Thursday, December 8, 2011

The 3 “W”s of Abandoned Shopping Carts

Much has been written about how to optimize shopping carts for e-commerce sites for optimum conversions and sales, but do you have a plan of action in place when potential customers end up abandoning these shopping carts mid-transaction? If you don’t, you’re squandering a prime opportunity to win back people who might not even be aware that their purchase didn’t go through. Statistics show that a whopping 54% of companies don’t even try to win back these abandoners, making cart recovery one of the most underutilized conversion techniques. Don’t let a golden opportunity to increase sales pass you by; check out the following guidelines and take action today to ensure that you’re doing everything you can to set yourself up for success.


In order to be successful in winning back these cart abandoners, it’s first to helpful to explore some of the reasons why people aren’t going through with their orders. One of the main culprits is that they are using your cart as a means for comparison shopping. They gather all of the items they’re interested in purchasing into the cart so they can see how much it will cost with shipping and they’ll repeat this process on a couple of different sites. Some other common reasons for shopping cart abandonment include high shipping cost, an overly complicated and invasive checkout procedure or the customer simply changed his mind.


Once you’ve explored and pinpointed the reasons why your customers are abandoning their carts, it’s time to try to woo them back. How you do it depends upon why they left their cart behind. For example, if you’ve determined that people are abandoning carts in droves because your checkout process is too long and/or confusing, figure out a way to streamline it. If your customers feel like you’re trying to gather too much information about them during the purchase process, figure out a different way to get it, like a follow-up survey AFTER the sale is completed. Emails are also an extremely effective way to lure back customers, but there is an art to it (see below).


If you are going to use email as a means for winning back your shopping cart abandoners, time is of the essence. So many companies make the mistake of letting too much time pass before they send out that first, all-important email for fear of appearing too “stalker-ish”. Marketing to people who have failed to complete their purchases is NOT like dating—you don’t need to play it cool for days for fear of appearing too eager or uncool. Instead, you should be sending out an email immediately; in fact, the best course of action would be to have a real-time, automated message go out as soon as the cart is abandoned. Research has shown that the majority of carts that are won back are done so in the first few hours after abandonment, so don’t wait. Also, don’t stop with just one email. If you get no response after the initial email goes out, send another one out in 24 hours and then another 7 days later. Remember—you are trying to recoup money that was almost in your hand, so this isn’t the time to be standoffish and give your clients some space. You need to figure out what stopped them from buying and to remedy it as quickly as possible.

Abandoned shopping carts don’t have to be a bad thing—it’s all in how you deal with it. You should view it as a challenge and an opportunity to improve and hone your check out process. Of course you want everyone to complete their orders the first time, but if they don’t, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t be back. Be proactive and persistent (but not pushy) and you might just be surprised by the results!