How to Avoid Holiday Cart Abandonment

Press enter to search
Close search
Open Menu

How to Avoid Holiday Cart Abandonment

By Jim Davidson - 12/18/2013
Laptops, smartphones, tablets, e-mails…today's path to purchase is winding and chaotic, presenting new challenges for marketers, as well as twists and turns make life easier for the shopper. The cacophony of clicks, taps and device hopping that are now part of the typical shopping experience will become even louder throughout the holiday season.
 
One of the busiest stops on the path to purchase is the shopping cart. Most marketers are cart-smart and know that as abandonment rates continue to increase, abandoned cart reminder e-mails are an automated, hands-free money maker. It seems logical that optimizing these messages for holiday shoppers would be part of any retailer's holiday planning strategy. Yet according to the study "Loading the Sleigh: Marketers' Plans & Expectations for the Holiday Season," only one in five marketers modify abandoned shopping cart reminder e-mails for the busiest season of the year.
 
Don't confuse simply optimizing your abandoned cart reminders before the holidays with customizing the messages for holiday shoppers. While this means updating the messages again after the holidays are over, the good news is that modifying these messages is no longer a task equal to rebuilding a car's transmission. Marketers now have access to the content, timing and targeting tools without having to manually recode data transfers or pull in multiple partners. This also means that even in the thick of the season, you can make tweaks with a lower risk of things breaking down.
 
So, how should you change things up for the holidays? First consider how shoppers go nuts during the holidays. The bottom line thanks them for getting a tad bonkers for a good deal, but it also means folks are less committed to items they have carted. Price comparison increases bounce rates on your site, first-time visitors increase, annual shoppers return like a flock of migrating birds…in simpler terms, things get intense.  
 
If you have limited time, resources and tools available, a basic approach would be to update the abandoned cart e-mail creative to reflect holiday themes and offers. Feature the holiday-themed navigation, store hours, in-store pick-up, return policies, gift card options, shipping deadlines and any ongoing holiday promotions like free shipping on all orders. Links to shopping tools like gift guides and shop-by-price will give abandoners another reason to revisit the site if the abandoned item just isn't the right gift.
 
While this one e-mail-fit-for-all approach will help inform holiday shoppers and encourage them to revisit their carts, you can kick this up a notch by leveraging past-purchase information to better target customers. When consumers were asked which components of an abandoned cart reminder e-mail would make them likely to return to a site to complete a purchase, the differences between frequent, occasional and infrequent shoppers were eye-opening. The study "Why We Don't Buy: Consumer Attitudes on Shopping Cart Abandonment," revealed frequent shoppers found order total, shipping duration and photos of the abandoned products to be most influential in reengaging. Occasional shoppers wanted to see references to savings/coupon amounts. Infrequent shoppers' top influencer was alternative ways to buy.
 
Knowing this, messages can be targeted to shopper groups, highlighting the most influential content and providing additional information to further encourage them to buy. For frequent shoppers, ensure the order total is easy to find in the e-mail. Include information about loyalty programs, return policies and applied discounts that could quell any sticker-shock. Infrequent shoppers' reminder e-mails should focus less on price and the items that were carted and instead provide information on other ways to buy, like in-store or by phone. A more customer service-centric approach could help this shopper to buy with confidence and convenience.
 
Don't let one of your best performing e-mails grow stale during the busiest time of the year. Even minimal efforts to customize the cart abandoner's experience during the holidays can help increase sales and make the season even more special for your shoppers.
 
Jim Davidson is Manager of Marketing Research for Bronto Software.