Retailers are likely to see higher than average basket/cart abandonment rates this Christmas, thanks to the volume of traffic. But what can be done about it?

This article by Linda Bustos from the Get Elastic blog has a couple of useful tips. I’ve summarised them here, and added a few myself…

As several surveys have shown, the reasons for shopping basket abandonment are varied, and not all can be controlled, but retailers can do what they can do deal with the rest.

Linda suggests that, since many customers are simply comparison shopping, and will fill baskets with a mind to possibly returning later, so e-commerce sites need to facilitate this customer behaviour.

Supporting these shoppers by extending cookies to 30 days so that customers who return to the site after a week or two will find the contents still there, and this will give you a better chance of converting them.

Linda also suggests tracking days to purchase and visits to purchase via analytics, in order to learn from and adapt to patterns of customer behaviour.

Here are a few other tips to reduce basket abandonment:

  • Avoid any last minute surprises. Delivery charges and options should be made clear on product pages and elsewhere on the site so customers are aware of this before adding items to their basket.

  • Offer alternative payment methods. Some surveys have shown that customers have ditched baskets as the payment method they want was not on offer. Offering options like PayPal, Google Checkout and even cash will cover as many bases as possible.
  • Add a contact number. If a customer has
    just added an item to their basket, they may have one or two
    questions they need answering before they commit themselves. A prominent contact number or live chat option will allow them to quickly contact customer services with any queries,
    and may help to complete the sale.

  • Allow for easy comparison shopping. If shoppers want to add items to baskets then return later, then, as well as longer cookies, providing save basket options or to create wishlists without a lengthy registration process is another way to do it.
  • Provide all the information on the basket page. Providing an excellent shopping basket page which answers customers’ questions about charges, returns policies etc, and reassures them about server security will do a lot to reduce abandonment. New Look’s basket page is a good example of how to do it.

  • Offer multichannel alternatives. A recent PayPal abandonment study found that 26% wanted to shop offline, and were probably just researching online first. Retailers with an offline presence can make the most of this customer behaviour by offering collect in store services, pointing them towards their local store,
    and allowing customers to check inventory levels to save wasted
  • Email customers to entice them back. Provided you have the customer’s email address, then following up abandoned baskets with an email to tempt them back to the site is one possible tactic. especially if you have a discount or some other incentive to offer. Retailers should be careful about the wording and timing of the message though, as some customers may find this tactic intrusive.