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Famous Last Words : The Case for Secret E-shoppers

November 2012 By Denny Hatch
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I have spent more than 40 years writing and designing direct mail.

One basic rule hardwired into my DNA: Before committing a mailing to print, always hand samples over to strangers to make sure everything makes sense and it's easy to order. These could be relatives or folks in the office who work on other projects.

Some of the obvious screw-ups:

  • Are the benefits and offer easy to understand?
  • Are the pricing and payment options clear?
  • So the customer can order via the method most comfortable, are the street address, 800-number, fax number and email address included in the order form?
  • Does enough room exist to write in the name and full address?
  • Does enough room exist to fit the credit card account number, expiry and ID number?

If the prospective customer has trouble anywhere along the line, the mailing will be put aside and you've lost the order.

This is the equivalent of the abandoned shopping cart online.

Several months ago, I needed new rotary blades for my Philips 8240XL electric shaver and went shopping all over the Internet. At a number of websites, it was not clear how to order. I abandoned a slew of shopping carts and wound up ordering from

According to a survey by the Web researchers at, the average online shopping cart abandonment in 2012 is 66 percent.

Imagine the mayhem at supermarkets and retail stores if 66 percent of all customers walked out leaving shopping carts full of food and merchandise to clog the aisles and checkout lanes! More to the point, imagine leaving 66 percent of your potential revenue on the table for someone else to pick up!

Why Do Shoppers Abandon Carts?
Linda Bustos of came up with nine main reasons for shopping cart abandonment:

  • 57 percent of consumers abandoned a purchase due to "window shopping." (Just looking.)
  • 56 percent just saving for later.
  • 38 percent of consumers abandoned carts when delivery estimate exceeded seven days. (Instant gratification is important.)
  • 60 percent of consumers believe a guaranteed delivery date is important.
  • 73 percent of consumers want to see free shipping in checkout.
  • 56 percent of online shoppers want a variety of payment options.
  • 32 percent of online shoppers want to see product recommendations in the cart.
  • Online shoppers choose the cheapest shipping option two-thirds of the time.
  • 45 percent of online shops make money and 45 percent lose money on shipping.

Okay, some of the above is testable: free shipping vs. paid shipping, pricing, payment options, etc.


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