Why do people abandon their carts?

Forrester Research reports that on average only 3% of shoppers make a purchase during their first visit to an online store. Of the remaining 97%, 71% place an item in their shopping cart but end up abandoning. So what are the top reasons they’re hesitant to buy?

Source: Forrester Research, May 2010

Price and timing are the leading factors for cart abandonment.

While typical conversion optimization practices such as testing different versions of carts, testing checkout flows, being upfront with shipping details, and reducing anxiety by signaling trust can increase conversions, these practices won’t address the biggest causes of abandonment.

Fortunately, display retargeting can help address customer concerns over price and message them when they are ready to buy.

How to setup a shopping cart abandonment retargeting campaign

Segment shopping cart abandoners

You can launch a shopping cart abandonment campaign by creating a segment of visitors that visit your shopping cart page or interact with your shopping cart, and then filtering out visitors who have already converted. What you’re left with is a segment of visitors who added something to their cart, but did not complete their purchase.

Determine how long to target cart abandoners

Customers think about and comparison shop different products for different amounts of time. Customers make considerations around buying products with a bigger price tag (e.g, furniture, electronics, etc) for a longer time than lower price per unit products (e.g, apparel, cosmetics, etc).

You should be trying to reach potential customers as soon as they abandon, but the length of time you should target abandoners should be determined by how long the typical sale and consideration cycle takes for your customers. You can get some idea of this timing from a days to purchase report in Google Analytics.

The report below shows a longer purchase consideration cycle with almost 12% of sales happening 60 days after the first visit.

Test what creative to show cart abandoners

Static creative vs personalized creative
AdRoll often sees great results from retargeting campaigns with static branded ads but personalized creative can also be very effective. Sometimes all it takes to push someone over the edge and make a purchase is to remind them of the great merchandise they were previously interested in purchasing. Using dynamic creatives, you can remind abandoners of products at a later stage in their decision making process.

Use a promotional offer to increase conversions

Shipping promotions
In 2011, data from Shop.org’s The State of Retailing Online indicated that 77% of consumers said free shipping would encourage them to purchase more products online. In comparison, 56% cited free returns as the second most popular feature. Highlighting offers such as free shipping and returns in your retargeting ads can often be the extra push needed for abandoners to convert.

Customers love a deal and offering a discount is the easiest way to address concerns customers have over the cost of merchandise.

Use a multi-stage retargeting campaign

You don’t want to encourage shoppers to abandon their carts just to receive promotional offers and discounts, so if you plan on using promotional retargeting to help convert customers, you should use a multi-stage retargeting campaign to maximize profit.

This means showing a less promotional message to visitors who abandon throughout most of their purchase consideration, and then getting more aggressive with your offer at a point in time when you think it is the only way to capture the remaining abandoners.

Below is an example of a multi-stage campaign: