How often do you browse a website, add items to your cart, proceed to checkout — and then stop short of buying any of the things you selected?

While it’s certainly a person’s prerogative to change her mind, there is no argument that cart abandonment is frustrating for online retailers.

According to research from the Baymard Institute, an independent web usability research firm, nearly 7 in 10 customers abandon their online purchases. There are plenty of reasons why customers rethink their potential purchases.

Some people simply dropped by to browse. Others are comparing prices. More problematic are those who actually intended to buy, but backed out right before making a purchase.

Why shoppers abandon carts online.

Addressing Cart Abandonment

To transform prospects to customers, retailers need to understand the psychology of online shopping — and take steps to remove potential obstacles. They also need to craft strategies to entice those who show interest before they permanently slip away.

“Make sure you have mechanisms in place to follow up in the appropriate manner to re-engage and motivate them to complete their purchase,” said As Lindsay Bloom, senior marking manager at SessionM, a customer data and engagement platform.

Here are a few realities about cart abandonment as well as suggested ways to address them.

Be Clear

More than half — 53 percent — of US adult shoppers are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can’t find an accurate, relevant, and complete answer to their question.

Solution: Customers want self-service sites to serve up the one right answer to their question. So organizations should strengthen the foundations of their knowledge management programs so content is easily findable and contextualized to the customer’s situation. (Forrester)

Be Flexible

Up to 37 percent of your customers will abandon a checkout if you force them to create an account. But 14 percent of all sites do exactly that, including popular destinations such as Etsy.

Solution: Make sure you offer a guest checkout option for all users. That way, users who aren’t interested in creating an account as well as those who can’t access their existing account because of, say, a forgotten password, can still complete a purchase. (Baymard Institute)

Be Realistic

Promotional discount codes are a risky strategy to drive business. They’re as likely to drive visitors away from your site than encourage them to complete their purchase. What’s more, this should be common knowledge: It was reported as early as 2003 by researchers at Vanderbilt University.

According to that study, “Online consumers who are asked to enter a promotional discount code but do not have one are far less likely to complete their purchase than those who had a code or were not prompted for one.” Potential buyers rethink their purchases over the perceived unfairness resulting from the assumption that other customers are paying a lower price, the research found.

Solution: As Kissmetrics suggests, there are alternatives “to blatantly and indiscriminately showing a promo box to all visitors who come to your site.” For example:

  1. Add a “find one now” URL next to the promo code box. Clicking it opens a new window that lists all of the store’s currently available coupons.
  2. Hide the promo code box from visitors who don’t have a code and selectively showing it to only visitors who have a code.
  3. Tuck the promotion code box behind an expanding element link written in tiny font. That makes it less obvious to those who do not have one.
  4. Offer exclusive promo codes in exchange for an email opt-in strategically placed in the checkout flow before payment.

What’s Your Cart Abandonment Strategy?

To encourage sales, retailers should develop a cart abandonment strategy. The goal is to address the needs of potential customers and entice them to complete a purchase.

That means personalizing and optimizing the shopping experience. Try to encourage shoppers to return to an abandoned cart with relevant upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

Of course, turning strategy into action requires the right people, processes, data, and technology. Sitecore, for example, pioneered a concept called context-driven commerce, which is based on three rules of conversion:

  1. Prospects engage with content that’s totally relevant to them at that exact point
  2. Engaged prospects convert into customers
  3. If you keep them engaged with a personalized, custom experience, companies and brands win customer loyalty

Just last month, Sitecore released Experience Commerce 9, a cloud-enabled platform that natively integrates content and commerce. It leverages the Sitecore Experience Platform (XP) to build highly personalized shopping experiences.

According to Ryan Donovan, EVP of Product Management at Sitecore, the new release “takes customer segmentation a layer deeper, to the individual level. We are providing marketers and merchandisers with accurate data and insights to help them deliver relevant products, promotions, offers, and content in the context” of individualized shopping experiences across all channels and sessions over time, in real time.

Sitecore Experience Commerce unifies the fragmented customer journey, thereby driving better insights and business results — including lower cart abandonment rates.

Interested in learning more? Arke is a Sitecore Platinum implementation partner. We can help you deepen customer relationships and enhance your brand experience. Email Chris Spears or Margaret Wise.

About Arke

Atlanta-based Arke develops strategies and implements digital technologies for better brand experience for your customers.