Man looking at iPad

Trolley dash: It’s time to checkout

Back in 2018, we revealed that UK shoppers were abandoning their online baskets to the tune of £30 each per month – or a mind-boggling £18bn a year.

Now, new research from Barclaycard Payments has revealed that UK retailers have lost out on an unbelievable £39.4bn in potential sales over the past twelve months, as lockdown sees the value of online abandoned baskets more than double in three years. 

Here we explore the truth behind this huge 116 per cent spike in the “surf and turf” or “fantasy basket” trend, deep diving into the most frequently abandoned items and sharing key pieces of advice for retailers who may be missing out.

More time at home = more browsing

It’s no secret that online retail has seen a huge spike over the past year and a bit. In February, at the height of the pandemic, Barclaycard Payments data showed online supermarket spend was up more than 100 per cent on the same month a year before, and people in the UK have been receiving two more parcels per month on average, totalling 86 packages per year per couch surfer.

According to our new research, more than a third of Brits say they have become more reliant on online shopping during the pandemic (34 per cent), although a quarter say they have also become more cautious when it comes to parting with their cash (25 per cent).

With so few options for entertainment over the last year, it makes sense that people would be shopping online recreationally – engaging in more cyber window shopping and perhaps never intending to check out at all. Nearly a fifth of shoppers (18 per cent) say having more time on their hands and using the virtual world as a distraction from lockdown (17 per cent) has led them to ditch full online baskets. So, what are the top items being cast aside?

  • Fashion – 70 per cent
  • Entertainment – 56 per cent
  • Health and beauty – 54 per cent

To understand why we’re seeing an increase in abandoned baskets online, it’s important to first understand how and why people shop. Think of browsing shops on the high street. A lot of the time, we go into stores with a specific intention in mind – something in particular that we want to buy. But, just as often, we go in to browse, walking a loop of the store spotting things we like, things we want, and things we never knew we needed. We might buy them on the spot as impulse purchases, we might shop around, or we might simply pick them up, touch them, try them out and walk on by. According to psychologists, the act of browsing can feel good for two reasons: first, helping us discover new gems and secondly by simply delivering a high in the form of escapism, socialising, and good old-fashioned fun.

Now, translate that same experience to the realm of online shopping. With many physical stores out of action for much of the past 15 months, many retailers have invested heavily in the online experience, seeking to offer customers the same choice and experience offered in store – if not better.

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In many ways, the modern ecommerce experience improves on shopping in store, giving shoppers the chance to view more items, faster – with next-day delivery options meaning their new items are usually never far from their front doors. If they see something they like, they can pop it in their basket to pay later, and keep on browsing. But there are notable differences. Shopping online means there is no trying, no touching, no getting to grips with the product. From a psychological perspective, the shopper becomes less attached to the product, making it easier to abandon it down the line.

In many cases, the shopper is simply filling a “fantasy basket” with purchases they never meant to pay for in the first place – 26 per cent of shoppers admit to this. But there are a couple of ways by creating the right experience that retailers could help customers get to the checkout.

1.      Shoppers become distracted or “tabbed out”

Have you ever had so many tabs open when shopping around that you forget where you started? This is one of the factors preventing shoppers from completing their purchases. Many retailers are developing and streamlining their own dedicated apps (47 per cent), proven to drive loyalty among customers. Also, it’s worth noting that by using these dedicated apps, shoppers are least likely to abandon fantasy baskets (5 per cent) when shopping on a smartphone or tablet.

2.      The payment process is too long or confusing

Almost a quarter of shoppers get bored or frustrated and drop off during lengthy authentication processes (24 per cent). To make things easier for shoppers, 53 per cent of retailers have added digital wallet functionality (e.g. Apple Pay) or invested in their ecommerce payment offering (42 per cent) to reduce the level of basket abandonment.

Marc Pettican, President of Barclaycard Payments, said: “Online shopping has traditionally been the convenient alternative to bricks and mortar, but as ecommerce has boomed during the pandemic, so too has the number of purchases abandoned at the check-out. An increase in choice, slow check-out processes and websites which are difficult to navigate have all contributed to shoppers deserting items at the last minute.

“A lot of this is down to frustrations when faced with various checkout hurdles, such as cumbersome payment authentication processes which can require a number of steps to complete. Retailers can alleviate this by making their payment processes as stress-free as possible, which will help combat basket abandonment, boost sales and increase shopper satisfaction at the same time.”