Online businesses worldwide are missing out on $6.1bn in sales because of a combination of abandoned purchase attempts and lack of access to their sites via TV, mobile phones and other digital equipment. This is one of several key findings in a landmark survey of Internet shoppers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Sweden, France and Germany. Jules Abend, contributing editor for Bobbin, reports.

The online survey, conducted by Chicago, IL-based management consultants A.T. Kearney, also found that contrary to perceived opinion, cyber shoppers will stay with familiar "comfort" sites, enjoying their familiarity and ease of use. The study, which was conducted in partnership with Inratest Burke, surveyed 1,264 experienced Internet shoppers in six of the most mature Internet-shopping countries. These markets are estimated to account for $43.2bn, or 89 per cent, of the world's overall online retail market.

Results of the study indicated that eight out of 10 attempted online purchases fail, and four of every five purchasing attempts on the web are abandoned because of:

  • invasive information requests (52 per cent);
  • reluctance to enter credit card details (46 per cent);
  • website malfunction (42 per cent); or
  • failure to find the product (40 per cent).

Abandoned purchase attempts, calculated on the basis of the average purchase value, account for $3.4bn in lost revenues across the six countries.

The survey results also revealed that one-third of consumers' online transactions are "impure" in that consumers must resort to a phone call to complete their transactions. Sixty per cent of those surveyed said they wouldn't return to a site that required such a phone call.


"Etailers must develop an effective multi-channel marketing strategy. Many have 'ticked the box' to set up a website, and [then] skimp on basic front-end design and application investment, which leads to significant lost revenue and downstream costs. If e-tailers cannot get the basics right, they will never succeed"

As A.T. Kearney vice president and survey leader Joe Dickinson pointed out: " Etailers must develop an effective multi-channel marketing strategy. Many have 'ticked the box' to set up a website, and [then] skimp on basic front-end design and application investment, which leads to significant lost revenue and downstream costs. If e-tailers cannot get the basics right, they will never succeed."

Investments pay off
Steven Leonard of the integrated European A.T. Kearney/EDS e-services team, added that best-practice research indicates that companies typically invest between $1m and $2m in website setup, whereas best-in-class companies are investing closer to $8m to provide levels of sophistication needed by consumers.

Data gleaned from the global survey results shows that if consumers could go online the way they prefer, they would spend an average of 21 per cent more per year. This represents a potential $2bn revenue boost within the six countries surveyed. Forty-one per cent of respondents said they want to shop through their TVs. The same percentage said they wish to shop via their mobile phones, and 28 per cent wanted to connect to online stores via their personal digital assistants (PDAs), such as Palm Pilots.

Also, survey responses suggested that although online buyers may be pioneers, their shopping habits are conservative, and they are very brand loyal. While 40 per cent of respondents said they had bought once from five to 10 sites, 61 per cent said they repeatedly buy at only one or two sites. Sixty-nine per cent of respondents identified the onerous task of re-entering their personal information as a barrier to switching shopping sites.

The respondents also displayed a tendency to stay with brick-and-mortar retailers that have an online presence, with 58 per cent saying these e-tailers gave them a feeling of more security. In general, the more expensive the product, the stronger the desire to buy from a "click-and-mortar" source, the respondents indicated.

Jules Abend is a Bobbin contributing editor and editor-in-chief of Clarion, a Howell, NJ-based international news gathering organisation.