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What Is Cart Abandonment? (And How You Can Avoid It)

how to avoid cart abandonment for your business
Rodney Laws
Editor at Ecommerce Platforms
Anyone who’s worked in sales knows the frustration of losing a deal that seemed like a lock until the last second. You welcome someone, establish a rapport, discover their needs and desires, cater your pitch accordingly, and devise counters to their inevitable doubts and objections — but just when they’re about to sign on the dotted line, they change their mind.

Thankfully, though, it isn’t particularly common — and the biggest reason for this is the commitment required to visit a store and talk through a possible buy for an extended period. Just as you don’t want to waste the time you’ve put into your pitch, the visitor doesn’t want to leave empty-handed and look back on a mostly-pointless excursion.

But this isn’t the case online. It takes minutes, or even seconds, to reach a website, add some items to your cart, and visit the checkout — so if you find a reason to think again, there isn’t much of a sunk cost to contemplate. There’s nothing holding you back from moving on.

This is the main reason why cart abandonment is such a concern. Cart abandonment involves prospective customers putting items in their carts but leaving without purchasing them, and it’s a tremendous inconvenience to online retailers. So if you’re running such an operation, what can you do to minimize its impact? Let’s look at a few key tactics to avoid cart abandonment. 

Provide More Shipping and Payment Options

The final step of the e-commerce process can be the most complicated, shopper need to make some vital decisions about how they want to pay and where (and when) they want the package to be delivered. The harder you make this, and the fewer worthwhile options you provide, the more time they’ll have to think — which will work against you.

This is why you need to improve your array of options. If you’re not already allowing customers to arrange in-store pickup, for instance, or you’ve been shying away from supporting PayPal, this is the best chance you’ll get to change.

Remember that faster shipping isn’t always the goal, though. Sometimes shoppers want slower shipping, preferring to select specific days down the line instead of dealing with the uncertainty of priority postage. You can even provide an option to defer payment, making it possible for people with inadequate funds to place orders in anticipation of having them later.

Lean on Trials and/or Introductory Deals

Using a subscription-based billing system (ideally with a subscription management platform to reduce the complexity) has become so popular in recent years for various reasons, and one of the biggest is that it greatly lessens the immediate burden of a conversion. Not only are the costs spread out over the months instead of being concentrated upfront, but buyers can also take advantage of a powerful prospect: that of the free trial.

If you provide a service of some sort, then you can offer a trial, whether it's a free month of subscription or a one-off consultation. This can all but do away with cart abandonment by eliminating the cost of proceeding: the charge is deferred, pushed back so the buyer can choose to return to cancel it if they're not suitably swayed.

If you sell products then you'll have a tougher time, but you can still lean on introductory deals by offering compelling discounts to push new buyers over the line. Giving each new customer a 10% reduction will help substantially, and you can mitigate the impact of people repeatedly creating new accounts to take advantage of this by implementing a strong customer loyalty program that rewards anyone who's placed numerous orders through a single account.

Optimize the Cohesion of Your Funnel

Consider everything that goes into bringing a prospect to the cusp of conversion. The brand introduction is courtesy of a display advertisement, a committed SEO campaign, or a costly influencer deal. The impactful pitch stems from finely-honed copy and a well-designed website. The value proposition is honed through extensive research, development, and competitor comparison. So many points add up to push the shopper ahead.

Contrary to popular assumption, these things don't suddenly become immaterial at the checkout stage. They all factor into the final decision, with the shopper thinking back on everything in an effort to determine their willingness to pay. It's possible for them to reconsider their view in hindsight, wondering if maybe the pitch copy wasn't quite as airtight as they first thought.

Due to this, being able to push leads isn't enough to inspire confidence in your funnel. It needs to be able to push conversions. So if you're seeing many shoppers abandon their carts, you may want to put some time into assessing the entirety of your sales funnel, aiming to make it as cohesive and polished as you can. This should significantly help your fortunes.
Wrapping up, then, there are three key things you can do to avoid cart abandonment. You can bolster your array of customer options, implement initial deals to lower the risk of converting, and polish your entire sales funnel to make it more compelling. If you can do all of these things alongside setting up abandoned cart emails to target the people you don’t manage to convince at first, you should see some major improvements.
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