offer multiple payment methods. Give people choice, but tailor the payment types to your customers’ needs. Shoppers often use cards with loyalty points for high-value purchases or prefer to use an e-wallet such as PayPal.

“You also need to reassure customers because e-commerce is based on trust. Customise or at least brand your payment pages, if you can. Your customers will be reassured that they’re not being sent to an unfamiliar page. You should also have a security policy. Online shoppers are a savvy bunch and they’ll want to know how you’re handling their personal data.”

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