All too often, e-commerce businesses feel the pain of abandoned carts. A customer visits their website, takes a look around, and adds a few items to their shopping cart. Things are going swimmingly when, all of a sudden, they leave without placing an order. How dare they?

Abandoned shopping carts are the bane of e-commerce stores everywhere. However, you can take steps to entice your shopper to close the deal. 

In this guide, we’ll take a deep dive into abandoned cart recovery strategies that deliver results. You’ll learn what drives customers to abandon their shopping carts and what you can do to facilitate the sales process.

Defining abandoned cart recovery

Abandoned cart recovery is a sales strategy designed to recover clients when they initiate a purchase but fail to finalize it. The goal is to encourage a shopper to buy from you rather than forget all about your online store. 

Companies that use omnichannel marketing strategies can easily insert abandoned cart recovery into their processes. Omnichannel marketing considers every touchpoint of the customer journey and relays interactions between channels. For instance, if a client shops in your store, you can send them a follow-up abandoned cart email about the items they browsed or showcase the products in a targeted Instagram ad carousel. 

There are multiple ways to integrate abandoned cart recovery into your marketing processes. The key is to know what’s driving customers to leave their carts and then take action to fix it. 

Understanding customer behavior

There may be several reasons customers are abandoning their shopping carts. You can use the following techniques to uncover them.

Analyze user behavior for conversion funnel leaks

Your website analytics can reveal insights into your customer’s behavior when shopping with you. Compare data from clients who abandon their carts to determine when they leave your site. If they exit midway through the checkout, an overly lengthy order form may be to blame. 

Identify pain points through customer feedback

Instead of guessing, you can ask clients why they abandoned their carts. Consider sending customers a survey to learn what turns them away from your business. You can also include a survey as a pop-up that appears if clients try to exit during checkout. 

Perform segmentation of new vs. returning customers

Try isolating your existing customer base from new clients. Returning customers may already have an account with you, so it’s easier for them to purchase. New clients are unfamiliar with your business and website, so the data trail they leave behind will provide greater insights into abandoned carts.

The following list includes some common reasons for cart abandonment you might discover during your investigation: 

  • The checkout process is too complex. Including too many steps in your checkout process may detract customers from buying.
  • You don’t offer free shipping. According to a recent study, over 60% of Americans refuse to buy something online if it includes shipping costs. 
  • Delivery times are too long. While lengthy delivery times may be a fact of life for your business model, they can discourage clients from completing a purchase.
  • Your website looks outdated. In the age of cybersecurity concerns, an unprofessional or obsolete website may raise a few eyebrows with customers. 
  • Non-competitive pricing. Clients will jump ship for a competitor offering a better deal on comparable products. 

Abandoned cart recovery strategies

Once you pinpoint the reasons why clients aren’t completing their orders, you can take action to rectify the problem. Start by determining what percentage of people are abandoning their carts.

How to calculate the shopping cart abandonment rate

Use this formula to determine how many sales you’re losing from abandoned carts:

[1 – (Number of completed purchases / Number of shopping carts created) x 100] = Shopping cart abandonment rate.

Let’s take an example. Assume you have 93 completed monthly sales and 110 people created shopping carts. Your shopping cart abandonment rate is 15.45%, or [1 – (93/110) x 100]. 

Easy techniques to reduce the cart abandonment rate

Before diving into some advanced techniques to reduce your cart abandonment rate, try these simple strategies:

  • Send an SMS text: Did your client sign up for your SMS marketing messages? If so, send them a simple follow-up abandoned cart text nudging them to finalize their purchase. You can include a link to their shopping cart to make it super easy for them.
  • Email a personalized follow-up message: If you have your client’s email address (and their permission to send them messages), you can send an email urging them to buy products. You might include a discount to entice them further.
  • Employ exit-intent pop-ups: Is your client showing signs they’re going to leave your site before purchasing? Incorporate automated exit pop-ups to discourage visitors from saying “bye” without making a purchase. 
  • Incentives for prompt checkout: Adding urgency to your checkout page, such as a timer or a limited stock notification, may prompt visitors to buy.

Optimizing the checkout process

Think about the last time you shopped at a physical store, and there was a long line to check out. Maybe you stopped by a grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk on your way home from work, only to encounter 100 other people doing the same thing. Your memory of the experience may be exasperation — after all, you’re busy and don’t want to stand in line forever. 

Now, apply that thought process to your online store. How long does it take to check out as a new visitor? Is it seamless, taking less than a minute or two to complete? Or do you require clients to set up an account and provide numerous personal details before finalizing their purchase? If it’s the latter, it’s time to make some changes. Try these tips.

Provide transparent shipping options and pricing

No customer wants to spend time picking out great items only to encounter hefty extra fees during the checkout process. To avoid unwanted surprises, provide clients with straightforward pricing so they know what they’ll pay well before they click the “Buy now” button. 

For instance, if you charge for shipping, including the cost in product details is helpful. You might also include a shipping fee schedule as a new page so clients can review it before browsing.

Bath & Body Works landing page with shipping costs
Bath & Body Works includes a landing page outlining shipping costs on its website. Image Source: Bath & Body Works

Create a comprehensive return policy

Not every client will like the products they purchase from you. Some customers may purchase an item only to find out it doesn’t quite meet their needs. Or, they may find another option and return what they bought from you. 

