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Shopping cart abandonment. It's the bane of many online retailers and for some, accounts for a significant portion of lost potential revenue.
Abandonment Tracker, which will come in two flavors (a free basic version and paid Pro version), gives online retailers the ability to remarket to potential customers who abandon their carts. Remarketing follow-ups can be performed manually or in an automated fashion with the Pro version. This version also offers behavioral targeting, multiple-stage follow-ups and integration with email and CRM systems.
To give retailers remarketing ability, Abandonment Tracker requires the email address of the potential customer. This often isn't difficult to obtain. If the customer has shopped with a retailer before, for instance, and is signed in while shopping, Abandonment Tracker will have all the information it needs.
Taking it a step further, in an interview with The New York Times, Charles Nicholls of SeeWhy stated this his company is willing to implement solutions in which anything a prospective customer types into an email field can be captured, even if the prospective customer never submits it.
Needless to say, something like Abandonment Tracker isn't going to win everyone over. It's a bit invasive to be sure, and many potential customers will be turned off by the prospect of receiving emails about purchases they didn't make for whatever reason. Some may even decide to shop elsewhere after receiving a creepy email referencing a cart they thought they abandoned in complete privacy.
But SeeWhy is undeterred and Nicholls told The New York Times that immediate follow-ups are three times as likely to produce sales as follow-ups that come even a day later. He says that Abandonment Tracker beta testers are "seeing great returns on investment". As he would.
Personally, I have mixed feelings about Abandonment Tracker's approach. On one hand, I don't doubt that aggressive remarketing efforts can produce sales and for some types of retailers, the cost-benefit analysis might be favorable. On the other hand, there's no underestimating the privacy issues aggressive remarketing of this nature create. Retailers should recognize that consumers shop differently online than they do offline and that not every abandoned cart is an invitation to send an email to a prospective customer.
As much as we would like to bring the offline shopping experience online, we shouldn't forget that personal communications online are different from those offline. For instance, email is sacrosanct for many customers and marketing unsolicited marketing emails are perceived by some to be a real invasion of personal space. Unlike offline, where, for example, a floor salesman asking you if you found everything you needed as you exit a store isn't a huge deal.
At the end of the day, there's no panacea for shopping cart abandonment. Usability, pricing, messaging and customer service are just as important to minimizing abandonment.
Photo credit: Dano via Flickr.