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Tactics to Stop & Prevent Cart Abandonment

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Getting consumers to visit an eCommerce site is a task within itself – retailers spend thousands on e-mail marketing, SEM campaigns, and display advertising in hopes of driving traffic to their eCommerce site. Site designs are practical and finding products is easy, yet the shopping cart abandonment rates are at an all-time high of 72% and are expected to increase in 2012. Consumers are visiting eCommerce sites but are not “pulling the trigger” on purchases, especially when they are new to the site, and combating this behavior is becoming more difficult.

How can retailers deal with rising cart abandonment rates? To find out more information on the topic we sat down with cart abandonment expert and eCommerce strategist, Doug Mitchell…

What are some current tactics retailers are finding effective in combating cart abandonment?

Re-targeting e-mails are easily the most effective way to curb cart abandonment, but adding a persistent cart to a site (where items remain in the cart after a customer exits the site) is also important. Throughout the site adding a cart icon with the number of items currently in the cart is also a good tactic as it makes consumers aware they have items in their cart, especially if they are returning to the site and may have forgotten about the items.

This is the most important thing – making consumers aware they abandoned their cart. Sending up to 3 abandoned cart e-mails is one of the best tactics in reducing abandonment and increasing conversions. E-mails letting consumers know their abandoned cart is set to expire after a certain period of time (i.e. 30 days) also works well.

What are tactics retailers can use to prevent consumers from abandoning their cart in the first place?

One of the biggest tactics retailers use to prevent cart abandonment is to optimize the check-out flow on their site through research and analysis. Site analytics are important to determine when consumers are exiting the check-out process, why they are doing so and that they actually are abandoning the cart (i.e. don’t count PayPal exits as cart abandonment). In general, the easier and faster the check-out process the lower cart abandonment rates are.

Subtle changes can also prevent cart abandonment – for example, if a site offers coupon codes it can be valuable to minimize the location where consumers enter the code to prevent them from looking for coupons away from the site and abandoning their purchase. One thing some retailers forget when optimizing their site is the importance of font and color selections. Calls to action which continue the checkout process should contain a color and font that stands out on the page so consumers know where to click to proceed with the purchasing process.

Finally having a “guest” checkout process is becoming more important on eCommerce sites; too often consumers will forget their log-in credentials and abandon their purchase instead of requesting the information. Even if the consumer is a repeat customer, offering the guest checkout option can help to keep consumers on a site instead of driving them back to their e-mail to retrieve their username and/or password where they can get distracted by other content in their inbox.

How effective have recent cart abandonment tactics been over the past 5 years and do you expect these tactics to remain as effective in the next 5 years as more communication shifts away from e-mail?

Cart abandonment tactics have been evolving rapidly and in general have been slow to take off, but recently they are finally starting to be recognized as an effective re-targeting strategy. Much of the recent success of cart abandonment efforts can be attributed to the advancements in technology which allow for more personalized e-mails that show specific product information. Using more intelligent re-targeting e-mails, a consumer can now receive an abandoned cart e-mail for specific products they have abandoned instead of just a stock e-mail saying “your cart has been abandoned, come back”.

Regarding future tactics there has been some interest within the eCommerce industry about adding social sign-on to eCommerce sites, but right now the push for this has not been prominent. Proactive live chat is also being used more by retailers during the check-out process to entice consumers to complete their purchases.

Preventing cart abandonment is not an easy task and relying on new technology will likely be critical as retailers try to slow or reverse the rising cart abandonment rates throughout the eCommerce industry.  While e-mail is currently the best way to reengage consumers who have abandoned carts, emerging channels such as social media could become more of a focus for abandoned cart efforts in the future.



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