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GUEST COMMENT Three simple ways to prevent abandoned carts

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The scourge of abandoned carts continues to plague the ecommerce industry, spanning both desktop and mobile platforms. While typical in-store sales conversions tend to hang around 30%, some research suggests that only 3% of online shoppers actually complete a purchase.

What can a concerned online shop keeper do?

As it turns out – they can do a lot. From following up with an email reminder to reaching out to customers directly on social media. However, most retailers aren’t doing nearly enough.

Abandoned carts

A recent study on the issue of abandoned carts by Genesys found that:

· Only 15% of retailers follow up an abandoned online shopping cart within 24 hours with an email or phone call.

· Just 5% of these followed up again in the subsequent 24 hours.

· None proactively engaged with the customer during the online shopping session, despite customers being active on the website for the entire time before the abandonment.

· Just 7% of the companies had chat as an available option – and none of them used this option during the process.

What should retailers be doing to prevent abandoned carts?

Here are just a few of the things that they could be doing better to save more than a few sales:

Send a follow-up email

One of the best ways to turn an abandoned shopping cart into a completed transaction is to follow up as soon as possible by email, which customer experience experts like Amazon do well. This kind of outbound engagement is not only smart marketing; it also creates a better customer experience. After all, your online shopper has already shown you exactly what they want—make, model, colour, and size—and may now just need some additional assistance from your company to help them make their decision. But if you do send your customers emails to remind them of items left in their carts, be careful not to mask your true intentions behind a thank-you note. A Genesys survey of over 1,000 consumers found that the majority consensus (42%) held is that companies that send emails thanking customers for merely visiting a site is “very annoying.” Instead, be honest and direct: simply ask customers if they forgot to complete their purchase, and give them a hyperlink to lure them back to their cart.

Reach out and tweet someone

Customers usually abandon a cart because they’re indecisive and lacking information. If your contact centre tools offer sufficient insight and tracking, you can try reaching out to customers directly via social media after they abandon a cart. But be careful who you engage on Twitter or reply to on Facebook. The aforementioned Genesys survey found that consumers aged 18-34 and 35-44 had neutral feelings about being contacted directly by brands on social media, but older people can’t stand it.

Be proactive

You know those little live-chat pop-up prompts you sometimes see on a website, usually featuring a nice, smiling stock photo of a customer service representative ready to assist you? Perhaps triggered when you sat idly on a page for too long, confused and indecisive about whether to treat yourself to a new iPhone or Samsung Galaxy before beginning university? Well, those chat prompts actually work and increase conversion rates – by up to 350%.

Proactively communicating with a prospective customer via chat (or even over live video, if you have the right tech) is a sure-fire way to resolve a customer’s questions, establish trust and rapport, and issue a pre-emptive strike against the possibility of an incomplete transaction. Augmenting your site with a live remote sales agent creates a level of interactivity that’s as close to a brick-and-mortar shopping experience as a customer can get. What’s more, studies have long shown that 35% to 50% of all sales go to the company who engages a customer first.

Pierce the veil

Of course, there are plenty of other things that can be done to transform abandoned carts into real purchases—and prevent interrupted transactions in the first place—but these steps above are among the easiest ways to do so without invoking big data analytics and major website and mobile app re-designs. Remember, online shoppers will sometimes use their shopping cart as a wish list, but a majority of customers that abandon their cart do so with a clear intention to buy. Smart retailers will proactively turn those intentions into successful transactions before someone else beats them to it.

Richard McCrossan is strategic business director, digital channels at Genesys

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