Practical Ecommerce

Conversion Tip: Understand Why Visitors Abandon Purchases

We continue our series of conversion tips from Charles Nicholls, founder and CEO of SeeWhy, a conversion and cart-abandonment-recovery firm. For this tip, Nicholls addresses the two main causes of abandoned purchases and what they mean to ecommerce merchants.

Charles Nicholls

Charles Nicholls

Charles Nicholls: “A new Forrester study reveals that the top reason why customers abandon shopping carts is the cost of shipping and handling. This is not a surprise. It has been the top reason for years, and it is unlikely
to change unless free shipping becomes widespread. When you consider the
top five reasons why visitors abandon shopping carts together, two
common causes emerge: (1) price (shipping and handling, looking for a
better deal) or (2) because the visitor is not yet ready to buy.

“Understanding this is important when you look at your conversion
numbers. Offering promotions to customers is effective in both
converting price sensitive customers and encouraging those not
quite ready to buy. But because promotions are effective, they can have
a big impact on conversion numbers, and you need to be very aware of
this when looking at any volatility in your website conversion rate.”

Charles Nicholls

Charles Nicholls

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  1. Elizabeth Ball August 20, 2010 Reply

    Is cart abandonment classified as never receiving the sale – or that the purchase is not finalised in one process?
    I would be very interested in knowing the rates of abandonment recovery ie by contacting a customer regarding an abandoned sale with a triggered email, the etailer can recover the sale.
    If "not ready" segment is the second-largest cart abandonment reason, surely it is throwing money away to offer a promotion if the customer abandons it temporarily as they have to return again with the recipient’s colour, size, birth details or other personalisation elements to complete the sale?

  2. mikeatsky August 24, 2010 Reply

    @ Elizabeth: Great observation, though It may not be a complete waste of money. If you offer a discount code and promote it properly it could lead to a bigger sale – if it’s gifting season mention ‘something for all, even yourself’ and they could buy more.

    I’d think that maybe using different triggers then send emails timed differently for each case… for those that bounce quickly, send right away with an offer. Those that browse the pages, and maybe even add to cart can wait to see if they return in a day or two, and if not then send a discount code.