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Online Shoppers Aren't Impulsive 388

Rollie Hawk writes "When it comes to online shoppers, conventional wisdom has long been divided. Some have argued that the instant nature of shopping from home over the Internet leads to quick purchases while others have contended that easy price comparisons on the Web allow buyers to do more research first. For now, it looks like the latter camp is closer to the truth. According to a press release by ScanAlert, online shoppers are more frugal than many retailers previously thought. According to their testing, 35% take more than 12 hours to make a purchase, 21% take more than three days, and 14% take more than a week. On the average, online shoppers take 19 hours to make a purchase after the initial visit. This has some important marketing ramifications according to ScanAlert CEO Ken Leonard. "The implication to merchants is that the shopping cart is not just a convenience factor. It must be a comfort zone to shoppers. These results were not expected." In the press release, Leonard advised online sellers that "consumers abandon shopping carts with an ease that frustrates and often confuses online retailers. Retailers must understand, however, that almost half of all online purchases are from shoppers who leave a site after the first visit, and return -- even days later -- to buy.""
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Online Shoppers Aren't Impulsive

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  • by Monf ( 783812 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @12:46PM (#12421479)
    Where can I buy all the press releases from ScanAlert?
    • Are you sure you don't want to wait 19 hours before comitting to that?
    • by mizhi ( 186984 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @01:20PM (#12421915)
      How do these numbers compare to in store purchasing habits?

      Setting aside the difficulty of measuring these kinds of things, this study doesn't say anything about whether or not online purchasers are more impulsive than brick-mortar purchasers unless there's some sort of actual, quantitative comparison.

      That said, anecdotally, I don't doubt that people are less impulsive online. When I go shopping in a physical store, I generally know what I want already and I've already done my research, but I'm much more tempted to buy something on display on a whim. Worse, because of the physical labor involved, I generally don't walk around the mall comparing prices. Online, on the other hand, I'll take weeks making a purchase in order to get the best deal and even though it's really easy to put other things in my basket, I don't find it to be nearly as tempting.

      The exception to this is iTunes. There, I'm much more impulsive. "OOoh, 80's song I haven't heard in 20 years... (click)"
  • " online shoppers take 19 hours to make a purchase"

    I hope they take bathroom breaks.
    • Which is the whole reason Amazon pattened one-click buying.
      1. Make it slightly eaisier to get people to make the decision.
      2. MAke it take less time...

      I'm still curious as to whether these stats include a corection for the people who couldn't get the online sale thing to work or didn't have their pocket geek over their shoulder at the time they were "ready" to buy.

      I've had to walk friends, coworkers, family through online sales numberous times. If it'd been a simple matter of them just clicking a button (a
  • Duh.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @12:49PM (#12421516)
    If you're going to wait 3-6 days to get what you ordered then you're not an impusle buyer.
    • Re:Duh.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kc01 ( 772943 )
      Well, not actually. If it takes that long to make a decision to buy, you're not an impulse buyer.

      The shipping of the product(s) often takes 3-6 days or more.
      In this case, a person may be an impulse buyer without a strong sense of instant gratification.

    • Re:Duh.. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      A few years ago, (and many other sites) had free overnight shipping and no sales tax. I could get an item almost as quickly as I could by going to the store, and usually get it cheaper too. Impulse buying was pretty easy.

      Now, I usually let a bunch of items accumulate in my shopping cart at a site and then order so that I can save on shipping costs, and I don't usually bother with the fast shipping options. No more online impulse buying for me - except for songs from the iTunes store.
      • Re:Duh.. (Score:4, Informative)

        by rkcallaghan ( 858110 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @03:05PM (#12423433) also sold my email address to spammers.

        I have the paid version of Yahoo Mail which includes AddressGuard; so for every site like that I go to I can make disposable addresses.

        I have about 50 active versions; I made a single purchase from and made my email ""; within a week only that one began to recieve spam. Yes, I make a concious effort as well to uncheck anything that says "we will sell you out to spammers"

        So, don't forget TINSTAAFL; that money has to come from somewhere.

    • Exactly, and this, combined with low cost and a firm knowledge of what you're buying, is why people make impulse buys on sites like itunes all of the time.
  • Heard that before (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @12:49PM (#12421527)
    "consumers abandon shopping carts with an ease that frustrates and often confuses online retailers"

    Given that online purchases involve a potential purchaser having to evaluate a virtual product, rather than something tangible, how can they be surprised? I'm dumbfounded that online sellers compare an eCart to a real shopping trolley. Are they off theirs?
    • by steveg ( 55825 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @12:54PM (#12421599)
      A big factor here is that at some sites, the only way you can get a good idea of the price (and shipping charges, etc.) is to commit it to the shopping cart. I've even seen some sites that explicitly acknowlege that -- "To see the price put it in your shopping cart. You can delete it if you don't want it."
      • by Sylver Dragon ( 445237 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @01:14PM (#12421852) Journal
        Agreed, this is why I abandon a lot of shopping carts online. I really hate it when a site tries to make me jump through all the hoops of buying a product before telling me the price of the product. If you can't be up front with your price, you aren't worth my time. I've seen sites go so far as to try to get me to put in all of my shipping and payment information, before telling me a price. Forget it, I'll put up with having it in my shopping cart, but unless I'm actually going to buy the item, I'm keeping the rest of that info to myself. The same goes for registering for a site to see prices. Either let me see the prices, or piss off.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @01:30PM (#12422029)
          More often than not, it's not the store's fault. Manufacturers often place restrictions on how sellers can advertise their products. It's called the Minimum Advertised Price (MAP), and is used by the manufacturers to ward off down-pressure on their prices. Honestly, I'm sure the sellers would love for everyone to know that their price is way below everyone else's.

