Basket abandonment is a thorn in the side of all online retailers. Estimated figures on basket abandonment rates can reach as high as 80%, with the average rate reported by the Baymard Institute (BI) being 67.91%. BI predicts that this equates to $4 trillion of sales left abandoned in shopping baskets each year!

If shoppers in brick and mortar stores put their baskets down and walked out of the shop as much as they do online, the high street would need more than Mary Portas to turn its fortunes around.

What this means in real terms for online retailers varies but Forbes offers its own handy equation to help you work out just how much this might be hurting your business:

Average monthly number of checkout visits (estimated) x Average order value (estimated) x .67 (average abandonment rate) = Monthly loss due to shopping cart abandonment.

Ecommerce companies employ a number of strategies to encourage customers to complete their purchase – from gamification that kicks in if the customer tries to leave before buying, to abandonment email marketing campaigns aimed at driving you back to the site.

In truth, it’s impossible to completely eradicate basket abandonment. And of course, some customers only place things in a basket to remind them of what they’ve looked at, with no intention of actually buying. But by improving delivery processes, retailers can do an awful lot to make those abandonment stats look more palatable.

Here are three quick wins:

1) Be crystal clear about delivery

Two of the biggest reasons for basket abandonment are delivery times and costs. Retailers need to be more upfront about both.

A UPS report reveals that 58% of consumers who said they had abandoned a shopping cart did so because of the unacceptable delivery times, or because a delivery date wasn’t given at all. 52% also said they preferred to see the expected arrival date rather than the number of days it would take for the product to arrive.

From a cost perspective, IMRG research showed that 26% of shoppers placed an item in their basket just to check delivery costs. And over half (53%) of the consumers it surveyed cited high delivery costs as being the main reason for their abandoned purchase. The implication of this is that shoppers were only notified about delivery charges at the final point of sale.

This feels underhand and it doesn’t need to be. Retailers that are upfront about charges and delivery times from the outset eliminate any customers who might be put off immediately. Put your delivery policies on your home page and remind customers of them every step of the way. Shoppers who then progress to the checkout are much more likely to complete their purchase.

The Holy Grail for very proactive retailers is to offer real time, dynamic delivery choices. If a customer is logged in or you can ascertain their postcode, you can return delivery choices based on where they are and what time it is. So if you have a postcode in the Highlands, your checkout might not offer next day delivery because it’s not possible. Or, if it’s 7pm and the customer requests next day delivery – you can automatically offer a more realistic delivery date. This approach is also very valuable for increasing the take up of click and collect services, as customers can be shown where their nearest collection point is and how convenient it is for them.

2) More choice = fewer reasons to abandon

Having one or even two standard delivery options simply won’t be enough to tempt the modern consumer. And limiting the amount of options you offer on delivery restricts the number of shoppers you can convert.

Savvy shoppers are heavily influenced in their path to purchase by the delivery options provided. And their requirements vary greatly. Next day delivery, for example, may not always be top of everyone’s list. For some transactions, consumers might prefer to choose longer, but cheaper delivery.

Ultimately, you need to offer a range of choices, incorporating everything from click and collect to nominated day, so shoppers can select what’s most important to them. If your competitor is offering next day delivery on an item your customer needs urgently, they’ll probably leave the product in the basket and go elsewhere.

3) Can you afford to deliver for free?

We all love getting something for nothing but free delivery eats away at a retailer’s margins. If you’re looking to build long term loyalty though it might prove a valuable loss leader for certain product lines or order values.

While many customers will be put off by delivery charges for small and low value items, they may be more than happy to pay higher prices for higher value, international or distress purchases that need to arrive fast. Think about the relationship you have with your customers across a range of transactions rather than just seeing each transaction in isolation. With the right carrier relationships and delivery options in place you might be able to swallow those smaller delivery charges with the reward of repeat purchases, positive reviews and higher order values in the long term.


By Andy Hill, commercial director of Electio.

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