Online eCommerce - Tips for Addressing Abandoned Shopping Carts

Abandoned shopping carts have long been thorns in online retailers' sides, and the problem only gets worse with each passing year. Interestingly, few online retailers take steps to combat the problem and simply consider it part of doing business online. That's too bad because there are actually several ways to reduce abandoned shopping cart rates. If you own a brick-and-mortar store in conjunction with an e-commerce site, you're in an especially strong position. Omnichannel marketing, which refers to delivering a parallel shopping experience across a variety of sales channels, including e-commerce, mobile and in-store purchasing, could not only help you cut back on abandoned shopping carts but even put them to work for you.


What's the Deal with Abandoned Shopping Carts?

If you own or run an e-commerce site, you're undoubtedly well-acquainted with the issue of abandoned shopping carts. There are all kinds of statistics out there about abandoned carts, but one thing's for sure: They’re common across all industries and online retailers. According to BI Intelligence, upwards of $4 trillion' worth of merchandise is abandoned in online shopping carts in a single year. Barilliance concurs, and a recent report shows that approximately 74 percent of carts were abandoned in 2013. That's up from 72 percent in 2012 and 69 percent in 2011, so the problem is intensifying.

As sobering as this information may be, BI Intelligence believes there is hope. In fact, the research firm believes that approximately 63 percent of abandoned purchases are recoverable. Even if a tiny fraction of them are recovered, that can add up to a lot of additional revenue. The bottom line? It's well worth it to take steps to reduce the number of shopping carts that are being abandoned on your e-commerce site. The problem, of course, is making that happen.


Why Do People Abandon Their Online Shopping Carts?

If you're even remotely familiar with online shoppers, you already know how fickle they can be. Who can blame them? They can navigate from one e-commerce site to the next with the click of a mouse button, and they're beholden to no one. Still, why do so many take the time to find products they want, add them to their carts and then close their tabs or browsers and head for greener pastures? There's no hard-and-fast answer to that particular question. People abandon their online shopping carts for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes, they leave them sitting there for no particular reason at all.


Some of the most common reasons for shopping cart abandonment include:

  • Little or No Actual Interest - Studies have shown that two-thirds to three-fourths of those who abandon their shopping carts were initially serious about making purchases. Still, that means that around one-fourth to one-third of them were never serious in the first place and were probably just goofing around. The odds of changing those shoppers' behavior are slim to none.

  • Surprise Costs - Transparency appears to be a major issue for many online retailers. People often abandon their carts after getting part of the way through the checkout process and discovering that extra fees are involved. From taxes to shipping and handling, these costs are often enough to make people jump ship.

  • Usability Issues - From being asked to resubmit information they've already provided to receiving error messages from not providing information they didn't realize was required, people want streamlined online shopping experiences and will abandon their shopping carts when they encounter even seemingly minor bumps along the way. And, factor in load times here as well - if your site slows down, expect abandonment.

  • Product Pricing and Research - Interestingly enough, many people profess to using online shopping carts to perform research. They add products to their carts and proceed most of the way through checkout to find out what their total cost will actually be.

  • Required Registration - Finally, people don't take kindly to being asked to register in order to proceed through the checkout process. Upon being presented with such a request, many choose to abandon their carts instead.


How to Avoid Abandoned Shopping Carts

You only need to consider the primary reasons that people abandon their shopping carts to get a feel for how to chip away at the problem. You can't do much about people who are just goofing around, but you can offer a transparent shopping and checkout process to avoid alienating shoppers with surprise costs. Clearly identify required fields and minimize the amount of information that shoppers need to provide to make your checkout process as user-friendly as possible. Making registration optional is helpful too. Providing information about taxes, shipping and other costs right on product description pages could stop some folks from misusing their shopping carts as research tools, but this is also where omnichannel marketing can be very beneficial.


Omnichannel Marketing, Abandoned Shopping Carts and You

Showrooming, which refers to researching products in stores and then buying them online, has received lots of attention and led to a mild panic among brick-and-mortar retailers. Funnily enough, though, the opposite phenomenon - reverse showrooming, or webrooming - is actually far more prevalent, and you may be able to leverage it to reduce your rate of abandoned shopping carts or, at the very least, to put those abandoned carts to work for you.

With webrooming, people visit e-commerce sites to pinpoint the products they want and to figure out how much they can expect to pay. To avoid shipping charges and to get what they want more quickly, many head to local brick-and-mortar stores. A Harris poll even showed that only 46 percent of people have engaged in showrooming while a whopping 69 percent have engaged in webrooming, so this is a fairly common practice.

How does this come into play with regards to abandoned shopping carts? As noted previously, people often add products to their online shopping carts and proceed partway through the checkout process to make absolutely sure how much it will all cost. This is a form of online research, so it falls under webrooming.

By offering the same types of products in your store as you do online and emphasizing this fact on your website, you may be able to entice those who ultimately abandon their carts to visit your local store instead. Many of these folks are going to abandon their carts then immediately look for those products locally. By making sure they're aware of your store's existence and to the fact that you have what they need in stock, you may be able to convince them to head over to your store right away. Sure, they'll still abandon their carts, but they'll end up buying what they need from you anyway. That's still a win-win, right?


Abandoned Carts are Part of the Purchase Path

There's no doubt about it: Abandoned shopping carts are often just another step in the path to making a purchase. By acknowledging that and playing up the benefits of having a brick-and-mortar store with an inventory that's virtually identical to that of your e-commerce site, you can make abandoned carts work for you. At any rate, there's no harm in doing this. It's not like you're going to scare people away by showing them how easy it is to get what they need. With these and other forms of omnichannel marketing, you'll be able to cast the widest net and increase your odds of long-term success.