Why shoppers abandon their baskets (and how to get them back)

The next time you’re shopping in the supermarket and your basket is practically overflowing, put the basket down on the ground and leave the shop. Walk right out and don’t look back. Abandoned the basket!

Sounds odd, doesn’t it? As functioning members of society it’s not behaviour that we deploy in the real world, yet the internet provides us with the freedom and anonymity to do just that. All it takes is a single click of a button to put an item in our online basket, not the time and effort of going to a shop, walking around, carrying the items up to a till and handing cash or card to the employee.

We’re perfectly within our rights to do it online. There is no poor staff member who has to trudge around putting iteabms back in place when you abandon your basket.
Some 68 per cent of all online shoppers abandon baskets regularly, but why?

They get distracted

If an (almost) customer’s takeaway food gets delivered or a friend knocks on the door just as that person is nearing your online checkout, there’s not a lot you can do immediately regarding the abandoned basket. Except, that is, hope they come back afterwards and carry on with the buying process. Likewise, if shopping on your site has taken them longer than they expected and they now have to pop out and leave their laptop, the items will still be there when they return. 27 per cent of basket abandoners leave due to time restraints. For now, wait and hope.

They get distracted because your website takes too long to load

OK, now there might be a problem. A whopping 47 per cent of online shoppers will abandon a basket if web pages don’t load in under two seconds. If customers get frustrated with your company before they’ve even added all the items they want to their basket, chances are they’re going to head somewhere else to buy. See what you can do to prevent page buffering and other technical issues.

The postage and packaging cost is too high (and hidden away until the end)

If someone is adding your items to their basket, that usually means they want them. Why, then, some businesses choose to keep their postage costs hidden until the very end of the transaction is beyond us. Ensure all costs are transparent and accounted for in the basket total price prior to the checkout stage. Some 44 per cent of online shoppers ditch their baskets if the postage price is too high, so keep the costs down as low as you can. Often the reason people are purchasing online instead of on the high street is because of the cheaper prices. For less money they’re happy to wait a week to receive their purchase, but don’t push your luck.

The payment process is confusing

Would an elderly relative be able to understand the checkout process on your website? If not, it’s probably too complicated. Too many pages, overcomplicated forms and reams of requests for personal details can turn people off, so ensure that each step flows into the next and that the pages have design continuity. It should go without saying that if you haven’t provided enough information about the products when a shopper reviews their basket, then you can wave goodbye to that customer as they head to another site that tells them what they need to know.

They’ve gone coupon hunting

It’s likely that every week you’ll receive emails offering you 20 per cent off here and 15 per cent off there, all for a limited time only. Countless online retailers now have coupon and voucher codes hidden somewhere online and customers will go to great lengths to find them. If they’ve temporarily abandoned their basket to go coupon hunting, chances are they’ll only come back if they find one.

The total cost is more than they’re willing to spend (right now)

We all like to go into shops and look at things we can’t afford, but there’s always a chance that we’ll return after payday and treat ourselves. It’s even simpler for us to do it online, but when we reach the checkout stage we could realised we’ve bitten off a little more than we’re currently able to chew. It doesn’t mean that we no longer want the items we’ve selected – it might just cost more than we’re willing to part with right now. Sorry basket – see you again when the wallet is a little heavier.

It’s one thing to know why new and existing customers are abandoning their baskets; it’s another thing to have the know-how to bring them back. After all, the average online conversion rate for retailers is just three per cent, yet 55 per cent of shoppers spend more than they were previously going to when remarketing is in place.

So with this in mind, how can you get people to return?

Trigger emails

In the case of existing customers, or those from whom you’ve managed to capture an email address before they abandoned their basket, a series of personalised emails can be incredibly effective. According to Salecycle, nearly half of all basket abandonment emails are opened (46 per cent), an eighth are clicked (13.3 per cent) and more than a third of clicks lead to a purchase back on site (35.3 per cent).

There’s no need for immediate contact – it could come across as desperate – but after 20 minutes or so you could trigger an email simply offering customer support. Perhaps they wanted to carry out the purchase but a technical issue held them back.

A second email a day later simply promoting your company is likely to jog some memories and inspire action. Lastly, a third and final email a week later can inform customers that it’s their last chance to buy the items before their basket is cleared.

Always use clear subject lines for your emails so that the recipients know straight away why your email is in their inbox, and ensure you have a nice and clear call-to-action to help guide them back to your website.

Offer a discount

Adding a discount code to one of your trigger emails will always sweeten the deal. It will take care of two of the reasons people abandon their baskets on our list (they’ve gone coupon hunting or the total cost is more than they’re willing to spend) in one fell swoop.

Be personal

If you’ve managed to collect details from a customer, here’s your chance to use them. Your emails should be personalised in the obvious ways anyway (first name etc.) but now you can go the extra mile. Include details about the products in their baskets – stock availability or the returns policy for example – or even suggest other products that they might like instead.

Basket abandonment should never be the end of your relationship with a customer. In many cases it’s just the first step to conversion.