          The policy sucks, but blame the manufacturers, not the sellers.
        • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @01:45PM (#12422196)
          Many manufacturers put a Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) into effect. They tell you that you cannot advertise their product below a certian point, if you do, they'll quit selling to you. Well online stores can get around that by not advertising a price, and just having you add it to your cart. After all, they have to give you a price when it's in your cart. Others have a little thing to "get a quote".

          Sometimes it's just the stores being stupid, but often they have no choice.
          • I'm pretty sure a MAP constitutes a fair and free trade rule of law. In fact, I seem to recall a price fixing lawsuit wherein the record industry was setting an advertised price floor, which was enforced by tying the rule to an advertising fee which offsets the retailer costs of printing circulars. In the end, the industry settled, promised not to do so again, and admitted no wrongdoing. In other words, the DA got a win, some buerocrat gets a job distributing the wealth to libraries (and subsequently get in
        • by dougmc ( 70836 ) <> on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @01:59PM (#12422372) Homepage
          I really hate it when a site tries to make me jump through all the hoops of buying a product before telling me the price of the product.
          Agreed, though it's a minor inconvenience, so I don't really care too much.

          What really annoys me is sites that make it impossible to determine the shipping costs. Many require that you go almost all of the way through the ordering process, often even going past the point where I enter my credit card, before I'm given any clue what the shipping will be.

          Here's a free clue for you, online retailers -- when I run into a site that doesn't tell me what shipping will be without making an order, I usually go somewhere else. If you won't tell me the shipping cost up front, my reasoning is that it probably sucks anyways. In reality, it may not, but it's not worth my time, and I'm certainly not going to enter my credit card number before I know how much I'm going to spend.

          As for complaining that people abandon shopping carts, well, we do that because we don't think of them as shopping carts. Because they're not. It's a list of items we might want to buy, stuff we're interested in. Not a list of things we are going to buy, at least not until we start checking out. And really, if a real brick and mortar store did some of the annoying tricks that online stores do to `trap' me into buying from them, I'd abandon my real shopping cart there too, though in that case somebody would have to put the stuff back so I might feel a tad guilty about it.

          Probably the best thing that an online retailer can do to encourage people to not forget about what they had in their `shopping cart' before is to make sure it persists. If we come back tomorrow or two weeks or two months later, remind us that we'd left some stuff in our `shopping cart'. Since we're not impulse buyers, if we really want something, we'll probably come back later. Don't make us find the stuff again.

    • " I'm dumbfounded that online sellers compare an eCart to a real shopping trolley. Are they off theirs?"

      Sure, it's obvious in hindsight, but it's really quite hard to predict consumer trends, no matter how obvious it seems afterwards.
    • Re:Heard that before (Score:5, Interesting)

      by flyingsquid ( 813711 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @12:57PM (#12421650)
      I'm dumbfounded that online sellers compare an eCart to a real shopping trolley.

      It's less effort to fill up a virtual shopping cart, and there's no issue with just walking away from it. Nothing says I can't pull a hundred items off the shelf at Safeway and then leave my cart in the isle, but it'll get me looked at funny and I'd feel guilty about making the staff restock everything. I have no qualms with wasting the time of a computer, though. So yeah, surprise surprise, the virtual metaphor ain't like the real thing.

      • If I pulled a hundred things off the shelf, but get too frustrated with the lines, I'm going to abandon the cart.

        If they don't want to restock, they should have had clerks ready to help me.

        • If I pulled a hundred things off the shelf, but get too frustrated with the lines, I'm going to abandon the cart.

          Do you really do this? How much more time do you waste to go back and try again? Seriously if you have already invested even 15 minutes and the wait is 20 minutes (a long wait) and your drive was say 10 minutes, you have already wasted 35-40 minutes and accomplished nothing, only to leave and come back. So, you have wasted at least 80 minutes out of the two trips where if you stayed you cou
          • As an individual decision, you are correct. However, if as an aggregate, a significant proportion of us behave this way, we affect change in corporate behavior. I would also say that this behavior will only have an impact if management sees that they are losing sales by understaffing checkout lines. Talk to a manager and kvetch.
    • Another problem is that shipping pricing isn't disclosed until you put the item into the shopping cart. Many times the rate is unexpectedly high so the customer will abandon the cart.
      • That's why I buy computer hardware/software almost exclusively from newegg & eWiz. They have basic shipping (Express Saver for NewEgg, & Ground for eWiz) rates right on the product pages. Special items with free basic shipping are even advertised as such in search lists for NewEgg. And adding the shipping price into the amount automatically is what makes pricewatch so great.

        I think a lot of sellers are discovering that price and professionalism are two of the biggest reasons a buyer buys from t

    • Re:Heard that before (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Smidge204 ( 605297 )
      I think a good part of this is exactly that: You can't examine the object first-hand.

