November 4, 2013

Turning Shopping Basket Abandoners into High-Value Purchasers

Hugh Kimber, UK Sales Director at Webtrends, outlines the common causes of shopping basket abandonment and explains how email remarketing can be used to win back customers who discard their carts before purchasing
Shopping basket abandonment is an issue faced by many online retailers and can represent a missed revenue opportunity. But, if retailers take a glass half-full approach, these consumers in fact represent an audience which is open to purchasing in the near future, if given a bit of extra incentive.
According to Forrester Research, 87 per cent of consumers abandon shopping baskets, and 70 per cent of baskets are abandoned just before checkout. On the surface, securing a conversion can seem difficult but, in reality, abandoned baskets represent an interested pool of potential customers who may just be in the window-shopping stage. Just because they’ve abandoned their purchase doesn’t mean they won’t return. This is supported by research from SalesCycle that found the click-to-open rate of basket abandonment emails is 10 per cent higher than a traditional email. This demonstrates that consumers are still interested in purchasing at some stage, even if they’ve previously abandoned their shopping baskets.

For companies to tackle the issue of basket abandonment, they must first understand the factors that cause it. A survey conducted by eConsultancy and TolunaQuick found that the top reason for shopping basket abandonment is high delivery charges (75 per cent), followed by technical problems (55 per cent), high prices (50 per cent) and the need to register before making a purchase (26 per cent).
However, according to Forrester, there are also behavioural factors that can affect shopping basket abandonment. Consumers may treat online shopping baskets as wishlists and use these lists to find products they will then buy in-store. It may also be used as a method of comparing prices with other online retailers or monitoring the price of items, perhaps waiting for the product to be discounted.

The growing trend for consumers to use their mobile or tablet devices to conduct product research before making a purchase is contributing to the rise in shopping basket abandonment; however, research conducted by eMarketer found these consumers are often switching to a PC or laptop to complete their purchases.

Email remarketing can play a pivotal role in tackling the issue of shopping basket abandonment. Businesses are able to respond in real-time at the point of abandonment using visitor data to create relevant, bespoke messages and incentivise the customer to return to the website to complete their purchase.

When considering email remarketing, businesses should bare in mind that there are factors that could influence the effectiveness of such a campaign. Studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology prove that timing is everything when it comes to email remarketing – 90 per cent of leads grow cold in just one hour yet within 12 hours, the majority of customers who intend to make a purchase, will do so. This research suggests remarketing can have its biggest impact when conducted within a 12 hour window and, according to Forrester, retargeting programmes such, as email remarketing, can return as much as 40 per cent of email programme revenue, making them worthwhile for the retailer.

Businesses should also consider how frequently they launch email campaigns. Sending multiple targeted emails, as subtle reminders, may encourage consumers to purchase more effectively than a single message would. Research from Listrak found an increase of 30 per cent in the number of retailers choosing to remarket to cart abandoners since 2011. In addition retailers are sending a series of messages to re-engage consumers rather than a single message. The same study found that retailers are using discounts less frequently within their messages. They found instead that a simple reminder is often enough to prompt the consumer.

Finally, email remarketing should be personalised. More than just referencing the product abandoned in their basket, it should include products the shopper looked at throughout their visit. For example, a consumer could be searching for leather jackets using a search engine, these actions are noted the moment this search takes place. After the individual has viewed more than three products they are categorised as a high-value customer, triggering a relevant offer based on their in-session behaviour, such as “for 24 hours only, receive up to 60 per cent off all jackets”.

Businesses also have the ability to combine historical, offline and in-session data to achieve a unified view of customers and deliver highly targeted and relevant experiences in real-time.

According to SeeWhy, only 1 per cent of visitors will make a purchase when visiting a new site, 90 per cent of conversions come from repeat customer and 66 per cent of eventual conversions come through email marketing. It is important for businesses to capture the email addresses of visitors and this can be done through the use of incentive techniques such as wish lists and rewards through loyalty schemes to convert shopping basket abandoners.

Shopping basket abandoners are a source of untapped revenue that companies should view as an opportunity, rather than a loss. Consumers who add products to their online basket are motivated to buy; even if they don’t go through to the checkout immediately. Email remarketing allows the retailer to encourage window shoppers to complete their purchases. Providing a personalised and relevant message can lead to increased customer loyalty, converting the consumer to a high-value purchaser.