“Ask an Expert” is an occasional feature where we ask ecommerce experts questions from online merchants. For this installment, we address a question about collecting lost customer data from abandoned shopping carts.
The question comes from Jim Richardson, founder and owner of CuddleWorks, a Tigard, Ore.-based stuffed animal and teddy bear retailer.
For the answer, we turn to Josh Pierry. He is CEO and founder of RevenueExpect, a San Mateo, Calif.-based remarketing provider. His company provides services that help merchants contact cart abandoners.
Jim Richardson: “What information can you mine from abandoned shopping carts? The obvious would be product and email address. But are there clues left behind as to why the customer left, such as the shipping rate was too high or the checkout page was too long? And finally, is it appropriate to follow up with the customer via email to try and capture that sale or is this looked upon as spam?”
Josh Pierry: “Let’s start with what information you can mine from abandoned shopping carts: abandoned data, trends over time and, abandon rates by field and form.
“The abandoned data you can mine is varied depending on the form and what a user will enter in. But you can capture any data entered into the form, as well as data not entered into the form. This goes to the next two points. Based on what data is or isn’t entered in can start to provide trend data over time and abandoned rates by field and form.
“This data can be used in number of different ways, including:
- Identify forms that are too long.
- Identify fields that customers have issues with, or never fill out. This is a great way to take out additional fields that are not needed thus optimizing conversions.
- Track conversion trends over time by browser. This helps to see if there are cross browser compatibility issues with new code updates, for example.
“The last issue you bring up is whether or not you can follow up on abandoned data. The short answer is ‘yes, you can follow up.’ The good news is that, in our experience, customers also want to be followed up with, as well.
“When following up with potential customers, we don’t recommend sending a sales or offer email, but rather a customer service email. If a user didn’t complete the transaction, then more than likely there was an issue with the site or they have additional questions. Don’t treat your prospective customers like a cash register, instead treat them like a customer and try to provide superior customer service.”