Understanding the Causes and Cures of Abandoned Cart Syndrome

Does you business suffer from abandoned cart syndrome? ACS afflicts almost every new online storefront at some point in time. Even big businesses suffer from ACS. You should not be embarrassed if it is happening to you. After all, you are not alone, not even close.

If you think about a brick-and-mortar store, you can visualize the awkwardness of an abandoned cart. You may have seen one or two in your lifetime. But in the physical world of grocery and department stores, it is quite rare. If you see a half-full shopping basket in the middle of an aisle, you will likely conclude that the person responsible for that basket in in the next aisle, looking for a hard-to-find item. Or perhaps they just took a potty break. You don’t assume that the shopper just changed their mind in the middle of filling a cart.

In the digital world, carts are abandoned all the time. And it is is not for potty breaks. According to research, two-thirds of all online shopping carts are abandoned. A person will go to a site, check out an item or two, add them to the shopping cart, then never complete the transaction. That is the essence of abandoned cart syndrome. If it happens once or twice, there is probably nothing to worry about. If it is happening a lot to your site, here are a few things you need to consider:

You Can Be More Proactive

You will never capture 100% of the potential, but by being a bit more proactive, you can do a lot better than 33%. For starters, you could try this abandoned cart email strategy. For this, or any other email strategy to work, you need to ask for the user’s email address.

You can do this at the point the shopping cart is engaged. Even better, you can find a way to do this before any transaction is engaged. That way, you won’t have to try to get it when the shopper is starting to have doubts. It is just one strategy that is all about helping you be a lot more proactive in dealing with a problem you know you are going to have.

Don’t Force People to Engage the Shopping Cart Before They Are Ready

One of the reasons so many shopping carts are abandoned is that the shopper was manipulated into engaging with the cart before they had made a buying decision. Many retailers do this on purpose, being too clever by half. But no consumer likes to be manipulated. And this strategy will backfire more times than it will be successful.

The way it is done is that some piece of important information can only be found on a page available only once an item is placed in the shopping cart. That information may be a sales tax or shipping estimate. There is no reason this important pricing information can’t be made available sooner.

But by forcing consumers to place items in the shopping cart for critical information, they generate abandoned carts where there should have never been carts. Just imagine if your local grocer withheld pricing until after you filled your cart. A big part of cart abandonment is retailer generated.

It Is All About Trust

At the end of the day, completing a transaction is all about trust. Millions of people already trust Amazon with their credit card information. Even before Apple Pay, Apple had twice as many credit cards on file as Amazon. PayPal is a full-on bank. All of these companies offer merchants a way to tap into that trust. Do you have a really good reason for not offering one, if not all of these services as payment options for your site?

If people do not trust your business, then you need to be borrowing trust from others that have it in abundance. Stop trying to manipulate customers into starting a shopping cart when they are just looking for preliminary information. And do a better job at being more proactive in the information gathering process without being presumptive, intrusive, or just plain creepy.


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