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Shopping cart abandonment rarely happens in a physical store, but is a common issue in eCommerce. Web users are fickle and easily distracted, and it takes much less effort to abandon a purchase than it does to complete one. Supermarket chains spend great amounts of time and energy to map out a customer’s route, and website owners should be no different.
Why Customers Leave Without Paying
Prevention is better than cure… but we have one of those too
Upon analyzing data provided by 24 different studies from 2006 to 2013, the Baymard Institute found that the average shopping cart abandonment rate is 67.89%. But why? Here are a few of the main causes:
They Were Just Browsing
Let’s get this one out of the way first. Everyone enjoys shopping from the sofa without any pressure and with all the time in the world.
A study by e-marketer in 2012 found that 57% of abandoners weren’t ready to purchase, but wanted to get an idea of the full cost (like shipping), and 56% wanted to save the cart for later. The users were not ready to purchase in the first place.
These actions cannot be seriously affected by aggressive conversion rate optimization. In fact, marketing too strongly to these users will likely deter them from coming back. These stats are not indicative of a problem; they demonstrate simple human behavior. However, the mindset of the shopper can be subtly influenced, even if you are just planting the seeds (ex. Retargeting) to bring them back to your site. Here are a few reasons your shopper won’t come back at all.
The next biggest cause of shopping cart abandonment is shipping costs. Unexpected shipping costs can kill a would-be sale, regardless of what you charge. Here are a few tips to keep shoppers from bouncing:
- Be transparent about all charges from the very start.
- Surprise users with discounts instead of additional costs.
- Induce urgency by offering discounted delivery if the purchase is completed within a set time limit.
- Show the time-limit countdown for the next delivery date.
- Allow selection of delivery date and time.
If you can offer FREE Shipping, then do so. You’ll never look back.
They Forgot Account Details/Aren’t Registered Users
When you shop in Walmart, are you refused service because you’re not a member? Of course not, so why should e-commerce be any different? Having to fill out this information can mentally remove customers from the buying process. A study by Forrester discovered that 40% of users abandoned their carts because they forgot either their username or password (or both).
- Allow non-registered guests to purchase by submitting only essential information.
- Auto-fill fields wherever possible.
- Offer easy retrieval of account data.
Topshop’s online store is a great example of how to offer new customers a quick check-out.
There Were Too Many Distractions
When you approach the checkout at Macy’s, are you offered any options that lead you anywhere but the counter? No.
- Remove non-essential navigation.
- Simplify the cart and checkout pages.
- Use just one very clear call-to-action.
- Don’t make the coupons field anywhere near as prominent as the checkout button.
- Include an image of the product throughout the buying process to keep consumers engaged.
The Customer Was Overwhelmed with Information Requests
In any aspect of life, being faced with a long form is daunting, dull, and annoying. Subjecting potential customers to this should be avoided wherever possible.
- Present just one or two fields at a time. Once the user clicks and goes to another screen, the sunk cost fallacy comes into play and they’ll likely continue on.
- Start by asking for an e-mail address; it makes it easy to send re-marketing e-mails.
- Keep the amount of pages to a minimum.
- Include a step-indicator, outlining the whole process.
But What If They Still Abandon the Cart?
E-commerce has a distinct advantage over regular shops: the re-marketing potential. Home Depot isn’t going to contact you to ask why you left your full shopping basket next to the checkout and walked out of the store. But in e-commerce, it’s perfectly acceptable and can bring about astonishing results.
Convert Cart Abandoners with Emails
Data from Sale Cycle found that 48.1% of all cart-abandonment emails were opened in 2013.
Because a positively related experience was still fresh in the recipients’ memory. Even though it failed to bring a conversion, the customer almost certainly got enjoyment from browsing and adding. Abandonment is not a rejection! You scored major points just by getting them browsing your site and adding to their shopping cart.
33.3% of those who opened the email went on to complete their purchase.
Because the customer was likely using the shopping cart as a wish list. Abandonment is not a rejection!
Abandoners who re-engage with the brand spend 55% more than non-abandoners.
By actioning the e-mail, they’ve practically committed to buying. They trust your brand, they like your store, and they’re interested in your products. The excitement rushes back and any inhibitions or other negative thoughts are cast aside; they are on a mission to purchase.
But be careful…
Remarketing emails can be somewhat unexpected for customers. It’s quite easy to push customers away for good if they think you’re over-marketing to them.
What Your Email Re-marketing Needs
Sense of Urgency
Include text like “Last chance to claim your discount!” or “Your cart will soon expire!” to let shoppers know that you’re holding the cart for them but not forever.
Photos of the Products
Show images of the items in the cart to engage customers and remind them of the products they wanted to buy. Also, provide a link back to their cart.
Maybe the customer decided against that particular item, but it’s likely they’re still in the hunt for something similar. Including ‘related items’ in the e-mail could well reignite their shopping impulse.
Alternative Ways to Complete the Purchase
Give customers an option to finish their transaction by phone, PayPal, or any other method that might be convenient.
An ‘Add to Wishlist’ Option
Maybe they’re waiting for pay-day. Maybe they need to consult someone else before buying. There are innumerable ‘out-of-your-control’ reasons for abandonment. Make it easy for the user to find your product again.
Customer Service Options
Unbeknownst to you, the customer might be experiencing technical difficulties. Include your phone number and your email address so you’re within easy reach.
A Few Miscellaneous Notes
On Subject Lines
The subject line can make or break your email. If it’s catchy and unique, and clearly with the customer’s interests at heart, your email will most likely be opened and read. If it’s boring or gives off too much of a marketing vibe, shoppers might think it’s just spam and ignore it.
For your first post-abandonment email to a shopper, consider using a friendlier, more customer service tone in your subject line. Use text like “We’re saving your cart for you.” You can then follow-up with a more urgent subject line like “Last chance!” or “Your Cart Will Expire Soon!”
A SeeWhy study reveals that 72% of consumers will re-engage with the brand within the first 12 hours of abandonment, so it’s a good idea to start your email remarketing efforts as soon as possible. Consider sending follow-up emails within three hours of cart abandonment. Two days later, send the second message and the final email three days after.
Since consumers have changing needs and wants, make sure you test periodically to check whether the time interval you use for sending emails still works. It would also be a good idea to consider these variables when choosing email frequency. This way, you can update your strategy according to the current demands and preferences of your target consumers.
It’s also important to test which incentives work and when they do. You don’t want your customers to get used to getting coupons or discounts whenever they abandon the cart. It’s best to send a reminder message first and an email with the incentive a bit later. You may also want to consider limiting the number of times a customer gets an email with an incentive.
There is no sure-fire technique to prevent consumers from abandoning their carts. Shopping is, after all, a personal experience. We all have different preferences and we’re all allowed to change our minds. However, if you’re so far in that you have their e-mail address, you’re already halfway to a conversion.
Joseph Cox heads up global marketing operations for digital marketing agency, Smart Traffic Ltd. He specializes in strategic marketing and technology. From small beginnings as a teenage call center operator he’s worked his way up led by a passion for the creative and an interest in the data that drives a marketplace.