Cart Abandonment does NOT mean Customer Abandonment

Cart Abandonment - Two words that elicit collective groans of frustration from the ecommerce fraternity. And can you blame them? What customers in their right minds would spend a better part of their time browsing products, select their purchases and then just vanish?

In a previous post we've explored how cart abandonment is widely practiced and in some cases even encouraged as a tactic of smart shopping. While cart abandonment still is ecommerce's biggest challenge (with abandon rates peaking around 71%), it nevertheless is NOT all bad. And in this post let's look at the silver lining for a change.

It's a part of the lifecycle

Let's face it, cart abandonment is inevitable. 100% conversions are as far removed from reality as it gets. However, customers who abandon their carts are not automatically lost for life. On the contrary, cart abandonment is just another phase of the customers' purchase lifecycle. It is fairly common practice research options at length, weigh the pros and cons of buying and also consider multiple alternatives before closing a purchase. And though this consequently means an extended buying cycle, ultimately customers do commit to a purchase once they vindicate their choice. Various quotes float around as to the accurate degree of returnees, but a well agreed number is that close to three quarters of the initial abandoners return at some point, intending to complete their purchase.

You can win them back

Customers abandon purchases for a variety of reasons, ranging from unexpected costs to website issues and the ever popular 'just looking' excuse. Most ecommerce owners acknowledge, categorize and work towards managing these challenges. But an initiative that is frequently overlooked is the segmenting of abandoning customers themselves. Conversion Academy classifies these 'abandoners' as,

One Time Abandoners: Typically first time customers with no purchase or cart abandon history
Serial Abandoners: Frequent site visitors who has a history of abandonment (has abandoned the cart on more than one occasion)
Recent Abandoners: Customers who abandoned their carts when returning to purchase

Typically 42%, 43% and 15% respectively made up these segments. These similar yet simultaneously nuanced customers were also found to respond differently during win back campaigns.

18% of One Timer Abandoners recovered
48% of Serial Abandoners recovered
57% of Recent Abandoners recovered

Surprisingly, the both Serial and Recent abandoner categories turn out to be a highly valued. This is proof enough that abandoning customers should not be ignored and can be won back with aptly thought out strategies.

There's more than one way to convert a customer

Customers could have abandoned their shopping cart on a particular channel for several reasons. But that leaves open opportunities for stores to engage with and convert customers at an omni-channel level. For example, a customer might have abandoned a mobile experience due to non-familiarity of using the app. However, the same customer could be a target for appropriate email communication to encourage finishing shopping via the website. And with omni-channel experiences becoming the norm stores have multiple innovative opportunities and channels to maximize the chances of conversion. What is vital to remember is that in the current landscape of multiple customer touchpoints, abandonment is not necessarily the end of the line, but rather an opportunity for alternative outreach.

Ending with...

Change begets change. And it's high time that the connotations associated with shopping cart abandonment evolve radically. Cart abandonment is unavoidable and ecommerce owners must embrace it as part of the customer lifecycle. The perception that abandoned customers are lost causes must be reconsidered and robust marketing capabilities are required to actively retarget and rescue abandoned engagements.