      Another part may be, as hinted at in TFA, easier price comparisons. I know I visit several websites looking at prices before I even put serious thought into buying it. ("Do I really need it?", etc)

      There also might be a reluctance to buy things online in general, either because they are concerned about hassles of returning items, damage during shipping, or sending their credit card info into cyberspace.

      What I would like t
      • This is a good point. I'm definately willing to pay a little more in the local store vs online for ease of returns and the offset in shipping. I've had to return several online purchases in the past, and the money I've saved on initial purchase is more than used up on shipping back an item and the time it takes for turn-around.

        I would much rather head into the store, buy an item, and then return it the same day.
      • My online shopping (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Hoi Polloi ( 522990 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @02:54PM (#12423243) Journal
        The ability to compare prices and do research quickly is the big thing that stops me from impulse buying. Plus the fact that I don't feel any emotional prodding of the "Well I drove all the way out here so I might as well buy it" sort.

        My usual process is this:

        1. Check major sites' descriptions and prices (i.e. REI, Amazon, etc)

        2. Look up product reviews via Google and review sites (Toms Hardware, etc)

        3. Check similar items, if any

        4. Check prices via Froogle and Pricewatch

        5. Pick some sellers and check shipping costs on their sites

        6. Actually buy something

        Obviously this is a lot more fussing than I'd do in a brick/mortar store. I might spend weeks or months before I actually buy something.

        Pricewise shipping costs are the real killer for many online purchases. When you add in the cost of shipping the savings vs. buying it in a store frequently disappear, especially for something heavy like a monitor.
    • Re:Heard that before (Score:5, Interesting)

      by silentbozo ( 542534 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @01:22PM (#12421944) Journal
      "consumers abandon shopping carts with an ease that frustrates and often confuses online retailers"

      Consumers abandon shopping carts? What about when I spend an hour shopping, have to go away for a day or so, and when I come back, my shopping cart has been deleted on the server-side? Now THAT's frustrating!
  • Obviously... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ajiva ( 156759 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @12:49PM (#12421528)
    The reason shoppers take their time buying items online is because they know that a better deal is just a click away! It takes no effort to hop onto a competitor's site or a deal site to see if the same item can be found cheaper. On the other hand buying at a real shop has a lower pain threshold. It becomes very easy to say "why waste gas, time, etc I'll just buy this". Not to mention that its much harder to comparision shop, or read up on what other people think, etc.
    • The reason shoppers take their time buying items online is because they know that a better deal is just a click away! It takes no effort to hop onto a competitor's site or a deal site to see if the same item can be found cheaper.

      I should think that for a lot of more expensive purchases, the time spent in the research phase is probably a lot higher.

      I typically use the web for doing research into purchases that are either quite expensive, or I'm not 100% sure I'm comitted to buying yet, just entertaining

  • 19 hours? (Score:2, Funny)

    by ShaniaTwain ( 197446 )
    According to their testing, 35% take more than 12 hours to make a purchase, 21% take more than three days, and 14% take more than a week. On the average, online shoppers take 19 hours to make a purchase after the initial visit.

    WOW! they must have really slow connections. maybe they should upgrade the 300 baud modem while they're at it.
  • eBay (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kronak ( 723456 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @12:49PM (#12421532)
    The exception here is definetly eBay. By placing time restrictions on when people are able to buy items, particularly hard to find items, sellers are able to trick many buyers into believing they have to buy something.

    With other vendors however, there are so many options for where you can buy things that often you have to spend weeks just comparing prices.
    • Nothing is forcing you, if you want to pay an exhorbitant amount of money for some hard to find item you obviously place that value on it anyway and are justifying your purchase.

      Anyway, if time never ran out when would bidding be over? When the seller decides? I don't think so.
    • The online shopping network works the same trick. Time is running out, quantities are limited! Artificial or manufacturered scarcity. It triggers a response in people. Cabbage Patch dolls, Breakdancing Elmo or whatever it is - Hasbro and other toy people started it, and now others do it around the shopping seasons as well.
      • Scarcity = numbers below 300, everything else is a stupid justification for paying too much for something that is desired (most probably unreasonably, but that's the way desire works).
    • Re:eBay (Score:5, Insightful)

      by drooling-dog ( 189103 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @01:22PM (#12421935)
      It's odd that we refer to "winning" an auction, when what we've really done is to prove that we're willing to pay more for an item than anyone else. How is that winning? Yet the psychic prize of having "won" something keeps many an auction going, I'm sure...
      • Re:eBay (Score:4, Informative)

        by maxpublic ( 450413 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @01:46PM (#12422198) Homepage
        Crowd psychology. Despite the timers on auctions and the last-minute blitzes, you can induce people interested in the item to bid on it by doing so yourself. If you time things right and place the bid 'just so', other people who were initially waiting to bid close to the end of the auction will instead feel compelled to jump in and make a counter-bid of their own. A little social engineering and you can start a (completely nonsensical) bidding war over something that would never have reached it's ridiculous end price otherwise.

        I've done this before, just to see if it would work. It isn't at all logical, but many of the folks who frequent ebay often get excited when something like this happens and will get in on the action. I've managed to drive the price up on a selection of random items on several occasions using these tactics, and although at first I was concerned that I'd end up 'winning' something I most certainly didn't want I quickly realized the odds of that were small. If done correctly it's almost certain an over-eager easily excited bidder will hop in to claim the prize even if you drive the price up far beyond what the item would otherwise sell for.

