For Abandoned Shopping Carts

By David Hall, Vice President Sales and Marketing, Pro-Active Websites

You’ve probably seen it at your local grocery store: a rogue shopping cart, tucked out of the way, partially filled with items but abandoned by a fellow shopper. Although this might be an uncommon occurrence in the brick-and-mortar world, in eCommerce, it’s all too familiar.
It’s frustrating for online retailers to see abandoned carts. These incomplete transactions are an expensive reminder of the hard work, time and resources they have put into their Web sites only to fail at closing the sale.

With all you do to bring customers to your Web site, why do so many people leave before they make a purchase? Common reasons why consumers might bail during the checkout process include

  1. Shipping costs that are too high. Many online retailers offer free shipping as a way to even the playing field. You might not be able to offer lower prices than the big-box stores do; however, providing free shipping incentives certainly helps keep you in the game.
  2. The customer changed his or her mind. This is a tough one, because there could be hundreds of reasons why. Take a closer look at the flow of your shopping cart to make sure you are not giving them any extra excuses to abort the sale.
  3. Window shoppers. Some Web shoppers go through the checkout process as a way of comparing prices and overall value. They fill their shopping carts and proceed to the end only to abandon the sale. All they really wanted was the final price.
  4. The Web site does not allow guest purchases. Some people feel uncomfortable with making online purchases and might cancel the order if they feel that you are asking for too much information. Set your shopping cart to allow guest purchases.
  5. Building their wish list.Some customers go through the checkout process to “practice feeling ownership” for the items they want. Not to be confused with window-shopping, these wish list builders have already decided on what they want. They just are waiting for the right moment or trigger to complete the purchase.

What can you do to lure them back and complete the sale? New tactics are emerging across the Web that are focused on helping you reach out and earn a second chance.

Retargeting is based on analyzing the behavior of the shopper and suggesting related products automatically. Advertising specialists can provide technology that literally follows people around the Web and strategically places display ads within relevant Web sites they visit.

If you don’t have the budget to spend on this type of tactic, let’s focus on finding ways to put data from the abandoned cart to better use. Remarketing is a highly effective method built around sending a series of strategic e-mails to wayward prospects.

Knowing the reasons why consumers put the brakes on their purchase is crucial to formulating a plan of action. Creating a series of e-mails that addresses these issues is key to making this tactic work. Most experts agree that sending four timely and well-written messages, spaced out over a seven-day period, is the most effective strategy. Make sure that you monitor your bounced e-mails and remove any unsubscribed addresses quickly. If you feel the dropout rates are too high, then adjust the frequency of your e-mail cycle and extend the duration.

E-mail #1    Initial E-mail Message
Most shoppers end up buying within 24 to 72 hours, so a timely initial response is crucial. Be careful how you word this message. Some people do not want to feel like Big Brother is watching them. Use verbiage that is soft and friendly, such as, “We noticed that you recently left some great gear in your shopping cart at [your Web site]. We thought it would be helpful to send you a copy of your cart contents for future reference. Thank you for considering us for your musical needs, and please let us know what we can do to improve your shopping experience at [your Web site].” Make sure that you include all appropriate contact information. Send this message as soon as possible after the cart is abandoned.

E-mail #2    Encourage Interaction with Your Store Staff
Include verbiage in a questioning tone that encourages interaction with your store. For example: “Thank you for visiting [your Web site]. We noticed that you had placed items in your cart but did not complete the transaction. Did something go wrong? What can we do to help you? Do you need further information about these products? Please give us a call, click here to chat or send an e-mail. We’d love to help you get the gear that will get you playing and make you happy. Thank you for considering [your Web site].” Send this e-mail one day after the first message.

E-mail #3    Resell the Products Left in the Abandoned Cart
Send an e-mail with an abundance of product information. Whenever possible, send along videos of the items. If you can’t find them on YouTube or the manufacturer’s Web site, then make your own. It doesn’t have to be overly produced. In fact, when customers see that you created a quick video especially for them, they’ll be blown away by your commitment to great service. Send this e-mail five days later.

E-mail #4    Cautiously Offer a Discount
Be careful not to offer a discount right away. Price is not always the determining factor for why the sale was abandoned. Defer offering a discount until your fourth e-mail and make sure that you include an expiration date. Emphasize promotional offers, contests and upcoming events to demonstrate other value-added reasons to buy from you. Send this e-mail the day after your third e-mail. This will complete your seven-day cycle.
You’re spending considerable time, money and energy to get prospects to come to your Web site. Keep pushing to get a second chance with those who have abandoned their carts. When you are successful in acquiring these customers, it makes your first round of investment more valuable. Winning back and selling just a small percentage will make a huge impact on your bottom line.

David Hall is Vice President – Sales & Marketing for Pro-Active Websites. The company specializes in Web development and network building for dealers and vendors within the music products industry. You can visit him at Booth #320 at Summer NAMM. Contact him at

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