Courting Customers Through Cart Abandonment: 2013 Mystery Shopping And Merchant Survey Insights

Posted on June 20th, 2013 by

Cart abandonment is always a hot topic as the opportunity to tap into an audience that has expressed interest in making a purchase is an ideal gateway to conversion. The 148 participating retailers in our Annual Merchant Survey made it clear when describing the success of personalization tactics. Triggered shopping cart abandonment emails topped the list of strong performers where 61% of retailers reported that they are very/somewhat successful up 5% from 2012.

In addition to the Merchant Survey, we have continued to monitor triggered emails as a result of abandonment, now in our 6th year. For each of the 100 merchants that are part of our Annual Mystery Shopping Survey, we have added an item to the cart (with a retail value over $62.99) going through the entire checkout process then stopping just before completion and leaving the site. Subsequently we track all email correspondence regarding the items left in the cart, respective strategies, participating merchants and incentives.

Merchant Adoption of Abandonment Practices
One can summarize abandonment strategies as more aggressive year-over-year. Just under 1 in 4 (23%) took advantage of triggered email with all targeting prospects with HTML messages. Knowing that a more personalized experience performs well 61% included the product image while 26% personalized the email salutation. A slight increase in the use of incentives was tested with 26% of retailers hoping to reel in shoppers where offers ranged from free shipping to 20% off. All year-over-year details are summarized below.

1st Abandonment Email e-tailing 100 2012 e-tailing 100 2011 e-tailing 100 2010
% Penetration % Penetration % Penetration
# sites that sent abandonment emails 23% 20% 23%
   HTML 100% 100% 100%
   Image of Item Displayed in E-Mail 61% 50% 35%
   Personalized in Salutation 26% 20% 35%
Average # Days to Receive From Date Shopped 3.70 5.65 4.96

Communication Efforts Continue
A look at retail strategies also finds that of the 23 retailers who sent an initial email just under half (48%) followed up with a second message in hopes of securing the sale. They tended to be more aggressive as 55% now had an incentive included as part of their marketing strategy which was double that of the initial mailing. It’s interesting to note that the average number of days to receive this communication was 7.39 days up from the prior year’s 5.0 days

Policies And Performance
2013 Annual Merchant Survey results based on 148 participating retailers indicate that shopping cart abandonment rates have declined. Dedicated merchant efforts should be credited and for those that know their rates they appear to be evenly split averaging in the 41-50% range.

Findings from our Annual Merchant Survey suggest that we should have received even more triggered email.  A review of questions focused on personalization indicate that triggered shopping cart abandonment emails top the list of tactics that deliver ROI as 61% of retailers reward them as being very/somewhat successful performing above every other noted tactic.

An array of policies is in play for holding merchandise in the cart where category, brand and inventory turn are important factors in establishing one’s policy.

The Tactics
Retailers test a myriad of tactics to communicate with those shoppers abandoning carts where incentives are playing a greater role. We would have expected given these findings that our mystery shopping would have seen higher triggered emails as they once again lead the way as chosen communication techniques.


e-tailing group Abandonment Checklist

  1. Establish a strategy for saving items in the cart
  2. Understand current technology’s ability to trigger abandonment email
  3. Message cart strategy to ensure customers know when and if their cart will be cleared
  4. Include an urgent call to action
  5. Utilize HTML and photos to visually enhance abandonment emails
  6. Review abandonment opportunities from branding to customer service
  7. Include merchandising tactics to foster the customer relationship and encourage purchasing beyond the abandoned item
  8. Provide a link to the abandoned cart and direct to cart links for additional product recommendations
  9. Integrate cross-channel elements and social engagers to elevate the brand
  10. Use promotional incentives to save the sale if important for your brand and strategy

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