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

Written by Fred J. Aun
June 16th, 2009

Nearly half the people who begin buying products at 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 enjoyed about 32 million visits during the month and 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 As for whipping out their payment cards, the 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 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 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 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 shoppers, both loyal ones and those without store cards. At Macy’, the cart abandonment rate for store card holders is 26 percent and for non-loyal customers it’s 35 percent, according to Compete.


Comments are closed.


StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 60,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.