        As far as I can tell, the 'rush' of the action seems to encourage people to bid on things they normally wouldn't, and to bid higher on things they might be interested in. Logic tells them to do one thing, but adrenaline short-circuits logic. Not unlike gambling in Vegas, I'd guess.

        Caveat: I haven't done this in a couple of years and have no idea if ebay has changed it's bidding system to discourage this sort of price jacking. If not, it's an amusing way to waste a lazy afternoon. "There's one born every minute...."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @12:49PM (#12421536)
    to admit that all those online shopping carts aren't being cashed out because they're being used by online hoboes.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @12:49PM (#12421537)

    my friend in Nigeria, Dr NMBAGO DSUSU assures me i should always proceed quickly with any transactions i make online, the more money the quicker i should proceed.

    this article is just FUD to put me off collecting my 25 MILLION DOLLARS

  • Its true! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @12:50PM (#12421540)
    I'm still trying to decide which 3dfx card to get.
  • by Quasar1999 ( 520073 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @12:50PM (#12421544) Journal
    I must say, I use the shopping cart at thinkgeek to make it from paycheck to paycheck... I don't have enough money to buy anything, but I pile all sorts of stuff in my shopping cart... then come payday, I purchase everything that I've accumulated over the month, then am flat broke again until next payday... but I made sure to get everything I wanted... now if only they sold food...
  • Makes sense (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LiENUS ( 207736 ) <slashdot&vetmanage,com> on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @12:50PM (#12421549) Homepage
    This makes sense. When I worked at a phone answering job where I took orders, a lot of people would call up ask for information then hang up to order it on line. People use the Internet to order at their convenience rather than at the convenience of the seller.
  • When you go to a store, you do not want to think about it and return to a store to buy the item. If there is something I am considering to buy, I will usually buy it because I am too lazy to go back to the store to buy it later.
  • I think there are a couple of reasons that the online shopper is not as impuslive. One reason is that it is much, much easier to compare prices between 10 different stores. Instead of having to choose between driving all over town and paying a few bucks more at a store nearby, a regular person will pay the extra difference to save the hassle. Online, you can easily bring up everything in seperate browser windows (or tabs as I prefer) and compare everything quite easily. Another reason is that the online
  • by rovingeyes ( 575063 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @12:52PM (#12421564)
    "consumers abandon shopping carts with an ease that frustrates and often confuses online retailers"

    The reson the shoppers abandon easily is probably because of some popular techniques the online retailers use:

    • They force you to add item to cart to see the price.
    • After you add item to the cart, they tell you that you have to pay sales tax
    • After you add item to cart, you are told that there is a $20 shipping and handling fee, and finally...
    • The item is back oredered.
    • by Stevyn ( 691306 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @01:26PM (#12421993)
      Exactly. They took the simple concept of a shopping cart and couldn't even get it right. Think about when you go to a store that has shopping carts like a grocery store. You see an item on the shelves, you can look at it, examine it, compare it easily with competing products, know the exact price, and then you can decide to place it in the shopping cart.

      Now lots of online stores that use this concept of a shopping cart get it all wrong. I've found myself adding products to the cart and going 5 steps into the order process just to see what the shipping was or to see if state tax was applicable.

      The reason people are taking so long is lack of confidence. Good descriptions, large detailed pictures of the product, comparisons, and finally, exactly what it will cost. Customers don't want to get something from UPS in a week that is different from what they thought they were getting. That's why people essentially pay the risk insurance and order from places that do offer such information but at a higher price.

      Sometimes I wonder if the people running these shops have ever purchased anything online. If they have, you'd think they'd have realized this by now.
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @02:08PM (#12422501)

      You missed a few less common reasons:

      • You discover the enter credit card info page is not SSL.
      • The shopping cart system is broken and does not work.
      • The purchasing system uses Active X or another IE only feature and does not work in my browser.
      • The color/feature/size you want is not available or cannot be specified because that option is not presented.
  • Why the surprise? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lugor ( 628175 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @12:53PM (#12421577)
    The impulse buy is this thought process:
    "Wow, look at that great deal! Hmm.. I'm here and its a great price, just buy it, save a trip." or "Hmm.. I'm at the store.. what else can I buy that will save me a trip?"

    While online, its more like this:
    "Wow, look at that great deal! Hmm.. Let me think about it, I can always come back with little effort." <Bookmark URL> <Check deal every 30-60 minutes> "Hmm.. ok I'll buy it."

    Online there is no barrier of inconvience to return back to the store, therefore less of an urge to get it NOW!
  • makes sense (Score:2, Insightful)

    by drewfuss ( 872683 )
    I think it makes sense that web shoppers aren't implusive because there is no immediate satisfaction. It takes days to actually get your order. If you are impulsive you will probably want the item immediately and will probably go buy it in a real store.
  • by October_30th ( 531777 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @12:53PM (#12421583) Homepage Journal
    The study does not seem to address drunken online shopping...
  • the rush of winning a bid has caused me to impulsively bid higher in the past, for things that i didn't especially need but that i had been outbid on. i wouldn't really call ebay activities shopping. shopping usually implies a need, and online shoppers usually have the savvy and the will to compare prices online, etc.

    the time lag difference between shopping and buying can also be attributed to the comfort of the home--you're not standing in the store ready to make a decision; you have time to think about
  • Research (Score:4, Interesting)

    by borgasm ( 547139 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @12:55PM (#12421613) Journal
    I find that buying online is less impulsive because you have mountains of research to rely on.

