Online Retailers Trying Different Tactics to Coax Customers Back

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Findings from the e‑tailing group "Annual Merchant Survey" and the "14th Annual Mystery Shopping Study" reveal a mixed bag of results in regard to cart abandonment tactics as a means of coaxing customers to come back to complete their purchases.

Though shopping cart abandonment rates held steady, and 52% of the surveyed merchants said that a reminder email was sent to customers who abandoned their cart, this runs somewhat contrary to the Mystery Shopping results, showing a slight decline in the number of abandonment emails that were triggered; 20% for 2011 versus 23% for 2010.

The biggest changes in the study occurred at the category level with Food/Gifting and Home/Garden taking big jumps forward while most other categories seemed to scale back their abandonment efforts.

On average, the initial emails were received 5.65 days after leaving merchandise in the cart which is nearly 1 day longer than last year’s 4.96 days. A second reminder email came, on average, five days after the first which is 3.5 days fewer than last year’s 8.4 days. Clearly merchants have come to believe in the importance of immediacy and urgency particularly in reference to this final reminder.

An image of the item left in the cart was displayed in 50% of the emails, a 43% increase from last year where only 35% of the emails included an image and is likely the result of greater HTML sophistication and understanding the importance of visual reminders. However, perhaps due to sensitivity concerns, only 20% personalized their emails with the customer’s name, a 43% decrease from last year.

Some type of incentive to complete the transaction was provided in 20% of the emails. All of the incentives received offered a limited time percentage discount of the items left in the cart. One merchant of note upped the ante on the second by offering a larger discount.

[Source:  "Annual Merchant Survey" and "14th Annual Mystery Shopping Study." e‑tailing Group.  10 Apr. 2012.  Web. 27 Apr. 2012.]