Wishlists May Reduce Cart Abandonment

In a recent thread over at the High Rankings forum, a forum member shares that his shopping cart abandonment rate is 60%, with 50% of these exits leaving on the first step of the checkout process (view cart). After doing some informal consumer research (asking real people – both experienced and inexperienced web shoppers), “Ignoramus” discovered that some people use the shopping cart as a way to bookmark products for comparison.

High Rankings Administrator Jill Whalen commented:

“The reason I might put items in a cart but never continue is that I sort of just use it as a holding place while I’m still researching which store has the best price.

So if I’m comparing prices, I’ll visit some store, add the item to the cart, keep that window open and do the same at some other stores (usually if the price is lower).

Not sure if that’s common, but it is for me!”

If this is typical user behavior, adding a wishlist to your goodie bag of e-commerce functionality could reduce your abandoned shopping cart rate.

I quickly hopped over to a few of the top e-tailers of 2006 to give you some examples of who’s using wishlists:

Victoria’s Secretwishlist-victoria.gif
Radio Shackwishlist-radioshack.gif
Basspro Shopswishlist-gear1.gif
Tiger Directwishlist-tigerdirect.gif
Abercrombie and Fitchwishlist-abercrombia.gif

Whether a button or a text link, these e-tailers demonstrate good usability by A) placing the wishlist button or text link near the shopping cart button so it’s easy for the user to find if he or she is used to just “Adding to Cart,” and B) making the wishlist button or text link less prominent than the shopping cart button.

Placement is important. Although not exactly a wishlist button, The Sharper Image’s “Add to Registry” button is stowed away below the fold.


It would be better to have call-to-action items grouped together for best visibility and usability, like Target.com.


Of course, social wishlisting services could fill the void here as an alternative way for users to bookmark products for future consideration or comparison. Unfortunately the majority of your visitors have never heard of them. So for now, you may consider adding a wishlist feature to your website to potentially reduce shopping cart abandonment rates. As with anything, you’ll have to test it for yourself to draw your own conclusions.

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9 Responses to “Wishlists May Reduce Cart Abandonment”

  1. [...] back and forth between product pages. It also provides users with a better system than using the shopping cart as a holding tank for product comparison, which should improve your shopping cart abandonment [...]

  2. [...] I have discussed previously, some shoppers will use the Add to Cart button to bookmark products for consideration. Adding an “Add to Clipboard” or “Add to Wishlist” link [...]

  3. Does anyone have a good criteria or reference for build v. buy analysis for shopping cart solutions?



  4. We have a great (and easily digestible) whitepaper on the Build vs Buy question. It is especially relevant for ecommerce platform decisions. http://www.elasticpath.com/build-vs-buy/

  5. [...] So you don’t have to use your shopping cart as your wishlist/bookmarking tool [...]

  6. [...] Wishlists May Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment – The reason I might put items in a cart but never continue is that I sort of just use it as a holding place while I?m still researching which store has the best price. [...]

  7. [...] stores. They help customers bookmark items they like but just aren’t ready to buy, (which can reduce shopping cart abandonment) and when they are shared, they can help gift givers know what their loved ones really [...]

  8. Rob says:

    Having an integrated system which includes ecommerce, order management, accounting, and inventory can help provide better data to understand who is dropping off your site, at what point, and what products they had in their shopping cart when they did this.


  9. This may be true but all it does is change a metric. It doesn’t lead to an increase in sales. Let me explain.

    If 10% of your users are abandoning your shopping cart because their using it as a wishlist, adding a wishlist will not lead to more sales. Instead it will mean that 10% of them use the wishlist instead. (In reality a lot of them will just keep doing what they always did anyway but let’s not get into that.)

    Your abandon rate will drop but your sales will stay the same.

    The only reason you’re looking at the abandon rate is to increase sales. It’s the people who try to buy and give up that you want to focus on.

    Try not to get too fixated on the metrics you’re using.

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