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Shrink Your Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate

By Robert Tallack, Last Modified
Oct 05, 2017
> Technology

Have you ever wondered why someone would take the time to select a product, put it into a cart and then simply not complete the transaction? The bad news is you are missing out on valuable ecommerce revenue if you aren't paying attention to your abandonment rates. The good news is you've already done the hard work in attracting and (almost) converting that shopper into a customer.

eMarketer estimates that ecommerce is currently hauling in $2 trillion per year ($4 trillion per year by 2020). We should care about that because ecommerce stores are leaving valuable revenue on the table. Addressing shopping cart abandonment is one of the easiest ways to increase sales and turn browsers into customers. In our work with brands and agencies, we often find that this is a part of ecommerce strategy that isn't addressed in a meaningful way.

With the market being ultracompetitive and heading into the biggest season of the year (Cyber Monday, Black Friday, Christmas), I recommend getting educated and implementing your own strategies to decrease your shopping cart abandonment rate.

What are the frequent causes of abandonment? 

Shopping cart abandonment happens for several reasons, and it's important to investigate and find out what affects your store the most. Here are four of the most common reasons we see:

  1. The design of your website is not intuitive. If your user is confused and doesn't know what to do next, they will leave. Ensure your checkout process is clear and simple. Use features that show the steps to completion and short, simple language. Make shopping cart icons clearly visible and provide prompts for checkout in multiple locations. Never assume your shopper will know what to do. Make it so they can't help but see what to do next. 

  2. The offer isn't as described in ads or promos. Ah, the old bait and switch. Don't do it. Let me repeat, do not do it. Yes, you will get more traffic. But you will not get more customers, and you certainly won't win any reputation contests. OK, let's say you didn't do this on purpose. Perhaps your creative (ad or landing page) doesn't match up with your actual product page information. Have someone from your team do a weekly audit of your creative materials and product pages, especially during the busy retail season when frequent promos are being run.

  3. The site doesn't load fast enough. Ecommerce sites, by default, are image heavy. Please, please optimize images for the web. Don't take images straight from a photo shoot and load them full size to your website. This will dramatically slow your page load speed and waste precious seconds with a potential customer. If they have to wait too long, they will leave. End of story. Also, check your hosting package. Many ecommerce stores host on a shared server, which could also slow site load speeds. It might be time to get a designated host server or upgrade your host package. Looking to check your site speed? Here's a great free resource to do so.

  4. They weren't quite sold enough on the item. Basically, the shopper was skeptical of your product and wanted to see more information before purchasing. Make sure your product description, offer and product details are on point. Simply showing a product image and price is not enough. If you have the opportunity, display product reviews, and any other press or positive information you can about the product. The more information, the better. But make sure it is neatly displayed and doesn't confuse/clutter the checkout process (see No.1.) 



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Even the best ecommerce marketers will see some cart abandonment; it is just human nature to change your mind or get distracted doing something else. This does not mean all is lost. Most ecommerce platforms will have options you can select to email them (if they have set up an account or are a return buyer) to alert them that there are items remaining in their cart. Use them!

Additionally, employ remarketing strategies. There are platforms like Perfect Audience and AdRoll that allow you to control remarketing campaigns to website visitors and/or mailing lists. You can run all of your remarketing, meaning banner, display, Facebook and Twitter ads through these platforms. I highly recommend spending on remarketing, because if your shopper has left, there's no better way to get them back then by visually reminding them with an ad!

Robert Tallack
Robert Tallack
See Robert Tallack's Profile
Robert brings over 15 years of experience in the health industry, having sold his last consumer products company to a publicly traded pharma company. An industry veteran of the digital marketing business, Robert has developed direct-to-consumer sales and marketing campaigns that have generated millions per month in sales. His ability to build an efficient organization using technology to scale rapidly has contributed greatly to his success. Robert earned his B.A. in health sciences from Queens University, Ontario. Robert also brings a unique background in professional sports having previously been a 3-time World Martial Arts Champion and still holds a world record.
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