Have you ever placed an item in your online shopping cart, mulled over the decision to buy and then closed the webpage? Of course you have. An average from 33 major studies over recent years put cart abandonment rates at 68%, and the thought of nearly seven out of 10 customers failing to convert is not a figure that any business likes to see.
While there are several reasons for leaving a full cart behind, the most common reason is being presented with hidden charges. As a result, adding items is now less of a sign of commitment to purchase than an opportunity to learn the honest, final total of what you’re thinking of buying.
These costs come in the form of postage charges, tax, installation fees, protection cover, or premium costs for a special color, size or material. Whatever they are, they can all put the brakes on a purchase and send customers in a different direction.
At the more desirable end of the scale, the contents of a cart could encourage further contemplation, using it as a makeshift ‘wish list’ where customers can compare the cost of the item they originally chose with alternatives (be that within your own range or from a competitor).
Alternatively, customers could just as easily perceive hidden costs as a negative experience in their journey and give up on the transaction entirely. According to Business Reporter, 35% of customers will not use a brand that provides one poor customer experience again.
So, what can marketers do? As with all forms of customer journey intervention, preventing a bad experience is easier and preferable to having to fix a bad one. This means addressing the issues that lead to abandonment in the first place.
For example, it could be that the checkout process was complicated, convoluted or generally offers a poor user experience. Also you should think about:
- Do customers need to go through a time-consuming (or overly prying) registration process? A one-click ‘social login’ or ‘guest checkout’ can help.
- Do you show an image in the cart of what your customer has added so they can be certain they have chosen the correct thing? In some instances, text only can be ambiguous if you offer several similar products.
- Can customers easily make a purchase using a mobile device? Failing to optimize for smartphones or tablets can easily lead to frustration.
- Do you offer a range of payment options? The aforementioned survey reports that 38% of people clicked off a website without completing a transaction because their preferred method of payment had not been offered.
It is also quite apparent that brands need to be far more upfront about their delivery costs. If you offer free shipping and returns, it needs to be clearly advertised on your site. Not only will it give customers the confidence they will not face any hidden charges, it can be a persuasive conversion tactic in itself.
However, even after giving customers a streamlined, no-nonsense checkout experience, a strategy to recover abandoned carts needs to putting in place.
Enticing customers back to finalize their purchase can be a very effective tactic. Often it’s the case that a cart has been put to one side for a later date (a shopper researches on a tablet to complete on a desktop, for example). It may be that they are indecisive, forgot or simply lost the time to see their purchase through.
In these instances, a little nudge to remind them can encourage the customer to pick up where they left off. A carefully worded triggered email can achieve a number of things, for example:
- A reminder of what they have in their basket, perhaps highlighting an urgency to purchase something that could otherwise be out of stock. These responses can be real-time, after a week or even to resend on a customer’s monthly payday.
- A reminder of flat-rate shipping fees and your returns policy, or an alternative method of collection (a click and collect option, for example).
- A message with an additional incentive to purchase, such as a first-time discount or to promote other benefits of registering.
- A message that shares positive reviews of the product (or business) in their cart to reinforce their decision, along with recommended complimentary purchases (based on their viewing behavior).
- A message that is personalized to the customer. You might take a different approach enticing back a first-time shopper than you do with a customer who has a high-value product in their cart. You’re unlikely to want to send a shopper who repeatedly abandons their cart discounts, either.
With the right approach to optimizing the checkout experience and giving customers timely, convenient opportunities to return back to you, many brands have seen around 30% of abandoned carts successfully recovered – a significant amount of revenue your business might not have otherwise seen.