You’ve probably done it yourself: You like the look of the latest gadget or that cute blouse, so you stick it in your shopping cart—only to leave it languishing there. Shopping-cart abandonment is a real problem for eCommerce businesses of all shapes and sizes; it’s potential revenue just sitting, unclaimed! BI Intelligence estimates that a whopping $4 trillion worth of merchandise is left unclaimed in shopping carts. And what may be just as worrisome to online retailers is that the shopping-cart abandonment rate seems to be ticking upwards. eCommerce data company, Barilliance, estimates that the abandonment rate was 69% in 2011, 72% in 2012, and 74% in 2013. As more people shop online, these numbers could continue to increase. But items abandoned in online shopping carts shouldn’t be the end of a potential transaction. It could be the beginning! Obviously, the potential customer has an interest in your product, and that’s more than half the battle. In fact, a study by Marketing Sherpa found that 21% of people who abandon their shopping carts re-engage and end up buying. These abandoners actually spend 55% more than non-abandoners. Abandoned shopping carts are a potential goldmine! You just need to figure out how to get the shoppers who leave to fully commit to their purchases.
Why People Abandon Their Online Shopping Carts
First, it’s helpful to understand why people leave items in their carts and don’t complete their transactions. Here are a few reasons:
- Some people use their shopping carts as a way to save favorite items to purchase later. They may check back periodically to see if the item has gone on sale.
- Others may have intended to complete their purchases but were turned off by something on your site or something having to do with completing the transaction.
- One of the biggest reasons people ditch the items in their carts is unexpected or high shipping costs. A study by eMarketer® found that 28% of people who abandoned their carts cited shipping costs as the reason.
High shipping costs or hidden shipping fees are a turn-off for many customers, but online merchants can remedy this relatively easily. Some online retailers, such as Nordstrom, offer free shipping and returns on all of their items. Amazon offers free shipping to members through its Prime program. Some brick-and-mortar companies, such as Walmart, ship items to a local store for free. Other companies, like The Children’s Place, offer a flat-rate fee if you don’t spend a certain amount. All of these options make it clear to customers what they can expect to pay at checkout. No one likes to be surprised with added costs.
- Another reason people don’t complete their transactions is a complicated checkout process. Customers want to throw their items into carts and check out quickly. They don’t want to have to fill out cumbersome In eMarketer’s study, 23% of people cited having to sign up for a new user account as the reason they didn’t pull the trigger and buy the items in their cart.
Again, this is a fairly easy fix for merchants. A simple solution is to give customers the option to check out as a guest. You can still ask them to make an account after they’ve finished their purchase. You also want to give people plenty of payment options. Make it easy for them to part with their money. Customers may not have their wallets handy when trying to make an online purchase. What a pain, if they have to get up from the couch to look for their credit card. Give them the option to use their PayPal or Google Wallet accounts. That removes one more barrier—all they have to do is type in a password! Other reasons customers give for abandoning their carts are finding a better price elsewhere and simply not being ready to make a purchase. You may still be able to woo them back! As with all of your customer encounters, emphasize your commitment to excellent customer service. It’s always important to work the customer experience angle. Even if they don’t buy from you this time, if a potential customer is impressed with your site, they may keep you in mind for next time.
How to Close the Deal
Your customers’ abandoned shopping carts can tell you a story. The items they’ve left behind give clues to all kinds of customer behaviors, such as purchase interest, and other essential information. You’ve captured your customer’s browsing history—use it to your advantage! In a 2014 poll conducted by Visual Web Optimizer, they found that over half of U.S. shoppers said they would likely purchase products they left in their carts if the products were offered to them again in an email or somewhere else at a discounted price. You know these people want your products—you just need to entice them a little further down the buying path. Send them a follow-up email, reminding them to come back. And don’t dilly-dally! A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that 90% of leads go cold in 1 hour, and most customers who are going to make a purchase will do so in 12 hours. Make the email targeted and personalized. You already know what they’re interested in—it’s sitting right in their abandoned cart. Try out a gentle reminder, something along the lines of, “Have you forgotten something?” Then show the customer’s shopping cart details. Or try offering a coupon or free shipping. What works for someone else’s customers may not work for the bulk of yours, so experiment!
You want to make it as convenient as possible for your online shoppers, so don’t throw up barriers like forcing them to register on your site before making a purchase or hiding shipping costs and other fees until right before they’re going to buy an item. These are huge turn-offs that will have your potential customers fleeing. And don’t fret if someone balks at making a purchase the first time they put something in their cart. Many of these people do intend on making purchases, so follow up with them! You might be pleasantly surprised to see them return and follow through with their purchases.