Your Online Store – Where 80% Of Customers With Goods Don’t Checkout
by Zeke Hamdani | Director of Web Services, Celerant Technology
How much does it cost your business to earn a new customer? How much does it cost to retain an existing one? If you’re like a lot of retailers, you don’t know the exact price tag of either, but you do know that it is generally much less expensive to keep an existing customer than attract a new one.
When a shopper enters a store, selects items for purchase, and walks to a checkout cash wrap, the transaction is almost always completed. If some problem prevents conversion, store staff is nearby to address the problem and engage in service recovery to retain the customer. However, on ecommerce channels, the entire shopping journey and checkout process is almost always entirely self-guided with little chance for intervention.
In stark contrast however, and depending on which study you choose to believe, between 60 and 80 percent of online shopping carts are abandoned before the transaction is completed. That means the customer visited the website, selected items and placed them in a shopping cart — but never converted. That’s akin to a brick and mortar shopper with an armful of merchandise waiting in line to checkout, but throwing those items on the floor and walking out before reaching the cash register.
What is happening here?
People abandon shopping carts for all kinds of reasons, but one of the most commonly cited explanations customers give involves new information that comes to light during the checkout process. Often, shipping costs are not calculated until checkout and high rates can send customers running. Sometimes the checkout process itself it too convoluted and customers give up, other times they do not want to create accounts just to make a purchase. Other times, customers decide to comparison shop — but abandoned carts are typically due to some variant of unwanted hassle or price sensitivity.
The art of shopping cart recovery
Whatever the reason, the number of shoppers who abandon carts is staggering and for many retailers, these statistics represent customers who will never return. Further, these are customers lost during the last step of the shopping journey, so the cost of attracting them has already been incurred. The value of the shopping carts they abandon is only the tip of the iceberg for the losses these customers truly represent. Naturally, it makes more sense for retailers to retain these customers than attract new ones.
This is why the best ecommerce platforms now incorporate customizable shopping cart recovery tools. Retailers can set rules for shopping cart recovery like how much time should pass before a customer who abandoned a cart is contacted and what type of offer is made to entice them to return. Popular options include percentage discounts on merchandise and waived shipping costs, and some retailers choose to contact customers personally to investigate what went wrong. The best shopping carts are also device independent, so an order started on a desktop can be completed on a smartphone or tablet and vice versa.
Shopping cart recovery is an excellent tool to recover individual customers, but it also provides data that can shrink cart abandonment rates in the first place. If merchandise discounts work best to bring customers back, that indicates a pricing issue; if shipping discounts are more effective, that indicates those costs are too high. The smartest retailers are not only engaging in recovering abandoned shopping carts, but also investigating what successful recovery data is telling them and adjusting accordingly.
Live cart tracking empowers customer service to help
Shopping cart recovery works very well for many customers, but like the online shopping experience itself, it ultimately relies on self-guided actions from customers. Some customers require assistance to complete their purchases, whether they reach out to retailers proactively during the process or are contacted reactively during shopping cart recovery efforts.
When customer service representatives engage with these customers, their options are usually limited to talking customers through solving the problem themselves, or leaving the cart abandoned and starting a new order. Imagine if it worked this way in the brick and mortar world: A customer with a cart full of merchandise who needed help locating the right size or color on one item would have to wait while an employee filled a new cart with all the same merchandise, just to make the single correction.
Just like employees need to be properly empowered to solve barriers to conversion in stores, representatives assisting online shoppers need the same ability to help their customers convert. Live cart tracking is a feature progressive ecommerce platforms offer, where authorized employees can gain access to customer shopping carts. This gives them the ability to change whatever item is causing the problem, and recover service immediately by applying merchandise or shipping discounts to orders in real-time if deemed appropriate. Live cart tracking empowers retailers to solve customer problems quickly and efficiently, leaving customers with favorable opinions of their experiences and making them more likely to return.
Boosting online conversions and reducing cart abandonment is supported by technology, but optimized customer retention requires thoughtful methodologies governing the usage of these powerful tools. Otherwise, retailers find themselves constantly chasing new customers, going down the same rabbit hole of churn that plagued the cellular phone industry throughout the first decade of the 2000s. A customer retained is a customer gained, and modern omnichannel shoppers must be retained at every touchpoint.
Zeke Hamdani is Director of Web Services for Celerant Technology, where he is responsible for development of ecommerce modules that seamlessly integrate with the Celerant Command retail software platform.
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