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Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2009 at 9:20 am

Keep Them In the Cart this Christmas

By Brendan Regan
October 6th, 2009

OK, Grok faithful, we all know that the Holiday Season is coming fast. Last year was “make or break” for a holidayslot of eTailers, and this season will be critical for many more.

The ones who make it through will be those who are passionate about the customer experience, AND who are able to prioritize their work between now and the “Holiday Crunch” so that the hours expended actually impact the number of sales they make.

Where do you start if you want your site to be a stellar performer this Holiday Season?  A great place for most to start is on Shopping Cart Abandonment.  That’s low in your sales funnel, where you’re losing customers who were already acquired via marketing and persuaded to buy from you!

Let’s examine a prioritized list of reasons shoppers listed that caused them to abandon shopping carts.  Then, we’ll offer actionable suggestions corresponding to each concern.  The data comes from the 8th Annual Merchant Survey, conducted by PayPal and comScore in April of this year.

#1 High shipping charges

We’re all aware of this challenge, and it’s somewhat out of your hands, but there are things you can do.  One is to thing is to test different shipping offers in the cart.  Another, if you have a certain order value that qualifies for free shipping, is to display how much more the customer needs to qualify.  For example, “You are $xx.xx away from free shipping!  Continue shopping »”

#2 Wanted to comparison shop

Make sure you’re saving customer carts for at least 30 days, maybe more for the Holidays.  A recent study sponsored by McAfee showed that the average time span between visiting a site and checking out was 34 hours! Acknowledge that this behavior is occurring and plan for it.  If you’re sending “cart recovery” emails inside of 24 hours, you may be really annoying your prospective customers!

#3 Leaving to Google a coupon code

If you have a coupon code capture field on your “View Shopping Cart” page, you may consider moving that capture later in the checkout process, when prospects are more ‘invested’ in the process and less likely to bail and go “coupon Googling.”  Some of our clients offer coupons right on their site as a way to combat this behavior, and it works.

#4 Couldn’t find preferred payment option

Most eStore owners offer a proper assortment of payment options, BUT are your customers seeing them at the point of concern?  We call these Point of Action Assurances.  When the prospect is in your cart, and wondering about their payment options, are you reassuring them at the point of action that you offer BillMeLater, PayPal, etc.?  Test different placements of those assurances.

#5 Item unavailable at checkout

Yikes!  This issue simply needs to be dealt with on your product pages, before the cart.  If an item is out of stock, why not capture an email so you can notify when the item is back in stock?  Zappos.com does a good job of this when a certain size of shoe is out of stock.

#6 Couldn’t find customer support

Similar to #4, most online stores do offer good customer service options, but sometimes your prospects aren’t seeing them at the appropriate point in the cart.  Test those placements.  Also, if you use live chat support, and the chat service is “offline,” what is the customer experience like?

#7 Security concerns

Similar to #1, this is somewhat out of your hands…the Web isn’t 100% safe for shoppers, and they know it.  But, Point of Action Assurances, 3rd party security seals, and credibility of design are key.  Another great opportunity for testing different placements and different seals in the checkout.

Blogger’s Note: Apologies for excluding other winter holidays in the title of this post; I was just going for alliteration ;)

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Comments (65)

  1. Great Post Brendan
    There’s also an interesting idea to post coupon codes on your own site so that visitors don’t navigate away. This has been done by Macy’s and they’re getting a 40% conversion from everyone who visits the page. I blogged about this with more details and links here
    http://websiteconversion.blogspot.com/2009/09/voucher-codes-website-conversion.html
    Of course the other tactic which will be hot this holiday season is following up on abandoners. Even if you perfectly tune your list of 7 things, you are still going to have abandonment, so an immediate email follow up program can be very effective in getting visitors back to the site and convert. These are often the most lucrative programs that ecommerce teams run.
    There’s some science in how to run these types of programs well, but the key things to remember are Tone and Timing. There a video of best practices for abandoned shopping cart remarketing up here

  2. [...] Keep Them In the Cart this Christmas “The ones who make it through will be those who are able to prioritize their work between now and the “Holiday Crunch” so that the hours expended actually impact the number of sales they make.” [...]

  3. Good post, it seems like I have been working the last few months getting ready for the Christmas season. I still have a lot to do…..

  4. Hey Brendan

    Good insightful article and yes definitely we need to be aware as the Christmas season is almost upon us. Heck, Walmart is now launching an early promo in the hopes of getting a few million early shoppers.

    But yes, buying online, one needs to know they are buying from a reliable business. As a home based business owner, I am selective on where I shop online and am always reviewing how easy of an experience it is to actually buy from them. If its easy and they offer good value with customer support, I will be back.

  5. Very insight points about getting the deal closed. We have to think about every aspect of the transaction online and this is arguably the most important factor. thanks for the tips.

  6. Nice ideas its giving alot to think about for chritmas gifts

  7. Great tips for closing sales this Holiday season. It is the busiest time for most retailers, so these tips will really help. Thanks!

  8. Here’s a tip: If all your text is bold, as on point #2, the emphasis is lost… :)

  9. Really nice article, so get ready for next holiday season

  10. Great article I planto pass it to all my clients who have online shopping carts. One thing I would add is to check the competitions pricing, especially those close to you in SERPS rankings for a high value keyword. Also some warranty and gaurantee text doesn’t hurt as well..Happy Holidays!

