Beware Shopping Cart Abandonment During The Holiday Shopping Season

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Although it’s definitely a topic for each and every day, shopping cart abandonment tends to become more of a thorn in a retailer’s side during the holiday season. Given that this time of year can be a significant portion of your year-round sales figures, shoppers who fill up a cart only to abandon it before completing the transaction are a particularly visible group that can seriously affect your bottom line.

How does one deal with those who abandon shopping carts prior to payment and finalization of the order? You can’t arrest them for stealing, as they aren’t actually going to profit from their filled and abandoned cart, although you may be able to “follow” them out of the store and remind them that they left items in a cart on your site in the hope that they may reconsider and return to complete the purchase at a later date. In fact, there are actually a lot of remedies at hand for trying to recapture that purchase intent. More important, however, is how to reduce the incidence of shopping cart abandonment as much as possible in the first place.

Although you can’t force people to complete a purchase, there are plenty of things you can do to make the purchase process easy and pleasant for shoppers that are directly related to the shopping cart system itself. With the holiday shopping season underway, a number of excellent posts on how to limit shopping cart abandonment have shown up online.

To start you off, here’s a post on How Shopping Cart Abandonment Affected CyberMonday and Black Friday, with some nice visuals showing what just happened with Black Friday and CyberMonday, how intent is different during this time of year, and the relationship between bargain seekers and cart abandonment.

Michael Gray of Graywolf has some detailed tips on how you can set up your product pages to help minimize shopping cart abandonment in his December 2nd post. Site architecture and URL structure are definite keys to making product pages work as effectively and efficiently as possible, and Michael’s post brings up important points.

Linda Bustos of Get Elastic wrote just prior to the Thanksgiving holiday about how to make your site into a one-stop shop for holiday shopping. Convincing a visitor that they can find all their holiday gifts in your shop not only will boost your average order value, but also will help reduce shopping cart abandonment by reducing the jumping between different sites looking for gifts for different individuals on their list. If you keep reminding visitors up to the point of purchase that you offer gift options for everyone, you provide continual opportunities for them to continue to add to their cart rather than abandon it when they remember they need to pick up something for Uncle Ebenezer.

Brendan Regan of GrokDotCom wrote earlier in November about Shopping Cart Optimization: Canned Vs.  Custom, with insights into the age-old argument between using an out-of-the-box shopping cart system versus one that has been customized for your products and business, and reiterating the importance of SEO for whatever system you use.

Finally, BizReport.com reminded all of us that one dominant reason for shopping cart abandonment is concern about security issues on the part of the shopper. Even if a shopper really wants to purchase your product, if they are at all worried about the security of the transaction they are about to initiate, they are likely to abandon their cart. Reassuring about security is usually a quick and easy fix that pays off big time.

As the holiday shopping season builds into full swing in the next couple of weeks, watch your rate of shopping cart abandonment, make whatever changes you can to attempt to decrease it, and take notes for how to change your system in the upcoming weeks so that by next holiday season, you will have tightened up your purchase process to limit the incidence of shopping cart abandonment.

About the Author

Frances Krug has worked in market research since graduating from UCLA with an MA and CPhil in Latin American history. As an editor and online content provider for the last 7 years, she currently is Associate Editor at iNET Interactive, where she also directs Search Marketing Standard's email marketing program.

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  1. I'll abandon shopping carts when I have to check with someone to double check that I have the right version, etc.