    Lets say I see (hmmm we're on Slashdot so I'll use the computer hardware example) a new component for my rig that I absolutely must have. I'll go through many reviews first to make sure it functions, is compatible, is priced correctly, and will be a good buy.

    Now lets say I'm at the supermarket deciding between the S&S brand and a gourmet brand of food. No external input for consumption, so its more likely I'll buy the gourmet on the spot.

    I'd say from initial liking to final purchase takes me nearly 36 hours.
    • Not to mention that if you considered waiting a while before making the purchase, you would have to come back to the store. When I'm out shopping, I almost feel like I've lost if I spend a day and come back empty handed. But buy nothign online and it just feels like you've been surfing. Even if you *do* buy something, you still won't have anything for a few days or more.
  • Impulse Shopping (Score:4, Interesting)

    by micromuncher ( 171881 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @12:55PM (#12421620) Homepage
    I know that whenever I hit Amazon, I have something very specific in mind that I'm looking for that I couldn't find at a brick-and-morter. In fact, any time a BM tells me they have to special order it, I hit Amazon. I think a lot of people shop this way.

    Its the same for other web. People who search for products on the web are usually looking for something specific. This is, in my opinion, one reason why click through ads don't work. Most clicks I find totally irrelevant. Actually, in 10 years I've never voluntarily followed a banner ad.

    Seems I turn to the web more and more these days to find specialty items I know the warehouse BMs won't carry. I buy classical musically exclusively through Amazon because most of the smaller specialty retailers in my city have been put out of business by the WalMart/Costco style mega stores.

    A few years back, there were 3 classical music CD shops around. A big megachain opened, and they dedicated an entire floor to classical and lowballed all prices trying to get the volume sale. These 3 independants went under, and shortly after that, the megachain closed down/vented their classical section.

    Prolly off topic but it still bugs me.
  • Given that I recently had a shopping cart on the Apple Store for about £10,000-worth of G5 (plus modish accessories) which I amazingly didn't consummate via credit-card, I wouldn't be too concerned about prospective customers apparently 'abandoning' their goods.

    It's not like a offline shop where it's a fair amount of hassle to put stuff back on the shelves, and you'd have least half a pang of guilt if you'd spent the last forty minutes quizzing an assistant about a particular electronic widget withou
  • by Control-Z ( 321144 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @12:56PM (#12421632) makes it so easy to order stuff that it's dangerous to your credit card. Every once in a while I'll get on there and splurge. No filling out name, address, or credit card details. No logging in at all. They have a nice system.

    I did 90% of my Christmas shopping there last year. Take that, parking lots! Take that, crowds of shoppers!

  • by GPLDAN ( 732269 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @12:57PM (#12421638)
    I've abandoned tech book sellers and other smaller online retilers for this very reason. I will put things in my cart on Amazon, and leave them there for weeks or months. I don't always have the discretionary cash to buy all the books and videos that I want, but I like keeping my cart around.

    Amazon does this well. If you put a used book in your cart, if that allotment of books goes away, it comes out of your cart. If an item is sold out or discontinued, it comes out of your cart. I would like even more customization, such as email notifications when things get removed from my cart, but it doesn't have that.

    This type of E-commerce sophistication should be called the Ebayzinization of the world. We want auctions, we want resale markets, and we want them organized. Companies like Amazon who do this well can create monopolization effects, such as the resale book market. A lot of book sellers hate Amazon, hate the way that they get a bite of a book transaction, on damaged or used books, and don't give them (the sellers) any concession for postage, etc. When you buy a used book from somebody on Amazon, they have nothing to do with it, except to perform a middleman and something of an indemification of the transaction. i.e. if the reseller takes your money and runs, Amazon will work with you to help you get your book.

    The key to all of this, is shopping cart power. I want to make wish lists on things I see - and rank them according to what things I would rather have. I can't remember all the things I see that I might like, my brain is not going to remember this, and I don't want to write it down. I want to walk up to a kiosk at a store at Christmas and pull my, and any of my trusted friends shopping carts up, much like wedding registries work. I want to buy a pal something he wants for Christmas, keep who it was anonymous, and be assured that it gets checked off and nobody else gets him the same thing.

    This study should serve as a catalyst for even more customization options for major E-retailers. Places like Amazon can market capture places like Crate & Barrel (just picking one from thin air), as the cost and complexity of maintaining that kind of system begins to spiral upward, these type s of places don't want to do it for themselves anymore.
  • This describes how I make all my moderate or large online purchases to a tee (things less than 20 bucks I'll just buy right away, usually, but then they are a small, small fraction of my total online spending).

    What I'd like to see is for the crap pschyological tricks to stop. For instance, some items on Amazon won't show you the price until you add them to your cart. This pretty much defeats the whole point of a shopping cart / non shopping cart, and coincidentally, the Amazon shopping cart is not someth
  • This just shows me that the people deciding how to set up their online sites do not themselves shop online very often. I often get most of the way through an order, then abandon it because a shipping charge shows up that I think is offensive, or because I reconsider my purchase. But I often go back and buy it the next day or a few days later. I have to think I'm not alone. I don't understand why retailers should be "frustrated" by this. If they would like to know why people leave, how about if they try
  • by yagu ( 721525 ) <> on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @12:58PM (#12421667) Journal

    I started out impulsive. Over time I learned more and more, found more resources, found more ways to compare and for me ultimately shopping on-line has become anything BUT impulsive.

