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Abandoned Internet Shopping Carts: The Trillion Dollar Challenge

With so much competition in the market, eCommerce sites consistently face one huge problem — abandoned shopping baskets. It is believed that around $4.6 trillion worth of merchandise has been left unpurchased in online shopping baskets as consumers click through to the checkout screen, then have second thoughts and leave the site.

As November approaches, the focus of Internet retailers will be on enticing early Christmas shoppers to their sites as they look to get a head start on their festive shopping. Black Friday, which this year falls on November 29, is now firmly established in the seasonal calendar, with multiple sites offering their goods at heavily discounted prices.

If even a small percentage of these potential customers could be persuaded to finish their purchase, it could increase the overall commerce on websites by several billion dollars. A team of researchers from the University of Southampton and the University of Brighton have taken a new approach to combat this trillion-dollar shopping cart abandonment challenge.

Rather than looking to AI algorithms and ad words, the team considered this issue from a human psychological perspective, believing that customer shopping cart abandonment is underpinned by human motivation and self-regulation. Professor Paurav Shukla of the University of Southampton said:

The team examined whether there is a significant difference between customers who are generally promotion focused (having a greater emphasis on ambitions, advancement, and gains) and those who are prevention focused (predominately interested in avoiding losses) when they shop online.

The results of this study found a substantial difference between these self-regulation motivations. Promotion focused consumers, who are interested in positive outcomes, spent over twice as much on goods online compared to their loss avoiding counterparts — on average £735 compared to £354.

The team therefore determined that if companies can develop communication on the website that is focused on getting a positive outcome, they can induce a mindset of promotion focus among their potential customers. However, there was an interesting twist in the findings as Professor Shukla explained:

Provided by: University of Southampton [Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.]

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  • Troy was born and raised in Australia and has always wanted to know why and how things work, which led him to his love for science. He is a professional photographer and enjoys taking pictures of Australia's beautiful landscapes. He is also a professional storm chaser where he currently lives in Hervey Bay, Australia.

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