Shopping cart abandonment is a huge thorn in the side of ecommerce businesses. You’ve built an amazing online store, invested in driving quality traffic, and convinced shoppers your products are worth buying. Then when it comes time to convert visitors into paying customers...they bail.
Research shows a whopping 68% of online shopping carts are abandoned before completing a purchase. That results in nearly $5 trillion in lost revenue every year - a staggering amount that's only getting bigger as more shopping moves online.
While some level of abandonment is inevitable, you definitely want to minimize missed sales opportunities. In this guide, we’ll explore proven strategies for reducing cart abandonment and turning those forgotten browsers into happy, paying customers.
Why Do Shoppers Abandon Their Carts?
Before diving into solutions, it helps to understand the key reasons customers abandon their online carts rather than completing the checkout process:
Unexpected Costs - Additional charges like shipping, taxes, and fees at checkout shock customers, especially if they seemed hidden earlier.
Payment Issues - Shoppers may change their mind if their preferred payment option isn't available or if they don't trust your site's security.
Technical Difficulties - A long or complex checkout process riddled with glitches frustrates customers.
No Urgency to Buy - With online shopping, it's easy to think "I'll just buy this later." There's no sense of limited quantity or missing out.
Buyer's Remorse - Hesitation kicks in about spending the money or product quality. This is especially true for higher cost items.
Lack of Trust - First-time customers may lack trust in unknown brands and sites to provide quality goods/services.
Out of Stocks - Customers often abandon the entire cart if one desired item shows as unavailable.
Second Guessing - Overthinking the purchase decision or finding a slightly better deal elsewhere changes shoppers' minds.
By understanding the psychology behind abandoned carts, you can develop targeted solutions to minimize lost sales. Now let's explore tactics to convert more of those shoppers.
Strategies for Reducing Abandoned Carts
The following are proven strategies for reducing cart abandonment to recover more lost sales:
1. Streamline and Speed Up The Checkout Process
The easier and faster you make checkout, the less likely customers will drop out before completion. Some ways to optimize include:
- Offer guest checkout. Allowing customers to check out without creating an account removes friction. You can still collect their email address in the process.
- Provide one-page checkout options. Enable buyers to complete their purchase directly from product pages without navigating to a separate cart.
- Pre-fill forms to skip steps. If customers are logged in, auto-populate their name, email, shipping address and other info on checkout pages.
- Offer multiple payment options. Providing choices like PayPal, Apple Pay, Affirm financing, etc. prevents payment issues from derailing sales.
- Optimize checkout pages for mobile. With over 50% of purchases now on mobile, the checkout process must be simple and seamless on phones.
- Minimize clicks to purchase. Each additional click to complete checkout increases abandonment risk, so remove unnecessary steps.
- Display guaranteed delivery dates. Showing when an order will arrive gives shoppers confidence to complete the purchase.
- Auto-save carts if customers leave. Allow them to easily resume checkout where they left off when they return later.
2. Send Cart Abandonment Emails
One of the most effective ways to recover lost sales is sending timely abandoned cart emails. These remind customers to complete their purchase and typically recover 15-25% of abandoned carts.
To maximize success:
- Personalize the email by including their name and the items left in their cart. This triggers their memory.
- Send the first email soon after cart abandonment, such as 1-3 hours later. Follow up again in 2-3 days for another chance.
- Offer a time-sensitive discount or promo code as incentive to complete their order.
- Make the email visually engaging with product images, clear calls-to-action, etc. Don't just send plain text.
- Ensure the email works across devices and includes user-friendly checkout links.
- Track open and click-through rates to refine your emails over time.
- Consider also offering live chat or SMS reminders in addition to email.
3. Provide Free Shipping
The #1 reason shoppers abandon carts after price is unexpected shipping costs. Providing free shipping helps overcome this major hurdle. For example:
- Offer free standard shipping on orders over a minimum value like $35. Make that threshold achievable.
- Provide free expedited shipping for a limited time with a coupon code or holiday promo.
- Offer conditional free shipping like "Spend $X Get Free Shipping" to incentivize larger purchases.
- Show "Free Shipping" badges prominently on product listings and cart page. This triggers more checkouts.
- Partner with a carrier to offer a free shipping membership program for frequent customers.
4. Allow Backorders on Out-of-Stock Items
When a desired product shows out of stock, customers often ditch the entire cart. Instead, allow backorders so the sale isn't lost when an item is temporarily unavailable.
- Give customers the option to backorder out-of-stock items instead of canceling their purchase.
- Notify customers via email/SMS when the backordered item is back in stock and ready to ship. Provide an easy way for them to complete checkout.
- Consider offering a small discount or free gift as a gesture of goodwill when they have to wait on an item. This also incentivizes them to complete the purchase later.
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5. Make Returns Stress-Free
Buyer's remorse is a top fear that makes shoppers hesitate to complete online purchases. Alleviate concerns by offering simple, no-questions-asked return policies.
- Offer free, prepaid return shipping labels so customers don't pay costs to send items back.
- Give an extended trial period like 60 days to evaluate products after delivery.
- Accept returns on used, damaged, or even just changed mind items within reason.
- Provide an online self-service portal for initiating returns/exchanges. Don't make customers contact support.
- Let customers return products bought together separately if they only want to return some items. Increased flexibility reduces friction.
6. Foster Trust and Credibility
First-time customers may lack confidence purchasing from an unfamiliar website. Boost their trust by:
- Proactively displaying positive customer reviews, testimonials, and your average rating throughout the site.
