For Web retailers, what's in a consumer's shopping cart may not be as important as how that merchandise got there in the first place.
At least that's the thinking that data analysis tool company netGenesis is applying with the launch of a product designed specifically to determine how shoppers use their online carts. At its core, the netGenesis effort represents a fresh attempt at helping merchants figure out how to become better at selling their wares.
The company this week is taking the wraps off an application called CartSmarts that is designed specifically to help online retailers track how Web shopping carts are used and what sparks online shoppers to abandon carts filled with merchandise before buying.
Data collected can be used, for instance, to determine whether specific elements of a site's design are prompting consumers to abandon their shopping trip before completing their purchases, according to Anne Estabrook, vice president of marketing at netGenesis.
"In the offline world, you don't see people filling up grocery carts halfway and then leaving them," Estabrook said.
Additionally, cart usage information can be linked with other profile information collected by the company to determine if specific types of consumers are more likely to abandon their shopping carts. Such information would give clues to retailers on where to focus energies at streamlining the buying process in a way that converts merchandise browsers into buyers.
"These are the types of questions that our electronic commerce customers are bringing us," Estabrook said. "All of our customers are wanting to do this type of analysis."
But such information comes at a price. The cost of software that includes that CartSmarts analysis tool starts at $10,000 and increases based on the size of the Web site.