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Delivery costs a major factor in abandoned baskets that are set to cost retailers £6bn in 2013

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Delivery costs are driving online shoppers to abandon their purchases, and are a major factor in the £6bn set to be lost by retailers in 2013 as a result of abandoned baskets.

The latest eCustomerServiceIndex from eDigitalResearch and IMRG questioned 2,000 online shoppers and found 77% of them had abandoned an ecommerce shopping basket in the last year. When asked why, some 53% of them said delivery costs were too high, while 26% put something in an online basket ‘just to check’ delivery costs, and 18% decided not to buy because the estimated delivery date was too long. Other reasons came from the 44% who said they’d changed their mind about making the purchase while 39% wanted longer to think about it.

Some 65% of those who abandoned the checkout because they felt delivery costs were unreasonable then went on to search online to find similar goods elsewhere. One in five made no purchase at all, while 8% went to a store to buy.

Derek Eccleston, commercial director at eDigitalResearch, said: “Delivery has long been a key part of the customer journey that online shoppers feel retailers must improve.

“Investment in better parcel tracking, timed delivery slots and other innovations has gone some way to improving customer satisfaction with overall customer experience, but these results clearly show that issues surrounding delivery are still a massive barrier to purchase for a large chunk of online shoppers.”

He said linked findings showed most shoppers would prefer not to pay more than £5 for small or medium-sized goods to be send to them, with most expecting not to pay at all. “If retailers really want to capitalize on the Christmas shopping boom this year, then they must look to improve their delivery experience from costs to timescales, helping to encourage shoppers to spend more.”

Reasons cited for checkout abandonment also included out of stock (21%), limited information on which to make a purchase decision (12%), security concerns, limited payment options, and unclear returns policies (both 8%).

Andy Mulcahy, editor, IMRG, said: “Basket and checkout abandonment rates have remained high since we have been tracking them and only slight improvements have been made at the overall industry level.

“The survey results are clear that delivery costs are something customers feel very strongly about and it may be that introducing greater clarity around them up front could help reduce the estimated £6bn retailers are going to miss out on this year due to checkout abandonment.”

Our view: At Internet Retailing we often argue that delivery is fast becoming a key differentiator between retailers. This study gives us more evidence for that view. It's clear that getting delivery right – and that means quickly and at a cost-effective rate – is a real way that retailers can boost their sales. Also important, however, is that they make a profit at the same time.

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