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Generating over $300 billion in sales each year, ecommerce is a thriving business. Within mobile, sales from in-app purchases are growing, to the tune of tens of billions of dollars annually, too. Yet to succeed in both ecommerce and mobile commerce, there’s a sizeable hurdle to overcome: shopping cart abandonment. Recent reports reveal that the majority of digital transactions, 68.6% globally, are abandoned before a purchase is completed.
Why do customers abandon shopping carts?
You work hard to get users to visit your website or download your app, and then even better, they express interest in making a purchase by adding it to their shopping cart. But what happens when they lapse and never finish the transaction?
Your goal is to find out why your customers aren’t following through with purchases, explains Hanh Nguyen, CEO and founder of Stuff N Style, a fashion styling app, formerly on the engineering team at the designer rental service Rent the Runway. Because they’ve already expressed an interest in your product, “this makes it much easier to get the users to make a purchase than a new user who just starts browsing the product” since you don’t know whether the browsing shopper really likes the products or not, she adds. Three common reasons Nguyen sees for users abandoning shopping carts include interruption, limited interest, and lack of urgency.
A 2012 survey found these among the most common reasons shoppers cited for quitting before buying:
|Lack of Commitment
A 2015 survey conducted by Internet Retailer found that retail professionals believe lengthy and complicated checkout processes are the most significant reason for shopping cart abandonment.
Strategies for sending abandoned shopping cart notifications
Building an ecommerce site or mobile commerce app with best-in-class design and UI, offering price competitiveness, and focusing on attracting and retaining customers with high lifetime value should help combat shopping cart abandonment. That said, given the prevalence of the problem, and with the number one task of mobile marketing being engagement, most likely you already are or are thinking about sending abandoned shopping cart campaigns via push or email to customers who have left before making a purchase.
So what kind of notifications can you craft to get potential buyers to act and complete their transaction?
Get the passive shopper to commit
“Sometimes users like the products they add to their shopping cart, but not enough to make a purchase,” says Nguyen. “Maybe the price is too high, or maybe they want to buy the product, but [they don’t] really need it. Having a notification is still effective because it increases the contact point the users have with the products (the same way ad retargeting does). Push notifications can be paired with an incentive (price discount for the products) to make it more effective.”
“1-800-Flowers gives the user an incentive for purchase, which is great considering their business: most people give flowers for an occasion, so an abandoned cart on a ‘non-occasion’ day is probably a price-related abandonment,” Nguyen explains.
“We find many users use shopping carts as a wish list,” says Nguyen. “They do like the products, but have no urgency to make a purchase. A limited-time price incentive or notification when a product is about to run out of stock is effective when combined with a push notification,” adds Nguyen.
Leveraging multichannel marketing to increase the likelihood of conversion, ecommerce resale site and app thredUP does just that with these shopping cart abandonment notifications sent via email and push, adding in a promo code to sweeten the deal. Gilt’s email reminder is urgent, though not accompanied by a push notification or promo code.
Get the timing right
“Timing is key,” says Stephanie Bradbury, a digital and email marketing professional based in New York City. “There needs to be a balance between coming off creepy by sending the alert too soon and being seen as lazy by waiting too long. You want to understand your customers and know when the time is right to send a relevant message to them reminding them to finish a transaction.”
Leveraging send-time optimization can help, potentially increasing engagement by as much as 25%.
“Peapod does a great job of reminding me to complete my purchases,” says Bradbury. “Not only do I get push notifications and emails for my cart, but I also receive them reminding me of the cut-off time for adding items to my order. The email version of this will include grocery items that I frequently purchase but aren’t a part of my current order.”
Help solve a problem that may be preventing the purchase
“Customers can abandon for a variety of reasons outside of product price,” says Clare Abraham, digital marketing specialist at 216 digital, an ecommerce design and development agency. She suggests sending an email to check on whether your shopper had trouble checking out, offering up a support email address, phone number, and frequently asked questions, and listing the items that were previously in their basket. “This simple ‘help’ email is a great way to bring back abandoned purchasers without reducing margins!”
Remind the interrupted shopper what they’re missing out on
“Although not a common reason for abandoning a shopping cart, [interruption] is a real scenario and can be fixed easily by having a notification reminding the users that they have something in their shopping carts,” says Nguyen. For example, the lighthearted wording in Jet’s push acknowledges that sometimes you just get distracted—it happens, and they’re positioning their reminder like a friendly nudge.
Ladders, the job-search website, “does a good job: They can’t give a price incentive so they give you the benefits of applying,” says Nguyen. “Another good way for them to do this is to give out numbers like: X number of people already applied for this position, to create urgency for you to apply.”
“Getting people to put items in their shopping cart isn’t hard… it’s essentially the online equivalent of window shopping,” says Max Robinson, owner of the ecommerce site Ace WorkGear UK. “But… there is far less obligation for buyers to head to the checkout after they’ve filled their cart online than there is in a physical store.” While most companies send basic reminders about items left behind in an online basket, “Chubbies makes a real effort with… a personalized graphic and a few catchy lines to get you back onto their site. It worked for me.”
“The trend for years now has been that consumers react better to messages that come across as tailored just for them,” says Bradbury. “Marketers are seeing trigger alerts like cart abandonment emails get opened two times more compared to standard marketing email open rates.”
“Abandoned shopping cart emails are a dime a dozen these days, but most are simply a list of the items left in the cart… boring and easily ignored,” says Flynn Zaiger, CEO of Online Optimism, a digital marketing agency. His advice? Get as customized as possible, just as you would with targeted advertising, being as specific to the products they were browsing, as Nomad does here, or where the user was in the checkout-process, such as the shopping cart stage or shipping stage. “By matching your emails to where their decision went from a ‘Yes’ to a ‘No,’ you’ll be able to sway them back into that new customer funnel.”
Getting these notifications right is an important part of customer retention
“These notifications are key to recovering what could be a potentially lost sale,” says Bradbury.
And the stakes are high: a reported $4 trillion in sales is lost due to abandoned shopping carts each year.
Shoppers who abandon their carts are most likely inundated with notifications throughout the day. To break through the noise, let the customer data you’re collecting, particularly getting at the reasons users abandon their carts, guide your campaigns.