Preventing Shopping Cart Abandonment

“Shipping is the number one reason for cart abandonment,” – Laura Behrens

E-commerce retailers and online shopping activities are among the biggest phenomenon in modern times. The fact that most of the civilised world has access to the global Internet and sufficient bandwidth has helped to expand consumer’s shopping habits to the online domain and has enabled e-commerce operators to strike gold. More people are shopping online for food, fashion, clothes, electronic gadgets, etc. than ever before. We note that brick-and-mortar business operators also offer customers the option to shop online in an attempt to tap the growing market. However, shopping cart abandonment continues to pose a serious problem for most e-commerce retailers. This is a phenomenon that happens toward the end of the online shopping experience when the online shopper abruptly terminates the shopping expedition. This behaviour is significant because it has the potential to degrade the revenues, profit margins, and commercial reputation of any e-commerce operator.

When we investigate the root causes of such actions, the most common responses tend to include the customer’s perception that the cost of shopping online exceeds their budgets. We could say that shopping cart abandonment is an outcome of a scenario where the customer checks the aggregate value of the goods in a shopping cart and decides against a purchase decision. The lack of free shipping offers on an e-commerce platform can also prompt online customers to walk away from a possible transaction. In addition, taxes, service fees, the price of an extended warranty can inflate the final value of the bill payable by the customer. In such a situation, online retailers would be well advised to offer free shipping to every customer, regardless of the overall value of the items placed in the shopping cart. The retailer’s promise not to include the costs of shipping the products in the final bill can set the customer’s mind at ease. This can easily translate into greater sales and fewer instances of shopping cart abandonment.

We must bear in mind that every management group that steers an e-commerce enterprise should seek the means to lower the metric centred on shopping cart abandonment. To that end, e-commerce retailers can work to increase the value of the items in the shopping cart at no extra cost to the customer. This can be achieved by offering a free item provided the customer closes the transaction completely. We could view this as an inducement that attracts the customer’s attention and encourages him or her to complete a transaction. The use of the freebie may cost the retailer in material terms, but each completed transaction highlights the success of the said strategy.

An e-commerce retailer can offer trade-related items, such as online coupons, promotional offers, discounts, and special offers to encourage customers to close online transactions. The use of this technique enables the online retailer to sell more items, while providing the customer a solid inducement to transact successfully. This can be one method of reducing the instances of shopping cart abandonment. Consider this: an online shopper uses his or her discretion to select a variety of home improvement products. The goods are progressively added to the shopping cart as the shopper proceeds through the website. The final value may exceed the set amount of dollars in the customer’s budget, but the business can offer the customer certain slow selling products at a heavily discounted rate should the shopping session be completed successfully. This approach enables the retailer to progressively clear the inventory of slow moving items, while adding an incentive for the customer to commit his shopping dollars to the said business enterprise.

Businesses should also make sure that the final stages of online shopping sessions are smoothly optimised for the benefit of the customer. This means that the payment process should be tunes to attain completion in a few brief steps. The business must recognise that any extensions in such matters may mar the overall customer experience and reduce the chances of successful transactions. The back-end infrastructure of the retailer’s website should be ideally tuned such that all customers have a superb shopping experience. We must note that architecting this end-user experience is critical to defeat the phenomenon of shopping cart abandonment.

Every business thrives on optimism and in the study of customer behaviour. Online retailers are no exception and may consider offering customers an opportunity to retrieve their shopping carts from previous, non-transactional visits. This implies that the online business enterprise has faith in its customers and intends to help the customer complete his or her shopping. The recovery of the shopping cart can underline the seriousness with which the business views its operations, its customers, and the customer service experience. Studies in online customer behaviour indicate that online shoppers are more likely to resume their shopping at a different point in time; this can be used by online businesses to reduce the metrics of shopping cart abandonment.

In situations where a customer has abandoned a cart, the online business may choose to send emails to remind him or her to complete the shopping session. This can be viewed as a proactive business stance that values the customer’s mind and wallet, while helping the business to re-capture sales. Every customer may not shop under ideal circumstances, therefore, this is a justified tactic on the part of the business. The brief email message can remind the customer that the shopping session is incomplete and that the business awaits the pleasure of serving the customer. However, in certain situations, we must admit that a business can do precious little to counter shopping cart abandonment. The informed online customer may find a better deal or a cheaper product that suits his or her requirement on a different website, leading to an abandoned shopping cart. This is the equivalent of a real world customer evaluating the wares at multiple brick-and-mortar establishments before arriving at a purchase decision. This is essentially customer choice at play and every business must respect that. The multiplicity of product choices in the online domain is the key to such behaviour and businesses have to live with such commercial realities. That said, we note that every online business must do everything in its power to enable a fabulous customer experience, one that prevents the customer from migrating to the competitors.

In the preceding paragraphs, we have examined the various options that an online retailer can exercise to counter shopping cart abandonment. Every business should move seriously to arrest and reverse such abandonment because such instances of customer behaviour directly impact the business bottom line. The online retailer must create as much incentives as possible to encourage the customer to complete business transactions. The customer experience should precede any business consideration. However, in case the said metric is gathering alarming volumes, the business should introspect to arrive at the root cause of such abandonment. A steady (internal) campaign to enrich the online shopping experience should help to reduce the said metric, while adding great value to the business. Further, every online retailer should take note of the various innovations that are currently informing the competition; this approach to business intelligence should aid every retailer to arrest negative business trends.

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