November 19, 2003, 12:00 AM

Abandoned cart? Newport-News.com finds a way to re-capture the sale

Merchants are increasing sales from shoppers who abandoned a shopping cart, Jupiter Research says. Newport News increased by 19 times the amount of revenue gained from e-mailed offers when it targeted shoppers who had quit a purchase.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

Newport-News.com and other retailers are learning to significantly increase sales from shoppers who left their site after abandoning a shopping cart, Jupiter Research says. Newport News, for instance, increased by 19 times the amount of revenue generated from e-mailed offers when it targeted shoppers who had quit a purchase, says Jupiter analyst Patti Freeman Evans.

Newport News tracked the click activity of shoppers to compile a list of those who abandoned shopping carts, then e-mailed them within 10 days of their abandonment with a special offer within the product category where they had planned to make a purchase, Evans says. “They softened the message, so as not to appear like they were Big Brother watching,” she says. Instead of making an offer of the same product that had been in the customer’s cart, Newport News pitched a similar categorywide offer with discounted prices, she adds.

Jupiter, which interviewed Newport News and several other retailers, found that many shoppers abandon a site simply because they’re too busy to complete a transaction. The best way to lure them back, Evans says, is to be up front with personalized customer service and marketing. “73% of the time shoppers say they are satisfied with a site when they’ve spoken with a customer service rep, and are more likely to come back to it to finish an abandoned transaction if they figure that that customer service is still available,” she says.

Evans adds that consumers find many self-service help messages confusing, so they often prefer live customer service reps. She notes that Continental Airlines has implemented a system that automatically pops up two customer service windows in the checkout process when an amount of time has elapsed to indicate that a customer may abandon the site without completing a purchase. One window offers an immediate toll-free phone connection to a rep; the second window offers the option of communicating with a rep through live chat. 35% of customers who have opted to use one of these services have completed a purchase, Evans says.

Evans, who presented these and other findings at a recent seminar hosted in New York by web marketing and design firm Organic Inc., says the challenge for retailers is to develop multiple best practices to keep customers coming back to their web sites.

 

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