In The Digital Shopping Universe, Humanity Closes the Cart
Maybe it was at a discount retailer, maybe at your local grocer, but you have definitely come across that shopping cart full of merchandise that a customer left in the middle of an aisle and never returned to claim. Who knows what happened. Perhaps an emergency call came on the phone or maybe buyer's remorse set in; there are tons of reasons why customers abandon carts.
Luckily, this scenario is not very common, but imagine if it was. What if 60, 70, or even 80 percent of the carts in a store were sitting in the middle of aisle, unattended, and full of merchandise never to be purchased. This is precisely the case in the realm of e-commerce, where the vast majority of digital carts are abandoned before transactions are completed.
Abandoning an online shopping cart is much easier than doing so in person -- it literally happens in a fraction of a second. Some customers may decide to conduct last minute price comparisons, others might get frustrated with the checkout process and give up; the nature of shopping from anywhere also makes it easy to get distracted by a million environmental factors. It could be as simple as a commercial break ending and the customer returning to watch TV.
Most shopping carts that are abandoned are never recovered. All that time and effort it took to draw the consumer in is obliterated in an instant.
Merchants have long understood the relationship between personal service and conversion, and the same concept applies online. Implementing a personal touch that helps customers through the checkout process and makes proactive recovery attempts when abandonment occurs will help reduce the volume of virtual cart abandonment.
The Power of Human Touch
Helping customers research items, locate merchandise, and answering questions are among the activities floor staff engage in to increase sales. In addition to helping shoppers convert, personal service also leads to complementary purchases and can boost loyalty. The self-guided nature of e-commerce shopping has historically complicated the ability of retailers to provide a human touch to the experience, but advanced e-commerce platforms are changing that.
Features like live chat quickly became popular with shoppers, but the extent of help customer service representatives could provide was largely limited by lack of access to shopping carts. The most they could do was walk customers through completing merchandise selection or the checkout process, or the representative could treat the situation as a phone order and complete the transaction manually. Both of these solutions are time consuming and frustrating.
New cart tracking features give customers the option to allow retailers access to their shopping carts. This lets customer service reps add or remove merchandise on the fly, apply discount codes, expedite shipping, or make any other necessary changes to an open cart. Digitally empowering employees to override prices, offer comps, and recover service, as well as live cart tracking, brings the personal service touch, necessary to retain customers, to the e-commerce channel.
Abandoned Cart Recovery
As powerful as live cart tracking is, it is only able to help customers that actively ask for it or those who respond to offers for help while they are actively shopping. When customers abandon carts, proactive retailers still have tools at their disposal to attempt service recovery through abandoned cart recovery software.
This software automatically flags carts that have been abandoned and alerts retailers so that appropriate recovery action can be taken. Once the most effective actions have been determined, which often vary by retailer and customer type, most retailers choose to automate their execution.
The sky is the limit for recovery messaging options. They can be as simple as reminders that alert customers the items in their abandoned carts are still available to purchase or as aggressive as offering significant discounts on merchandise or shipping costs to close the deal. Simple A/B testing is often the quickest way to uncover the most effective messaging to drive transaction completion.
Cart tracking and cart recovery work together to identify problems and keep shoppers satisfied and loyal. With the cost of customer acquisition so high, the ROI on helping convert consumers that have already entered the funnel represents one of the best marketing efforts retailers can engage in.
Ian Goldman, President and CEO of Celerant Technology, is an expert software engineer and entrepreneurial enthusiast with an extensive knowledge of Point of Sale systems, CRM, and inventory management.