    There are too many things to consider to allow impulsive buying to dominate:

    • cost (compared to others, but not the ultimate deciding factor)
    • reliability of product (brand names vs brand names)
    • reliability of vendor (what are the ratings?, how many ratings?)
    • genuine need (vs impulse... I've found the readily available research tools salve the impulsive beast in addition to providing useful purchasing information)

    I suspect the frustration for vendors is akin to the neurosis around "closing the deal", much like a car dealer: "Ken!, That's a Great name....! What do I gotta do to get you to drive off the lot in this car today?" But, that's just not the way it works, or should work for informed buyers. And vendors who get that, win.

    Like the article points out, I've many times shelved an item in a shopping cart to come back to it later after more research and a self-confidence in my final decision to buy (Circuit City, et. al., take note: don't cut me off on some arbitrary limit of shopping cart items... it hurts your chances (actually cost you one sale) of the final sale).

    Additionally, I've found the on-line info has made me a less impulsive Brick and Mortar shopper. There are some items I refuse (still) to purchase on-line, but that doesn't stop me from using the internet to find out as much as I can about a product before going to the store. And, I've found myself now seeing an interesting item in a Brick and Mortar, and making note of the product name/manufacture and waiting until I've researched it on the internet before buying.

    I think in some ways multiple factors are in force. One, shoppers just plain old want to be more informed about their purchase (I know, not ALL shoppers, but more and more). Two, vendors have done little to earn trust (ever try purchasing a tv lately? I couldn't believe the definitions I got from sales people when trying to explain to me: hdtv vs edtv; hdtv 720 vs 1080; hdtv i vs p; sacd vs cd; et. al.). So customers now armed with research capabilities hedge their bets and verify info from multiple sources before entering CC information.

  • Yeah right. []
    • I like Newegg. Their prices and service are top notch. I liked them a lot better, though, when I lived in Arizona and didn't have to pay sales tax. Now that I live in California, I have to pay 8.25%. One of the reasons to shop on-line is to save sales tax. Any good, reliable alternative to Newegg?
  • Quick! Lower interest rates, let's hope they start buying more... if they keep thinking about quality and affordability of their purchases, Americans could kill the economy
  • Like...
    Fatwallet []
    Slickdeals []
    Spoofee []
    Ableshopper []
    etc. etc.
  • I frequently look things up on the various web sites of electronics stores, then drive to a real store to go and get it. That would count as several abandoned shopping carts, but I did actually buy.
  • I think it is true in a lot of ways, I know one or two "Offline" impulsive shoppers, when I am walking in the street with one them they see a pair of shoes or a bag (you can guess I am talking about a woman) that she "likes" she cant help but buying it, she does not try to look for another shop for similar items or the same items but with another price/warranty/offer etc.

    On the other hand, on the internet is so easy to check prices for several shops (I personally use Dealtime and with Ebay) that you could
  • I tend to agree with their research: I haven't had the urge today to buy a Star Wars PC, an iMac, or a gimmicky liquid metal CPU cooler.
  • by Free_Trial_Thinking ( 818686 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @01:03PM (#12421727)
    1. Website is broken
    2. They just won't tell me shipping costs until it's too late
    3. Website hangs, freezes, or something doesn't work with Firefox, or my privacy/security settings.
    4. I change my mind.
    5. I get scared
    6. I lose interest
    7. The checkout process just takes way too long
    8. They want to "verify" my credit card by calling me.
    9. I have to sign an agreement.
    10. They need too much personal information.
    • by Anita Coney ( 648748 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @01:08PM (#12421792) Homepage
      "They just won't tell me shipping costs until it's too late"

      That kills me every time too. But what I especially hate is those rare sites that tack on a "handling" charge at the very last minute. Before I click "buy" I want to know exactly what I'm paying.

      That's one of the great things about Newegg. They tell you what you're paying for shipping beforehand. It makes the decision so much easier.
  • Save for later? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @01:03PM (#12421736)
    This is where sites like Amazon that have a "save for later" feature for shopping carts are trumping other sites that only have minimal e-commerce functionality. If a customer isn't ready to buy, but can save an interesting item for easy access later, they will be more likely to come back to that merchant and make the purchase if the price is reasonable. In addition, the convenience of not having to root through the site to find the item again will improve the standing of the site in the eyes of the consumer, causing them to come back the next time they're interested in buying something.

    Honestly, it surprises me that online merchants are surprised with how consumers ditch their shopping cart contents so often, in light of the fact that Amazon has had "save for later" functionality for years now, a feature that was probably added when they realized that their customers didn't always place an order right away.

    On a side note, I like to keep one or two paperback books in my saved cart on Amazon so that when I order a DVD that's under $25, I can add the book and get free shipping.

  • I don't know anyone who is a compulsive online shopper. I am sure they are out there, but most people are more hesistant. First of all with the vast wealth of knowledge everyone wants to be informed. So before I go buy that DvD player I want to rank it against other DvD players, etc. I want to find the place that will give me the best price, warranty, shipping options, etc. I want to know that my transactions are secure. I want to make sure I want it because returning it will be an insane hassle.

