Thursday, March 15, 2012

Why I Don't Like Shopping Cart Abandonment Programs

I recently attended an online marketing conference where the "hot topic" was shopping cart abandonment email programs. Every vendor was giving the crowd their spiel about how it can save so much money and get lost customers back. I think getting "lost" customers back is the wrong idea, how about not letting them get away in the first place!

Shopping cart abandonment email programs typically REQUIRE that customers enter their email address before they can enter the checkout process or before they can see the total price with shipping/tax. Most shopping cart abandonment companies assume you do things this way, so all the "incremental lift" stats they provide are based on this system. (It is possible to send out abandonment emails with collecting email addresses. If your customer tracking is setup correctly you can match IP addresses to customers subscribed to your marketing emails)

What if your shopping cart wasn't based on this system? Would the conversion rate be higher if the barriers to entering the checkout process were taken out of the equation? What if customers could add product to the cart and see the shipping/tax before they were forced to enter their email address. Would increasing this base conversion rate be more cost effective than sending out discounts to customers who left, some of whom would have came back anyways?

The shopping cart abandonment "experts" would tell you this is the wrong way to do things. They would say the barriers are small and that the loss of email signups and customer information would hurt you, that customers wouldn't have enough "skin in the game" once they got in the shopping cart.

Maybe they'd be right, but to me it seems backwards.

In a sense you're rewarding customers for leaving your site. Why not make entering the email address optional and give some of the customers who provide their data upfront a small discount before they buy? Then they'll be less likely to abandon in the first place.

I guess it just feels like a band-aid solution.

The number one reason why people abandon shopping carts is because of high shipping prices. Why not work on that first? How much would the conversion rate go up if the shipping was cheaper? Would it be more profitable to eat more of the shipping than send out abandonment emails to customers who may come back anyways?

I'm not saying that all shopping cart abandonment programs are bad. I'm simply saying tat the root causes of abandonment should be addressed first.

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