Conversions 11% Higher When Customers See Security

By: Chris Crum - September 21, 2009

McAfee released results from a study of 163 million online shoppers, and found that the majority of them are "digital window shoppers." In other words, they start shopping on a site, leave for a period of time, then return later to complete the sale.

According to McAfee’s findings, conversions were 11% higher for digital window shoppers who were shown a security cue, and the longer it took a customer to complete a sale, the more responsive they were to security cues.

"Online retailers who ignore the role security plays in converting digital window shoppers to customers are missing out on billions of dollars they can’t afford to lose in this economy," said Shane Keats, senior research analyst for McAfee. “Many will take traditional measures to get customers to return, like reducing shipping costs or offering coupons, but more can and should be done.”

A couple more noteworthy findings:

– 65% of all shoppers will wait a day or more to complete a purchase

– The average delay is 33 hours and 54 minutes

Naturally, whether they come back or not, this indicates that shopping cart abandonment is at play. A few months ago, PayPal released results from a survey on shopping cart abandonment, and here are the reasons that were cited:

– High shipping charges: 46 percent
– Wanted to comparison shop: 37 percent
–  Lack of money: 36 percent
–  Wanted to look for a coupon: 27 percent
–  Wanted to shop offline: 26 percent
–  Couldn’t find preferred pay option: 24 percent
–  Item was unavailable at checkout: 23 percent
–  Couldn’t find customer support: 22 percent
–  Concerned about security of credit card data: 21 percent

WebProNews/SmallBusinessNewz writer Doug Caverly recently reported, "One cause of abandonment is ‘couldn’t find preferred pay option.’ Another’s ‘item unavailable at checkout.’ Then ‘couldn’t find customer support’ and ‘security concerns’ kick in."

Sidenote: Here are some other good tips for optimizing your e-commerce conversions:

McAfee suggests that the abaondoned carts don’t necessarily mean the customers won’t still buy though. "Retailers shouldn’t misinterpret abandoned shopping carts – many of these potential sales return later to finalize the sale," said Keats. "Understanding this delay is critical for merchant analytics."

That’s not to say that  that if you are selling things online, there isn’t a good chance you are missing out on a substantial amount of money you easily could be making, if you only examined why people are leaving the shopping cart. Just focus on the ones who aren’t coming back.

Chris Crum

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

View all posts by Chris Crum
  • Stupidscript

    That PayPal survey churned out some wacky numbers! It would be good to be able to look at the survey and its results directly. All we have on this site are the breakdowns you see here. The original article from June has the same data, and no explanation of the survey’s methodology.

    From the looks of it, they allowed participants to select multiple reasons for abandonment, so while it is interesting to note that shipping charges are in the lead, overall, it is difficult to tell how many people just clicked any of the options because it was there, and not necessarily because it was the actual reason why they abandoned their cart.

    For example, if 5 users ONLY chose a security-related option, and 10 users chose a shipping price option, then figured “what the heck” and ADDED a security option to their list as an afterthought, one would need to speak with those surveyed to figure out that the 100% rating for security options was not necessarily in line with the 50% rating for shipping options … in fact (unbeknownst to us), both security and shipping costs were firmly at 50%, with maybe an extra 10% tossed on top of security to offset the secondary importance of those options in the grand scheme of things.

    Methodology counts. :)

  • Steve

    Some Affiliate Marketing networks only provide for a one day cookie which would lead to their affiliates not getting the sale commission in 89% of the cases. Some offer 30 to 45 day cookies which is a great feature. I wonder what McAfee is suggesting we place on our sites about security.

  • Making Money On Line

    I agree with the point made in the article that security is very important as well as many other things like cookies for making more sales.
    The lay out of the landing page also pays a great role. It is not so easy to make the best converting landing page as it seems. You have to try different ones in order to find out the best. All this testing may take months and will let you lose many sales during this time.

  • HomeWorkers

    A nice article with very interesting data.
    When you read it, a halo of surprise seems to come from somewhere and like surround your thoughts. After you THINK about it, that should be the surprising part !

  • Yahoo store developers

    “Security Cue” could include https address, browser lock or key icon, privacy policy link, clues provided by google, browser security software or a host of other elements. Even misspellings on a page could be interpreted as a security cue.

    It seems like McAfee is making a very broad statement and trying to infer that it is their badge that makes all the difference.

    With so many credit card graphics, “be my facebook friend” or “follow me on twitter” icons competing in the footer of most pages, i just can’t believe that more than 1 out of 10 customers is focused on hunting down the McAfee badge.

  • Donna

    .. for sharing this valuable research which can be used to narrow our focus on improving conversion rates.

  • Official Safety and Security

    As a web site owner of safety and security products, obviously security is important to me. I have always prominantly displaced my security logos and believe it helps with conversions. As a consumer too, I absolutely look for them myself when shopping online to increase my confidence in giving my credit card information. Thanks, Chris.

  • Ejvind

    There are so many different version of “security seals” that you may wonder if it is actually any safer with so many products claiming to be safe.

    I don’t particularly believe in the “safe” sites, as they could have been hacked or defaced anytime just before you go on it. So I will continue to shop everywhere I believe there is a good bargain or deal, and stay away from the places that are “too good to be true”

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  • Alex

    As the owner of JAB Cellular ( we greatly value this article. Customer security and satisfaction is our main priority.

    Thank you,

  • Barbara Zaccone

    We know as designers and smart online marketer that credibility seals are a must for any ecommerce web site. Even though the seals most often do not complement the color palette of the web site we insist that our customer allow them to be prominently displayed. Also any other profession designations can also boost customer trust, which can easily equate to a sale.