They’re the internet version of the jilted bride and the scourge of ecommerce sites in every industry: abandoned shopping carts. A customer fills up a shopping cart with items, then abruptly leaves your store empty-handed. When things seemed to be going so well, why did they give up and go?
It’s easy for a store owner to feel helpless about this perplexing problem. But while shoppers abandon an estimated $4 trillion of merchandise in online carts each year, a Business Insider study shows that 63% of that can be recouped.
If you do offer free shipping, make sure you display that fact prominently on your website, and mention free shipping on each and every product page.
Discounted or expedited shipping can also entice shoppers to stick with their carts. Offering international shipping can be profitable as well if your products are unique.
Since your customers can’t pick up and handle products in your online store, you need to use evocative yet precise words and pictures to make them confident they know exactly what they’re purchasing.
Provide photos of each product from opposing angles and showing scale. If a product comes in different colors or variations, include photos of each option. Fortunately, with all the advances in cameras and image editing technology these days, you don’t have to hire a professional photographer to get studio-grade photos. This Jimdo article has some excellent tips on photographing your products to maximize visual appeal.
In the product description, list the measurements, materials, durability, origin, and special features such as accessories. Make it even more interesting by telling a short tale about the product’s history, design inspiration, or unique craftwork, as Zingerman’s does with their gourmet food items. They get bonus points for including a customer rave in their product description, too.
Offering a price guarantee whenever possible can stop customers from leaving their carts to price compare. If you can’t provide a price guarantee, then explain why your product is superior to the competition’s and better value in the long run—more durable, timeless design, locally made, etc.
Online stores made with Jimdo automatically display a cart icon hovering in the corner that stays visible as customers navigate to different pages, and the checkout pages allow shoppers to delete items or change the quantity with the click of a button. Both of these features make it easier for customers to use your site.
Make it as easy as possible for online shoppers to get the information they need by making your contact details very clear and visible on your website (your website footer is a good place for this). You may even want to install a live-chat feature such as LivePerson or SnapEngage to give virtual shoppers the level of individual attention they expect in a brick-and-mortar store.
If you don’t offer free returns, do everything you can to make the return or exchange process as painless as possible for the consumer. Provide them with pre-addressed packaging for return shipments along with clear, detailed instructions on the return procedure.
With this in mind, businesses are starting to look at the abandoned cart not as a lost sale, but as a signal of consumer interest. Retargeting these hesitant shoppers with follow-up emails and messages has been shown to draw them back to complete their purchases.
A regular email newsletter with holiday specials and product reminders can keep your shop front-of-mind and encourage people to return. More advanced users might consider specific cart abandoner tools, which charge varying fees. AbandonAid, for example, can trigger an email message fitted with product pictures and details based on shopper behavior. CartRescuer does this plus on-site messaging through pop-ups containing customized offers and quick surveys on customers’ shopping intentions and experiences on your site.
While you’ll never be able to convert every single shopper to a paying customer, there are plenty of steps you can take to turn a near-miss into a sealed deal.
I’d love to hear from shop owners below about their own experiences and what measures they’ve found effective at converting sales.
Allison is an American blogger with a Pinterest obsession currently living in Japan. She has a monster appetite for travel, music, Detroit coney dogs, and random acts of derring-do. Oh, and pasta. She can eat her weight in pasta.