You’ve done the hard work: attracted the shopper into your website, presented them with a selection of goods, nudged them into placing items in their cart, and then …. radio silence. They’ve abandoned their shopping cart, and you don’t know why.
Shopping cart abandonment is a painfully real challenge for retailers of all sizes. Fortunately, there are steps e-commerce sites can take to boost conversion rates.
According to the UPS 2019 Pulse of the Online Shopper survey, the top four factors globally that contribute to cart abandonment are:
The good news is retailers can influence each of the above scenarios and salvage carts that might otherwise get abandoned, says Alexis Cohen, global e-commerce and retail strategy manager for UPS.
Firstly, it’s important to know exactly who you’re selling to. “If customers are elderly and predominantly home-bound, that is a very different population than the on-the-go Gen Z looking for fast fashion,” she remarks. “Understanding who your customer is means you can play with your shipping options a little bit more."
If you have a variety of customer profiles, you should offer a variety of shipping options. For some customers, free shipping is more important than speed. Approximately a third of Pulse of the Online Shopper respondents opted for a slower transit time in order to avoid paying shipping fees. On the flip side, 36% of customers added items to their cart to meet a spending threshold that guaranteed free shipping. "We've seen that shoppers are really willing to change their behavior for free shipping,” says Cohen. “Retailers can give options like these as a carrot to drive the types of behavior they're looking for."
Above all, provide transparency to shoppers at every stage of the shopping journey, from browsing to product research to purchase. Specifically, Cohen advises retailers to:
"Ultimately, it comes down to giving the shopper choices and not surprising them at checkout," Cohen remarks.
One often overlooked factor when it comes to reducing abandonment is customer loyalty.
By crafting compelling loyalty programs, you not only help convert carts—a quarter of respondents to the Pulse survey were willing to join a loyalty program to qualify for free shipping —but pave the way for future sales.
Consider carefully how you construct your loyalty program, though. "Baby boomers and older are willing to accrue points for some payout at the end, whereas Gen X and below tend to want things more on a transactional level, such as free shipping or discounts," explains Cohen, who advises retailers to develop relevant strategies that drive back customers time and again.
Email can be a powerful tool in promoting repeat business. From product alerts to previews of upcoming products, email serves many purposes while bringing the personality of the brand alive for the shopper.
Reducing friction for the shopper is another key enabler of cart conversion. "If a customer is on the fence about a purchase, the last thing you want to do is make it hard for them to buy,” says Cohen. “Make sure you reduce the number of clicks required to complete a purchase and make authentic customer reviews easily available to build the customer’s confidence so you can close the sale."
According to the Pulse survey, 8% of respondents globally have abandoned their carts because they couldn't remember their usernames and passwords, while 16% ditched a purchase because they were required to create an account but didn't want to.
Cohen advises retailers to follow this best practice checklist to minimize cart abandonment rates and grow sales:
"The path to purchase doesn't end with the actual click,” says Cohen. “It's the entire experience that increases the likelihood of future purchases."
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