Wednesday, March 16, 2005

When is a Shopping Cart Not a Shopping Cart?

Ken Leonard of ScanAlert crunched a lot of numbers from the 2004 online holiday shopping season and made a remarkable discovery – people use shopping carts to compare the fully loaded prices. They load up carts on multiple sites, compare the prices and either window shop or take their own sweet time to pick the best one.

Therefore our concerns about shopping cart abandonment are as much about how, where and when we display cost elements, the limits of comparative shopping functionality and the inability to compare apples-to-apples as they are about the merchandise, the pricing or the number of clicks necessary to check out.

Published in the March issue of Internet Retailer (, Ken tracks the lag time between loading a cart and checking out by product set. Lag times between clicking and checking out range from 19 to 61 hours. 14% of those who put items in the cart took more than a week to close the deal.

This documents customers caution and their need for comparative research. It should set the agenda for online merchants to create comparative shopping strategies before Froogle (, MySimon ( or others do it for them.


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