April 6, 2012, 12:38 PM

Most e-retailers give up when shoppers abandon carts

But, with a polite nudge, more than 20% of shoppers might return, Bronto says.

Amy Dusto

Associate Editor

Lead Photo

Shopping cart abandonment is an ongoing challenge to retailers: 50-70% of the time shoppers abandon filled carts rather than completing a transaction, studies show. To figure out why—and to offer ways of saving sales—e-mail and marketing automation technology provider Bronto Software Inc. analyzed the steps from filling a cart and abandoning it at checkout to receiving follow-up messages for 100 online retailers.

The key takeaway? Only 13% of brands in the study send any messages after shoppers leave their carts, even though prior research shows that more than 20% of shoppers may complete interrupted purchases after receiving such a message, says Bronto manager of marketing research Jim Davidson. With such high abandonment rates, he says that following up is a key way to boost revenue.

Among the e-retailers in the study that do follow up, they average 30 hours before sending an e-mail to shoppers, with the fastest brand sending a message in 45 minutes and the slowest waiting three days. Because shoppers are already engaged with the product, they may not need more than a reminder to complete the checkout, the Bronto report says

E-retailers can increase the likelihood of shoppers returning to abandoned carts by promoting the urgency of an about-to-expire cart or offering a discount. However, only 23% of follow-up e-mails mention when a shopping cart will expire and just 8% mention the item’s availability. 54% of messages show a picture of the product, but only 31% include the price, which the study says could be the result of changing price points between when the shopper filled a cart and when the e-mail is sent.

15% of post-abandonment e-mails suggest other items to the shopper based on what’s in the cart. 62% give the consumer the option to finish an order by phone. Only 5% of the web retailers studied send a second follow-up e-mail to cart-abandoners and just one out of the 100 e-retailers in the study sent a third.

Being upfront with prices could discourage abandonment in the first place, Davidson says. He was surprised to find that only 64% of the e-retailers showed shipping estimates – which could sway an unconvinced shopper–within the cart. On average, the merchants studied wait until the shopper is already three pages into checkout before even bringing it up. One e-retailer delayed until page nine.

36% of shoppers don’t buy because the checkout price is higher than anticipated, Bronto says, yet 21% of retailers in the study don’t allow shoppers to change quantities within the cart.

One in 10 e-retailers require shoppers to register before buying anything, a process that involves entering personal data which may seem irrelevant to the purchase and creating a user name and password. “That’s a huge barrier to purchasing,” Davidson says. Sometimes entering this data redirects shoppers away from the checkout path, a distraction or annoyance that may cause them to leave the cart behind.

Additionally, the average number of web pages required to complete an order was 5.6—with two being the fewest and nine the most among the retailers studied. 5% of brands in the study lack any indication of how far in the checkout process a shopper is; Bronto suggests a clear step marker to help keep customers on track.

Bronto has 13 clients in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

For a short video on keeping customer experiences simple, click here.

Comments | 2 Responses

  • It was a very interesting study to do and we are glad to see Internet Retailer cover it. A wide range of tactics are employed among retailers, but there are a surprising number who do nothing. Abandoned cart marketing is an important topic among retailers and represents an opportunity to reap significant gains without a great deal of effort.

  • Excellent article, Amy! Email nurturing via Marketing Automation is a powerful strategy for all eCommerce sites, not just for shopping cart abandonment. Over 90% of website visitors are not ready to buy at that particular moment, but will do so sometime over the next year. Capturing their interests and preferences, and nurturing them via email to return to the site when they are ready to buy will drive both top and bottom line results. From my experience, the problem is that few companies are willing to make the commitment (time and $$) to make Marketing Automation really work.

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