You ARE doing it right.

Your marketing strategy IS working. 

You CAN see them.

They ARE there.

More and more visitors are coming to your webshop. The metrics (and spend!) you can see on Facebook Ads and Google Ads accounts stand as testament to this.

But the payback just isn’t there. The uplift in revenue is not coming through.


The Haunted Shopping Cart

It’s a story we all know. Not least because we’re all customers ourselves.

The abandoned cart.

The big number to be aware of on this is a whopping 70% – that’s the percentage of shoppers that will abandon their cart at checkout, and worldwide, research from Statista shows that in the last ten years that rate has not just remained steady, it has actually shown signs of increasing. 

The abandonment rate also varies considerably from sector to sector, so when considering your own situation, it is worth comparing your abandonment rate with that of your specific industry:

  • Airlines 87,9%
  • Non-Profit 83,1%
  • Travel 81.3%
  • Finance 77.9%
  • Retail 74,6%
  • Fashion 74,2%
  • Gaming 64,2%

There are hundreds of studies from all over the world on this, with some setting the abandonment rate as low as 55%, others as high as 80%. However, the consolidated research worldwide boils down to a simple truth:

In 2006 60% of shoppers abandoned their cart, and by 2017 that had increased to around 70%.

This trend also holds true across all devices, be they desktop, tablet, or mobile.

Nowadays mobile devices are becoming king of the e-commerce transaction, with projections in the USA alone putting around 54% of all e-commerce transactions by 2021 as taking place on mobile devices. 

Against this background, it should not be ignored that cart abandonment rates are also significantly higher on mobile devices, with some studies placing it as high as 86%.  

So, regarding the statistics baldly, it would appear that the smaller the screen, the more likely your customer is to abandon the cart at checkout.

Never underestimate the value of research

However, this higher than average abandonment rate on mobile devices needs some context. 

Yes, it is critical that your checkout processes on mobile devices need to be as seamless and obstacle-free as possible, and your offering needs to be tailored to suit the parameters of mobile devices.

However, whilst the rate of completed m-commerce transactions is anticipated to rise significantly in the next few years, a significant percentage of shoppers admit to using mobile devices to research their purchases, and then return later on a desktop or tablet device to complete the purchase. 

And don’t forget, if you are a mixed retail operation, with both online and bricks and mortar outlets, that apparently abandoned online cart may well end up converting into a very real, very full offline cart.

What matters then is being able to track all this, and to communicate around these trends, encouraging your customers to remain engaged in the purchasing process, regardless of how they want to complete it. 

You need to give your customers the ability to create wish-lists or shopping lists that they can then save for later purchase completion or convert into physical purchases in a bricks and mortar location.

So, understanding the trends and their meaning for your business is key here. High cart abandonment rates might not necessarily mean what they appear to at first glance. There may well be something else in play here.

Make it measurable

The reasons, then, behind the abandoned carts littering our virtual checkout queues can be distilled into a handful of key questions:

  • Why are customers losing their nerve at the checkout?
  • What can you do to prevent this from happening?
  • What can you do to win back those lost customers?

With this article we are focusing on the first two of these questions and will dive into a more detailed follow-up with specific tips and tricks for an effective abandoned cart email strategy in a later piece.

Why are customers losing their nerve at the checkout?

The reasons for carts being abandoned at checkout are many and varied, but most of them can be addressed relatively easily with simple modifications to either your processes or your messaging.

A study in 2010 by the Journal of Marketing Science found that some of the key reasons for abandoning carts included in no particular order:

  • A complex checkout process.
  • Hidden costs that at the time of checkout such as taxes or higher than expected shipping charges.
  • Complicated and/or lengthy registration process. 
  • No option to check out without signing up.
  • Limited payment options.
  • Differences in product description versus the actual product.
  • Missing/incorrect/invalid discount or coupon codes.
  • Deciding to purchase from a bricks and mortar store rather than online.
  • Using the store for purchase research only.
  • Comparison shopping.
  • Desire to wait for a lower/sale price.
  • Privacy/security concerns.
  • Fear that the product will be lost in delivery – especially true of cross border shopping.
  • Unexpected customs charges/tariffs.
  • Entertainment value (e.g. placing items for fun or because of boredom – and no, we’re not kidding, apparently people genuinely do this).

