Shopping cart abandonment is not always a lost sale

Customer Management

Shopping cart abandonment is often understood by retailers as the end of the road with that visitor. According to Power Retail, trends suggest that more than $3 trillion worth of product sales could be lost in abandoned carts. However, what retailers need to understand, is that not all abandoned carts end up as a lost sale.

Understanding shopping abandonment

Although there are numerous reasons why customers wind up abandoning purchases at the last minute, there are a few common ones that affect multiple merchants.

One of the biggest causes of abandonment is simple forgetfulness. This can be a particular issue with big-ticket, high-cost items such as consumer electronics that typically require more time to make a decision. Most shoppers research and place an item into their cart, but before processing payment decide to take more time to weigh alternative options. The problem is that shoppers may actually forget to finalize the purchase – maybe a new product steals their attention, it is not longer needed, or they simply can’t make up their mind.

Another big cause of shopping cart abandonment is unforeseen costs. Customers may feel blindsided by last minute add-ons that retailers aren’t transparent about. For example, consider the addition of unforeseen shipping and handling fees. This can cause customers to think twice.

People like to make a purchase knowing they can always return goods with little to no hassle if they don’t get what they expected out of the purchase.

Finally, poor returns policies may also affect shopping cart abandonment rates. People like to make a purchase knowing they can always return goods with little to no hassle if they don’t get what they expected out of the purchase. Nonexistent or difficult return policies may encourage customers to look elsewhere at the last moment.

Of course, there may be other industry specific reasons behind shopping cart abandonment. Minted.com, an invitations and party decor store, recently offered visitors a 10% discount for completing a short survey upon exiting the site. The short survey is conducted after the visitor exits to avoid interrupting the shopping experience. The survey is used to gather data on why that visitor left the site without checking out. With good timing and an incentive, Minted will have a large volume of valuable insight that will help them make critical changes to improve check out rates.

Email: The king of rekindling interest

Merchants can utilize email as a gentle reminder to prospective buyers that a product is sitting in their shopping cart. Apple.com has been known to send a reminder email with a discounted offer on products left in a shopping cart for more than 7 days.

For some retail brands, a highly targeted email is all it takes. For example, merchants selling health and beauty products were able to generate a 67 percent open rate on emails reminding customers about a purchase. Although emails won’t sell every customer, they can be one of many significant tools for combating shopping cart abandonment.

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