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Online Retailer Conference Sydney - Dan Ferguson - Presentation : Top 5 Things you need to know about Shopping Cart Abandonment
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Online Retailer Conference Sydney - Dan Ferguson - Presentation : Top 5 Things you need to know about Shopping Cart Abandonment


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  • Dubious Amazing fact no.1 : This session topic was the least popular amongst prospective Online Retailer speakers. It’s not for lack of importance : Shopping cart attrition or dropout is on average by far the largest economic impact upon any online retail business in operation today. According to the 2006 E-commerce Benchmark Guide from Marketing Sherpa, the average abandonment rate for shopping carts was around 60% , a figure that has remained pretty constant (see emarketer 2009). Of this cart abandonment figure, 12% abandoned before checkout, leaving 48% as the average checkout abandonment rate for e-commerce. In other words , the average e-commerce checkout wipes out just under half of the revenues that customers are in the process of spending . US e-retailers have also recently confirmed the key importance of checkout optimisation – especially in a slower economy – with 90% of medium sized retailers ($10 – $100M) identifying checkout as their top priority in 2009 So I tried to think through any possible other reason for lack of topic popularity, and was stumped until struck by a blinding flash. Out of the 53 speakers at this conference, there are only 6 women. That’s a mere 11%. Clearly the remaining 89% immediately run the other way screaming whenever when the word ‘Shopping’ is mentioned. Indeed it became that much clearer when I saw a recent headline..
  • Notice I’ve used the New York post in a nod to our US guests .
  • So what data is there on why customers are abandoning carts? A review of research sources reveals plenty of studies that ask customers for specific reasons. For example, The PayPal Checkout Abandonment Study was conducted by comScore among active shoppers who had recently abandoned a shopping cart. In the United States 553 people participated between May 12-15, 2009 & respondents were asked for the key drivers behind cart abandonement. The results are graphed here. More than half of these are factors can be directly impacted and optimised for. Taking these one by one quickly.. 46% of online shoppers said high shipping charges were a “very important reason” for emptying carts : Further the survey found that providing shipping costs upfront might have caused 40 percent of that 46% to complete the purchase. Review Free Delivery offers, and promotions, assess opportunities for adding lower cost shipping options (more on this shortly), and make sure that your delivery offer is sold in prior to checkout Wanted to comparison shop: 37% – Are you saving their cart for at least 30 days, so they can return to it? Lack of money: 36% - Can you make them an offer they can’t refuse? Consider adding additional credit payment options Wanted to look for a coupon: 27% – Are you prompting them to look for coupons? Wanted to shop offline: 26% - Are you offering them options to pick up items in store? Couldn’t find preferred pay option: 24% - Add payment options. Item unavailable at checkout: 23% – This should be dealt with on the product page or it will erode your brand trust. Couldn’t find customer support: 22% – This could be dealt with by using POA – point of action assurances. Security concerns: 21% – This is also handled with point of action assurances Now these are all specific reasons for abandonment – the ‘what’ , but I still don’t think they don’t answer the fundamental ‘why’. Afterall you don’t have to wade through 1000’s of abandoned & rusted carts to get to the checkout at your local Target do you? Jokes aside and thinking it through , this is because as consumers we decide to purchase prior to approaching the physical checkout – that’s the norm. So what is the essential core issue?
  • Put another way this means that the act of purchasing at checkout should not involve any discovery of aspects of the purchase. Customers should be able to make a fully informed purchase decision prior to checkout, and checkout should then be functional only and as seamless, and frictionless as possible. Alternatively checkout is the stress tester on your customer purchase resolve. Ideally therefore you want the resolve to be as strong and complete as possible prior to testing and the tester themselves incredibly gentle. So why is this issue such a key factor? Using my knowledge of online retailing and trends on the following slides I review the traditional and best practice approaches and how they relate to this factor..
