August 28, 2012, 11:22 AM

Showing—and acting on—the dollars left in abandoned carts

Armed with data on lost sales, Woodcraft.com builds new ways to recover them.

Lead Photo

Nancy Miller, vice president, Internet development, Woodcraft

When Woodcraft Supply LLC sends e-mails to online shoppers who left without buying what they had put in their shopping carts, the retailer already knows a lot about the dollar value of the items they abandoned. It can see the amount of revenue lost through abandoned carts over a particular period, for example, and it can instantly know how much of that lost revenue it can try to recover through follow-up e-mails to customers for whom the retailer has e-mail addresses.

In one recent week, for instance, it realized that it could try to recover 56% of the orders, equaling 62% of the revenue, lost in abandoned carts, says Nancy Miller, the retailer’s vice president of Internet development. And with e-mails sent to the shoppers who had carted products but left without buying them, Woodcraft wound up recovering 32% of the revenue, Miller says.

How’d she do all that? With a marketing analytics application from Smarter Remarketer integrated with Woodcraft’s in-house e-mail marketing application. Smarter Remarketer, which provides an Internet-hosted, software-as-a-service application for tracking shopping cart activity, uses web analytics that go beyond what Miller says she has been able to get through other web analytics programs such as Google Inc.’s Google Analytics.

“I’ve never been able to get this data before,” she says.

With continuous reports from Smarter Remarketer on the number and dollar value of abandoned carts by product, Woodcraft is able to quickly see which products are tied to the most lost revenue and thus need the most attention, such as through changes in merchandising displays and marketing campaigns. And with the Smarter Remarketer application integrated with the retailer’s e-mail marketing system, Woodcraft can see the number and dollar value of abandoned carts for which it has customers’ e-mail addresses.

That not only lets Woodcraft know how much revenue it can potentially recover with follow-up e-mails, but it lets the retailer know if particular marketing promotions or merchandise landing pages may need to be tweaked to improve the e-mail marketing conversion rates. On any one day, Miller notes, she may see if the site had an unusually high cart abandonment rate with a high amount of lost revenue, then tie that information back to a particular merchandising page or marketing promotion.

The data can also help Woodcraft see where in the checkout process it may be losing the most revenue. “I look at the data every day to see how much revenue was left in carts at different points,” Miller says. “I see the dollar value of products added to carts and abandoned at the cart-entry level and at the checkout level.”

The continuous flow of data relating cart abandonment to lost revenue also helps in other ways, such as in helping to set priorities—improving site content and functionality instead of spending more on search marketing, for example—when figuring how to improve sales, Miller says. “When you know you have, say, a million dollars in abandoned carts, you might want to spend more time improving the content the customer sees once she gets to your site,” she says.

Installing Smarter Remarketer required deploying software tags that integrate with Google Analytics to capture and display information on products, pricing and shoppers’ click activity. Smarter Remarketer “uses Google Analytics data to the max,” Miller says, and enables Woodcraft to see and use data like the revenue tied to abandoned shopping carts that it otherwise was unable to access and put to use. The administrative layer that retailers interact with is largely based on jQuery and HTML5 markup languages, which are used to make the application easy to use, says Smarter Remarketer co-founder and chief innovation officer Angel Morales. Merchandise managers at a retailer can drag and drop sections of data, such as lists of recent site visitors who viewed and carted particular products but left without making a purchase, he says.

The Smarter Remarketer system also uses software tags to create personalized retargeted e-mail campaigns based on the shopping behavior of its e-mail subscribers. When Woodcraft sends out e-mail newsletters twice a week, the software tags let the retailer see which products newsletter recipients clicked to view on its site and whether those products were put into a cart and purchased or abandoned. It can then use that information to send additional e-mails to these customers—the retailer already has their e-mail address—based on their shopping and purchasing activity. “That’s a big deal for us,” Miller says. “It has really increased the number of e-mail addresses in retargeting campaigns.”

Smarter Remarketer has also shown that Woodcraft customers who visit both one of its employee blogs and its e-commerce site spend more than twice as much per order than shoppers who only go to its e-commerce site. “It’s shown us the huge value in having a blog site,” Miller says.

In addition to Woodcraft.com, where the retailer features more than 17,000 products, Woodcraft operates a retail chain of 76 Woodcraft franchised stores and each year mails 2 million copies of a Woodcraft catalog. It also publishes six issues every year of Woodcraft, a print magazine with features on woodworking projects. The privately owned company doesn’t release sales figures.

Smarter Remarketer, whose software starts at a range of $4,000 to $6,000 per month and goes up based on a retailer's volume of online revenue, was launched in early 2010 by Morales and Dean Abbot, who is the company’s chief scientist. The company has received financial support from several “angel” investors who remain anonymous, but it has not yet sought other venture capital, Morales says. The company continues to expand its technology platform, and recently introduced technology that lets retailers set business rules that automatically modify content in e-mail marketing messages based on products shoppers are viewing on a e-commerce site, Morales adds.

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