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How to keep ’em shopping

Shopping cart abandonment is a nightmare for online retailers. Many customers place items in the shopping cart without completing the purchase for a variety of reasons.

ShopJune14The global rate of abandonment is staggering. According to Baymard, an average figure for the global cart abandonment rate at the time of writing was 67.91 per cent.

This represents some $4 trillion worth of lost sales according to some analysts. A hefty figure no doubt but it is also a massive opportunity for online retailers who do it right.

Naturally you can’t force customers to buy but by application of traditional sales know-how with digital strategies and tools you can reduce the rate of abandonment and thereby add to your bottom line.

Why is it so?

A good point to begin is to understand why abandonment occurs in the first place so you can put strategies in place to minimise lost opportunities.

It’s interesting to consider the reasons provided for leaving. The survey data from Statistica shows the number one reason to be adverse reaction when customers are presented with unexpected costs (56 per cent). This cuts right to the heart of the retailer’s e-commerce strategy and approach.

It follows that if your website has attracted, enthralled and engaged a potential customer to the point where items are placed in a cart, that visitor has invested time and energy in your site. With forethought that references buyer behaviour, your business can maximise the number of conversions from browsers to buyers.

Despite the ready availability that the digital economy brings to customers, buyer psychology remains, arguably the same as it was when early hunter-gatherers bartered parts of a mastodon for honey or berries. People are still people with similar drivers. They don’t like last minute surprises that make them feel they have been trapped into a decision or cheated in some way.

It follows that at all costs, e-commerce sites need to be transparent with their pricing and shipping structure. If you can offer free shipping do promote that fact; if you try to provide shipping mode choices at different price points so customers can feel in control of the transaction rather than being railroaded at the end of the process, with a huge shipping fee they did not anticipate.

Consider providing a link to your shipping policy where you can explain your shipping structure and reinforce your brand by showing that you strive for the best value, most secure shipping options. Customers like to understand why charges apply and if you are competing with free shipping your business needs to give this issue some thought.

Many visitors are, of course, just browsing. That’s understandable. Few buyers act without reviewing your competitor’s offering. The survey shows this with 37 per cent stating that they abandoned the process because they were “just looking”.

Naturally price also has a lot to do with their decision to leave, as well as personal factors that can’t be completely captured by a survey. However, businesses can increase the conversion rates through quality, targeted content.

Ensure that the content you use on your website works hard to convince and convert. In other words sell in a way that is appealing but retains integrity. The perfect tone and degree of “salesiness” in your site’s content must vary for each retailers depending on the category and the audience, but overall it’s well worth seeking out that sweet spot.

With such high rates of abandonments, savvy retailers can get a huge competitive edge buy applying some old fashioned principles of selling with the online strategies now readily available to business today.

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