  • The purchase proposition is defined as a full and comprehensive understanding of product, price, delivery, payment & registration. I’ve defined the transaction as the relevant interaction & exchange required to complete a purchase. To date online retail sites often involve a mix of the two across the browse, discover, decide, buy experience. This tends to deliver surprises at checkout , for instance Late confirmation of availability & delivery – in-stock, costs, timings, It also mixes the goals of selling and transacting that results in customers that haven’t been fully ‘sold’ using a complicated checkout and also experiencing an interrupted browse – for example. - upfront login and/or no casual purchase, - forced visit to cart on any adds
  • Complete purchase proposition provided upfront in site browse : product, price, delivery, payment & registration Transaction part of process can now be relentlessly focused on speed, seamlessness, simplicity and flexibility "don’t help the customer have second thoughts" Now that we’ve clearly delineated the two key components to address in order to fight your shopping cart abandonement losses, on the following slides I’ve collated the key tactics commonly reported on in the market data and case studies and ordered them according to either transactional or purchase proposition projects/initiatives.
  • Detail & case studies covered in session for each point
  • Detail covered in session
  • To get a more direct take on UK trends I got the following general guidelines from a leading UK online retail practitioner, David Worby. Note MVT, and unnecessary re-keying points – specifically talks to streamlining the transactional processes on your site.
  • Example of an enclosed checkout ( Detail covered in session
  • Provides an estimate of delivery charges prior to checkout. However each cart add forces customer to the cart page.
  • Guiding customers through the checkout
  • Letting customers know when an item has been added without forcing them into the cart
  • Note the upfront payment clarity. Big Brown box also sells their registration process to the customer prior to checkout
  • Use Path Analysis to highlight and focus on: Highest dropout points Where customers are going Conversion & click through trends & improvements Ensure each step in your checkout is tagged and measured in a series of goal funnels setup in your web analytics systems. Leverage the insights you gain to make a series of hypothesis which can be submitted for testing. Further detail covered in session.
  • Further detail covered in session
  • A few key points on changes you don’t want to be ripping up the checkout function too many times in your lifetime. Its dangerous and can lead to bigger issues elsewhere. some of the latest MVT tools are really very good at providing small discrete pieces of change which, when aggregated up, make a significant difference. Its good practice to introduce the MVT technology as a more fundamental asset at the re build stage so doing at the point the check out ‘hood was up’ ,so to speak, would be a great opportunity. SEO not such a necessity in cart and checkout as you don’t really want to be dropping visitors directly into these processes….
  • Finally If you love something, Set it free... If it comes back, it's yours, If it doesn't, it never was yours.... Ok so sure abandoned carts are not about love, but abandoned cart emails , pop-ups & auto-chat are one of the huge areas of opportunity that just arent being capitalised on – Listraks study highlights this in the US, and my own local ‘check’ suggested that abandon cart emails are yet to catch on here at all.. Done well they can significantly impact your net abandonement rate and they don’t have to be invasive or annoying. Benchmarks suggest multiple emails can be sent , with the first ideally within 24 hrs of abandonment. Results from various tests and data suggest anything from 5-30% of you abandons can be reclaimed if this method is executed well. 2 examples Adagio Tea (MS 10/06), who sent a automatic $5 gift certificate to cart abandoners within 3-6 days of customer leaving, and gained a 5.6% increase in conversions and a similar program at Limoges Jewellry with email converting at 29% 123iNKjETS AutoChat – “hey wait we hate to see you leaving 123InkJets so we’d like to offer you an instant 10% order discount’ – resulted in a reduction of 10% in abandonment rate. Some cautions are around privacy and annoyance – exercise caution on the fine line between proactivity and creepiness in your email content, comply with ACMA and avoid multiple (more than 2) follow ups
  • Transcript

    • 1. Capturing the Sale - Optimising the Checkout/Shopping Cart Process “ Recent research figures from the US estimate shopping cart abandonment rates at around 60%, and the figure is rising. Increasing that conversion rate can lead to a significant jump in sales and profits, and this session explores why shoppers abandon carts online, what the trends are and how to optimise the checkout process to capture more sales” Dan Ferguson ( [email_address] ) 19 th August 2009
    • 2. 5 Capturing the Sale - Optimising the Checkout/Shopping Cart Process The top things you need to know…
      • Why it’s important
      • Why it happens
      • What are the trends?
