Online shopping basket abandonment is a huge missed revenue opportunity for many businesses. Based on 31 statistical studies from 2006-2015, Baymard Institute has reported that on average 68.53% drop their cart before checkout. Surely this is a real anti-climax for the consumer as well as the business? The handpicked selections will never materialise and the time spent sourcing them is irretrievable. So why do people do it? Why the sudden change of heart, or was it all along never their intention to make a purchase?

Abandoned carts scattered all over the world wide web can offer us a broad insight into online shopping behaviour. These users have no qualms about dumping a full basket online, while the same action in a physical store would be met with the shop assistant’s tuts and glares. This is because commitment is more of an expectancy in a traditional shopping environment, and departing empty handed could become a bit of an awkward affair and feel like a wasted trip.

bigstock-Discount-4483057-Medium-1 Combatting Online Shopping Basket Abandonment

Online consumers, on the other hand, simply aren’t as concerned about whether they head to the checkout or not. The page is shut and they continue with their day, with not so much as a second thought reaching the lonely basket they left hanging in digital limbo. Yet the very fact a consumer looked in the first place tells us they were interested, even if they were merely at the window shopping stage. They just needed a nod in the right direction to complete the transaction. 

Just Too Expensive?

According to a 2012 survey conducted by Statistia, the top reason for online basket abandonment is unexpected costs. Predominately, it’s delivery charges and VAT that can contribute to these nasty surprises, so it’s important to be as upfront as possible about any additional fees – your customers will appreciate the honesty. And make sure your cost of shipping is a justifiable amount too – research from eDigitalResearch and IMRG shows that most consumers would be reluctant to part with over £5 for delivery to their door.

It’s also healthy to reward your shoppers by advertising free delivery for a limited period every so often. This will create a sense of urgency to head to the checkout, and can even result in a customer topping up their basket with an additional item or two to make the most of their “saving”. A survey by Deloitte reports that 69% of consumers are more likely to head to a particular retailer if they advertise free shipping – and there’s proof it works – digital media analytics leader comScore reports here that free shipping day promotions boosted growth rate by 16% in 2012 compared to the previous year. 

But rather than price-slashing across all of your products to appease customers restricted by the size of their wallets, time-limited product promotion can be pushed to entice shoppers to journey to the finishing line with their baskets. This is a marketing strategy that can – broadly speaking – be driven through social, display, and email campaigns, all of which can be led by data insight to ensure your delivery is as tight as possible. 

For example, relevant offers can be tailored to the in-session behaviour of an individual through email marketing. If they’ve been repeatedly viewing the leather chelsea boots on your site they clearly need a prompt to buy. So why not use a marketing automation tool like Marketo to trigger an email offering a discount on the boots if they purchase within the next 24 hours? 

According to Listrak, retargeting a shopper via email three hours after they’ve left the site results, on average, in a 40% open-rate and a 20% click-through rate. Therefore if attractive and well-timed, this could rescue a cart from sinking while also making the online shopping experience more personal. 

Leakage and Buying Blockers

Statistia (2012) reports that 25% leave their baskets due to overly complicated site navigation. This takes into account the whole user journey and not just isolated pages or page types, such as checkout. It’s therefore crucial to ensure your site is not mapped like some kind of mind-boggling maze, but that it flows simply and smoothly to reduce leakage and thus increase your conversions.

To offer a definition, ‘leakage’ in this context concerns the fallout – where people navigating your site drop from your conversion path, ultimately resulting in lost revenue.The rate of leakage can be aggregated at the level of each page type by multiplying the page exits by page value.

Page Value = (Transaction Revenue + Total Goal Value) / Total Unique Pageviews for the group of pages

Google Analytics

Your quantitative analysis can be visualised by Google Analytics’ funnel tracking, which gives marketers the ability to identify pages with high leakage. Manual checks into these may reveal hassle factors such as pre-registration, overcrowded pages with unnecessary pop-ups, small lettering, an army of tick-boxes or broken source code. These mild irritants alone can be all it takes to give your potential customer the cold feet, and as such are your ‘buying blockers’. Who wants to make a purchase when it involves an obstacle course?

Yet of course, to near a holistic view of your customer’s journey there’s also routes into qualitative analysis, which, if responded to appropriately, can further decrease your existing leakage rate.

User tracking applications such as Hotjar can be run over a site to record individual behaviour based on the movements of their cursor – so tailoring updates to this information enables you to keep potential customers on the site for longer. Due to the fact that the application will need to run for some time before accruing a significant amount of data you can respond to, a quicker approach could be investing in live chat support – something retailers like Amazon feature. This offers a window in which you can react to feedback promptly while the user is still on-site. With a 73% satisfaction rate, according to eConsultancy, it can go some way in ensuring your customer doesn’t drop off before the transaction is complete. 

Your Approach

There are of course a range of other ways to streamline your customer’s overall user experience and keep the online shopping basket firmly in their grips, but it’s worth keeping in mind the simple changes in order to minimise your basket abandonment: 

  • Use well-timed spells of product promotion and free delivery pushed through social, display and email marketing campaigns to target and retarget consumers.
  • Leverage data insight to identify any problems in the overall user experience.
  • Optimise individual pages with high leakage.

Effective implementation, evaluation and continual optimisation of these approaches will lead to the fruition of meaningful relationships with consumers – you’ve invested in their journey, and as such, abandoned carts become conversions, and unique sessions become returning visits.