Taking Advantage of the 3-Stage Shopping Cart Abandonment Timeline

Learn how to minimize customer abandonment on each of the 3 stages of the abandonment timeline.

Vice President of Marketing, Dynamic Yield

In today’s eCommerce industry, shopping cart and checkout abandonment are all too common behaviors among online shoppers. As 31 different studies from the last decade conclude, the average shopping cart abandonment rate is around 68% and aggressively cutting into retail profits. As a result, many retailers have made abandonment reduction a primary goal and are devoting more and more resources towards achieving it. Fortunately, there are various tactics and strategies that reduce cart abandonments to a minimum and induce greater returns.

Did you know? Companies lose $18 billion in revenue each year from cart abandonment. Read this free eBook and reduce abandonments across the journey.

To reduce cart abandonments and drive further sales and returns, eCommerce merchants should start by actively tracking and analyzing shopping cart abandonment KPIs. Many retailers find it effective to differentiate between checkout abandonment and cart abandonment. While cart abandonment refers to drop outs of customers with products left in their shopping carts and who had not yet begun the checkout process, checkout abandonment refers to customers who had abandoned the merchant’s site during the checkout process.

Reasons for Abandoning Shopping Carts

By learning about the behavioral characteristics of each group of “abandoners”, merchants can tailor segmented experiences and execute personalized campaigns on the three stages of the abandonment “timeline,” i.e. pre-abandonment, display of abandonment intent and post-abandonment.

Taking Advantage of the 3-Stage Shopping Cart Abandonment Timeline

Pre-Abandonment

It’s difficult to gauge visitor intent during the pre-abandonment phase (after all, your visitor may be just browsing your site without any true intention to buy) but it’s probable to assume that some of the causes for their eventual abandonment may come from a user-experience (UX) perspective. If your website seems untrustworthy or illegitimate then no one will buy from it. A trustworthy website can reduce hesitations and concerns and have a significant effect on users’ behavior. Trust may be affected by external factors, such as demographic variables, or prior, related experience, and by internal factors such as security seals, shipping policies, customer testimonials and more.

Customers need to feel welcome and personally secure with the site they are purchasing from. Broken links, low quality images, unresponsive pages and site timeouts can cause visitors to lose trust in your brand and lose confidence in their purchasing decisions. Displaying recognized verification seals and logos, allowing easy access to customer product reviews, and providing full disclosure on security policies, are three very effective ways to inspire trust in your brand and build confidence in your site.

According to Statista, unexpected costs, such as high delivery charges or hidden fees, constitute the most common cause for abandonment. Simplifying the checkout process, providing upfront prices, clear payment methods and transparent shipping costs, can preempt customer inconveniences and dramatically reduce pre-abandonment dropouts. In addition, refraining from mandatory registration requirements prior to completion of checkout (i.e. enabling optional guest checkout) may also increase conversions among pre-abandonment visitors and lead them through the purchase funnel more quickly and efficiently. Simple, clear, and convenient site usability can often make the difference in turning a comparison shopper into a loyal customer.

Another powerful tactic to use pre-abandonment is to use the metadata you collect about your visitors to serve personalized product recommendations. Personalizing recommendations is not only a guaranteed strategy for improving recirculation, increasing monetization and reducing exit rates but is essential to providing shoppers guidance, encouraging them to complete their purchases and refrain from abandoning their carts. Remember, 85% of online shoppers are more likely to shop from brands that offer personalized discounts and offers.

Display of Abandonment Intent

There are a number of telling actions and intent signals on the shopper’s part that trigger the alarm for potential abandonment. However, there are effective, automated personalization and shopping cart abandonment solutions that enable you to recover in real-time and turn those potential abandonments into conversions.

In a reality where most websites offer an overwhelming amount of content, consumers may feel lost. Using sophisticated behavioral targeting algorithms, eCommerce organizations can serve personalized and highly engaging messages to visitors upon display of exit intent. Upon display of this behavior (such as an aggressive mouse movement to x-out of the page) triggering an incentivized overlay with limited-time offers, free shipping, money back guarantees, or an inducement to sign up to a newsletter, is a powerful way of keeping visitors engaged prior to returning to their referral source.

Of course, that does not mean you should offer free shipping to anyone. Be smarter than this. Offer free shipping only when there’s a business justification for this. You can do it for product types, based on average order value, geographies, etc.

To illustrate, let’s say your visitor was just hit with unexpected shipping costs and has now decided to leave your site rather than proceeding to checkout. Upon noticing your visitor’s exit intent, you can effectively re-engage by automatically triggering an overlay or notification with a targeted promotion for completing the order now.

Pro Tip:  One of our clients achieved a 25% increase in Revenue Per Session using this exact strategy. Download our eBook to learn how.

Post-Abandonment

If your customer has abandoned their cart then there are a number of retargeting strategies and technologies you can leverage to encourage them to return. For example, merchants can retarget abandoners through personalized display ads, reminding them that they still have items in their carts and offering exclusive deals upon returning to complete their purchases. Personalized ads make use of a user’s browsing cookies when they have visited a website to retarget these users with highly relevant promotions for products they have already displayed an interest in.

While online retargeting ads can be effective, marketers would be wise to invest in email campaigns which remain at the core of digital acquisition and customer retention. eCommerce brands can run personalized abandonment email campaigns notifying shoppers when out-of-stock items have been replenished or offer discounts urging shoppers to complete the purchases they left behind. According to Listrak, initial emails, sent three hours after a consumer abandons a cart average a 40% open rate and a 20% click-through rate (source). While sending personalized marketing messages is an extremely effective strategy to encourage returns, soliciting feedback from customers can help reveal the factors which led to shopping cart abandonment.

Regularly sending out performance surveys to your visitors and customers helps you stay on top of your customers’ expectations, and informs you as to the most relevant and effective marketing strategies to employ in order to reduce future abandonments.

Try our shopping cart abandonment tool and discover use cases to reduce cart abandonments, maximize conversions and drive sales.

Bonus:  Follow these powerful personalization strategies to dramatically reduce cart abandonments.

To conclude, shopping cart abandonment recovery solutions can be extremely effective for re-engaging customers throughout the various abandonment stages. Customer expectations are becoming increasingly demanding, and eCommerce merchants should embrace innovative new ways of meeting their needs on a personal level, across the customer journey. Learn about Dynamic Yield’s eCommerce personalization solutions and reap the benefits of delivering personalized shopping experiences across the entire customer journey.

Taking Advantage of the 3-Stage Shopping Cart Abandonment Timeline
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  • This article addresses an area of ecommerce overlooked by a predicted 80% of online ecommerce stores or businesses, why do the store owners fail to address this ‘leaving money on the table’ event would be a great research topic. What would be the predicted average response be from store owners, experience tells us that they couldn’t careless about how much they leave on the table. The fact they have to do something that is ‘in their mind’ speculative at best is why they take no action about abandonment. Anything that involves effort reduces the chances of fixes being put in place.

    • Meir Fox

      Important point you’re raising. A lot of that speculation or apathy would go away if they saw the numbers— in our experience, clients have achieved 10-20% reductions in abandonment using exit-intent overlays alone. Changes of any kind can be a source of discomfort and met with hesitation. The organizations that choose to adopt proven abandonment-reduction strategies will surge ahead of those who choose not to.