News and insights • Posted on 20 February 2018

The future of ecommerce basket abandonment

It’s a topic that still occasionally rears its head but, in truth basket abandonment has been the bane of many marketers’ lives, for a number of years.

There was once a time when the provision of discounts was considered the solution to entice lost customers back to a site. But when money-saving expert Martin Lewis began encouraging people to purposefully pause their purchase so that they would receive that must-have incentive, the strategy soon fell flat.

This is one reason why some marketers have lost interest in the plight. Others are bored of failed attempts to lure shoppers back, and there are those that relent and accept the fact that it is quite simply, human nature for people to just sometimes change their mind.

So why is 2018 going to be any different?

In truth, nobody has a crystal ball to predict how basket abandonment will evolve next year, or which techniques could begin to address this long-standing e-commerce problem. But with some fresh thinking, it may be possible to boost a brand’s cart completion rate.

Which metrics matter?

Firstly, it’s important to look holistically at the issue. MailChimp stats claim that 67% of online shopping carts are abandoned – a figure that is relatively unsurprising.

But looking at one metric in isolation is dangerous. E-commerce entities therefore need to analyse how their abandonment rates compare to their sector average, whether the stat is improving or getting worse over time, and if there are any seasonal or other time-specific fluctuations.

Marketers should also consider asking the customer why they didn’t complete the purchase. Assuming the decision was made on the basis of price alone is dangerous. What about the proportion that never intended to buy, or simply got distracted? Was the delivery cost or timescale the final nail in the coffin? Or did the checkout process itself become a little convoluted? Only when a clearer picture emerges, will the brand stand the greatest chance of turning the stats around. A straightforward customer survey could therefore prove very useful indeed, as well as A/B testing to measure the effect of improvements.

The death of discounts?

Armed with greater insight, this is the time to consider abandonment remedies. It is no secret that discounts rarely work, so in the face of rising PPC fees and the growth of cashback schemes, why erode margins by offering them?

Let’s face it, consumers’ lives are becoming increasingly hectic so perhaps they simply got side-tracked and just need a gentle reminder. A straightforward marketing automation journey will address this with ease.

But it would be lazy to rely on this methodology alone, given some of the other reasons that may have contributed to the basket getting left behind.

Remarketing remedies

Display and dynamic product remarketing has a role to play too, especially given its wider reach. The deployment of this technique is also not dependent on user registration, although it will only target customers who browse within the Google display network.

Look a little closer to home

Is something about the sale proposition putting the customer off? If the root cause of the abandonment is the delivery or returns policy, for instance, marketers need to share this insight within the business. If a website infrastructure or UI/UX complication is to blame, internal development work needs to take place before any other customer-centric strategy. And if poor reviews could be acting as a deterrent, this signifies a wider brand marketing problem that needs to be addressed.

Third party products

As with virtually all areas of digital marketing, there has been a rise in the number of third party products that can help to fill the void between costly and/or complex integrations into e-commerce systems like Magento and Woocommerce. As a result, there are now a host of simple plugins and scripts such as springbot, which can be implemented with ease to tackle traditional abandonment techniques but with an added layer of intelligence. Marketers can engage the user based on the number of times they’ve been on a site, the pages and products viewed, how far they’ve scrolled down the page and so on.

Opportunities like this to ‘personalise’ the abandonment journey, should not be overlooked. The days of a blanket approach are gone.

It all boils down to analysis

Whatever technique an e-commerce brand decides to trial and/or adopt, it is important to define a strategy and continuously assess the impact that a new or refined approach is having. Too many marketers still sit back and expect one methodology to work first time, but this is a luxury that very few professionals ever experience. As with any digital marketing discipline, agility, measurement and iteration is important, if any true success is to be reaped.

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Written by Lee Boothroyd

Digital director and The Bigger Boat co-founder, Lee has more than 20 years’ digital experience under his belt and heads up the five-man web development team.

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