Danger: Abandoned shopping carts

Retailers claim to be omni-channel, but many operate with smoke and mirrors, unaligned systems and very poor manual processes within their businesses.

This month, I’ve abandoned shopping carts with a total value of almost $1,500. A custom exhaust pipe company in Italy, a woollen mill in Scotland, and a winery in South Australia. And according to a huge outdoor advertisement placed prominently below the Woolworths sign at their old head office opposite Sydney Town Hall, I’m not alone.  

I’m one of 68 per cent of online shoppers who abandon their cart before completing the checkout. And each abandoned cart was left in the great big aisle in the sky for a different reason. But in two cases I have been followed up diligently by a member of the company’s online team. Here’s the three experiences:

1. The sticker shock

The first one was caused by was “sticker shock” at the freight costs of the item from Italy. A lady named Adriana followed up with me within 24 hours. She wasn’t at work when I abandoned the cart as it was 2.30am in Italy when I stopped the purchase. She went backwards and forwards confirming the freight cost by postcode and explaining, “we no longer ship via any country’s postal service as too many items go missing”. Sad but true.  The pipes are now on their way via a trustworthy courier company.

2. Poor mobile-browsing experience

The second example was simply a case of running out of time trying to purchase through via a poorly “mobilised” website. I am a registered member having bought product before, but trying to navigate the site on my mobile was like trying to shop and try on clothes at a city clothing store with crutches and a leg cast on. Again, a lovely Scottish lady called my mobile (yes, from Scotland at a sensible time of my day, not hers) and the wool and cashmere rug is on its way.

3. Was it even online?

The third and final experience was a year-end offer on a case of a well-loved South Australian blend. Sadly, there is no happy ending. Having abandoned the cart, I decided three days later to follow up myself. The number on the website took me to a small privately owned bottle shop outside Adelaide. The owner confirmed they regularly get calls from online shoppers trying to reach the winery and kindly gave me the correct number. I placed the online order by phone and four days later the case arrived. Another one arrived two days after that. I’m a patient man with a thirst so phoned and had the delivery cost removed from the second order and will diligently work my way through the wine. I’m not sure I actually had an online experience here.

Why these three stories? Because most retailers claim to be omni-channel, but many operate with smoke and mirrors, unaligned systems and very poor manual processes within their businesses. With a bad system and good customer service you can still achieve 15 per cent of your combined store and online sales via an online portal. However, with very good systems and processes you can double your store sales via a truly outstanding online offering.  

Here’s the other reason. If I had driven to any one of those stores to buy the item, and assuming it was in stock, I would’ve had a “good” shopping experience. If you operate great stores with good prices and good service, your aisles will always be clear of abandoned carts!


Kevin Moore

Kevin Moore

Kevin is a retail expert and the Chairman of CROSSMARK Asia Pacific. He has spent 25 years working in and around retail for manufacturers, retailers and services providers across 44 countries. He keeps his finger on the retail pulse by walking 2,000 stores around the world each year looking at shopper marketing trends!