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Abandoned shopping carts an e-tail challenge

Although more e-tail browsers are being converted into buyers, many ditch their shopping carts midway through a transaction, a study shows.

More e-tail browsers are turning into buyers--but many are still abandoning their shopping carts before completing a transaction, a study has shown.

The number of shoppers who end up buying something has gone up from 3.5 percent in the last quarter of 2003 to 4 percent in the first quarter of 2004, online marketing company DoubleClick said in a report released Wednesday.

But for every dollar sold, $5 was left in an abandoned cart, DoubleClick said. "It's encouraging to see conversion rates increasing, although abandoned shopping carts still represent an enormous opportunity cost," Court Cunningham, senior vice president at the company, said in a statement.

Although returning customers are just 1 percent of all Web site visitors, they spend the most time--7.69 minutes on average--and money, about $180 every session, DoubleClick said. Nonbuyers accounted for 95 percent of all visitors but added up to 78 percent of the abandoned carts, the market researcher said.

The study was based on data culled by the company's Web site measurement software, which analyzed the habits of 160 million Web site visitors.

E-commerce Web sites have recently been reporting higher sales. In the first quarter of 2004, sales grew by 28.1 percent, compared with the same period last year.