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e-Commerce Industry News


March 3, 2014
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March 3, 2014
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Abandoned shopping carts can often be avoided. Abandoned shopping carts can
often be avoided.
In the world of online eCommerce, it's not hard to find abandoned purchases. Whether a customer spends minutes on a product page without taking action or they actually put the item into their carts without finalizing the purchase, these unfinished purchases can be a tantalizing problem for many online stores.

So, why do customers abandon these purchases and deny the sale for retailers? While there are a vast number of specific reasons that are unique to each individual retailer, one of the leading causes according to ConversionXL is "unexpected costs" such as shipping, taxes and other fees.

Citing a study from Worldpay, ConversionXL noted that, rather surprisingly, few purchases are abandoned simply because the shopper decided not to go through with it. Rather, it's often retailer-caused reasons that make them choose not to make a purchase, which should illustrate quite clearly that the onus is on the retailer to make the appropriate adjustments to spur the sale. Here are some strategies merchants could deploy to bolster sales from their online stores:

1. Free shipping
As mentioned above, unexpected costs are frequently the top deterrent for online sales. So one strategy that businesses can embrace to push customers over the edge into completing the purchase is eliminating these extra costs. In some cases, that just can't be done - for example, there is nothing merchants can do if they're forced to add taxes to the order.

Shipping, however, is a cost that retailers can tackle. By streamlining order fulfillment and processing procedures and making other back-end operations efficient, they may be able to cut expenses enough to offer free shipping. This is particularly easy to address if merchants only charge shipping if the order is below a specific threshold.

According to Internet Retailer, nearly one-third of the top 1,000 online stores offered unconditional free shipping at the end of 2013, so this is an option that merchants need to consider moving forward.

2. Be competitive with pricing
Although brick-and-mortar shops may be able to get away with charging more for products if they can make up for it with the intangibles (such as providing an excellent customer experience), online stores don't always have that advantage. It's quite easy to quickly check prices at competing stores, so if retailers aren't being competitive on the price front, they are going to fall behind.

Now, retailers must always be cautious of engaging in price wars - this is a quick way to lower profit margins and bring on hard times. That said, there are some strategies merchants can use to address the issue. For example, merchants could offer loyalty programs that people pay a subscription for. They could also deploy free shipping offers to bring down the overall price. Whichever strategies merchants select, it's important they are competitive with others in their space.

3. Don't let people forget their orders
If for some reason shoppers simply were forgetful and didn't complete their purchase, it's important retailers don't let them walk away. Reminder emails are often the most effective means of bringing customers back to complete their purchases.

Retailers often fret the prospect of an abandoned sale. However, if merchants look at this prospect as an opportunity to improve the way they function, they can make a lot of meaningful changes that can help in the long run.

"An abandoned cart is a great (if not the best) starting place to really demonstrate your core values because the cart abandoner has already spent their time interacting with your site and putting an order together," added ConversionXL. "By using smart ad/email retargeting and call tracking to communicate what makes your company unique, you can encourage repeat purchases."