January 16, 2004, 12:00 AM

Cart abandonment is high, but e-retailers have more control than they know

Abandoned carts could cost online marketers $63 billion this year, but analytics provider WebTrends/NetIQ says they don`t have to. Analytics suggest improvements at PersonalCreations.com that boost sales by 30%.

The cost of shopping cart abandonment to online marketers could rise as high as $63 billion this year, according to the estimate of Datamonitor. But a new survey from analytics provider Web Trends/Net IQ Corp. suggests that online merchants exercise more control over factors that lead to cart bail-out than they may realize, and that abandonment could be reduced significantly with minor web site changes.

The survey showed, for example, that 35% of the 600-plus consumers polled had abandoned carts due to additional costs such as shipping or because delivery times were too long. The second most-cited reason for cart abandonment was that web sites ask for too much information in order to make a purchase, which was mentioned by 30%. 17% of those surveyed said they abandoned online purchases due to a lack of product information, while 14% said they changed their minds and opted to purchase at a store instead of online.

By using analytics, retailers can identify weak points in their online shopping process and make improvements that can boost profitability. WebTrends client and gift retailer Personal Creations, for example, found it was risking lost sales with site navigation some visitors found cumbersome. Based on analytic data, the company altered the navigation process and saw its online sales increase by 30%, according to WebTrends.

In other findings, the survey found that 42% of those polled research online prior to making a purchase always or most of the time. Price was ranked the most important feature in terms of driving shoppers back to web sties to make additional purchases, cited by 55% of respondents; while site security, cited by 52%, was ranked the second most important factor.

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