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FutureNow Article
Wednesday, Mar. 5, 2008

The Fight Against Shopping Cart Abandonment

By Robert Gorell
March 5th, 2008

cart_whisperer.jpgLiberty Fillmore is a man with a purpose.

He’s no hero. No, sir. Just an ordinary guy placed in extraordinary circumstances.

His mission: End the plight of abandoned shopping carts everywhere.

Fillmore has a natural talent for saving carts. He was born to do it. He is… The Cart Whisperer.

. . . everywhere I go, I see shopping carts tossed aside. Cast off. Abandoned. In super-value-store parking lots. And, more and more, on the interweb which is online. People say, “I’m all gonna fill up my shopping cart with things,” and then before they hit the BUY button, they say, “Oh, I don’t feel secure. I ain’t buying this stuff here.”

Well, boo hoo, cowards. How do you think that cart fills? Left there, full up and then abandoned before she can fulfill her cartly duties? Well, that’s why I rescue abandoned carts. And why I welcome the support of VeriSign and their EV SSL Product Thing. Join our ranks, and put your cart abandonment issues to rest.

How do you think that cart fills, indeed. Won’t somebody please think of the carts!?

Cart Awareness Starts at Home

Now, before you go door-to-door petitioning for cart awareness, you should know that — although we wish he were — The Cart Whisperer ain’t a real guy. No, ma’am. What we have here is a clever viral marketing campaign from VeriSign.

Let’s take a peek at a day in the life of Liberty….


According to VeriSign:


The … campaign is aimed at highlighting the pain companies experience as they try to understand why consumers fill online shopping carts, only to abandon them before buying. In the face of an uncertain economy, online retailers are clamoring to find ways to turn shoppers into buyers. At stake are hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenues lost to abandoned carts.

From a branding perspective, this works — assuming that people actually end up going to NoMoreAbandonedCarts.com (otherwise, they’d have no idea VeriSign was behind it). At the moment, though, over 1 million people have seen “The Cart Whisperer” clip.

Only time will tell whether this campaign boosts VeriSign’s bottom line, but it sure does its part to spread cart awareness.

On our mark. Get set. Trust us!

Trustmark logos are helpful, but they’re not the whole answer. If you think adding a trustmark to your e-commerce shop is enough to “end the plight of cart abandonment,” think again. (Sorry, Liberty, but ya cain’t save ‘em all by yer self.)

Trustmarks can boost conversion rates and lower cart abandonment to a degree, but there are many other ways to build trust. Here are three:

Simplify your privacy statement Roughly 75% of consumers assume that, as long as a site has a privacy policy, it won’t share data with third parties. Not only should you have a privacy policy, it should be clear and concise (e.g., “We value your privacy,” “We will not share your personal information — ever”). Try putting a clear statement like that next to your “Add to Cart” or “Buy Now” calls to action and test whether it improves conversion.

Get a decent “About Us” page. It’s amazing how few small e-tailers make the “About Us” page a priority. If your brand’s logo isn’t trustmark enough, customers need to know more about who you are if they’re going to be comfortable giving you money.

Optimize your shopping cart. Don’t blame Liberty Fillmore for an 80% abandonment rate. It’s possible you’re not giving would-be customers enough information. Do visitors need to click “Add to Cart” to see your pricing and shipping rates? If so, maybe your cart abandonment rate is misleading. Maybe it’s time to learn a few tricks from Amazon.

Godspeed, Liberty Fillmore. Your noble quest is our own.

. .

Shopping cart lonely? Gonna be in New York on June 3rd? Want to become a cart whisperer?

Add Your Comments

Comments (65)

  1. Hi Robert,

    Great post- and I’ve got a question for you. What do you think is the percentage of shopping carts that are abandoned because of the ‘trust’ factor- versus the percentage of carts that are abandoned simply because that’s how the customer is figuring out information?

    For instance, I’ve abandoned more than one cart not because I didn’t trust the vendor, but because:
    - it was the only way I could figure out the shipping charges/options.
    - it was the equivalent of picking an item up in a store and considering: “Do I really want this?” The sales page didn’t give me a way to just contemplate the whole thing at once.
    - pyschological factors related to the above, where I just wanted to see what it was like to maybe purchase it, and then decided I didn’t need it.

    In those instances, there is very little the vendor could’ve done to keep me from abandoning the cart. But, they could’ve created a situation where I had what I needed -before- I got into the shopping cart. And it would’ve left me with a more pleasant experience.

    Anyway- interested in your thoughts on this, if you care to share.

  2. Hi Robert,

    Mine is a small but niche website. I am using Paypal Shopping cart, which takes users away from website when they click BUY NOW or ADD TO CART. I am not sure how I can track how many people abandon the shopping cart, as they leave website once they click BUY NOW.

