Will a universal cart change online shopping?

Photo: Shop.co
Feb 10, 2017
Matthew Stern

Amazon.com customers have grown accustomed to an online checkout process that allows them to order goods from multiple vendors with a single click. But for those doing their shopping on various individual retailer and brand websites, payments become more complicated. This is a problem Shop.co hopes to address with its new browser extension.

Shop.co bills itself as the first true universal cart and, according to a press release, is hotly anticipated with 20,000 users on its waiting list. The browser extension allows users to shop from any site, and rather than checking out from individual shopping carts, check out all at once through the plugin. The extension also includes features like a saved shopping history and a coupon finder. Retailer participation is not required for the plugin to function. It has been rolled out to 2,000 users so far, and has reportedly saved users 12 minutes and $5 per order on average.

The press release did not clarify how the average savings in time and money were calculated.

While it’s easy to think of today’s online shoppers always proceeding through the checkout with Amazon-esque ease, the numbers don’t reflect that. A 2016 study from Baymard.com on online cart abandonment indicated that, while 61 percent of those who abandon their online carts do so because of unexpected costs, other reasons for abandonment relate to convenience. For instance, 35 percent of the 1,044 polled said they abandoned their cart because a website wanted them to create an account, 27 cited an overly-complicated checkout process, and 8 percent said there were not enough payment methods.

Shop.co is not the only company trying to streamline the online checkout process. SaaS provider Zoho recently released a solution called Zoho Checkout, according to ComputerWorld. The software enables businesses to easily build and manage checkout pages and avoid difficulties with integration and payment processing.

Mobile shopping is another area with a cart abandonment problem. A third of people report abandoning a mobile purchase due to an overly invasive signup process, according to Brand-E, and 20 percent report doing so because checkout takes too long.

This is an area in which Shop.co also intends to make inroads, with a mobile version planned for the coming year.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Could Shop.co’s “universal cart” be effective in reducing online cart abandonment and streamlining the shopping process for people shopping on multiple websites? How do retailers stand to benefit (or suffer) from the widespread adoption of this or a similar tool?

"I can certainly relate to the issues Shop.co is trying to solve."
"The concept may be interesting, but the execution will take forever."
"Faster selection, faster check-out, faster fraud. On a superficial level, this is a killer idea — if the implementation doesn’t kill it off."

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11 Comments on "Will a universal cart change online shopping?"

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Cathy Hotka

The concept may be interesting, but the execution will take forever. Retailers are still trying to integrate their OWN online and physical presences. I’d guess that a universal cart, enabling customers to purchase from other retailers, would be pretty far down the C-suite’s priority list …

Max Goldberg

A universal shopping cart could increase online sales and lower abandonment rates if it functions seamlessly across e-tail sites, without the necessity to register at each site, and if it easily provides full information on the cost of each order.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)

Aggregation and disintermediation are the core operating strengths and paradigms of technology. Uber-izing is a manifestation of this as it connects consumer supply and demand for transportation, accommodation and products (i.e. UberCab, AirBnB, Kijiji, Angie’s List, etc.).

A shopping cart is also a wish list and this pre-buying status of purchase commitment is ripe for conversion, up-sell and cross-sell actions. Is there a good business in pre-checkout shopping cart awareness? You betcha.

Rick Moss

I think your Uber analogy is apt, Lyle, and I agree this concept holds great potential because Shop.co (and whatever competitors emerge) will focus their energies on creating the best possible checkout experience and “universalizing” expectations among consumers. My only concern is how Shop.co will handle issues when they arise. Will they need to intermediate if the customer is unable to get a refund authorized? Will consumers need to deal with an added level of bureaucracy in resolving payment disputes?

Kenneth Leung

The difference is that Uber and Airbnb created new supply by enabling people to share their cars and houses that weren’t taxis and hotels. In this case I am trying to figure out where the tipping point is. For large retailers I doubt they will jump in to integrate with this since they have the problems already discussed. Small independents I don’t think need this and they can go to Etsy, eBay or Amazon to an extent to solve the problem.

Steve Montgomery

I’m not one of the 2,000 users so have no direct experience the Shop.co, but I can certainly relate to the issues it is trying to solve. I detest websites that require that I create an account to purchase an item. Beside the hassle of completing the forms it means another website will be sending me emails I didn’t ask for and don’t want. Yes you can unsubscribe but who knows who they shared your data with or sold it to?

I agree with Cathy that getting this concept deployed in the real world will likely be a long process. As she noted, retailers have other issues they need to address and will likely want to capture the purchaser’s data themselves. However I, for one, wish Shop.co success.

Lee Kent

A simple plug-in option that is universal? Sounds good to me. This is an easy way to give the consumer what they want without interfering with the brand relationship. It just needs to have a seamless interface and capacity to scale.

Cool and my 2 cents.

Dan Frechtling

It’s a beautiful idea for the web visitor. It makes both adding items into your cart and checking out far easier. Expect online shoppers to ultimately purchase more, even after some additional abandonment as they wantonly add items they didn’t really need.

But there are downsides to the common platform. It will be hard for shoppers to see terms and conditions, such as shipping and returns, during the checkout process. They may miss additional fees and recurring charges. Customer service costs will go up. A universal architecture also makes fraud easier, as bad actors will have an easier time cracking one cart than multitudes retailer-specific ones.

Faster selection, faster check-out, faster fraud. On a superficial level, this is a killer idea — if the implementation doesn’t kill it off.

Ralph Jacobson

I think this is a great issue to resolve. Seamless shopping is what this is all about.

Shep Hyken

This is a nobrainer. Simplicity and convenience rule in today’s online world. Every site a customer goes to has the potential of being a unique experience. While most sites are similar, with very small differences, they are typically intuitive, meaning the customer can naturally, with little confusion, navigate through the website. However, consistency can have its advantages, and one of them will lead to an easier experience for the customer who will be less likely to abandon the cart at the check-out point.

Dave Nixon
Dave Nixon
Data Analytics Solutions Executive, Teradata
10 months 2 days ago

Universal cart? Hallelujah! Excellent idea whose time is now. Remember in the ’80s and ’90s when applications software had different user interfaces? I happened to work with numerous different types of application software, and the frustrating thing was that each one had its own, often un-intuitive, user interface. None of them had any of the commands in common. When a universal interface finally gained acceptance, people were celebrating.

Flash forward two decades and we have the same problem with the online checkout process. If Shop.co’s cart gains widespread adoption, the frustration that leads to abandoning a shopping cart could be a distant memory. Retailers will absolutely benefit from this hindrance being removed, and the shopper’s journey will be one less point of resistance striving to become frictionless. Whether it’s Shop.co or Zoho, shoppers are ready for this.

"I can certainly relate to the issues Shop.co is trying to solve."
"The concept may be interesting, but the execution will take forever."
"Faster selection, faster check-out, faster fraud. On a superficial level, this is a killer idea — if the implementation doesn’t kill it off."

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