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87% of shoppers abandon shopping baskets, but 75% plan to return

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New research exploring reasons behind shopping basket abandonment has revealed that 87% of consumers abandon online shopping baskets. But, according to the study conducted by digital marketers Amaze in conjunction with the University of Glasgow, 75% claimed they would return at a later date to complete the purchase — effectively using the basket as a wish list.

In fact, the researchers found, the pleasure of browsing without the pain of buying is a real phenomenon that online retailers would do well to take into consideration when developing the ecommerce side of websites.

The researchers looked into the psychology of online shoppers and identified the personalities of three types of online shopper — vague, cost conscious and window shoppers.

42% of shoppers were labelled as ‘vague’ because they seek more information from other people before completing the purchase and stated that they ‘wanted to think about it’ or ‘consult with someone first’. Cost conscious shoppers accounted for 42% of customers and often cited ‘high postage’ costs or ‘found the item cheaper elsewhere’ as reasons why they didn’t complete the purchase.

The research found 16% of people surveyed could be labelled as window shoppers, with no intention to purchase, and claims that these customers should be discounted from online retailers’ abandonment rates.

“While techniques can be used to convince ‘vague’ and ‘cost conscious’ shoppers to buy, it doesn’t matter what retailers offer the ‘window shopper’ type of customer; they are there to browse, not spend money,” says Amaze’s Tunde Cockshott. “They experience the pleasure of shopping but without the pain of paying.”

“Retailers can stop scratching their heads trying to work out why shopping baskets are being loaded up only to be left at the checkout because there’s nothing they can do except exclude these visitors from their abandonment figures,” Cockshott added.

Shopping basket abandonment was more common for books, movies and music, but less likely around more expensive items including clothing, jewellery, electrical and computing products, the researchers found.

“Online retailers need to realise before they invest in behavioural targeting technology that the psychology of the shopper plays a key role in encouraging potential customers to complete their purchase,” says Cockshott. “Online stores could present hundreds of products that they believe their customers might like but if they’re window shopping, they’ll just walk on by, just like in the real world. While window shoppers will remain a fact of life in the real and virtual world, it’s now more important than ever that stores focus on human psychology rather than analytics if they are to get their share of the online consumer’s wallet.”

Readers can download the full research findings as a pdf document from Amaze’s website.

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