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7 ways to recapture customers who have abandoned their shopping cart

Ecommerce Industry Analyst, ScienceSoft


The case of online shoppers abandoning their shopping carts before they have completed a purchase and subsequently leaving is a costly one for e-commerce sites. Businesses may be shocked by the number of lost sales caused by abandoned shopping carts. And there are many reasons why shoppers fail to complete the checkout process.

Fortunately, there are several approaches you can take to recapture customers who left their shopping cart behind and chose to go elsewhere. Let’s examine 7 ways to bring your customers back into the fold and avoid losing them again.

Reduce abandoned shopping carts

1. Offering additional discounts

With previous customers who were logged in and can be easily identified, offering a better price is one of the best ways to encourage them to return. It’s well known that some e-commerce sites experiment with different price points for the same product depending on the purchase history, demographics, and other data points. Still, sometimes, online store owners segment customers incorrectly and fail to offer the best price to secure the sale. In such a situation, they can get a second bite at the sales cherry by emailing the shoppers to offer a discounted price if they complete the purchase in the next, say, 3 days.

Companies can use multi-stage email campaigns, where they can increase the urgency level of the communication, or provide a higher discount, or offer a sweetener like a free supplementary product thrown in to complete the sale. In this case, the company creates the long-term value by encouraging the customers to complete the purchase and return to the store in the future.

2. Waiving shipping costs

One issue with cart abandonment is the cost of shipping. Depending on the value of the purchase, the shipping cost could be close to the price of the original item which sends potential customers moving off to their local Walmart to hunt down the item rather than completing their purchase.

Until a company has found an appealing solution to the shipping cost dilemma, they can waive shipping to incentivize the customer to complete the abandoned purchase. Websites can be reprogrammed to intelligently identify when the visitor reaches the shopping cart page with an item in their cart and then goes back to the main page. Before they leave, a popup notification or on-page notification can alert them to an offer to waive shipping if they complete their purchase before leaving.

3. Using Google Analytics

Google Analytics data is really important when looking at how the visitors view and interact with different pages of your site, which can really give some insight into where the customers are being lost. The bounce rate on a site matters to search engines, and it should to e-commerce websites too.

Examining the drop-off points and the exit pages is highly illuminating. This can give you an idea why people are choosing to leave at this point. Are the visitors who are leaving using a mobile device like a tablet or a smartphone which may indicate a problem with the page design? Is it not possible to complete the purchase using a mobile device for some reason? Consider all possibilities like unclear content or confusing navigation to explain why certain pages see the most exits.

4. Retargeting in social media

Facebook retargeting is an excellent way to reach out to previous visitors to your website. The audience can be segmented down sufficiently to offer a product promotion that will appeal to them and entice them to return.

Retargeting tends to be successful with customers because, unlike other forms of advertising, it matches their interests closely. For potential buyers who didn’t complete the checkout process or needed more time to think about the purchase before committing to it, the ad may be just what they needed to finalize the purchase.

5. Redesigning the shopping cart experience

If you aim at reducing the incidence of abandoned shopping carts, improving the purchase experience is a critical aspect not to be overlooked. Amazon is a great example of a shopping cart system that works time and again.

Even the slightest thing can cause a problem of a purchase being halted. For instance, a writer recently attempted to purchase a domain name from NameCheap.com but was unable to do so because his bank card had expired. There was no option to edit the card details; a whole new card needed to be entered. It was impossible to make the change while inside the shopping cart. It was necessary to go into the account settings to deal with the card issue separately, then return to the shopping cart to complete the purchase. A less persistent customer would have abandoned the cart because of the inability to deal with adding new card details, a standard purchase action within a cart one would think!

Compare the above problem to Amazon where it is easy to update card details and complete a purchase. Some more determined e-commerce sites will decide to use software from providers such as Optinmonster, as they offer campaigns directed specifically to reduce cart abandonment. Making the customers’ interaction with the site more captivating with personalized messages as well as improving the functionality of a shopping cart also helps to bring the customers back and complete previously abandoned purchases.

6. Getting customers’ email addresses early

While not necessarily requesting to sign up for a full account right away, look for the opportunities to connect a visitor to their email as soon as possible. In a situation where a shopping cart gets abandoned, this creates so many additional ways to fix things and get the customer back. The value of getting customers’ email addresses cannot be overstated because it enables automatic recovery mailings, retargeting, and more. By some estimates, close to $18bn is lost annually due to abandoned carts, so being able to get in touch with the customer to see what problem they had is invaluable.

7. Using live chat

Wherever possible, consider having a live chat option on your site during regular shopping hours. While it may be expensive initially to have staff to handle that option, it drives down cart abandonment rates substantially for companies that use it. The live chat option doesn’t have to be present all over the site, but it gives priceless advantages when used through the shopping cart process. It provides customer service right when it’s potentially needed and could lead to having a new customer for life.

Instead of a conclusion

The multitude of approaches to reducing the rate of shopping cart abandonment as well as various ways to get customers back on the site gives online retailers hope. The losses due to abandoned carts are substantial, both for small mom ‘n’ pop online stores and the largest online retailers like Amazon. However, by taking a measured approach, it’s possible to reduce those losses and retain more customers in the process.

Our consultants will help to shape an optimal ecommerce solution for your business.