Thursday, October 1, 2009

Is Online Shopping Cart Abandonment a Problem?

I recently had a client approach me with a problem:

She was worried about a recent trend of visitors to her website browsing her online store, putting items in their shopping carts, then closing their browsers without completing a purchase. 

There is a certain amount of slippage between putting a(n) item(s) in a cart and actually completing a sale that is normal.  Looking for a handle on recent rates of Shopping Cart Abandonment, I bought the 2009 Ecommerce Benchmark Report by Marketing Sherpa.  According to the study, the average Shopping Cart Abandonment rate is 42.1% for Consumer Products companies (CPCs).  That same study reports that only four-out-of-ten CPCs even track that important metric.

It is easy to understand why an online merchant would be worried about Shopping Cart Abandonment -- abandoned carts mean lower sales figures -- but what if your website's abandonment rate is at 20% instead of the 42.1% average?  That would suggest that you are performing better than expected.

On the other hand, if you are experiencing Shopping Cart Abandonment at rates at or above the average, then you may need to reconsider your website's marketing strategy.  Sure, some of the purchases are cancelled because the consumer decides he or she cannot afford the item(s) in his or her cart or they do not have the time to complete their order.  There is little to be done about those parts of the problem, and there is a good chance those shoppers will return at a later date. 

If your Shopping Cart Abandonment rates are higher, it is an indication of problems either with your merchandising strategy or your website.

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