Cart abandonment and how to rescue revenue

cart abandonment

The bane of every online retailer’s life is cart abandonment. So, is there anything you can do to prevent the loss of that valued customer, or bring them back after the event? Read on to find out…

Is there a way to figure out what made a customer leave your site? Well, the short answer is “no”, but we can intelligently speculate via analytics and even drive them back with the right form of targeted marketing. There could be a whole variety of reasons why a customer decided to drop everything and leave. They could be making a few price comparisons, conducting product research before they buy in-store instead, or simply lose confidence at the checkout. They could be competitors trying to suss out how your user experience compares to their own. Or, they may be simply be novice shoppers and not quite ready to make that leap of faith yet. 

Recent figures show that 68% of purchases are abandoned, so there isn’t a whole lot of sense in pulling your hair out over why a customer left their cart, but there are many things you can do to entice them back or even prevent it from happening in the first place by analysing the right data. You may think that this isn’t worth your while, so let’s look at a few more statistics  for this that might convince you just how important it is:

• 98% of website visitors never buy, and of those who do, 30% buy only once
• It is seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain one
• Approximately $4 million worth of merchandise will be lost to cart abandonment in 2015 – 63% of that is potentially recoverable

The mobile shift is also having an effect on these kinds of numbers; as more people opt for mobile browsing and buying, cart abandonment rates are set to increase due to mobile’s low conversion rates. Currently, mobile accounts for 10% of eCommerce website visits, but conversion is less than half the rate of desktop.

There are two ways in which you can improve upon your abandonment figures: prevention and rescue. Here’s how you can do it…

Prevention: Changes to your UX/UI

From a visual perspective, the more suspicious shopper or first-timers will feel a lot more comfortable spending money with you if you provide a few key visual elements. First, if you’re fairly unknown, providing your contact details, live chat functionality and prompt responses on social media and via email will all help to build their confidence. If you can prove that you’re a competent retailer before they have spent money with you, it will start to build your reputation.

Secondly, make sure you always display logos of the companies you’re associated with; whether it’s a trade body that you belong to or a secure payment logo with a reputable company on your checkout section, it can go a long way to easing the concerns of the consumer. Finally, make sure that you use navigation tools that are familiar to them; they will feel on common ground with tabs like “Contact Us, “About Us” and so on, so make sure this forms a part of your user experience. Research well-respected competitors for further inspiration on this point; it will make the user feel safer if you replicate this kind of formatting.

Moving on to the checkout process, where a lot of the cart abandonment takes place, ease of use is key. Avoid any distractions like pop-ups, advertisements and marketing at this stage, as an overwhelmed page can make them feel overwhelmed too. It’s always a good idea to include the option to make a purchase as a guest too, as it removes the commitment element the consumer can feel by creating an account. By letting them make a one-off purchase, you are reinforcing the idea of ease where your brand is concerned, and they will be more likely to return as well as continue with that current purchase. 

One final function which is seemingly becoming a crucial factor for consumers is the provision of a “save for later” basket. Not only does the fact that they can save items relieve the pressure they may feel into making a buying decision there and then, but it also provides you with valuable data which you can use to entice them back via your email marketing campaigns. It’s a very simple tool that could save you a huge amount in lost revenue. 

But what about your marketing campaigns? How can they be advanced to recover lost revenue?

Rescue: Changes to your marketing campaign

The process of revenue recovery was perfectly summarised by Emarsys in three simple steps: 

1) Identify the high-risk points in the customer’s buying cycle and the customer’s lifecycle
2) Implement intelligent programmes with the right content to intervene when customers reach these high-risk points
3) Automating those programmes across multiple channels with the most relevant content

I would bet that whoever is reading this already has an email marketing strategy in place, but is it simply a generic email sent out saying “We haven’t seen you in a while”? The difference between a simple and a sophisticated revenue recovery strategy lies in the personalised action based on real-time customer data. Ask yourself the following questions about your current email campaign:

1) Are my emails the product of customer intelligence tools, based on the rich customer data collected? 
2) Do I use my analytics to predict those points in time and behaviours where company action would be effective?
3) Are my emails generated by a multi-channel automation tool that actions the right campaigns which are driving our strategy?

If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, then you could be missing out on valuable techniques to boost your customer retention and revenue recovery. For example, with abandoned cart recovery you could increase the effectiveness of your email by showing the abandoned product along with similar products bought or recently viewed. Adding these predictive recommendations typically result in far higher recovery rates than generic abandoned cart messages, with some eCommerce businesses experiencing 67% higher click-through rates.

Or what about re-engaging those customers who haven’t visited you in a while? Use your historical patterns of engagement and past purchase cycles to predict when a customer is most likely to become inactive. Cut them off with a timely intervention, and reach out to them with the products they have shown an interest in. 


There is a huge wealth of information that can be gleaned from advanced marketing techniques. By combining real-time customer data with the latest marketing techniques in a comprehensive content management system, you can predict everything from purchasing patterns and a visitor’s price sensitivity, to category/product affinity and the likelihood of a purchase.

Only 4% of retailers rate their online customer experience as excellent, and there is currently a huge gap between how the customer expects to be treated and how they are really treated across all of those touchpoints. What a business projects to be its core message may not be the reality for the consumer. Simple advancements and improvements like these will make all the difference if you wish to recover crucial revenue and lower cart abandonment.

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