The online shopping cart: how customer behaviour has changed

Shopping has changed dramatically over the past few decades. Before online shopping carts, the customer was limited to local products and services. Now the whole world is at their fingertips. All a shopper needs is a laptop and a credit card, and all of their shopping can be completed from the comfort of their home or office. And their options are limitless.

Naturally, the attitudes of the shopper have changed in line with technological advances. In an instantaneous world, there is a certain amount of expectation surrounding online retail.


This development has changed the market in a very significant way. For one, convenience now supersedes brand loyalty for many customers. When there were fewer options to choose from, people went with the name they heard more often and hence were more comfortable with.

Take active wear as an example. Nike has been the dominant company in the industry for decades now. They were established in 1964 and through marketing techniques in the 70s were able to obtain 50% of the US athletic wear market share by 1980. Their marketing created the iconic swoosh logo and “Just Do It” slogan. They became an extremely trusted and well-known brand.

Recently, however Nike has been ceding ground to smaller brands like Supreme and Lulu Lemon. Nike’s share in apparel fell from 29% to 23% just last year. Through online shopping and social media, customers are being introduced to more variety and cheaper prices. This is good for the market as Nike and Under Armour are having their oligopolistic positions threatened and smaller companies are getting their chance at success – providing a wider range of products for the consumer

The decrease in the importance of brand loyalty isn’t the only thing that companies must consider. Customers desire more personalisation. Today you can personalise any product, from t-shirts, to Converse shoes, to automobiles. Businesses that don’t start offering personalisation are at a disadvantage to their competitors.

The easiest way to do this is offer the process online. This gives the customer the time to determine what they want at their own leisure rather than feeling rushed during a single visit to the store. This convenient addition to your website can increase sales dramatically.

Delayed gratification

But how is waiting days – and sometimes weeks – for your item to arrive a convenience? If convenience is truly one of the largest factors benefitting online shopping, how do you explain why people are willing to struggle through delayed gratification?

Ironically enough, psychologists says that delayed gratification may actually be a reason why online shopping can be so addictive. Waiting is scientifically proven to increase satisfaction when the prize is finally received. Anticipating its arrival keeps the product constantly in the back of your mind.

Neurologically, a burst of dopamine is released when you make a purchase online and then a continual release of dopamine continues as you wait for its arrival. So, in a way, anticipation is half of the fun. It makes online orders a thrill to complete. Instead of their only being one dopamine release in the store checkout line, there are instead two when shopping online and receiving the package.

Checkout – the facts

But a company can’t just depend on the release of dopamine to bring online shoppers’ credit cards out of their wallets. There are many factors that contribute to a buyer actually completing a purchase, and there are many that deter a purchase.


High shipping costs, or unclear shipping costs, tend to be the most significant reason why a customer abandons their cart. If a shipping cost is going to be half the price of the product then is it even worth the money? In this situation, it would be more convenient to either physically shop or revert to a company that can deliver at a lower price.  

A close second is bad timing for the customer, but a company can’t do much to fix this. It is especially true for larger purchases like vehicles or homes. It takes much deliberation and searching for buyers to commit. Although all of these are valid reasons, one of the most overlooked factors is the payment method.

A confusing checkout process leads to as much as 11% of abandoned carts. That, combined with not having enough payment options, accounts for almost 20% of all abandoned carts. To counter this, the business needs to provide a secure, clean, and flexible checkout.

Research conducted by AsiaPay and other payment service providers has shown that payment coverage, user experience, reliability, and security are all important factors in the checkout process.

These statistics show that the payment page must be as clean as possible with clear payment instructions and little loading time. It’s also very important for a potential buyer to see online trust badges when entering their credit card information. A remarkable three out of five online shoppers abandoned the cart when the payment page did not have them. The most well-known are the Visa, MasterCard and Norton Secured logos. Along with these badge features, showing your company’s logo on the page assures the customer that the money is being delivered to the correct entity.

Ultimately, the market is changing. With the power of online shopping, consumers are no longer  restricted by location or  variety. They want the comfort of being in their own homes and the freedom of perusing all the stores of the world. The main ways that a company facilitates this is by giving customers the variety that they desire and a website that allows them to easily wander.

When it comes to checkout, provide a clean, safe page with reliable payment methods. Simplicity is key when directing a customer to the checkout page. Any questions about security will lead to a hesitant customer and perhaps an abandoned cart. Customers are demanding convenience and trust and it’s the company’s job to either provide, or risk customers going elsewhere.

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