KEY POINTS 

  • Shopping cart abandonment is a multi-trillion dollar headache for online merchants, but it's also a huge opportunity. Approximately $4.6 trillion worth of merchandise will be left unpurchased in online shopping carts this year, and about 60% of that is potentially recoverable by savvy online retailers, according to BI Intelligence estimates. Recoverable sales equate to an estimated $2.75 trillion.  
  • Cart abandonment is increasing and will continue to do so as more consumers shift to mobile shopping. It's grown increasingly easy to browse for items on mobile, but entering all of the form fields at the checkout stage is still difficult. This lowers conversions and pushes the overall abandonment rate higher. We estimate that the global abandonment rate will rise to 73.4% this year, up from about 71.1% in 2014. 
  • There are multiple causes of abandonment. Unexpected shipping costs, having to create an account, poor checkout experiences, and lengthy delivery times can all contribute to a customer's decision to drop off the purchase path. As a result, retailers should invest in shipping options, checkout pages, and other tools to boost conversions. 
  • Amazon is likely both causing and benefiting from shopping cart abandonment. Amazon's sheer size and Prime membership base means it can't be ignored as a contributor to increasing abandonment rates. The retailer is likely stirring fierce price competition, causing consumers to fill up multiple carts. And Amazon's perks and existing customer base could allow it to capture the final sale more often, leaving competitors with empty carts.
  • There are mitigating factors. Retailers can work with marketing firms to retarget customers with abandoned carts via email. Moreover, the use of apps, which outperform the mobile web in a number of areas, is on the rise globally. Investing more heavily in mobile apps could solve some of the pain points causing abandonment. 
  • Brick-and-mortars can benefit when intended purchases are later made offline. Consumers are increasingly "webrooming," whereby they identify a product online and eventually purchase it in-store. An abandoned shopping cart should be seen as one of the increasingly complex series of steps a consumer might take before finally making a purchase and a strong indicator of consumer interest in a product or a brand. It's important for brick-and-mortar retailers to have a store inventory that mirrors what's on their websites in order to capitalize on the increase in cross-channel shopping behavior.

Introduction

Shopping cart abandonment is a [...]