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Fix Shopping Cart Woes: User Engagement is Key to eCommerce Success

Shopping cart abandonment – it keeps eCommerce executives up all night, especially during the holidays. Cart abandonment occurs when an online shopper adds an item to the cart, but leaves the online retail site prior to purchase.

Here’s why it’s a big deal: as eCommerce continues to grow, the rate of abandonment is also on the rise. Business Insider report a staggering $4 trillion in merchandise will be abandoned in shopping carts in 2014. The good news is the Business Insider report estimates that around 63% of that potential revenue is recoverable.

Translation: there’s plenty of revenue up for grabs.

What is Causing Shopping Cart Abandonment?

Shopping cart abandonment can be caused by a variety of factors. The majority of these stem from one issue – poor end user engagement (EUE). Delivering the best possible shopping experience to your end user is the single most important factor in driving eCommerce revenue. But, it’s no walk in the park; there are a variety of factors that make EUE a major challenge.

  • The Mobile Shopper  This year, US mobile buyers will exceed 100 million in number. Whether you sell shoes or software, your online buyer is on-the-go. The explosion of web-enabled devices means shopping applications must adapt to different screen sizes, bandwidth limitations, and browsers – all without sacrificing performance.
  • Impatience Buyers & Poor Performance – A bad combination for retailers. Online shoppers are fickle; 51% of online shoppers say if a site is slow they will abandon a purchase. When users bounce because of poor performance, the likelihood they will later return to complete a purchase is slim.
  • Failure to Understand User Context – User experience encompasses every facet of the buyer’s journey. An overly-complicated checkout process is as likely to cause shopping cart abandonment as unbearably slow page loads. It’s important to put yourself in the shoes of your end user and try to see the world from their perspective.

How Can Retailers Reduce Cart Abandonment Rates?

  • Test, Test, Test! – Smart testing strategies provide needed insight into customer expectations and experiences. Start with A/B testing. Run a thorough analysis of your entire checkout process. Optimizing a shopping experience is a data-driven process, it cannot rely on guesswork. Even asking users for simple feedback after a purchase can provide valuable insight. Ask customers to relay what they liked about their experience. What would they improve?
  • Analyze Every Performance Metric – The rate of shopping cart abandonment is only one statistic that retailers should pay attention to. Other crucial metrics include time on site, page load, time to display, and revenue per visit. These metrics help a retailer paint a more complete picture of end-end user behavior, beyond how many shoppers abandon items.
  • Simplify Check-Out – A rule of thumb: online shoppers prefer a simple check-out process, one without surprises. Being presented with unexpected costs at checkout is the number one reason users abandon shopping carts. Simple checkouts also help retailers account for customers using multiple devices throughout the buying process. Google research revealed 67% of people start shopping on one device and then continue on another. It is far easier to ace omnichannel experiences when the checkout process is simple to begin with.

Re-engage Users with Follow-up Campaigns to Recover Revenue

Improve user experience for shoppers and rates of shopping cart abandonment will fall. However, some degree of abandonment will always occur. Users stop short of a purchase for numerous reasons. Many shoppers have no intention to move beyond research on a first visit and the shopping cart is utilized to bookmark items. Therefore, the last step to boost eCommerce revenue is to incorporate a follow-up strategy.

A follow-up campaign leverages email to nudge customers towards purchase. It’s an opportunity to re-engage with shoppers that only 20% of retailers take advantage of. Successful campaigns are timely. Research from Listrak shows a 40% open rate and a 20% click-through rate for recovery emails sent within 3 hours of cart abandonment. Moreover, persuasive email leverages user context and creates urgency. A generic email asking buyers to return is far less powerful than an email that showcases the shopper’s abandoned items in an enticing way.


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