It’s rare that a shopper will grab clothes, try them on and change their mind at the check out till of a brick-and-mortar store. But online, the e-commerce world frequently has to deal with this as a matter of fact occurrence. It doesn’t matter if you’re Amazon or two-person business, the fact remains that people will often put products in their carts only to abandon them without remorse. Selling today seems to be more complicated than ever, especially in the UK, where sales have suffered the biggest decline since the mid-nineties, and where headline after headline refers to shop closures and job losses as retailers struggle to keep up with the endless competition around them. It’s evident that retailers need to take steps to boost customer engagement and increase conversion in order to get that winning edge, so we ask, how can they do this?
Recent research from SAP Customer Experience revealed that more than a third of shoppers discard their carts sometimes or all the time, with 35% allowing items to sit in the cart for durations ranging from an hour to more than a week, suggesting that retailers need to do more to get their customers to click ‘buy’.
While these are daunting statistics, the first step is understanding why exactly customers abandon carts. For this, it’s worth considering not just the buying process, but the products being sold. The chances of cart abandonment are higher for products relating to fashion, and furniture, followed by financial products and digital goods.
Data that provides insights into individual customers’ preferences and habits allows retailers to achieve a consistent, complete view of their buyers, and draw useful conclusions about what’s important to them. From the research, unexpected shipping costs, price comparing and out of stock products are the most common reasons consumers are abandoning their carts, and they can be avoided.
Once retailers know why shoppers are abandoning carts, they can determine the best way to remove barriers and encourage follow-through on the purchase. For instance, to tackle out of stock issues, retailers can integrate back-office and e-commerce systems to provide customers with a real-time view of stock availability to offer the consumer different purchasing options such as click and collect. They can also provide assistance via online chats, use retargeting to get consumers to visit again, send reminders if they left something in the cart, or follow up by providing a special promotional code.
Retailers need to make the overall online purchase experience more positive in order to reduce cart abandonment and additionally encourage shoppers to put more in their cart. Online shoppers are clear about what they wish to see from brands. Consumers are wary of retailers’ suggestions, with only 6% interested in recommendations at least half the time. Instead, improving the online purchase experience for customers means providing easy exchanges and returns (66%); offering comparison tools so shoppers can compare prices and specifications with other similar products and services (44%), and having a physical store where they can test out products (34%).
Some context, please
It’s also worth considering that sometimes, certain checkout scenarios are unavoidable. For example, the travel sector experiences only 21% following through with their purchase yet it’s necessary to note that completing checkout to buy an aeroplane ticket simply requires more time; entering passenger details, passport numbers as well as payment information all allow for extra time for the customer to change their mind or decide to complete at a later date.
Similarly, retailers, regardless of how well or not they are doing, will experience less cart abandonment at Christmas because people are approaching websites with the intent of buying gifts, and usually last minute, therefore they have more reason to go ahead with purchasing than they normally would.
Ultimately, shoppers need to feel like they can trust the entity they buy from, which is why retailers need to ensure there is no room for error when it comes to convenience and speed. This requires a robust omnichannel approach which provides a view of the customer across all touchpoints at all times, and advanced analytics to anticipate customer behaviours and understand their real-time intent. As a result, brands will be able to provide a personalised and responsive consumer experience before and after the checkout process, throughout the whole year – not just during peak seasonal highs such as Black Friday or the January sales.
The checkout process is challenging for any retailer but indeed it is a necessity in the e-commerce industry. Cart abandonment shouldn’t be a cause for despair, however, but instead an opportunity to assess customers’ buying motives and help perfect the purchasing journey. This way, businesses will be able to create an experience that instils a level of trust, encouraging the customer to come back for more and hit that buy button.