Study: Target Loses Nearly Half The Web Shoppers Who Start Carts

Nearly half the people who begin buying products at Target.com in May abandoned the process before sealing the deal, according to a new study that also found Wal-Mart's E-Commerce site drew more visitors than Target's but had difficulty culminating sales.

The research, conducted in May by Boston-based site analytics company Compete, found that Walmart.com enjoyed about 32 million visits during the month and Target.com was visited about 28 million times. Compete extrapolates information based on the activity of about 2 million participants, said Debra Miller, an associate in the company's retail consumer product department.

She said those who hit the Wal-Mart site did substantially more product gawking than those who went to Target.com. As for whipping out their payment cards, the Walmart.com shoppers seemed a bit more resistant.

"Last month, Wal-Mart attracted more visitors than Target to its website and 47 percent of Wal-Mart visitors looked at a product compared to 31 percent of Target visitors," wrote Miller. "However, among shoppers who viewed a product, Target had a higher shopping cart interaction rate and conversion rate."

Even though Target had a "slight lead in conversions," Compete found that more Target customers abandoned their carts than did those shopping at Walmart.com. It's not a pretty figure for Target: The researchers found that 47 percent of the shoppers who begin checking-out at the Target site didn't finish the process but only 35 percent of the Walmart.com shoppers walked away from active shopping carts without paying.

"In general, Target leads in purchase rate and Wal-Mart boasts a smaller shopping cart abandonment rate," Miller wrote. She noted the numbers differ somewhat when you differentiate casual shoppers at both sites from those she described as "loyal consumers," meaning people who shopped with store-branded credit cards. In essence, and as might be expected, regular folks with store-branded credit cards were less likely to walk away from purchases than their counterparts with generic cards.

"Retailer credit card holders represent some of the most loyal, and valuable, customers," wrote Miller. "Among shoppers who accessed their store credit card accounts, conversion rate for Wal-Mart shoppers edges a hair ahead of Target to a 14 percent rate compared to Target’s 13 percent. Shopping cart abandonment among Wal-Mart loyalists averaged 33 percent and Target’s abandonment rate for loyal shoppers was 38 percent.

Put another way, the really loyal customers don’t act much differently on the two sites when it comes to cart abandonment. But among shoppers who aren't so true-blue, it's the Walmart.com visitors that are more likely to finish their purchases. This, of course, begs the question Why? Unfortunately, Miller said Compete didn't ask its panelists for an explanation. "In this study, we just looked at their behavior," she said.

In the past, Compete also studied shopping cart abandonment for other big retailers. It found an identical cart abandonment rate (38 percent) for Kohls.com shoppers, both loyal ones and those without store cards. At Macy's.com, the cart abandonment rate for store card holders is 26 percent and for non-loyal customers it's 35 percent, according to Compete.

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