The Silver Lining of Abandoned Carts

Written by Tim Edmundson

It would seem pretty odd to go into a store, grab a shopping cart, and place items you might want into it, only to leave the cart in the store and exit without purchasing any of the items. But, from the comfort of our couches, offices and bedrooms – this behavior could easily be considered the norm.

Of course, online behavior rarely mirrors how we would act in the real world. But, the abandoned cart phenomenon is very interesting. And it begs the question, does the retailer actually benefit when you abandon your cart?

It’s no secret that cart and browsing behavior gives retailers tremendous insight into users and purchase patterns. As marketers, there are many ways to use this data to your ultimate benefit.

Abandon Your Cart, As Long As I Have Your Email
While abandoned carts leave billions of dollars on the table for retailers, they also open up a very valuable marketing opportunity. The reminder to purchase email is one of the most successful email campaigns retailers can run. According to eMarketer, over 60% of users will visit the site after receiving a reminder email, with 32% of them continuing to complete the purchase. These are unbelievable stats when you consider the average retail email transaction rate is only 0.05%, according to Experian Marketing Services Email Benchmark Report.

But don’t get too excited and forget how important the creative experience is. Having a consistent experience from site to email is even more important in reminder and abandoned cart emails, than normal promotional emails. Anyone who has ever clicked on a product in an email, only to land on the brand’s homepage can attest to that. When shoppers are overly willing to abandon a purchase at the drop of a hat, making it easier on them will surely affect sales and revenue.

Personalize It
In a recent eMarketer study, they found that 58% of users notice online ads when they contain the products they shopped for – that’s nothing new, but it is a great reminder for how important dynamic creative is. This proves especially important when you tie your ads and emails together for a cohesive experience that ends on a personalized website page.

Relevancy is also a factor at play, considering people generally respond positively if they feel you understand them and aren’t wasting their time with irrelevant ads and promotions. When retailers target users with more relevant ads, based on the data gathered from their previous cart behaviors, sales and brand loyalty are likely to increase.

abandoned cart with coolerKnow Your Funnel
Abandoned carts and other user behaviors on sites can give retailers valuable insight into what is working, and possibly not working, on their website. All marketers track the purchase funnel and optimize for conversions. But it’s important to dig deeper and consider the motivations behind these behaviors.

According to eMarketer, 56% of people abandon after seeing how much shipping costs are. This makes sense, since many sites do not add shipping costs until you are pretty far down the purchase path. Yet, very few retailers move shipping info higher in the purchase funnel. Is there a reason for this?

If a retailer’s shipping costs are highly variable, they might benefit from the cart data they receive as users add to check shipping rates. But, if shipping tends to be flat rate, certain retailers might see a lift in conversions from revealing that info up front or before the cart process. Know your own users and look for trends in the data to make the best decision for your business.

Tiny Screens
As marketers, we’ve spent decades optimizing our websites, making them beautiful, and planning out the exact path a user should take to end in conversion. But, with everybody now on their phone, the screens are tiny, and the path to conversion is a mess – especially for retailers, where the smaller screen means even higher abandonment rates.

The main issue? No one can seem to find a way to make the check out process better on a phone. Until that happens, we need to keep in mind what users are actually doing on their phone, which is mainly researching products. So, this might be a good time to think about mobile conversions differently than we look at desktop conversions. Making it very easy for users to flag products for later might benefit sites, and for now this is might as far as many users will want to go on their phone.

Carts Will Be Abandoned
We should not expect users to stop abandoning carts. But, we should look at the motivations behind the behavior. It’s great to collect data, but it’s also great to keep in mind that ultimately your obligation is to your audience. As marketers, we should all strive to give them best experience possible.

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