  3. That happens a lot. There’s at least 3 diff’t solutions to tracking this, none of them really satisfying and all differing in complexity. Since, as you say, you’ve a small niche site, I’d go with something relatively straight-forward and simple:

    1) treat the last page they are on your site as the Conversion Point (I’m using Persuasion Architecture terminology for this; you can easily look up definitions for this online). The entire scenario you’d be measuring for the customer would end at this point
    2) treat the page that customers come back to your site from PayPal as the start of a new scenario (it’ll be short, naturally)
    3) measure the two separately and make an assumption (albeit not a half-bad one when the alternative is no measurement at all) that in the aggregate a specific customer acts like a typical customer and therefore how people complete the scenario in (1) above *on average* will correspond to how people complete the scenario in (2) above *on average*.

    It’s not perfect, but it’s a start

    Now, if you have access to a medium skilled programmer what I’d also strongly suggest is that on the final step of (1) you set a specific cookie, separate from any other cookies you’re using on the site. Perhaps call it the “paypal” cookie :) All it needs to contain is some sort of unique ID for the transaction — you don’t have to link it directly to “Mary Smith’s” transaction but you do need to give Mary Smith a unique value for this cookie. For illustration purposes let’s give it a value “123-ABC” – obviosuly something unique will have a lot more characters in it.
    Again it is to identify this transaction specifically not Mary Smith generally.

    Then, at the start of scenario (2), read the cookie, and embed it into this second scenario. That way you’ll be able to go back with your analytics program and match these two scenarios together. (one too simple way might be to just throw the value of the cookie onto the URL and then let Google Analytics look for similar URL values to unite the two click paths).

    Again, this too isn’t perfect, but the act of doing it will unveil new ideas and thoughts to you for how to better measure this. And hopefully you’ll get a bit of a conversion tweak, enough to pay to transition off the PayPal system :)

  4. That is some very creative advertising from Verisign thanks Robert. Simplifying the Privacy Statement was a great tip.

  5. Hi Robert,

    I have worked a lot on finding ways to protect my customers from thinking about abandoning carts. One simple thing I have done is to implement a page which takes up their contact information and complete order details before they go to the payment page. By doing this, when any of my customers do not pay on payment page, an email is automatically sent to them offering them a direct link to their cart, which they can again checkout within no time.

    I find that very effective tool, and most of the missed leads convert to sales after I have implemented this.

  6. I found your site because I was looking for blogs to promote the short film I produced and co-directed about a man in Los Angeles who takes photos of shopping carts!

    out: http://www.docchallenge.org/Art/city-of-lost- carts.html. 12

  7. [...] Future Now: The fight against shopping cart abandonment: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2008/03/05/verisign-cart-whisperer-campaign/ [...]

  8. Your work is great Robert especially simplifying the Privacy Statement was a great tip,I congrats you.

  9. Yes, I agree. This is a great articles. My regard – Game Online

  10. The statement regarding privacy policy is very important. Consumers want clear and easy information and with huge privacy policy documents that require you to click away from the screen you are on in many cases will just put the customer off from the start. Talking to the people in a genuine statement is really important as well more convincing.

  11. That’s very true. The privacy policy page is so important. Without it, many customers would get away from your cart.

  12. I made a short documentary about real abandoned shopping carts and a man who photographs them!

    It is interesting to note that shopping carts in the offline world are abandoned AFTER the goods have been purchased!

  13. Yes, I agree. This is a great articles. My regard

  14. Yes, I agree. This is a great articles and thank you for your sharing.

  15. Your idea is the main point. i agree and thanks a lot..

  16. That’s very true. The privacy policy page is most important. i agree on your idea. Thank you for sharing.

  17. Thank you Robert.
    This is good advertising from Verisign.

  18. what a good idea to simplify the privacy statement, i agree totally with you.

    good post

  19. That is some very creative advertising from Verisign thanks Robert. Simplifying the Privacy Statement was a great tip.

  20. I love shopping carts.

  21. Whisperer marketing is a great form of promoting your site. However you have to know how to do it good. It’s worth to pay sb who does it pro.

  22. My 5 cents about provacy policy – a lot of marketing books/articles tells how it is important but in fact the users never read it. For standard user privacy polciy is useless. Have you ever read it?

  23. Yes, I agree. This is a great articles and thank you for your sharing.

  24. His work is particularly important simplification was Robert Privacy further advice.

  25. [...] [...]

  26. Shopping carts are not abandoned, they are fulfilling services that no other equipments are doing namely providing free goods transportation method to panhandlers

  27. I abandoned a cart once on a website and they had a very interesting way of getting me to come back. I got an email a few days later that would through in a free book if I put in a promo code. Needless to say I went back and finished my purchase and got an extra free book. It worked on me so I think it is a good idea.

