Retailers failing to convert £3.5bn left in abandoned virtual shopping baskets

British retailers are missing out on £3.4bn worth of potential sales due to two-thirds of the contents of virtual shopping baskets being abandoned by consumers, according to a report by Barclays.

Online shopping: many consumers are abandoning their virtual baskets when switching device
Online shopping: many consumers are abandoning their virtual baskets when switching device

The bank’s Corporate Banking Online Retail Report found that a huge 86% of browsers save items in their online shopping baskets and wish lists.

But a combination of factors — including consumers switching from mobile phone browsing to laptop purchasing, a lack of discount incentives and a desire for a variety of delivery options — mean that retailers are failing to convert those saved items into sales.

It concluded that by investing in measures to encourage purchase conversion, basket abandonment in half by 2021.

Elsewhere, the study found that UK residents browse online for an average of 89 minutes per week, with 45-54 year-olds browsing for more than 100 minutes a week.

The report, entitled From Browse to Buy: The Conversion Challenge, found that retailers could generate a further £10.5bn within the next five years by streamlining their online purchasing systems.

Consumers are calling out for retailers to introduce mobile apps to simplify the shopping process, with the report suggesting that a more streamlined process would make 28% of consumers more likely to make a purchase. Yet just 16% of retailers said they would make mobile shopping their top priority

Barclays’ report was based on the views of 300 senior retail managers, 2,000 UK consumers and through economic modelling.

Ian Gilmartin, Barclays’ head of retail, said: "At a time when cost management is a priority, it’s understandable that investment in mobile optimisation may seem too expensive for many retailers. However, our research underlines the longer term benefit of providing easy to use options across all online platforms. By adapting quickly to the needs of today’s consumer to create a better shopping experience online, and particularly via mobile, retailers will boost their sales.

"If they get their online strategy right, we could be looking at UK retailers selling more than £80bn of stock online by 2021, but that will only happen if as an industry we respond to what the public want from us. This research shows that a streamlined mobile offering, flexible delivery and competitive pricing can help convert more browsers to buyers."