Create a straightforward return policy and post it on your site to avoid confusing customers. Include a copy of the return policy in the checkout process and with the customer’s receipt. That way, customers know how to handle a return if they need to make one.

Offer mobile-friendly checkout

Many clients may shop on mobile devices, including phones and tablets. Provide a friction-free checkout option that allows customers to purchase quickly, even if they’re shopping on a small screen. Minimize the number of fields you require them to fill out and offer a guest option for clients who don’t want to create an account.

Optimize page load speeds and application performance 

The longer it takes to view your store’s content, the more likely people will leave without purchasing. Aim to keep all your page load speeds below three seconds to optimize sales. 

You can assess page load speeds using a tool like Google’s PageSpeed Insights. It assesses website performance for mobile and desktop users and provides performance improvement tips.

Website performance analysis from Google PageSpeed Insights
Example of comprehensive website performance analysis. Users can toggle between mobile and desktop to track metrics. Image Source: Google PageSpeed Insights

Comparison shopping and the role of discounts

Budget-minded customers may shop around before purchasing, especially if multiple retailers offer similar items. To avoid losing clients to your competition, keep a watchful eye on pricing alternatives. 

If a competitor undercuts your pricing, see if you can match it. If price matching isn’t possible, try offering something else that benefits your customer, such as free shipping or faster delivery times.

Marketing and retargeting techniques

If a client leaves your online store without finalizing their purchase, all is not lost. Try out these marketing strategies to bring them back.

Retarget customers with relevant ads

Sometimes, clients just aren’t ready to purchase, and their reasons have nothing to do with your store. Maybe they’re waiting on a paycheck, or something interrupted the purchase process. You can gently remind them of what they’re missing out on through retargeting.

A retargeting strategy serves clients with personalized ads of items they browsed in your store. The ads can appear on social media, search engines, and streaming apps. Greater ad frequency may boost engagement and ultimately result in a sale. 

Peer pressure and social proof

One reason clients fail to purchase is a lack of familiarity with your products or brand. To overcome their concerns, provide customers with positive testimonials and feedback from past clients. You can include testimonials and client feedback on your website. 

When customers see your rave reviews, they won’t pass up the opportunity to buy your products.

Follow up with email and SMS marketing messages

Do you have a customer’s email address or phone number? If they’ve opted into your marketing messages, send them a follow-up note after their recent store visit. Promote your products, and consider including an extra incentive to buy. For instance, you might include a gift if they purchase or offer a one-time discount code.

Ann Taylor retargeting ad
Ann Taylor uses retargeting emails to encourage clients to shop recently viewed items. Image Source: Ann Taylor

Technical solutions for cart recovery

If you use an e-commerce website solution such as WooCommerce or Shopify, you can explore the platform’s plugins for abandoned cart recovery tools. Most abandoned cart recovery plugins charge an annual fee and offer features like automated abandoned cart emails, Facebook retargeting, and SMS texts. 

Software capabilities for enhancing recovery rates

Businesses seeking a professional, comprehensive email marketing and SMS platform can check out Constant Contact. With Constant Contact, you can integrate most of your online marketing activities with one tool, including email marketing automation features for abandoned cart recovery. This will allow you to set up pre-designed email workflows to boost sales. 

Constant Contact offers templates to inspire your next email marketing or SMS campaign. Plus, you can integrate the platform with your social media channels, allowing you to retarget clients who abandon their carts on your website.

AI and machine learning in retail personalization

Customers want a personal touch when they shop, and you can give it to them through AI and machine learning-based tools. For instance, assume you sell wall paintings. You might include photos of the artwork and a few mockups on your site, but you could integrate an AI tool that allows customers to see how your painting would appear on their home wall. 

Machine learning is great for learning more about what your customers want. You can use it to analyze customer behavior across your different marketing channels. Using the analysis, you can better target ads to meet their interests and drive engagement. 

Measuring success and analytics

Monitor your progress as you implement new strategies to reduce abandoned carts. After all, you’ll want to know if your hard work is paying off!

Interpreting abandoned cart recovery statistics

Hopefully, you measured your abandoned cart rate before trying new marketing strategies or making website improvements. Use that rate as your benchmark, and compare results in future periods. 

For instance, assume you started with a 15% abandoned cart rate. You decide to streamline your checkout processes and offer free shipping. Two months later, you recheck your rate, and it’s dropped to 10%. A lower abandoned cart rate shows your strategies are yielding results.

Conduct A/B testing to improve cart recovery

A/B testing helps analyze minor tweaks to your website or marketing channels to boost cart recovery. It allows you to examine the impact of a change among a small audience before introducing it to your entire clientele.

For example, assume you set up an abandoned cart recovery email sequence. You create two sets of subject lines for your messages. Every client who abandons their cart over the next week receives one of your test emails. You notice a far greater average abandoned cart recovery rate with one subject line, so you incorporate it into your automation sequence. Through A/B testing, you can potentially increase your recovery rate.

Improve the client experience to reduce abandoned carts

Abandoned shopping carts are something every online business deals with. However, brands can implement strategies to reduce abandoned carts and enhance growth. 

Take a comprehensive look at your audience, website, and current marketing strategies to determine where to improve. An honest assessment can help you identify where you’re losing clients in the purchasing journey and take steps to rectify problem areas.

Check out Abandoned Cart Email Best Practices to learn more about cart recovery strategies.

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