  28. Shopping car abandonment? What an interesting topic, I will have to implement it on my site folks.

  29. Your work is great Robert especially simplifying the Privacy Statement was a great tip,I congrats you.

  30. Just like Jon Lajoie;s “Everyday normal guy”:) It is certainly cool to discover new shopping carts. And I think people are pigs because they abandon them and someone has to clean after them…

  31. Nice articles, thank you for sharing with us, I just bookmaker you site for feature reference and waiting for your new edition. Keep going, Thank again for shearing with us.

  32. I agree that all the sites should have privacy policy, but it should be written short. Very often you can find sites wich has privacy policy so long that I will be reading it for 30min and it makes me think that it’s written in a way that doesn’t give me security.

  33. I know now why it is important for us, how to minimize shopping cart abondonment. We can make a better system in our website. Thank you for you sharing.

  34. Hi,

    Yes, I like that. Thank you for your sharing.

    Greetz!

  35. I agree. The privacy policy page is so important. Without it, many customers would get away from your cart. I love this

  36. Well not all do bother about it.. some or few are after it

  37. Very funny video. My wife is like that when she sees a stray animal. In fact, we now have two dogs that she found on the side of the road.

  38. This looks like the kind of video me and my buddies would make. I love the acting, he should move to hollywood.

  39. . Needless to say I went back and finished my purchase and got an extra free book. It worked on me so I think it is a good idea.We can make a better system in our website. Thank you for you sharing.

  40. I agree with the general low priority ecommerce stores give their ‘About Us’ page. Unbelievable really!

  41. I’m no expert but have gained a bit of insight from selling online. We’ve got to find interesting way to entice them to stay. Hopefully someone will develop some kind of popup that comes up when they try to abandon the cart. Something that reminds them that they’ll get a free gift when they order.

  42. ahaha really funny video it looks like the shopping cart can move by itself ahaha

  43. I would say that when you have optimized web page, you have to track your conversion rates and also you have to have some kind of about us page visible with contact information and telephone number.

  44. I got an email a few days later that would through in a free book if I put in a promo code. Needless to say I went back and #

    i agree on your idea. Thank you for sharing.

  45. Interesting post. This is the job of all the web sellers.

  46. The privacy policy page is so important. On the other hand, nobody reads it.

  47. Yes, I like that. Thank you for your sharing.

  48. Robert I’m just about to launch my first ecommerce product so these tips are invaluable. I’ve also heard putting the benefits of the product on the order page helps as well.

  49. I’m amazed at how many companies are still getting the online shopping cart wrong. Too many steps, forcing the user to register, not displaying the shipping rates, concealing the tax – all things that cause the user to close the tab and go elsewhere.

  50. there is no doubt that all websites should include a privacy, but it should be short and well written .let’s be honest,nobody will read more than 5 lines in a privacy policy page

  51. There is a „Privacy Policy“ WordPress plugin which adds an adjustable privacy policy to your site. It couldn’t be simpler.

  52. Having good privacy statement and about page do help. But not sure it’s true if One is using paypal or other third party site for payment.

  53. Number of abandoned shopping carts in a local store could actually be a good number for some national chains about the relation of buyers to their store. A lot of abandoned shopping carts does probably show, that customers do not care much about the store, the service and the people in it. Regarding online shopping cars – link to Amazon is really good, they are probably the best in online sales and they have enormous amount of data to draw conclusions from.

  54. I guess this fully loaded and then abandoned shopping cart is the modern day window shopping. Customers are so much into this buying impulse especially when buying online when in fact they cannot afford what they had just picked up on their cart.

  55. There are number of opensouce and free shopping carts are available and people are using them for their business , But the feature are offering in this cars are quite awesome

  56. I’m amazed at how many companies are still getting the online shopping cart wrong. Too many steps, forcing the user to register, not displaying the shipping rates, concealing the tax – all things that cause the user to close the tab and go elsewhere.

  57. Consumers want clear and easy information and with huge privacy policy documents that require you to click away from the screen you are on in many cases will just put the customer off from the start.

  58. What about adding additional incentives one certain steps within your shopping part process that have high exit rates? Order right now and get….

  59. some of them using the shopping cart for bad purposes for hacking there details,so that its makes bad name on shopping cart usage

  60. Very funny. Amazing how the online world mimics real life.

  61. I just wonder how much would it cost to hire a programmer to make a good landing and sale pages and to make site look trusty. We just went with blogspot when we were starting and now when we finally made it SEO wise, we dont have nearly enough conversions we would like just because it’s a blogspot…sigh

  62. Again, this too isn’t perfect, but the act of doing it will unveil new ideas and thoughts to you for how to better measure this. And hopefully you’ll get a bit of a conversion tweak, enough to pay to transition off the PayPal system

  63. when one of my clients do not pay for the payment or email is automatically sent to them by providing direct links to their cart, which may checkout again in a short time

  64. Impressing article about Shopping Cart. This a new and valuable information for me. Thanks for sharing this article.

  65. It’s exhausting to seek out educated individuals on this topic, but you sound like you understand what you’re talking about! Thanks

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