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Etailer's worst headache: abandoned online shopping carts

Mar. 31, 2011

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Since the appearance of e-commerce websites more than ten long years ago, to most online shopping consumers, the virtual shopping cart has been offering them a neat place to compare, consider and think about a few potential purchases of the products they need, whether personally or in their business lives.

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But e-commerce site owners and their managers would like to see those potential purchases become real ones, and lately they've been developing new and more sophisticated methods of doing just that. Then again, nobody expected the situation to remain the same forever, given the growing competition for virtual eyeballs and most importantly, their hard earned money.

Online shopping cart abandonment is key for e-commerce managers simply because every abandoned shopping cart is a lost sale and a lost opportunity for more sale down the road. It's a well known fact that once a prospective shopper becomes a true customer, he or she will sometimes generate a steady stream of sales many years after he or she became a client. And this doesn't just apply to eCommerce in general but to any segment of consumer or business purchasers.

The reasoning behing online shopping cart abandonment goes that, if an online shopper is interested enough to put specific items in the shopping cart, it's fundamental in understanding the reasons why they didn't complete the transaction. There can be many reasons for that and sometimes they are outside the control of most online managers. You need to look at shopping cart abandonment as a way to provide better customer service, as well as an opportunity to better monetize your website, and prevent other cart abandonment in the near future.

Online expert consultant firm Revenue Expect Inc offers form analytics and email marketing software to etailers and eCommerce managers that need to analyze and follow up with customers who abandon shopping carts. Its clients can accurately track abandoned shopping carts, including any data entered into them, even when users don't press the submit button-- a great tool to maximize sales and seriously cut down on abandoned shopping carts.

"It's their most revealing and concrete action that shows intent," says Eric Tobias, founder and president of iGoDigital. It's the retailer's best opportunity to capture revenue that goes unfulfilled."

Abandoned online shopping carts offer ecommerce retailers valuable data about products not bought, and they also provide an opportunity to send event-triggered emails to those consumers with suggestions for possible purchases down the road.

Look at abandoned shopping carts as valuable reservoirs of vast and very detailed information, revealing much about a potential customer's exact needs, true desires and his or her intentions.

iGoDigital, as a specialist in product recommendation, works with retailers to track and monitor consumer behavior on websites, including the abandonment of shopping carts. It then sends follow-up emails to those consumers with suggestions for purchases they might like to make, based on the contents of their abandoned carts.

"All that retailers are looking at to increase the conversion of shopping cart items to actual sales," explained Tobias. "This is the opportunity with the most relevance to be able to remarket."

And does this email remarketing work? The numbers are convincing, said Tobias. The open rates for these remarketing emails are twice those of traditional marketing messages, and 20 to 50 percent of online consumers who receive those messages end up making a purchase.

"If an online retailer can recapture just 20 to 30 percent of all abandoned purchases, that ends up being a really large number for them," explained Tobias.

Such tools also allows the online manager to initiate a proactive chat discussion with a consumer to prevent the shopping cart from being abandoned in the first place. Almost by definition, those who abandon shopping carts are comparison shoppers, and this is a valuable group for retailers to target with informational chat sessions.

"On average, these comparison shoppers are more than 80 percent more likely to research online to ensure they get the deal," said Jim Iyoob, vice president of marketing development at Etech, a company that offers a variety of sales products and services including chat management for e-tailers.

"About 68.4 percent say they like to shop around before making a final purchase. What this tells us is that site visitors that abandoned carts are very valuable, higher-income people that are more tech-savvy, and use this knowledge to comparison shop and find the better values online," added Iyoob.

Online chatting software offers ecommerce site owners and managers a way to talk through potential sales with customers, answer specific questions and utterly close the sale, thus preventing or limiting the prevalence of abandoned shopping carts.

"It is our strong belief that if you're not truly assisting all your online customers, your competitors will. And when your customer leaves your site to compare, and your competitor has a live chat option, your competitor will take that sale. It's just as simple as that," said Iyoob.

Source: Revenue Expect Inc.

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