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Abandoned shopping carts cost the industry dear

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The multi-billion cost of abandoned shopping carts to the e-commerce industry is revealed in a new report.

Nine out of ten e-commerce shoppers have at some point left a site without buying after putting goods, according to the Royal Mail’s 2009 Delivery Matters Research. One in three buyers did so frequently last year, resulting in lost sales of £2.7bn. And more than half of those who abandoned their carts said they did so because they were unhappy with the delivery charge.

Clear information about delivery charges would lead 60% of online visitors to continue shopping with an e-commerce, the report showed.

Eight of ten (82%) of online shoppers said free delivery on all items would encourage them to increase their use of a site, while 65% would do so because of good customer service.

Just under a third (31%) said they abandoned a cart because delivery would take too long.

Dan Hewett, head of small business goods fulfillment at Royal Mail, said: “The online marketplace grows ever more competitive and having tempted shoppers to explore their stores, e-tailers simply cannot afford to miss out on sales because of poor website functionality and inadequate delivery information.

““Our research shows that delivery details and options remain a major influence on online shopping habits.”

In response the Royal Mail has launched a free Delivery Promise Tool that retailers can use to analyse their website from a shopper’s view.

Everyone who uses the service, which takes 15 minutes to complete, will receive a detailed report, recommending improvements to each part of the website, from site navigation to delivery options, the buying process and customer information.

Our view: Why is it that so many online retail sites don't tell shoppers how much the delivery is going to cost till the end of the process? We must all have abandoned purchases, especially those for relatively small items where a relatively enormous delivery cost is revealed at the end. I even heard about one case not so long ago, where an extra delivery charge was revealed after the payment had been taken.

None of this works for customers - who want to their internet bargain to remain a bargain, even when it's been sent in the post. So the big issue is knowledge, this report shows. Tell a customer how much it's going to cost up front and cut down on abandoned cart statistics.

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