- Prominently placing trust badges like Norton Secured, BBB A+ rating, etc. on product pages and checkout.
- Offering guarantees like free refunds on defective items or 100% satisfaction guarantees. Stand behind your products.
- Listing contact info and personally responding to pre-purchase questions and concerns.
- Ensuring your website looks polished and professional. Small details like broken links erode trust.
When customers trust your business, they'll confidently become buyers.
7. Follow Up Post-Purchase with Confirmations
Don't go silent after customers complete checkout. Follow up to confirm their order with:
- Recap of items purchased, total amount charged, shipping address, expected delivery timeline, etc.
- Tracking number and links once the order ships.
- Return policy information in case they change their mind about products.
- Links and contact info for support if any order issues arise.
- A friendly invitation to leave a product review when they've evaluated items.
- "Thank you" for their purchase and option to give feedback on their buying experience.
Prompt confirmations give customers peace of mind and start relationships off positively.
Turn Abandoned Carts into Lifetime Customers
While you'll never fully avoid abandoned carts, these strategies go a long way in recovering lost sales opportunities - both immediately and over the long-term as repeat customers.
A few percentage point increase in completed carts makes a big revenue impact. And once you successfully convert customers that first time, you gain the chance to nurture repeat purchases.
Don't allow abandonment to siphon away sales. Implement tactics like simplified checkout, follow-up reminders, free returns, and post-purchase outreach to turn those lost browsers into happy, loyal buyers. With some strategic nudging, you can shift shoppers from "I'll buy this later" to "I'll buy this right now" and avoid missed sales.
Put in the work upfront to reduce cart abandonment, and your business will reap the lifelong benefits of more customers who buy more and boost your bottom line.
Beyond General Strategies: Tailor Your Approach
While the strategies we've covered work across most ecommerce sites, you can optimize results by tailoring your abandoned cart approach to your specific business.
For example, customize based on:
- Your average order value - Higher priced items warrant more incentives like larger discounts to nudge customers to complete checkout. Offer just a 5% off coupon for a $5,000 purchase vs. 15% off a $50 purchase.
- Your product type - Consumable/replenishable products like household goods can offer free rush shipping and auto-recurring orders to lock in sales. One-time purchases like furniture would benefit more from extended trial periods.
- Your overall brand identity and tone - Inserting humor or more casual language in abandoned cart emails would suit a playful brand persona, while a luxury retailer may opt for a more formal tone.
- Your customers' demographics - Leverage data like age groups and location to segment and personalize messaging. A college student may respond better to SMS cart reminders over email.
- Any seasonal factors - Holiday promotions with free gift offerings or limited-edition items help create urgency to buy around peak seasons like the winter holidays.
- Past performance data - Assess metrics like email open and click-through rates to double down on what's working well. Refine areas getting lackluster response.
While general best practices serve as a strong starting point, the most effective approach also incorporates insights specific to your business and customers. Don't rely solely on isolated tactics - weave abandoned cart strategies into your broader marketing and sales process.
For instance, align promotions in your reminder emails with those advertised on your site and social channels. Or allow customers who completed checkout to leave product reviews that build trust among abandoned cart shoppers.
Execute on multiple fronts and tailor your efforts over time. With the right personalized combo of incentives and friction-reducing factors, you'll gradually optimize cart recovery rates and sales.
Leverage Technology to Streamline Implementation
Executing an expansive abandoned cart strategy on your own is challenging. Fortunately, ecommerce platforms and supplementary apps help automate and simplify rolling out these tactics.
For example, many shopping cart and email marketing tools come equipped with pre-built abandoned cart workflows. They'll automatically:
- Send a series of timely and personalized abandoned cart emails based on customers' behavior.
- Display countdown timers, progress bars, and reminders across your site if someone hasn't completed checkout.
- Enable easy guest checkout and one-page purchases.
- Sync customer actions like email opens back to your CRM for reviewing reports.
- Pre-populate previous buyer info into checkout fields for quicker purchasing.
Look for platforms with deep built-in support for recoverable cart capabilities versus trying to duct tape standalone apps together. Shopify Plus, Magento Commerce, and BigCommerce offer robust abandoned cart features for enterprise brands. Mid-market players like Shopify and Squarespace also integrate this functionality.
The technology lift will vary across ecommerce solutions. But opting for baked-in capabilities versus manual workflows streamlines launching expanded cart recovery tactics - especially for already overloaded ecommerce teams.
Over to You: Track Metrics and Continuously Optimize
Like any marketing initiative, the work doesn't stop once you launch an abandoned cart program. Closely monitoring key metrics and iteratively optimizing efforts based on learnings is critical.
Make sure to track:
- Abandonment rate - What % of carts are abandoned? Goal is to reduce this over time.
- Abandoned cart value - How much potential revenue do abandoned carts represent? Increasing this number by recovering more carts is key.
- Email open and click-through rates - How well are your reminder emails performing? Use this to refine messaging, offers, timing, etc.
- Conversion rate from email - What % of customers open the email go on to complete checkout? Rising conversion rates mean your messages are becoming more compelling.
- Post-campaign revenue - Compare total revenue before vs. after launching your abandoned cart program. The revenue lift indicates how impactful your efforts are.
While it takes continuous optimization, a strategic and expanding abandoned cart approach will steadily pay dividends for your online store. Don't leave money on the table. Follow these tips to turn abandoned browsers into satisfied, repeat buyers that drive sales growth!
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