The Upside to Shopping Cart Abandonment

the purchase, she would probably be interested in receiving either a) a reminder of the items in the cart, or b) an email promoting items similar to those left in her cart. This is an opportunity to keep courting your "almost customer."

3. Smart Rule Magic

Smart rules are emails you set to automatically fire in the event of shopping cart abandonment, and they differ by buyer history. They improve upon the strategy discussed above.

New buyers and return buyers are not cut from the same cloth. New buyers are checking you out, testing the waters, and deciding whether you can be trusted with credit card information. Return buyers had such a great time on the first date that they are back for more. Your automatic emails need to treat them accordingly. After 24 hours of abandonment, send new customers a reminder with a coupon code or free shipping to entice them to finish that purchase. For return customers, you may want to set a simple reminder that fires 24 hours after they leave something in their shopping cart. (I'm not saying you shouldn't reward return customers; there are just better ways and times to do that.)

4. Sun Tzu Your Customer Base—Part 1

The ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu's mantra, "Know your enemy and know yourself," is awesome for e-commerce if you a) categorize customers down to their lifetime value, and b) don't plan on invading their kingdom.

Go beyond age and gender: How much will it cost to get a new customer and retain that customer over the span of time in which that person will be a customer? Find patterns in gross margins per customer, profit margins per customer, average customer lifetime, and customer repurchase rates. What traits do customers who remain loyal for a long time and buy frequently share? How early in the customer lifetime can you detect a great customer?

5. Sun Tzu—Part 2

After customer lifetime value, the second most important trait you can segment is "product affinity" or, in layman's terms, "what people like." Product affinity starts by merchandising and categorizing products based on shared characteristics and using those characteristics to upsell or cross-sell other products.

For instance, I might conclude that people who like discounted smartphone cables would also like discounted ear buds. They're interested in achieving convenience—they want one charger cord and pair of buds at home, one of each in the office, and a third pair of buds with their gym gear. If I see cords and buds appearing in carts together, I may choose to upsell buds, because their quality and style are of great importance to buyers, whereas any cable is fine as long as it works. By knowing my product offering and my customer, I can win more e-commerce battles.

When you add up analytics, courtship, smart rules, and better segmenting, you get a strategy for turning shopping cart abandonment into opportunity. Also, you get a strategy for turning shopping cart analytics into intelligence for customer segmentation and product affinity.

The basic analytics and auto-emails boost your conversion rates. The heavier customer "Sun Tzuing" improves the way you predict marketing ROI, design your Web site, and merchandise. Thus, the value of fighting shopping cart abandonment is not just wrangling back parents who abandoned their cart to handle a Big Wheel crash. The real value comes when you turn shopping cart abandonment into a laboratory for major e-commerce decisions and strategies.

Deeon Brown is brand and communications manager at Daily Steals.

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