  • If online stores are not going to make it clear what my shipping/other charges are going to be before I go to the checkout with the shopping cart, then yes, I am going to go to checkout to see what those costs are before making a decision.

    If merchants are paying money to be told this kind of information, then the state of retail knowledge is worse than expected.

    Here are some more nuggets of cough*obvious*cough info for merchants, free.

    Make your web site work with all browsers. You are in the business of s

  • by TheAwfulTruth ( 325623 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @01:05PM (#12421752) Homepage

    Because frequently, it's the only way to find out how much something costs! A lot of sites are pretty idiotic about their placement (or not)of their prices, though that's not new or limited to web sites :(

    A second reason is becuse you frequently have to go 90% of the way through the ordering process befiore you can find out what shipping options the company has and what they charge. That'll make or break a lot of deals.

    So as long as sites purposely or ignorantly hide the details of their pricing and shipping, I'm sure there will be thousands of people like me that abandon their shopping carts for that particular reason.

    I guess a lot of people might think twice when they see the total after shipping and (tax) and decide not to buy as well, It's nice to see a total before you are committed to buying :)

    But for me it's always because of a necessary and annoying fact finding mission that I am forced to go on on a large number of sites.

  • 1) I am just window shopping
    2) I'm trying the site out for convenience
    3) I'm trying the site out on behalf of someone else, and will give them a recommendation
    4) I'm using the shopping-cart to get information I can't get any other way, such as shipping costs, or to generate a total bill

    For big items, I rarely buy the first time I go to an online shop.
    If I've never heard of the store before, I typically won't shop there until I get comfortable with it, that includes trying out the shopping cart, reading all
  • I bet ebay bidders ARE (more) impulsive.
  • Given the immediate convenience online shopping provides, there is also no sense of urgency in actually purchasing the items. It's one thing to get dressed, gas up the car/truck/tank, drive to a store after which I almost feel compelled to justify having going to all that trouble by buying something. Whereas with online stores I simply don't feel the need to buy anything on a whim since if one store sells out I'm sure another will have whatever I may be looking for. There's also the amount of time taken to
  • shipping is another story.

    You expend the 19 hours because you CAN.

    Imagine walking 19 hours at the mall looking and looking, comparison shoping, trying to get the best feature set for the best price.

    You'd get banned. You'd be mauled at the mall. The security guards would be on you like flies on sh*t.

    So what happens?

    Now that we've spent the money far more wisely, resulting in the most bang for the buck, we now are faced with the prospect of waiting for the darm thing and we just can't.

    USPS Express Delie
  • Frustration (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ( 321932 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @01:17PM (#12421889) Homepage Journal
    I can understand that on-line sellers may get frustrated from people abandoning shopping carts, but I can think of many reasons, not just price shopping.

    First of all, I think an on-line shopping cart is more analogue to simply shopping; picking something up and putting it back down. Most real stores don't have shopping carts. But if they did, and especially if it wasn't considered rude, I think you'd see much more people putting stuff in their car and abandoning their shopping cart when they left the store.

    Then there's the issue of availability of other products. For example, I start of at Jameco and find most of the stuff I need, but then my luck runs out. So I go to DigiKey. They turn out to have everything. If there's a few dollars price difference I don't care, I'd rather order from one shop.

    Then there's the payment method. If a site supports PayPal, then I favor them, because I don't have to provide them with my CC details. I like that. Or if none of the candidates supports PayPal, I'd look which one is more reputable. Here's a hint for on-line store owners: provide goddam address information and telephone numbers. If you are trying to hide behind the anonimity of the intarweb, then why the hell would I give you my CC number?

    Now, what I get frustrated with is how little you still _can_ buy online. I have needed to order a wild variety of things lately, and as soon as you step out of the blatently obvious products, you sometimes hit a brick wall. I mean, if you don't have the infrastructure to deal with on-line sales, let someone else handle it. There's plenty of companies that are more than happy to do it for you.

    I wonder if they have any idea how much business they lose by having the 'call to talk with sales' statement. /rant
  • by RealProgrammer ( 723725 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @01:19PM (#12421901) Homepage Journal
    Retailers must understand, however, that almost half of all online purchases are from shoppers who leave a site after the first visit, and return -- even days later -- to buy

    First, note that this says of those who do make a purchase, almost half have gone away and come back to finish the transaction. It doesn't say that half of all people who go away will come back.

    Second, they're leaving out the fact that for many sites, putting something in your shopping cart is required in order to shop. You can't check a price at many sites without using their shopping cart.

    Contrary to what ScanAlert says ("Digital window-shopping is very popular among online shoppers..."), I think most people don't "window shop" in the traditional sense of taking inventory of what's out there.

    A lot of the time online shoppers (Ok, I) do initial investigation, get ready to buy something, and then go check elsewhere. Since many online prices are in a similar range, it's often easier to simply complete the first transaction rather than wade through another online store.

    Plus, we all have our favorite, habitual, or default online retailers.

    It may be a distinction without a difference, but I think there is a sharp contrast in purchase behavior between someone hunting down a better deal (comparison shopping) and someone seeing what is out there (window shopping).

