The Upside to Shopping Cart Abandonment

On e-commerce sites, the shopping cart is usually the page that looks good from far, but is far from good. There is a misconception in e-commerce that once a consumer gets to the checkout page, the retailer has won. This could not be further from the truth. In many cases, people abandon the shopping cart for reasons that are way beyond our control.

A young father shopping for Beats headphones from his iPad is going to forget all about them when his toddler goes careening across the living room on his Big Wheel and into Daddy's flat-screen TV. A college kid on the bus, debating whether to pull the trigger on a butterfly knife bottle opener, will abandon his cart if he loses his connection.

In more cases than we can imagine, random chance, tech failures, and Big Wheel crashes are the real causes of abandonment. A 2013 study by Jumio found that retailers lost $16 billion because 47 percent of shoppers abandoned mobile purchases. A Harris poll found that 57 percent of mobile shoppers never followed up on a computer. Things happen, especially on mobile.

Whatever the reason for their abandonment, what's key is bringing shoppers back to their shopping carts after they've been lured away. And one way to do that is by using shopping cart analytics to redefine how you segment your customers and ultimately run your business. Between believing shopping cart abandonment stinks and viewing it as a gift from the gods, there are five steps:

1. Geek Out on Analytics

Using such tools as Google Analytics, MixPanel, and Janrain, consider these three phases: Add to Cart, Check Out, and Order Complete. The basic questions are: How many people abandon at each part of the checkout process? What platform are they using (iOS, Android, Google Chrome, etc.)? Also, look at how people pay for your goods. Does your site get a higher order completion rate with credit cards or PayPal? If it's the latter, your UI wizards need to redesign your checkout page to prioritize PayPal. This ground-level analytics check should lead to some UI changes.

2. Court Your "Almost Customers"

Now that your analysis has helped you understand patterns such as average peak shopping times, time spent on site, mobile versus desktop shopping, and payment types, you can create behavioral emails based on actions the users did or did not perform. For example, if a customer viewed her shopping cart three or more times within a 48-hour period and did not complete 

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