Shopping Cart Abandonment and Recovery

According to a recent Whitepaper from Bronto data analysis, all online retailers experience shopping cart abandonment. In 2010, Forrester Research and MarketingSherpa reported abandonment rates of 55% and 52% respectively. More recent numbers from SeeWhy and Fireclick show abandonment rates are now hovering around 72%.

Covering every fork in the road that could cause customers to abandon their purchase and automating post-abandonment messages will lead to increased revenue without requiring a major effort, concludes Bronto. The report includes an initial section describing reasons for abandonment, and a second section displaying post abandonment techniques for recovery.

9% of brands studied included in the analysis require customers to register or create an account in order to complete a purchase. While collecting customer data is important and valuable to a marketer, there are many tactics to collect this data post purchase. Requiring a shopper to create a username, password, etc. can mentally take them out of the buying mood. Of the 91% of brands not requiring a shopper to register, most provided options to purchase as a guest or create an account allowing the shopper to make the decision about how much time and data they are willing to share.

According to the analysis, there are an average of 5.6 pages from cart to order confirmation. The most succinct brand had a 2-step process where the entire purchase was completed on the cart page. Conversely, attempting to put too many options on one page of the purchase process could result in the shopper becoming overwhelmed and abandoning out of confusion, says the report.

Merchants should consider the psychological factors of checkout, says the report. Excitement, anxiety, and confusion can all play a role in the decision to abandon a purchase. Including a visual reminder of the product they are purchasing can maintain enthusiasm throughout the purchase process. The study found that 98% of brands included a picture of the product in the cart.

Many shoppers will intentionally cart more items than they plan to purchase. Seeing all of the products, costs, and shipping fees could overwhelm someone who may have over-shopped.  The study found that 21% of brands do not allow customers to change product quantities within the cart.

Including a breadcrumb trail or step indicator of the pages that a shopper will need to complete will avoid confusion and help them to keep the finish line in sight. Bronto found that 5% of brands do not include any form of a step indicator during the checkout process.

A summary of the order should be continually shown and updated throughout the purchase process and a final review of the order, including payment and shipping information, should be provided before the purchase is completed. Not doing so could result in the shopper losing confidence in the order and abandonment.

Including additional product recommendations based on the original product category in post-abandonment communications can provide additional shopping opportunities that are highly targeted based on the original interest. Only 15% of brands are including suggested products within post-abandonment email communications.

Displaying security assurances close to the area where a shopper enters their credit card information will directly connect the shopper to the security of the order. The study found that 65% of brands are displaying information about the security of an order during the checkout process.

A shopper who has to make multiple attempts to redeem a promotional code or leave the site to confirm the code in an email may abandon out of exhaustion and frustration.

Provide customer support options such as live chat or customer service phone numbers throughout the purchasing process near areas that may result in abandonment, like near the order total or shipping options.

According to a study by Paypal and ComScore, 36% of purchasers didn’t pay for items because they felt the total cost of the purchase was higher than anticipated. State taxes, shipping and any other associated costs of the purchase can sometimes be unexpected and cause the shopper to abandon.

According to the Forrester report, 27% of shoppers didn’t pay for items because they wanted to comparison shop on other websites before making a purchase. Online marketing has turned buyers into comparison shoppers.

In a poll done by ComScore, 41% of customers abandoned their shopping cart because of the return or exchange policy. If a price guarantee or price match policy exists, feature it in the cart near the order total.

The downside of online marketing is non-instant gratification and shipping charges. The study found that 64% of brands included actual or estimated shipping costs on the cart page before the actual checkout process began. The second most common page for shipping costs to be revealed was 3 pages into the checkout process. One brand did not show shipping costs until the 9th page.

And suggestions for post abandonment follow through were found in the data analysis:

In the study of 100 brands, 13% sent at least one post-abandonment email. This message was received an average of 30 hours after cart abandonment. The fastest brand had a cart reminder in the inbox 45 minutes after abandonment and the slowest brand waited 3 days.

Direct references to a “cart” were more common, with 46% of brands including a note about the cart. Those brands who did not mention the cart in the subject lines most often asked the shopper to “complete your order” or sent “a friendly reminder” to encourage abandoners to pick up where they left off.

77% of brands took a customer service tone with their subject lines, avoiding any incentive or promotion. Abandoners are typically engaged and very far down the purchase funnel. Those who did offer an incentive most often offered free shipping when the order was completed.

Promoting urgency by informing the customer when the cart will expire can be an effective way of encouraging the customer to return, yet only 23% of brands took this approach. 54% of them showed the product in the email but only 31% included the price. 8% of brands showed availability of the carted products in the email. Alternatives to the original shopping experience were also provided, with 62% of brands offering an option to complete the order by phone and 15% of brands suggest other products related to the original carted items. All brands included a call to action specifically linking the customer back to their cart.

38% of brands that sent a post-abandonment email sent a follow up email. This means that only 5% of brands included in the study employ a multiple-message strategy to reclaim the sale. Only one brand sent a third. The second emails were received an average of two days after cart abandonment. The quickest second reminder was received one day after cart abandonment, and the last email was received three days after abandonment. The amount of time between the first and second messages ranged from17 hours to 2.5 days.

Personalization was seen 5% more frequently in the subject lines of the second post abandonment email while a large shift was seen in the percentage of cart mentions. Brands referenced “cart” 14% more frequently in subject lines compared to the first post abandonment emails mostly due to brands messaging cart expiration.

Of those sending a second abandoned cart email, a higher percentage used cart expiration as a motivator. Product shots were included in over half of the emails and only 20% included the price of the abandoned items. No brand included product availability. These service-oriented notifications never featured suggested products and only 40% offered an option for the purchase to be completed over the phone. As expected, all emails contained a link with a specific call to action to revisit the cart

When comparing the first and second message for brands that sent both, most subject line and content strategies remained the same. But there was a 20% drop in the direct reference of a cart in the subject line as well as a 20% decrease in providing an option to complete the order by phone and showing the price of the carted items. A 20% increase was seen in using cart expiration to drive completion of the purchase.

In summary, says the report, Email marketing is a powerful tool and when employed strategically, can go a long way in combating shopping cart abandonment. Many online retailers have seen an increase in shopping cart completion when using a targeted email campaign that entices the customer to complete the purchase by offering an incentive.

Please visit Bronto here for additional information about this Whitepaper.




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