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Ecommerce is more popular than ever, and retailers are fixated on figuring out how to get shoppers through the funnel with less friction. As much as retailers concern themselves with boosting conversion rates and average order values, shopping cart abandonment keeps some up at night. A July 2014 Retention Science survey of US online retailers found that 53.8% of retailers actively tracked shopping cart abandonment metrics.
Why would a shopper come to the site, browse the items, put them in a cart and never check out? For some consumers, leaving items in the cart is a way of keeping a “favorites” list—that is, keeping items on reserve until they go on sale. In October 2014, over half of US shoppers polled by Visual Web Optimizer (VWO) said they would be likely to purchase products they left in their carts if those products were offered to them again—by email notification or elsewhere—at a discounted price. These shoppers can be retargeted back onto the site, especially if they are between the ages of 25 and 34. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents in that age group said they would be open to retargeting that clued them into discounts—they want to know when their favorite items are on sale.
Other reasons for shopping cart abandonment are easier for retailers to fix. Fully 28% of respondents said an unexpected shipping cost—once they’ve already made it to checkout—was the biggest reason for shopping cart abandonment. Retailers would be wise to declare these additional fees up front. The second-biggest reason was having to create a new user account (23%), especially in order to check out. A “checkout as guest” option is the best quick fix, said VWO. Detailed error messages indicating incomplete credit card or address fields could also help prevent shoppers from clicking out of a site.
But shopping cart abandonment may not be a bad thing after all. For one, it can provide retailers with a treasure trove of customer information, including a shopper’s purchase interest. It can also provide key insights into the effectiveness of the website in leading a shopper through the purchase funnel. Either way, shopping cart abandonment helps retailers peer into customer behavior on ecommerce sites, which, if linked with offline behavior, can help provide a more complete picture of a contemporary shopper’s path to purchase.
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