  • Do they have any data for how often people pick up an item in a brick & mortar store and put it in their shopping cart, only to put it back on the shelf before they finally check out? It'd be interesting to factor those stats into the equation...
  • One of the sellers whose site I used to visit would call me (and it should be noted that I dispise talking on the telephone) whenever I logged on, put something in the shopping cart (for two reasons: 1) to get shipping costs and 2)because it's easier then punching numbers into Calculator to get the cost of multiple components), and then logged out without making the purchase. It aggraveted me to no end. In a few cases, his prices were better than elsewhere, but I stopped shopping at his site, because of t
  • I fill my cart, tweak it, then leave.

    If my cart isn't there when I come back, I don't bother refilling it. Why waste my time?
  • I'm never shopping again - it's taking almost 2 weeks to deliver a CD (IF it shows up today or tomorrow) which is rediculous. I can no longer support someone who lives in a mansion beside Bill Gates, encourages illegal alien employment - it's just not worth the patented innovation of 'one click purchase' convience anymore. Dammnit - media SHOULD be available immediately for download. Having to wait 2 weeks for a plastic disk of bits is just crazy & anachronistic.

  • Some have argued that the instant nature of shopping from home over the Internet leads to quick purchases

    Since when is having to wait anywhere from a few days to whole weeks for shipping "instant"? Whoever said the above has either never done any online shopping or is a moron.
  • Shipping time (Score:2, Interesting)

    For me it's the shipping that keeps me from being impulsive online. I can't just buy something and have it in my hands instantly...I have to wait a few days to actually see it, and I know that during this time I'm pretty likely that the thrill could wear off, so I resist pretty easily. At the store it's completely different... being impulsive means instant gratification.

    Price comparison and research is definately a factor as well, but it can also be a real pain. I know there have been many times where I
  • News flash folks.... (Score:4, Informative)

    by rainman_bc ( 735332 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @01:36PM (#12422087)
    Online shopping is a function of two things:
    1. Price []
    2. Reputation []

    We decide based on the reputation of the seller and look for the lowest price. for example, when I purchased my digital rebel last year, there was some for a really good price at Broadway Photo in New York, but they have they have a Poor rating [] and I walked away.

  • by jfmiller ( 119037 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @01:44PM (#12422182) Homepage Journal
    Having read all the way to the bottom of The Article [], I found something interesting:
    John Halliburton, e-commerce marketing manager for Martel Brothers Performance: We're also tweaking our pay-per-click landing pages in an effort to close the sale on the initial visit.

    Kevin Beresford, president and CEO of Shari's Berries: I have to dig deeper. I want more data on how many people are buying on first visit. I need to understand why they come back and why they didn't buy the first time.
    Both these retailers were more concerned about closing the initial sale. I really think that is a wrong message to take away from these numbers. Consumers are going to shop arround. the question these retailers ought to be asking is how can we make it easier to find out we are the best offer.

    We are already seeing this type of behavior at places like and As well as the numerous shopping engins already in on the web.

    I think that retails thought of the web as the "Home shopping network on steriods" and are having trouble swallowing the idea of the internet as the "Global Mall."

  • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @01:44PM (#12422183)
    Significant and even over priced shipping shipping costs often cause buyers to wait to "put together" orders.

    Personally, if I can't determine the exact shipping cost before I give my name and address (and maybe even my credit card number), then I go elsewhere.

    If the site sets an over priced shipping cost for each item and just adds the shipping costs together if multiple items are bought (greatly inflating prices from the actual shipping cost), I'm inclined to not buy from them at all, but certainly I will not be buying a lot.

    Because buyers do shop, it is extremely helpful for both buyer and seller to have real time inventory information posted on the website and actually show the buyer how many of an item are available. More than once a vendor has lost a complete sale when I saw an item I wanted but waited until I could order some other items also, had put several items in my "cart", and then gone to add the item that I really wanted and that had induced me to buy from them, only to find that it was no longer in stock. Had I been able to see inventory numbers I might have known it was selling out and bought faster, instead I just dropped my entire combined order. Even worse are vendors who you can't tell if the item is in stock or not from an on-line website in this computer age.

    The seller who charges actual shipping costs, or even actual shipping costs plus a buck or two for costs like the box, if far more likely to gey my business and repeat business than the seller who looks at shipping as a profit center.

    Sellers who play games with shipping costs by greatly varying them for very similar size and weight items (you know who you are, Newegg) actually discourage a lot of sales. Why it costs $2.99 to ship some pcmcia cards, even $1.00 to ship some, but $5 to ship others that are on the same size box and of the same weight makes no sense at all (and even less sense if I want to buy 4 and the shipping jumps to %20).

  • Well, ...duh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by beforewisdom ( 729725 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @03:23PM (#12423723)
    Common sense reasons why online shopping would inspire fewer impulsive purchases:

    1. Even with a high speed connection buying anything online is a very deliberate act. You have to be determined. You have to look up a url and go through multiple screens. If you are in this frame of mind you have pretty much decided what you want ( & don't ) want to buy.

    2. You have to take trouble to physically go to a brick-n-mortar store. Hence the mentality to load up while you are there. Your PC/Mac is always there so if you are unsure about a purchase you always bag it and come back later.

    3. Impulse buys happen in checkout lines where you are forced to wait and stare at the impulse item they want you to buy. Not so on the web, and if they tried the customer would perceive an enforced wait or redirect as an intrusion and bag the purchase.

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.