It has been a personal quest of mine for some time to understand online buyer behavior. On average, 71% of shopping carts are abandoned without a purchase. But, what are the unique predictive factors that determine the likelihood of an abandoner becoming a buyer?
Research has told us why visitors say they abandon. For example, Forrester Research asked almost 3,000 people why they abandon, and the top five reasons can be grouped into price and timing objections. But there is another way of looking at the reasons behind abandonment: not what they say, but what they do.
We analyzed the behavior of more than 600,000 people and a quarter of a million online transactions to understand what people actually do when they buy, and in particular, their behavior when they abandon.
Surprising truths emerged…
Conventional wisdom suggests that website conversion is good, and abandonment is bad. Yet, the first major conclusion of this research is that not all shopping cart abandonment is bad. In fact, shopping cart abandonment is an important part of the normal buying cycle for many customers, and for many types of purchase.
You would be right to conclude from this that abandonment, rather than being a rejection of the brand’s value proposition, can be a step in the decision process for some buyers and for some purchases. We generally expect that higher value shopping carts are abandoned more frequently as customers naturally take longer to consider their purchases. This data supports how some customers will come back multiple times as they consider the purchase, storing items in their shopping carts as ‘wish lists.’
The research also exposes some major exceptions to the buying pattern. For example, abandonment rates are very high for lower value purchases, in which the cost of shipping is disproportionately high. Equally, as the value of the cart approaches $100, the abandonment rate shoots up. So, it should come as no surprise that Macy’s has recently introduced a flat $99 free shipping rate across its site to combat this phenomenon.
What this data really says is that we need to rethink the way they view abandonment. For many customers, abandonment is part of the normal purchase cycle. This is not restricted only to new customers, but applies across the board, including a site’s most loyal repeat buyers.
We also need to consider how to support buyers during their consideration cycle. Getting visitors back to the site dramatically increases the chances of closing a sale. This explains why email re-marketing works so well. Rather than looking at customers as lost when their sessions end, remarketing can continue the dialog with the customer and keep them engaged as they go through their consideration process.
About the Author
Charles Nicholls is a seasoned entrepreneur and software executive specialising in eCommerce, marketing and digital and social media spaces. He founded real time analytics company SeeWhy, and took it from concept, which he patented, through to profitability, deployment on more than 4,000 eCommerce sites globally, and through to its subsequent acquisition by SAP in June 2014. Serving as first as CEO then as Chief Strategy Officer, Charles provides an unusual blend of start-up savvy, technical vision and commercial expertise coupled with thought leadership.
Following the acquisition of SeeWhy by SAP, Charles served first as SVP for Product Strategy at SAP Hybris for marketing, customer data and customer experience product families. In October 2016 he was appointed to lead the YaaS (Hybris as a Service) business unit to drive the next generation of technology platform and applications.
Prior to SeeWhy Charles served as an executive officer of HNC Inc (acquired by FairIsaac in 2002) and on the executive committee of Business Objects (acquired by SAP in 2007).