Inbound Marketing & Sales Development Inspiration

Online Marketing - Reducing Shopping Cart Abandonment Rates

Posted May 8, 2013
6 minute read

Don't Let an Interested Customer Buy Elsewhere

full shopping cart
The latest statistics place cart abandonment rate at about 59%. That is, 59% of time a customer places an item into an online shopping cart, that customer fails to check out and complete the online transaction. With an increase in comparison shopping resources, this could go even higher. A recent study by Paypal found that 45% of customers abandoned carts more than once with an average order size of slightly more than $100.

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Why Do Customers Abandon the Shopping Cart?

Why are customers abandoning their purchases more than half the time? Some site more comparison shopping activities. Recent studies found the following reasons (multiple studies cited so the numbers don’t add to 100%).

  • 57% didn’t want to pay shipping costs
  • 48% felt the cost of the purchase was more than expected
  • 41% simply used the shopping cart for research – perhaps to determine shipping costs
  • 27% wanted a discount coupon
  • 24% sought more payment options
  • 22% were unable to find contact information and felt the website was less credible as a result
  • 19% didn’t want to wait for the purchase to be shipped and purchased offline instead
  • 15% felt checkout process was too complicated
  • 12% reported a variety of other reasons

The Financial Impact

In a recent article about conversion rates, I mentioned that ecommerce websites convert anywhere between 1-2%. If you are converting at 1.5% for example and you can reduce your cart abandonment rate by 25% (from 50% to 37.5%), your conversion rate increases from 1.5% to nearly 1.9% - a nice improvement. Taking it one step further, if your average sale is $100 and you are spending 10% of revenue on paid search marketing to drive website traffic, you have improved gross margins by 40% - this is meaningful.

5 Ways to Reduce Your Cart Abandonment Rate and/or Re-Capture Those Customers

Now that we’ve established the impact of reducing cart abandoned rate, let’s cover a few things you can do to accomplish this.

  1. Display shipping fees ahead of time. Shipping costs should be disclosed prior to asking the customer for payment information. You can do this by estimating shipping costs and adding an estimated fee to each product or integrating some type of shipping calculator button that enables the customer to calculate shipping costs at any time during the shopping process. This strikes directly at the #1 reason people abandon the cart (see above).
  2. Offer coupons and discounts during the “shopping funnel” process. The 2nd and 4th reasons people abandon the cart (see above) can be mitigated by offering some kind of compelling discount, special offer, etc. Perhaps a discount on the next purchase or free shipping or x% discount when you purchase a certain amount or more. These are all ways you give your customer one more reason to checkout.
  3. Consider offering comparison shopping resources right on your site. Reason #3 (above) reinforces the importance of this opportunity. Reviews of all sorts are important online and becoming ever more prolific. There’s seldom an opportunity when you can’t find reviews or people’s opinions about most products and services. The average shopper today knows this, so serve it up to them at the most important point in time – when they are interested in buying your product. On the flip side, have the ability in your site to have your customers provide reviews of your products and services. This will not only provide some added information for your customers, it may also help you with SEO.
  4. Reinforce your website security/privacy. Even though people have been buying online for years and online credit card transactions are commonplace, if your site is new to a certain customer, he/she may need that extra little nudge that communicates the security/privacy of your information. McAfee Secure is one example of a way to communicate extra website security. Also, communicate that your customer’s information will be used for internal purposes only and not shared outside your company.
  5. Communicate your return policy. If your customer knows you’ll stand behind his/her purchase if there is any problem, that’s one less obstacle to overcome to complete the sale. Like the shipping calculator button mentioned in #1 above, you can add a button somewhere in the shopping process that opens a window explaining your return/refund policy.

Re-Marketing – Get that Customer Back to Your Website

You’ll never completely solve the cart abandonment challenge, but there are two great ways to get that customer back after they left your site. Using email marketing and search engine “re-marketing”, you improve your success at turning that abandoned customer into a buyer.

  1. Email Marketing - If your customer has provided you their personal information and email address, track if they abandoned the cart during a recent online shopping experience. Then, send them a coupon or discount or some other type of incentive to get them back and complete the sale. Don’t wait too long as you may miss the window, and don’t be too shy about it. For example, send the customer an email that says “we appreciate you shopping with ‘’ and would like to give you 10% off your next purchase of more than $100.00”.
  2. Search Engine Re-Marketing - Use a platform like Google Adwords for this kind of search engine and seo marketing activity. When a customer gets to your shopping cart and doesn’t complete the sale, you place a “cookie” on their computer. You then do some display advertising online targeted specifically at that customer. For example – a customer shops your site, places a product in your shopping cart but abandons the site without completing the purchase. That same customer goes elsewhere on the internet and visits a site that has display advertising (banner and other advertising). Your display ad shows up to reinforce your brand and encourage the customer to come back and complete the sale. A nice way to stay in front of a customer who has interest in your product/service.

Shopping cart abandonment is one of the biggest challenges faced by online marketers. If performance can be improved, it has a huge financial impact on sales and profits. Shipping costs, discounts, comparison shopping, website security and return policies all play a role to reduce abandon rates. Also, marketing to the customer after the abandoned session via email marketing and search engine re-marketing are ways to still get the sale.

At WebStrategies, Inc, we've developed websites for many different eCommerce business. Learn more about our approach to ecommerce development, email marketing, and search engine re-marketing.

Do you have an ecommerce site? Have you tried these methods? If so, how did they work for you? Let us know in the comments section below.

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