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Strategies for recovering abandoned carts

E-commerce · 7 min read

Don't give away all your carrots

Web research specialists The Baymard Institute calculated that, on average, 69.23% of online shopping carts are abandoned. The good news is: there are plenty of effective ways to win back some of that lost revenue. 

Where do they all go?

Statista recently did a survey to find out why US digital shoppers abandon their carts. For 54% of customers shipping costs was the main issue, followed by 'I was only browsing', 'I was only researching' and those perennial e-commerce bugbears – 'long-winded checkout procedures' and 'bad navigation'.

Whatever the reason, Shopify gives a compelling reason to get smart about rescuing your abandoned carts: “Let’s say your site brings in 125,000 visitors per month, your average order value is US$100, and your visitor-to-sale conversion rate is 0.92%. If you increased your conversion rate by a mere 0.5%, you’d add an extra US$62,500 of revenue every month.”

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Retarget, re-activate

AdRoll, the retargeting company, puts it like this: “2% of shoppers convert on the first visit to an online store. Retargeting brings back the other 98%.” If your customer leaves your site without buying an item, you can use a retargeting service to show them the item again in another feed. The hat they abandoned in your cart may suddenly look irresistible when it’s displayed on one of their go-to social media sites.

And retargeting has certainly produced some impressive results. Get Satisfaction, a customer engagement platform, used it to increase their ROI by 248% over a three month period. While PeopleTree, a fair-trade fashion retailer, was able to get 30% of non-converting visitors to return to their website through retargeting.

Segment and conquer

Some of your customers will be more responsive to retargeting than others. That’s why it’s worth segmenting your abandoned carts. Customers who have spent more than 15 minutes on your site before heading to the checkout may be a better remarketing target than those who’ve spent less time there.

You should also consider other factors like 'repeat vs. first time customers', 'cart size' and 'cart value'. Different demographic segments react very differently too. A Sherpa marketing study found that 23% of women aged 33 to 44 felt the most negative sentiment toward retargeting, while 16% of men aged 18 to 34 said they always purchase when retargeted with a discount.

Be smart about discounts

VWO (Visual Website Optimizer) unearthed this amazing fact: “54% of buyers will buy retargeted products if offered at a discount.” However, if you give discounts away too freely, you may become a target for serial discount-hunters (more on them later). For some customers, a reminder email will be enough to get them to complete their purchase. So it’s a good idea to save discounts for your second email or even subsequent follow-ups.

Have a good follow-up

You’re never going to be 100% sure why your customer abandoned their cart. The good news is there are number of effective email follow-up strategies to re-awaken your customers’ interest. You could be direct, with a straightforward 'complete your purchase' email. Or take a more solicitous approach – 'is there anything wrong?'/'can we help you?' You could play it friendly – 'we’ve missed you'/'where did you go?' Or play on your customer’s fear of missing out – 'the item you ordered cannot be reserved and may sell out.' You could even try a more practical tack – 'did you experience any technical difficulties?' – which could help you fix a few glitches in your checkout process at the same time.

Save this thought

Life can be distracting. And an abandoned cart isn’t necessarily permanently abandoned. To improve your conversion rates, make it easy for your customers to return to carts-in-progress. Or as the WordStream tech blog puts it, “saving a shopping cart should be as easy as clicking a single button. It’s crucial to allow shoppers to complete their purchase at a time that’s convenient for them.”

Be there for your customers

Sometimes an interaction with a real-life human being can be the difference between an abandoned cart and a successful purchase. According to a study by LivePerson, “83% of online shoppers want help while they are on site. Over half said they are more likely to make a purchase if they had customer support such as live chat.”

Take a few tips from brick-and-mortar stores

Some good old-fashioned brick-and-mortar sales techniques have been found to reduce online cart abandonment too. E-commerce loyalty programs encourage customers to complete their purchase and keep them coming back for more. Forrester Research found that “loyalty program members also spend an average of up to 13% more and increase shopper annual visits up to 20%.” Online coupons and promotional codes are also a huge incentive. In fact, according to Statista, “a full 8% of customers cite not being able to find a coupon code as the primary reason for abandoning their cart.”

Don’t get gamed

Online shoppers have rapidly learned how to game the system. They’re wise to the fact that if they abandon their carts, a discount will most likely be pinging their way within 24 hours. Thankfully, there’s technology out there that enables you to identify these serial cart abandoners and target them with customer service emails rather than discounts. Because, as Scott Catlin of predictive marketing firm, Windsor Circle, puts it, “it’s important that retailers don’t ‘train’ their customers to abandon shopping carts.”

Get ready for GDPR

The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a game-changer – it will make a radical difference to the way your businesses can handle customer information. First off, you’ll require more permission to contact customers – they’ll have to consent to receiving your information in a “freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous way.” Customers will also have more control over the data that you’re allowed to access. And lastly, you’ll only be allowed to collect data that you actually need. It may sound scary but it has a big plus attached – if it helps to create a stronger bond of trust with customers, it’s got to be good for e-commerce in general.

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