Last year there were positive signs that Europe was emerging from the dark economic times of recent years. On Boxing Day there were 129 million visits from Internet users to retail websites, making it the U.K.’s biggest online shopping day ever. Meanwhile, in Germany there was a huge 54.4% increase in online sales from mid-October to 24th December, equating to a staggering €8.5 billion.
These big overarching numbers warm the heart of e-commerce professionals, but it is a competitive market and you need to fight for every new customer, and every sale counts. No matter how prepared you are, there will always be new and returning customers that visit your site with the intention of making a purchase but for one reason or another fail to progress from the basket to the checkout and order completion. Maybe they ran out of time trying to fit some Christmas shopping into their lunch break, perhaps their Internet connection failed, or a friend called and distracted them. There are many reasons why a browser doesn’t convert into a customer. However, there is no reason that you should leave this to fate. There is a cure for cart abandonment!
One organisation handling the problems well is a U.K. formal menswear company. When someone visits this company online, abandons his cart and does not return, he will receive a personalised email after 20 minutes that includes the items that they expressed an interest in. To maximise the sales opportunity the message also includes crowd-sourced product recommendations based on what is new on the site, generate cross- and up-sell opportunities.
The company typically sends between 200 and 300 automated emails each day, although during peak periods such as Christmas the volumes skyrocket, and well over 1,000 messages per day is not uncommon.
A word of warning, though! At this time of year, stock levels can change rapidly, especially after the Black Friday sales. Emailing a customer inviting them to complete the purchase only for them to click through and find the line sold-out will not endear them to you. However, being able to recommend similar items, or informing them when the product will next be in stock, will be welcomed.
If you are still struggling with your cart- abandonment strategy don’t wait until 2015, as you still have a small window of opportunity. Last year, the 9th December was the busiest online shopping day in Germany, but it was a week later in France, Belgium and The Netherlands. However, you need to act and act fast if you want to maximise every sale opportunity.