Putting the Cart Before the Horse

Consider this scenario dear readers: Would you go into a store, walk up and down the aisles grabbing items and placing them into your cart, get to the register and just leave it there? Seems a bit ridiculous doesn't it? Well in the online world it is all too common. Why?

I'm happy to report that online shopping is growing consistently. However, shopping cart abandonment is at an all-time high. According to DoubleClick's "2004 E-Commerce Site Trend Report," carting frequency has risen from 9.4 percent. Abandoned carts have increased by 24 percent yearly. This represents 57 percent of all carts that are ditched.

I thought about this and wondered if shoppers are leaving carts for some reason (maybe to go get a credit card). When I researched further I found that most were not coming back to their carts.

According to the study this gets costly for eTailers. It is estimated that for every dollar spent there is $4.51 left in the cart.

On the positive side, overall conversions and order transactions have increased. Close to 5 percent of eCommerce visits represent a conversion (this is up 14 percent over last year). The average online value is up (15 percent) a little over $134 USD.



Let's sneak a peek at online shoppers. They look at about 11 pages per session but spend less time per page (29 seconds versus 32.5 last year). All this virtual shopping per session typically takes them less than 5 minutes.

When shopping online, consumers want convenience. Just under half of all onsite searches resulted in a conversion. This functionality rose 26 percent this year.

If you are reading this and you are responsible for selling products and services online, consider the following: The market is hot and growing. Consumers want convenience. They want to have an easy time finding, comparing, and searching for products online. When online, they typically know what they want and tend to have broadband access.

According to The Dieringer Research Group, 43 percent of Internet users bought products from a retailer's offline store after viewing them on the seller's Web site. The study said that for every dollar spent online, consumers are influenced to spend another $6 offline.

Studies also found:

- Nearly 100 million adults made purchases after doing online research last year.
- There was about 100 million adults that purchased products through catalogs, direct-mail ads, and telemarketing calls combined.
- 98.9 million of online searchers purchased products, either online or offline.
- 3 out of 5 American adults go online regularly
-The majority of U.S. residents now use the Web to shop.
- Online sales in the first six months of this year reached $27.8 billion, up 25 percent from last year's first half (ComScore)
-Consumers like coupons. Approximately 40 percent of U.S. online households use coupons distributed on the Internet.
-35 percent of shoppers who begin their product research at a manufacturer's Web site made a purchase within a week of starting research (Channel Intelligence).
-74 percent of the Internet population over the age of 13 will shop online this year (eMarketer).

So what does this mean to eTailers now? Seize the opportunity ASAP. The "2004 Online Holiday Mood Study" found that 98 percent of merchants anticipate online growth this holiday season. Also, 32 percent of consumers plan to do more of their holiday shopping online this year.

Seventy-two percent plan to begin holiday marketing at the same time as last year. Over half of online retailers (53 percent) will wait until after Halloween to begin promoting the holiday season, though most online shoppers will have started their shopping nearly a month before.

According to the survey, 53 percent of online shoppers plan to begin their holiday shopping by early October, when only 14 percent of merchants will have launched their online holiday marketing promotions.

Chuck Davis, CEO of, hit the nail on the head when he told recently, "Even consumers who may ultimately buy in the store are using the Internet to compare prices or research products."

I guess the bottom line is, people go online to research or purchase products. We need to come up with better ways to attract consumers and keep them converting. Have a story or some tips and tricks for the group? If so, post to the SPINboard.

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