How Does a Universal Online Shopping Cart Work?

An interview with Kimberly Cabot, COO at Shop.Co Technologies

Author: Tricia Carr

April 12, 2017

Self-touted as the “first true universal cart,” Shop.Co is a new desktop browser extension that lets shoppers add items from any ecommerce site to one basket and check out with a single transaction. eMarketer’s Tricia Carr spoke with Shop.Co Technologies COO Kimberly Cabot about how the “universal cart” concept could change ecommerce. 

eMarketer: Retailers face many challenges in the ecommerce space, but from your perspective, what’s the largest obstacle preventing them from converting online shoppers?

Kimberly Cabot: It’s not a new problem—it’s an old problem that’s coming to a head. Whenever you transition from something tactile to something digital, holding attention is a problem. In a physical store, my attention is there. I don’t leave the store until I make a decision about what I want to buy. But in the online world, it’s easy to disengage. This is not only a problem for retailers, but a problem for shoppers because they can’t maintain their focus long enough to complete their purchase.

eMarketer: What aspects of the online shopping experience hinder customers from completing their purchase?

Cabot: In the physical checkout experience, the commitment comes when I get in line. There’s all this pressure around you to finish your purchase. It’s the opposite online: There are distractions not only outside of the shopping experience, but it’s also easy to procrastinate on clicking “buy” at the very end. You think, “I could open another tab and look at this other site first” or “I’m not sure [about this purchase yet].”

“We’re not focused on enticing people to buy things they don’t want—we’re focused on the latent pool of purchasing intentions that don’t get tapped.”

The typical workaround for this is applying urgency to shoppers to get them to go through with it, but that just feels bad. Imagine if we applied pressure tactics to people in the offline world. For example, if we followed them around and said, “If you don’t buy that in the next 10 minutes, it’ll go out of stock or the price will change.” That negativity makes people feel overwhelmed and they say, “Forget it.”

eMarketer: How does Shop.co’s universal cart help retailers convert more online shoppers?

Cabot: We believe that there are times people want to buy, but they just don’t. We’re not focused on enticing people to buy things they don’t want—we’re focused on the latent pool of purchasing intentions that don’t get tapped because something in the process interferes with people acting on their intentions.

Retailers might have their own shopping carts that people fill, but how do you get back to the front of their minds when they’re thinking about buying again? If everything is stored in a single cart, then everything you’re thinking about spending money on is front of mind every time you shop.

eMarketer: On the flip side, how does a universal cart help consumers?

Cabot: The way we psychologically set out on a shopping trip is not the way we’re forced to complete a shopping trip. When a need arises for a collection of products—I’m starting a new job and I need new clothes, for example—we have to break up our shopping into store-sized chunks.

“I can add stuff to my cart from around the web, and then I can ... make decisions about what I want to buy without going back to multiple stores.”

But a universal cart allows us to shop in line with the way we’re thinking. I can add stuff to my cart from around the web, and then I can look at it all in one place and make decisions about what I want to buy without going back to multiple stores.

Another issue is that some shoppers want to do research, but then for some reason, they don’t want to buy today—maybe they need to look around more or payday isn’t until Friday. That research gets lost if it’s not inside a [universal cart].

eMarketer: Are you addressing cart abandonment at Shop.Co?

Cabot: The reasons for cart abandonment are well known at this point, and the top one relates to shipping costs. We show the final price including delivery for the products people have in their cart as early as possible, because the shopper cannot make a purchase decision unless they understand the total cost.

A large chunk of the top 10 reasons people abandon their cart has to do with the fact that people aren’t ready to buy. The universal cart helps to softly get back in front of people when they’re in the mood to purchase, rather than send them an email reminder when they might not be ready to buy. 

Photo Credit: Shop.Co Technologies