      • How you can take action
      • Life after Cart
    • 3. 1
      • shopping cart abandonment is responsible for the loss of up to half your possible sales
    • 4.  
    • 5. 2
      • Customers abandon carts because of what's inside & what’s not outside your checkout process
    • 6. Ref : Study by PayPal and comScore , 2009, see 2
    • 7.
      • The failure to make a clear distinction between the purchase proposition and the purchase ‘transaction’…(is) the most important single factor driving checkout abandonment*
      2 Online Retail 2007 : Checkout, Dr Mike Baxter,
    • 8. 2
      • Customers experience a browse interrupted by transactional requirements and incomplete info
      • Customers that haven’t been fully ‘sold’ using a complicated checkout
      Traditional approach to online retail & checkout
    • 9. 2 Goal approach to online retail & checkout
      • Complete purchase proposition provided upfront in site browse prior to checkout.
      • Customers hit checkout decided. Transaction part of process now focused on speed, simplicity
    • 10. 2 Examples: Add Payment options Test & optimise Cart design Control for & minimise distractions – enclose checkout Add Telephone / Live Chat. Add Delivery options (also upfront) Streamline checkout (business) requirements Illustrate progress throughout Merge checkout & registration, consider allowing casuals Add security logos Clarify all charges / costs as early as possible Transaction part of process : Focus on speed, simplicity and flexibility
    • 11. 2 Examples : Add Delivery options to home and/or product page Add in-stock data to product page Minimise transactional elements prior to checkout ie. add persistent, perpetual or mini-cart and avoid or minimise auto-cart open on product add. Sell the complete offer – Payment , Security, Registration etc. Purchase proposition part of process : Focus on presenting the customer with a full and comprehensive purchase proposition prior to checkout
    • 12. 3
      • US & UK Online retailer trends in the area of abandonment are towards addressing transparency of information, and optimising cart design
    • 13. 3
    • 14.
      • UK Best Practice suggestions
      • Be honest and transparent , keep it simple.
      • Fewer words, images communicate better, uncluttered Layout
      • Reinforce messages only where needed
      • Avoid reasons to leave (i.e. nav bar)
      • Illustrate progress at all points
      • Ensure good MVT capability
      • Utilise data you already have and avoid unnecessary re keying
      • Test it with as many people as you can prior to launch
    • 15. UK TREND SLIDE 3 Copyright © E-consultancy 2007,
    • 16. 3
    • 17. 3
    • 18. 3
    • 19. 3
    • 20. 4
      • You can take action & start optimising your cart & checkout by ;
      • -site path analysis
      • -abandoned cart surveys &listening to your customer feedback
      • - test, test, and retest!
    • 21. 4 17 Conduct detailed path analysis
    • 22. 4
      • Ask ;
      • Why did you leave
      • What could incentivise a purchase?
      • What's your biggest concern about online shopping?
      • How frequently do you purchase online
      • How frequently do you comparison shop online?
      ? Abandoned Cart Surveys
    • 23.
      • Compare/Contrast insights from your analysis with benchmarked & research cart changes (ref pg 10-11)
      • Ensure any changes you make are measureable, SEO & MVT friendly
    • 24. 5
      • If all else fails remember there is life AC (after cart)
    • 25. Abandoned cart emails, pop-up’s & auto chat
      • Aug 2009 Study on Top 500*
      • 80% have ability to follow up on AC
      • Only 11% do
      • Of those that do most don’t send them soon enough or with sufficient relevancy or potency
      * Study by Listrak @, Aug, 13 th 2009 5
    • 26. Questions?
      • I’m always interested to discuss any questions you have on this presentation or other online challenges.
      • If I can’t help you I can refer you to an “battle” tested, large scale etailer that can.
      • Email me : [email_address]
      • Network with me @
    • 27. Additional & useful references
      • & search under shopping cart / abandonment
      • Thanks to First Rate, David Worby & Imagineering