Skip to Main Content
Many e-stores use conversion rates, ie. how many people convert shopping baskets to actual purchases as a primary indicator of success. A low conversion rate is used as a reason for spending more time and effort on improving the usability of the site, assuming that the fault must be with the usability of the Web site. There is some question, however, about whether this focus is justified. We argue here that the online shopping experience has a distinct nature of its own, having different characteristics and encouraging different behaviours. We therefore carried out a study in order to understand e-shopper behaviours-specifically their usage of the electronic shopping basket and wish list. We used an online survey to ask a number of questions calculated to explore this usage. We report here on our findings. We found that eventually, along with becoming more mature in the usage of online e-commerce, every e-shopper will abandon the shopping basket Hence abandonment rates should not be used as a success indicator and a low conversion rate does not indicate that a site's usabiity is poor. We also identified three categories of e-shopper, the vague, the cost conscious and the window shoppers. The first group had the strongest intention to purchase and were the least likely to abandon their shopping baskets with the other two groups being more likely to abandon. Finally there were also two distinct types of wish list user: the cleaners and the hoarders. The former were cost conscious and appeared to use the wish list to monitor prices. The hoarders tended to have used e-commerce for longer and used the wish list to keep track of items they might well like to purchase in the future.