Online watch retailers face battle to beat abandoned baskets

Watches are the fifth most common item that people go to purchase online, but then abandon before checkout, it was claimed today.

Brits typically discard online baskets worth almost £30 a month, potentially resulting in more than £18 billion of lost sales each year to the retail industry.

While retailers, including those in the watch trade, are taking steps to increase conversion, many lack access to crucial customer insights, according to Barclaycard, which compiled the data.

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It claims that 60% of merchants in a survey it conducted were unable to identify the average abandonment rate on their website.

Watches are among the list of top 10 categories most likely to suffer from customers either changing their mind at the time of purchase or failing to go through with a transaction.

Only women’s knitwear, leather goods such as wallets, lingerie and headphones are more likely to be abandoned at checkout.

Barclaycard’s study suggests shoppers are more fickle when buying online, with 41% having abandoned a transaction at a virtual check-out in the last year, compared to 24% who have walked away from a purchase in-store.

Yet, despite a clear opportunity to engage online consumers to help combat what it calls a “surf and turf” trend, six in ten retailers are unaware of the average buyer drop-out rate on their website and just 27% analyse the browsing behaviour of shoppers who abandon their baskets.

A further 45% are also unable to pinpoint lost sales by gender and 41% by age group.

This knowledge gap is also evident when it comes to identifying specific shopper behaviours online. Three in ten merchants to name the month when their website sees the highest level of shopping basket abandonment, while 37% are unable to identify the time of day when drop-outs peak.

Independent retail expert Clare Bailey said retailers need to in their payment process to ensure that the online shopping experience is as seamless and hassle-free as possible.

“In the same way that consumers can lose interest in a purchase when buying in-store due to long queues, they are also put off by confusing and long check-out processes online. As such, retailers don’t want to waste their efforts in helping customers get items into the basket only to fall at the final hurdle when customers drop out because of problems at the check-out.”

The most popular tactics retailers use to tackle basket abandonment are automated email reminders (30%) followed by a shopping basket ‘expiry period’ (19%) – which a further three in ten have plans to introduce in the future. For those that have taken this step, the average expiry period is 66 hours (2.8 days).

Barclaycard said that retailers could also improve their conversion rates by reducing the steps required to check out online, or securely storing card details so shoppers don’t need to re-enter them every time they visit a site.

Online basket abandonment: five key facts

  1. 8pm-10pm and 6pm-8pm are the peak times for online shopper drop-out.
  2. Retailers identify millennial shoppers (aged 25-34) as the most indecisive online, followed by 18-24-year-olds.
  3. December is the month with the highest level of online basket abandonment, followed by November and January, as shoppers browse Christmas present ideas and the Black Friday and January sales.
  4. Of those retailers who capture demographic data, 39% say women are more likely to abandon their online shopping basket, versus one in five who say men do – while 42% think men and women are equally indecisive.
  5. 17%of shoppers who abandon items online do so because they like to ‘window shop’ with no intention to buy – and more than 12% put items in an online basket to hold on to them so they don’t sell out.

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