November 26, 2008, 12:00 AM

Saving sales from abandoned carts is more important than ever, report says

29% of retail sites reviewed by consultancy The E-Tailing Group don’t know their cart abandonment rate, and most don’t try to save those sales.

Given more cautious spending among consumers, it’s critical that online merchants do all they can to close the deal once a consumer puts an item into a shopping cart and try to save a sale after the consumer has abandoned a shopping cart. Yet too many e-retailers – 29%-- don’t even know their shopping cart abandonment rate, and 74% don’t communicate with shoppers who have abandoned carts, according to The E-tailing Group’s 7th Annual Merchant Survey.

“It’s time to prioritize shopping cart abandonment,” says Lauren Freedman, E-tailing Group president. Freedman’s firm surveyed 100 merchant sites anonymously in the third quarter and found some retailers excel at following up with consumers who came close to making a purchase.

Of the sites reviewed, only 14 e-mailed the customers about what’s in the cart after it’s been abandoned, while seven phoned the customers. “To save the sale, communicate with customers once abandonment has occurred,” Freedman advises e-retailers

She points to as a good example. Three days after a mystery shopper abandoned a cart at an e-mail arrived from the online retailer including a personalized salutation, a photo of the item, a 15% off incentive and a link to product details. The e-mail also thanked the customer for shopping and provided customer service contact information. “It included all the pertinent tools,” Freedman says.

The survey report recommends the use of incentives when contacting customers about abandoned carts. 29% of the sites reviewed used incentives, including discount offers ranging from 10% to 15%, conditional free shipping, and dollars off purchases meeting a defined dollar amount. Another tip for transforming abandoned carts into sales: Don’t stop at one reminder. Of the merchants who sent e-mails after a cart was left, 14% sent a second notification an average of 5.5 days later, and 50% of these included an incentive.


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