According to recent research conducted by eMarketer, “Shopping Cart Abandonment: How Retailers Are Using the Metric to Drive Better Results,” abandoned shopping cars on an ecommerce site need not be interpreted in a negative light. In fact, there is a great deal of information left in the basket even though it never made it through to checkout. The savvy marketer is able to sift through the remains to gain insight into the habits of consumers and use it to improve performance and sales.

Almost two-thirds of all shopping carts never make it to checkout – a rate that has remained constant for the past several years. However, this does not mean consumers do not eventually finalize a purchase – they tend to visit multiple times before finishing the process. According to the study, three factors tend to influence this seemingly erratic and unpredictable behavior: a sluggish economy and its recovery, the idiosyncratic behavior of consumers, and the growth of mobile shopping.

The key data lies in what is being placed in the cart, rather than its abandonment. The fact that the consumer is visiting a site not only indicates a desire to purchase but may also reveal where he or she is in the sales cycle. Insightful retailers and marketers can use the collected data for targeting visitors with specific goods or services or for remarketing purposes.

Site performance needs to be assessed in terms of each visitor, rather than each session, in order to interpret consumer behavior online. And even though ecommerce sales may only account for six percent of the total retail picture, online activities do influence total retail purchases. As such, linking online visits to email marketing, customer loyalty and rewards programs, and other initiatives that use the collected data are some of the ways retailers can improve sales despite the cart abandonment rate.

Reference: eMarketer. “What’s the Upside to Shopping Cart Abandonment?” March 03, 2014.