November 06, 2006

Shopping Cart Abandonment

The Marketing Experiments Blog featured an article about shopping cart abandonment. The article stated that nearly sixty percent of shopping carts are abandoned online.

My question to all of you is this. Assuming you have done everything possible to eliminate problems in the check-out process, is there anything wrong with a sixty percent shopping cart abandonment rate?

In a store, you don't physically abandon your shopping cart, leaving ice cream sitting in the aisle for a store employee to restock. You have a social contract with the store. You respect people, and don't want to create extra work for employees. Worse, you don't want to get caught abandoning your shopping cart. You might get kicked-out of the store. You might have to purchase the melted ice cream.

Online, the social contract breaks down. Who is going to penalize you for abandoning the shopping cart? The shopping cart becomes much more of a "wish list" than a "shopping cart".

Assuming your business has done everything in its power to eliminate check-out problems, an abandoned shopping cart is a non-issue. Don't feel frightened about an issue that isn't always a problem.


  1. Is shopping cart abandonment an issue? HMMM...I actually think of it as more of an opportunity.

    You are dead on that the social contract on the web is different than that in a retail store. The way I see it, carting items that you want or may be interested in is part of the online purchase cycle. The good news is that companies can literally capture and act upon that shopping behavior.

    Look at it this way, you may not abandon a shopping cart in the middle of a store, but you certainly go in and try on clothing, then not purchase it...right? That behavior is somewhat emulated with the shopping cart in your online store.

    An abandoned shopping cart is an opportunity. It is an insight into the customer's preferences and potential. Companies would do well to create a program that attempts to re-capture those people that cart and item and then leave the store. The companies that have done this to date have seen a tremendous conversion rate and this is certainly a program that pays for itself. Especially if you automate this to a point where there is minimal human intervention to accomplish this.

  2. Good feedback Jeff, thanks for leaving the comment.

    When viewed as additional data that the marketer can use to help the customer in her shopping experience, shopping cart abandonment becomes a positive.


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