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Report: How to Turn Abandoned Shopping Carts into Sales

Today’s consumers are a fickle bunch. They want the latest trends at the lowest prices and they want them from the comfort of their couches where they can mindlessly swipe at their smartphone or tablet screens and get Taylor Swift’s latest crop top in one or two clicks.

Subject them to more pages than they appreciate, though, and that ensemble they so desperately wanted a few seconds ago loses all of its appeal. But a white paper recently published by Bronto Software, titled “Revenue Rescue: Saving Sales When Shoppers Stray,” said it’s time for retailers to stop focusing on the missed opportunity and start figuring out how to turn an abandoned shopping cart into a sale.

“To keep today’s shopper engaged and buying, retailers must go beyond a singular focus on shopping cart abandonment and rethink the way shopping carts are structured, how the checkout process flows and what can be done to reach the shopper who leaves their shopping cart behind,” the report said.

Bronto, a cloud-based marketing platform, partnered with software technology company Demandware to survey the shopping cart, checkout process and cart-recovery strategies of 100-plus retailers (selected randomly from a pool of more than 500) and found that it takes an average of 5.5 pages to complete the cycle between shopping cart and order confirmation. No retailer offered a truly single-page checkout.

Worried fewer pages could potentially confuse customers? “Providing an option for guest checkout as well as touting the benefits of creating an account could offer the best balance to shoppers,” the report suggested. Ninety percent of retailers surveyed offer a way to check out without registering, but if shoppers are encouraged to create an account and save their billing and shipping information, it can reduce the amount of information they have to enter and the number of pages in the checkout process in future.

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Even then, however, shoppers may still go through the whole rigmarole and then leave before completing the purchase. “Sticker shock is a major contributor to true shopping cart abandonment,” the report said, blaming shipping fees and taxes for the sudden change of heart.

To reel in those customers that have gone astray, 41 percent of retailers surveyed send out cart reminder messages, with nearly all of them (98 percent) noting in some way that the shopper had left something in their cart and 84 percent including a photo of the forgotten item. Somewhat surprisingly, most retailers did not offer an incentive (read: free shipping or a percentage discount) to the shopper to encourage them to complete the order; instead, one in five relies on low inventory levels as a motivator.

“Shopping cart reminder messages have the potential to be highly effective when implemented in a way that is relevant to the consumer,” the report said. “As with any strategy, testing will be needed to see what works best for each audience, but marketers shouldn’t be afraid to use the data available to them to enhance the customer experience.”