Study: Most E-Shoppers Abandon Carts

A study released Monday by BizRate.com shows that the average online shopper abandoned two or three Web shopping carts over the last 90 days, each representing lost sales of $175 (US$).

“Imagine if your local store had aisle after aisle of shopping carts filled with unclaimed goods. It’s a disturbing problem, but represents the reality facing many online merchants today,” said Seth Geiger, vice president of professional services for Los Angeles-based firm.

The BizRate study echoes the findings of a report released last week by Creative Good. According to the consulting firm, e-tailers stand to lose almost $15 billion in sales during the holiday shopping period unless they improve the online shopping experience.

Where Sales Are Lost

BizRate.com’s survey of more than 9,500 respondents revealed that 55 percent of shoppers who abandoned carts did so before they reached the checkout process. Another 32 percent abandoned their carts at the point of sale, either when entering their billing and shipping information or after the final calculation of the sale.

The Creative Good study found that problems with the checkout process accounted for over 40 percent of all failed sales.

Shoppers most commonly abandoned apparel items, but also left behind computer-related goods, books, music CDs and videos.

Overcoming Obstacles

More than 40 percent of the respondents to the BizRate.com survey said that they had abandoned their carts because of expensive shipping and handling charges. Another 21 percent said that they gave up because of slow-loading pages.

Although 31 percent of respondents said they abandoned their carts because they had changed their mind, the BizRate.com survey found that more than half of the items in abandoned shopping carts were purchased later by the survey respondents. Forty-four percent of those items were purchased from offline or online competitors.

“Customers have made no secret of their online shopping frustrations,” said Geiger. “The key will be how well merchants listen to shoppers before the start of the holiday shopping season.”

Signs of Change

There are signs that e-tailers are taking action to improve the online shopping experience. A study released last month by IDC forecasted that the percentage of business-to-consumer (B2C) sites that offer interactive customer service will increase a whopping 110 percent this year — from 21 percent in the spring of 2000 to 41 percent in spring 2001.

Although the survey asked what changes B2C companies would be making before spring 2001, IDC researcher Molly Upton told the E-Commerce Times that many of the companies surveyed said they hope to put the finishing touches on improved customer service features in time for the holiday season.

Offering customers online order tracking is fast becoming a high priority. IDC found that the percentage of sites with this capability is expected to almost double from less than 22 percent to nearly 40 percent by early next year.

Part of the reason for the rush to add online order tracking is the extensive press coverage given to last year’s holiday debacle, which left numerous customers irate because their holiday gifts did not arrive on time.

Seven companies, including Toysrus.com and CDNow, were ordered by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to pay fines totaling $1.5 million dollars for late deliveries during the 1999 holiday season.

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