  11. So Nice Good idea share it’s giving alot to think about for Chritmas gifts

  12. A very good read, nice concepts. Thank you.

  13. Thank for the great idea…!!

  14. Very nice !_!

  15. Thanks for all the great ideas. Some very good points.

  16. There is so much money flying out the window when we don’t focus on those little things that let sales slip by. A little more time on each sales closing can really boost profits.

  17. I entirely agree with all of that.. I also find that a well designed site that looks credible is EXTREMELY important.. Those that have a crap looking website will have ,uch lower conversion rates…

    Cheers

  18. [...] We came across an interesting article from respected conversion rate optimisation company Future Now. They have put together a list of “reasons shoppers listed causing them to abandon shopping carts”. [...]

  19. Oh man, can you believe christmas is nearly here already!

  20. Great list. Have lost a few dollars with products not available at checkout.

  21. Very useful insights. Transacting online must the first one in our list to consider, especially now that Christmas season is coming.

  22. What can i say… it’s a great post..I will think about Christmas gift..

  23. Very well said and very awesome tips, especially for this approaching Holiday season. I particularly liked when you said “The ones who make it through will be those who are passionate about the customer experience, AND who are able to prioritize their work between now and the “Holiday Crunch”. So – for those who are NOT passionate, you will lose! Thanks again for sharing!

  24. Great list, thanks very helpful

  25. Good idea :)

  26. Will use these for a bathroom site we’re working with at the moment. Thanks! :)

  27. Providing coupons is a great way to make the customer feel privileged. You may also provide money off for every x amount spent. Often luring people to spend slightly more than they would normally.

  28. Would offering a coupon code on a website not mean that everyone uses it and mean that you actually lose more money that you would with the few people who go coupon googling?
    I’d certainly think so…

  29. @Alexander: Think about it in terms of your competition. If you have no competition, then you probably don’t want to offer coupons. If you have stiff competition, it’s almost a requirement. Besides, offering a coupon should never really “lose” you money, because it should be built into your margins, modeling, forecasting, etc. Finally, see Charles’s comment at the top of the comments section.

  30. Awesome site with very valuable information. Thank you so much, I will come back often!

  31. Thanks I will definitely be using these tips on the upcoming Christmas season.

  32. Real informative post regarding coupons. I will definitively use this on my site

  33. High Shipping is definately out this season and sure to kill sales. Free shipping is on many of the sites I see now.

  34. Well written post with workable tips. I appreciate you Brendan for this.

  35. Nice ideas its giving alot to think about for chritmas gifts

  36. #

    Real informative post regarding coupons. I will definitively use this on my site

  37. #

    Real informative post regarding coupons. I will definitively use this on my site

  38. Really nice article, so get ready for next holiday season

  39. Just discovered this blog. Great Article!

  40. Great post, everybody working the last few months getting ready for the Christmas season

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  43. The home always brings a good spirit and peace, I love Christmas. Time of going to the shopping mall

  44. Happy X-mas

  45. We’re interested in 3rd party security validation for our site and apart from mcafee who else is worth the expense?

  46. @Mark Beds: if it were my $, I’d go with Verisign, and since you’re UK, I’d also look into Digicert.

  47. Brendan,
    You make “The Sad Tale of Abandoned Shopping Carts” clearly.

  48. @Brendan – Thanks ill check it.

  49. Christmas is coming, season of peace in all hearts.

  50. I thank you for this informative article. And I thank you for this I follow your vendors. It’s verry good. I wish you continued success.

  51. I have an affiliate website where I make a lot of commissions because people good “company name + discount coupon.” It’s a great way to make money from the affiliates perspective because a lot of people do search like that.

  52. Thanks Brendan,
    Ive definitely ran into these issues before and this should help, great insight. Much Thanks.

  53. awesome list. Christmas is still yet to come but this will serve as a valuable list.

  54. If they keep it in the cart, they will usually be back at some point. People clear the carts out like a cache, but I would leave them in as long as possible.

  55. I believe providing coupons is a great way to make the customer feel privileged. Even we may also provide money off for every x amount spent or some additional bonus. Nice article. Have a great time.

  56. there should be live customer care help for the buyers in ever shopping site while buying the product.

  57. If they keep it in the cart, they will usually be back at some point. People clear the carts out like a cache, but I would leave them in as long as possible.

  58. Interesting post will keep this bookmarked and check back later when it comes closer to christmas

  59. I think the point about unexpectedly high shipping charges bears consideration. i know that I personally have fallen into this cart abandonment category. Any yes, i agree that there should be posted somewhere OUTSIDE the cart the threshold for qualifying for free shipping.

  60. Here is another food for thought tip to prevent shopping cart abandonment — Do not ask for more personal info then what is needed for the purchase.

  61. As an online shopper I personally felt that when I was really to check out, the high shipping charges would stop me from making the final purchases. Maybe if if the shipping cost was shown with the item, there would be less shopping cart abandonment. Or throw an offer that says get item A with item B today and get free shipping. That would improve conversions.

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  63. @Alexander: Think about it in terms of your competition. If you have no competition, then you probably don’t want to offer coupons. If you have stiff competition, it’s almost a requirement. Besides, offering a coupon should never really “lose” you money, because it should be built into your margins, modeling, forecasting, etc. Finally, see Charles’s comment at the top of the comments section

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