Emil Ford Lawyers

Abandoned shopping carts and charitable giving

Abandoned shopping carts are often the bane of stores and shopping centres. You see them clustered in the corners of carparks and on the footpaths surrounding centres. Abandoned shopping carts are also a challenge for online retailers, but unlike physical carts that are too easily abandoned after the shopping is done, online shopping carts are often abandoned before a purchase is even made. And, perhaps surprisingly, this affects not only retailers but also not-for-profit organisations that lose potential donors and donations as a result.

Research form the Baymard Institute finds that well over half of all retail shopping carts, 69% in fact, are abandoned before the check out. For charities with online giving capabilities the percentage of lost transactions is less, but only marginally so at 62%. For retailers and charities alike the question that this issue raises is whether or not you can use any details that had been entered in order to contact the potential donor to try to encourage the completion of their donation.

The answer to the question of whether or not your organisation can contact a potential donor who has abandoned his or her cart all depends on the status of your organisation and whether it is a not-for-profit or a registered charity.

Under the Spam Act 2003 (Cth), any not-for-profit organisation that sends a fundraising commercial email, SMS or MMS message to an individual who has abandoned a shopping cart will breach the Act unless the individual has consented to be contacted in that way. However, registered charities, registered political parties and educational institutions are exempt from the Act. So, if you are a registered charity, you would be able to contact the potential donor.

However, if you are a non-charitable not-for-profit (yes, that is a mouthful), you are not exempt from the Spam Act. The Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), Do Not Call Register Act 2006 (Cth) and the New Telemarketing and Research Industry Standard 2017 also limit not-for-profit organisations from contacting individuals without their consent.

Nevertheless, it is possible to continue sending emails or text messages to individuals who have abandoned their shopping carts without breaching the relevant privacy and data protection law if you follow a few simple guidelines:

  1. Ensure that your privacy policy and privacy collection statement explicitly disclose that personal information collected from customers may be used for direct marketing purposes;
  2. Specify how the customers will be contacted, and for what purpose;
  3. Ensure that you have obtained express consent, and that there is a positive opt-in through a tick box that all potential customers are required to complete before any order is completed.

If the box that a potential donor must tick is placed on the final donation page, there is a risk that the donor will not tick it. Therefore, it may be in the best interest of your organisation to place the tick box before the final step of a donation. One way to do this would be to incorporate the privacy statement into the terms and conditions page when individuals register their interest on the website of your not-for-profit organisation.

You must also ensure that the website for your charity or not-for-profit complies with relevant legislation. For example, for your organisation to comply with the Spam Act 2003, you must make sure that any email, SMS or MMS sent to donors for fundraising purposes contains accurate and clear information about your not-for-profit organisation. You must also provide a simple way for an individual to unsubscribe from any direct marketing materials sent by your organisation.

Many charities and not-for-profits lose donations each day due to cart abandonment. But, there are ways to mitigate this loss and still comply with relevant legislation. If you have any questions about how your organisation can maximise the information attached to abandoned carts, please contact .   

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