Winning sales from abandoned carts: on-site techniques

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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.

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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.

Merchants have been slow to pursue these almost-customers. 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.

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