Winning sales from abandoned carts: on-site techniques

For all the progress online merchants have made in recent years winning new customers and growing revenue, one metric refuses to budge: cart abandonment.

According to industry researcher Forrester, in 2010 fully 88% of shoppers reported abandoning a shopping cart without completing the transaction — the same percentage as in 2005. And quarterly MarketLive Performance Index data for the past two years shows that progress on cart abandonment is mixed, with merchants seeing improvements of less than 5% year-over-year, depending on the quarter, and never dipping below 50%. In the first quarter, year-over-year abandonment has actually risen — suggesting that seasonal deal-hunting will make the next few months particularly challenging for merchants combating abandoned carts.

MarketLive Index data  /></p><p>These shoppers are potentially low-hanging fruit: after all, they’ve already found their way to your site, and they’re interested enough in products to place them in the cart in the first place. In some cases, they’ve even started the checkout process before stalling out or leaving the site.</p><p>Merchants have been slow to pursue these almost-customers. <a href=Fewer than 20% of Internet Retailer’s Top 1,000 merchants pursue cart abandoners with email campaigns, email service provider Listrak found, while Forrester found that just 7% of merchants use remarketing, also known as retargeting — a genre of display advertsing that targets shoppers as they browse elsewhere with reminders about the products they viewed on your site.

But with the continued focus on effective use of tight marketing budgets, 2012 may be the year when abandoned carts get serious attention. And the good news is that merchants have a number of tools they can use to win back cart abandoners — not just email.

For starts, there’s plenty merchants can do while shoppers are still on-site to help them  return to the path to purchase. Consider the following tactics:

Use dynamic messaging to promote free shipping qualification thresholds. Shipping costs remain the number one barrier to order completion, Forrester found, with 44% of consumers saying they abandoned their carts because shipping costs were too high and another 27% saying shipping costs were revealed too late in the checkout process.

Not only should shipping costs be accessible in the cart — and even on the product page — but merchants should take a further step and message shipping promotions prominently as shoppers add items. Amazon.com calculates how much more shoppers need to add to qualify for free shipping and messages the amount in the cart.

Dynamic free shipping message  /></p><p>Even if you can’t dynamically promote the amount needed to qualify for free shipping, position shipping messages so shoppers can’t miss them, regardless of how they deviate from the path to purchase. Just a few places to flag shipping promotions</p><p><ul> <li>On product pages</li> <li>In the drop-down display of the global shopping cart, as Macy’s does with its banner featuring a promotional code</li> </ul></p><p><img title=

  • In global banners at the top of the center content area
  • In the shopping cart
  • At the beginning of checkout

Assuage privacy fears. Forrester found that 12% of shoppers abandoned carts because sites asked for too much information, while 14% balked at setting up an account with a password in order to be able to purchase. As discussed previously, we don’t recommend forced account creation in most cases; but merchants should go further to ensure shoppers don’t abandon purchases because of privacy concerns.

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