Imagine being at the grocery store and having a cart full of groceries that you are ready to buy, but, at the last minute you decide to abandon the shopping trip and leave your cart in the middle of the checkout lane. Other than a confused grocer and some potentially wasted perishable goods, is there a problem with leaving a shopping cart in the middle of a store without buying anything?
This question can be applied to online shopping as well. An increasing number of consumers are abandoning full shopping carts at the point of purchase. Is abandoning an online shopping cart different from abandoning a shopping cart in the middle of a grocery store? What are websites doing to check in on these hesitant buyers?
In an August 2013 study done by Bronto Software and Magento, 1,003 online shoppers were surveyed about their online shopping behavior, particularly involving the “shopping cart”. Respondents were divided into three separate groups (based on the frequency of their online shopping): Frequent Shoppers, Occasional Shoppers, and Infrequent Shoppers.
The most common uses of the online shopping cart are different from in-store shopping cart. They are most commonly used to put all items in one place so shoppers can then decide what to buy, followed closely by saving the items to buy at a later time. Each group of shoppers (frequent, occasional, and infrequent) use the online shopping cart the same way. To go back to our grocery store example, it is as if these shoppers are filling their carts but once they get up to the checkout they either purchase one item out of 50 or ask the cashier if they can save this for another time. This behavior isn’t what we would define as the “normal” in store experience.
So what is so different about the online shopping cart?
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It seems as though shoppers are using the online shopping cart feature as more of a buffer pre checkout rather than as an actual shopping cart. This behavior results in abandoned shopping carts and e-commerce site managers left wondering where they went wrong with their sale. Abandonment rates have spiked to 70-80% of all online shopping cart transactions (or lack thereof).
Let’s go back to the grocery store one last time. Perhaps you are a couple steps away from your cart when the store manager calls out to tell you that Oops! You left your cart behind with unpurchased items! Would you be likely to return to your cart out of guilt or obligation? Perhaps it is easier to leave behind an online shopping cart because of the anonymity of an online shopping persona.
One tactic for trying to bring back that potential sale, much like the confused grocery store manager, is an email reminder about the items stuck in your shopping cart. For marketers, this is a useful tool and can bring in a 20% conversion rate; but 74% of shoppers report feeling as though these emails are annoying and intrusive. 53% of shoppers do not expect any kind of reminder once they step away from a shopping cart whether that is an email, phone call, or discount incentive to return to their cart. As the article states, the notion of unexpected is not synonymous to being unwelcome.
Is your E-commerce business looking for quick, effective ways to bring back or keep that potential sale? Here are a few tactics for decreasing the probability for shopping cart abandonment:
- Eliminate distractions from your checkout page to keep shoppers focused and interested
- Include an option of a reminder email on the checkout page so that customers can opt in or out of emails
- Create separate “Wish List” carts and actual shopping carts
- Include incentives for customers to return to their shopping cart in the reminder emails that are sent out (coupons for future purchases, 5% off what is currently in their shopping cart, etc.)