The global retail industry could be losing out on $4 trillion worth of sales by ignoring online shoppers who abandon their basket without making a purchase.

Optilead, which analyses basket abandonment, found that the average UK abandonment rate across all sectors in 76%. But it said that it's not just the abandonment rate that's of concern – it's the low activity by e-commerce sites to drive customer engagement with online customers that they have already paid significant amounts to attract to their online store. Engaging in a timely manner with online visitors that abandon through a multi-channel solution can increase revenue significantly.

Each of the 946 e-commerce sites were tested three times for abandonment – the vital element to this being after items had been selected, and critical details (namely: email, telephone and name) had been submitted on the payment pages. Depending on the sector, relevant products were abandoned for low, average and high value. Tests were also undertaken for call back requests, where the service was provided.

Optilead said it should be alarming for any e-commerce decision maker to read that only 19% of abandons were responded to. Of the 946 companies tested, only 23% responded by email and 1.5% responded by telephone. Only 21 companies responded to all three tests via email and only one company responded to all three tests via phone. No SMS messages were received during this testing despite mobile numbers being provided at the abandonment stage. In all, 709 companies failed to respond at all.

The average response time was six hours and 54 minutes. But with response delays like this, e-commerce sites are missing out on the opportunity to increase revenue by engaging with prospects instantly while they are still in buying mode and - more importantly - before they have gone to a competitor's website.

When testing was conducted for call backs, it was noted that just over 95% didn't even offer the opportunity for a consumer to request a call back – not even during the cart or booking completion stages. Of the 42 that offered a call back, only 26 responses were received with the average response time being 16 minutes.

Marc Pearce, multi-channel marketing manager at Optilead, said “It's clear that the vast majority of e-commerce sites don't have a clear strategy to re-engage with consumers that abandon online or would like assistance during the buying journey. Each of the 946 sites tested by Optilead could make significant gains by engaging with potential customers that abandon online - not only financially, but also by enhancing the customer journey and the brand experience overall.”

He continued “Having a campaign to send out an email following abandonment might satisfy the needs of a marketer looking to show something is being done. But, if time is taken to implement a real-time campaign that truly engages with the end consumer while they are still in ‘buying mode’, before they head off to a competitor, brands will increase sales.”

Applying a real-time multi-channel approach consisting of phone, email & SMS, you can expect to see recovery rates from abandonment of up to 47%. But, more importantly by engaging instantly you will enhance your brand, increase consumer confidence, convert more business and the repeat or referral rates will be exponential.


By Jonathan Davies, editor, Digital Marketing Magazine

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