Cart Abandonment and Tips for Turning Indecision into Income

Another New Year has gone by—for many of us, this marks the end of a hectic holiday season. For savvy businesspeople, however, it should signal the perfect opportunity to learn from their customers’ shopping behaviors while taking advantage of abandoned carts full of potential sales.

Cart abandonment is reaching an all-time high in recent years. With online shopping becoming the standard for most consumers—especially during the harried holiday season—it’s now considered commonplace to leave items behind, either with an intent to purchase later or just to compare the cost of shipping across multiple sites. While this may prove frustrating to a CFO, innovative entrepreneurs will find a way to use abandoned carts to generate a more favorable bottom line.

While statistics on cart abandonment fluctuate quite a bit depending on sector and region, one thing remains consistent: they are staggering. The Baymard Institute lists the average cart abandonment rate at 68.81% between 34 different studies, the lowest of those listing the cart abandonment rate amongst total ecommerce transactions at 55%—at best, that’s more than half of your potential online sales ending in desertion. So, what can you do about it?

1.    Remove the Obstacle

In addition to comparison shopping and failure to commit, many businesses are surprised to learn that cart abandonment is often caused by factors completely within their control. These mostly have to do with checkout, including a process that’s too long and complicated, lack of trust in payment security, lack of coupon codes, overly expensive shipping costs/other fees, and lack of desire to create a customer account. Happily, these issues are easy to fix:

Checkout optimization – Everyone knows how frustrating it is to fill out form after form in an effort to complete an online transaction—this is probably why PayPal and autofill features have become so popular. Studies have shown that most checkout flows are able to reduce their form count by up to 60%, so it would behoove most companies to look into their checkout process and optimize it for speed, convenience and ease.

Coupon code convenience – Almost as frustrating as filling out multiple forms is having to fill those forms out a second time after leaving the page to search for coupon codes. Many sites resolve this issue by listing their daily coupon codes as part of the header containing their navigation tabs. This makes discount codes easily accessible, rendering your customers happier and more likely to purchase.

Shipping’s true cost – Amongst the reasons listed for cart abandonment, high shipping costs rank as #2. Translation: free shipping is one of the most attractive features you can offer your customers, and should be advertised front and center along with your top-selling products. If free shipping isn’t a benefit you’re able to offer, consider listing shipping charges along with estimated dates of arrival upfront—a study sponsored by UPS found that customers valued this information and tended to follow through with a sale more frequently than when they were “bamboozled” into waiting until the final page of checkout.

Guest accounts and payment security – Part of a lengthy and annoying checkout process almost always includes having to fill out an entire form just to become a registered customer of a company you may not see yourself purchasing from again. Add to that the need to fill out credit card information (infinitely tedious), and you’ve just ensured another tick on the cart abandonment tally. As a preemptive challenge to this complaint, businesses can offer the option to check out as a guest and provide alternate payment options such as PayPal or Affirm. Sure, you may miss out on the chance to register that customer for that transaction, but you also gain a sale and increase the chance that they’ll register when they come back to shop on your convenient and frustration-free site for a future purchase.

2.    Give Them a Reason to Come Back

Remarketing – Most of us have heard of remarketing and retargeting at this point, but few may know the difference: retargeting has to do with targeting ads on third-party sites toward customers who have simply visited on your site; whereas remarketing is a more personalized method of reengaging through email with customers who have gone so far as to create carts on your site. For the purposes of this subject, we’ll stick to remarketing and best practices to rekindle the conversation with customers who have shown enough interest in your products to start a shopping cart:

What: remarketing is all about email campaigns—each campaign should include 2-3 emails and should be aimed primarily at collecting information regarding how you could be improving the customer experience to convert sales before the cart is abandoned in the first place.

Why: even though the impetus to complete the sale should be secondary in this case, you are likely to convert 10-13% of your abandoned carts (most of them in their entirety) through this method. The true benefit, however, lies in the opportunity to find out what kept your customers from purchasing in the first place, arming you with the ability to rectify whatever issues your future potential customers may have with your pricing or checkout process.

How: the key to success when it comes to remarketing is personalization—think of this strategy as an opportunity to gain kudos for excellent customer service. Your first email should be sent within an hour of cart abandonment and should include only concern for the customer’s experience:

Hello! We noticed you left some items behind. Please let us know if you have any questions or if there is anything we can do to make your shopping experience more enjoyable in the future!

You go a long way toward creating loyalty and trust by not asking for the sale right off the bat. To go the extra mile, you can further personalize this email by making sure the correspondence comes from an actual customer service rep with a name and contact information.

Your second email should be sent within the next couple of weeks and can include any number of tactics to entice the customer to return to his or her cart, such as a small discount or gift. Again, you can always add personal touches, such as including thumbnails of the original cart items to remind the customer of what they were trying to purchase.

If you choose to send a third email, make it stand out: change up the look of your graphics or personalize further by helping the customer visualize himself enjoying the products he left behind. Also, consider an alternative novelty draw to return to your site, such as exclusive early access to your latest products or extended access to online deals.

Note: you want to keep the actionable items in these emails as convenient as possible—redirects should lead directly to the abandoned cart, as opposed to the home page of your site (no one wants to start back at square one); and forms to explain dissatisfaction with their shopping experience should include multiple choice fields, as opposed to merely a dialogue box.

Cart recovery – Part of the issue customers face when shopping online is not wanting to take the time to register a customer account. This poses a problem for the businessperson who wants to convert cart abandonment to a sale: most think that you either risk violating the customer’s sense of privacy by using cookies to remember them when they return, or you miss out of the opportunity to help them recover their full cart altogether . . . but there are other options:

Wish list/option to save cart – when your customer attempts to leave the page, you can always add a pop-up that allows them to save their cart or add their items to a public wish list through a simple process, such as providing an email address or just a user name and password. If your customer is forced to step away from the computer before the pop-up appears, this can also be included in one of your email campaign follow-ups!

Remember me feature – Your other option here is to give the customer the option to be remembered by your site. While they may not be thrilled with the prospect of filling out registration forms in the beginning of their shopping experience, it may be worth it to them once they’ve taken the time to shop for multiple products. 

Here at 10twelve we have created and managed sites for ourselves and our customers. We would love to help you strategize around your new site launch or needed site rebuild. Contact us today to discuss.