And whilst the above points hold true for all environments they can be particularly intensified on mobile devices. Additionally, there are a few further specific issues to bear in mind regarding m-commerce, such as:

  • Slow site load times
  • Lack of site optimisation
  • Obligatory pop-ups required on desktop not opening in mobile browsers

Getting down to brass tacks

Distilling all these factors, Barilliance in 2019 published research that showed that in order of priority to the shopper, the top five of the abandoned cart “bad boys” were:

  1. Unexpected Shipping Costs
  2. Having to create a new account
  3. Just conducting research
  4. Payment security concerns
  5. Long and confusing checkout

Of these top five, four really do not require the application of rocket-science to resolve, and ALL of them offer you the chance to stand out from your opposition if you take the time to address them properly.

Unexpected Shipping Costs

We can all sympathise with this one can’t we, and be honest, who doesn’t resent seeing these charges popping up on their bill? So why do we continue, entirely unnecessarily, to keep our customers in the dark? 

It is the simplest thing to be transparent about costs, and your customers highly value such transparency, given that it shows you are not only just “shooting straight” with them at the checkout, but also it speaks to your core values as brand.

So, make your shipping costs crystal clear at all times, or, even more convincingly, bundle your shipping costs, and offer free shipping to your customer – because according to CPCstrategy three-quarters of customers deemed free shipping as “critical” to making the final purchase.

Having to create a new account

Of course, you want to welcome your new customer into the fold, but do not make it cumbersome to become the latest member of the family. Consider offering guest checkout processes, with an email opt-in allowing you to follow up subsequently with the customer in order to have them create an account. If the shopping process, from browsing, through ordering and checkout, to final delivery has been seamless and enjoyable, they will be all the more ready to commit to you.

Payment Security Concerns

Demystify your offering. Cover the basics, thoroughly and completely. Don’t cut corners here. Build trust in the mind of your customer. 

Make sure your SSL certification is crisp and shiny, and that your page looks and feels the real deal at all times, with no missing images, no broken links. Include customer testimonials, and product reviews, and register with Trustpilot and allow your business itself to be reviewed. 

Make sure your contact details are easy to find and use, and seriously consider giving your company a face, with team bios and pictures. 

It may sound obvious, but it is significant how much of the fine detail can slip through the gaps if you are not careful.

Long and confusing checkout

This really should not be an issue. It really should not. 

But apparently it is. 

Seriously. Consider your own experience. If something is simple and straightforward aren’t you much more likely to complete the task? 

So, make it as easy for your customers to complete their purchase. 

Minimise forms, cut down the information you ask of them to the absolute essentials. You can always engage the successfully converted customer in further dialogue subsequently. 

You don’t need the keys to the castle, you need a happy customer. So, do something that pleases them. 

And do it simply. 

Just conducting research

Above, we’ve dealt briefly with the four cart abandonment issues that can easily be addressed. However, this one is a little thornier and more ephemeral. 

Patterns of e-commerce and m-commerce behaviour are constantly evolving, and comparison shopping and browsing is a fact of life. How you make yourself the most appealing option to a potential customer will depend very much on how you present your product, and where you fix your price points, delivery options, and special offers in relation to your competitors.

However, you can mitigate this by for instance offering price-matching, or by making it as simple as possible for a customer to save your product(s) to a wish or shopping list for later use. 

Anything you do to make the experience of shopping with you as enjoyable and engaging as possible will mark you out from your competition. 

Once again, it’s not rocket science

Abandoned carts are a feature of the digital landscape. But they are not a threat, they are an opportunity. They give you the chance to sharpen how you present your brand and your product. And doing so is not complex. But it does require consistency, a sharp eye, and a dedication to quality.

It also offers you the chance to bring out the big guns with your messaging, and if you combine what we have touched upon here with an engaging abandoned cart email strategy, you can become one of those organisations that buck the upwardly trending global cart abandonment rate.

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