Efforts to “save the sale” when a shopper became disgruntled or disinterested used to be something of a standard. However, it seems the digital age has done more than disrupt the channels shoppers use to make their purchases. Online shopping cart abandonment rates have hit 60% across the web, representing 74% of all retail shoppers. It’s still a problem in-store as well; when an interaction with a shopper became negative, only 7% of store associates will even try saving the sale.
This post takes a look at why shoppers abandon carts, some retailer roadblocks, and the technology you should be using, with an emphasis on online retail technology.
Online Shopper Challenges
The reasons behind why shoppers leave their online carts are relatively straightforward. Sometimes, it’s simply because they decided to make the purchase in-store (15% of abandoned carts). Other times, it may be because they aren’t actually at the point of decision — 17% leave because they aren’t ready to buy, while 34% are “just looking” and 18% are comparing prices. It may be as simple as getting distracted — after all, 30% of ecommerce sales take place on a mobile device, and if a shopper is on the go, there could be any number of reasons they have to set the potential purchase aside and subsequently forget about it.
On top of that is site performance (especially for mobile devices); roughly 4% of online shopping is interrupted by technical issues. More often, it’s standard performance; if the site takes too long to load, the shopper isn’t likely to wait around to see if it’s going to work. Unfortunately, there are a lot more about the shopper experience that will make an impact:
- Registration: 22% of shoppers will abandon their cart because they’re required to make an account with the site. Sometimes this is due to the fact that they’re not comfortable sharing their personal information, or they’re not confident that their information will be secure. Other times, it’s as simple as the fact that it was an impulse purchase, perhaps due to an effective ad they were served, and having to register is the equivalent of seeing too many long lines moving too slowly at an in-store register.
- Navigation/Checkout process: If the navigation of your store is too complicated, shoppers aren’t even going to make it to your checkout page — it simply isn’t worth the hassle. However, once they’re ready to check out, 9% will abandon their cart because the checkout process itself is too long or convoluted.
- Shipping: 23% will abandon carts because they had an issue with shipping (including the amount of time to ship, for instance, a lack of expedited shipping), while 25% will abandon because the cost of shipping is too high. Some may be doing so because the value of the order wasn’t high enough to qualify for free shipping.
- Payment: Personal data in general isn’t the only thing that may hold up an online purchase — 15% of carts are abandoned specifically due to payment security doubts. Another 6% are abandoned due to a lack of preferred payment options.
- International shoppers: How much of an impact this has will vary from store to store, but online stores are available to the internet at large. You may attract shoppers from other countries, but don’t make it clear that your shop can’t support international orders until they’ve already started the process of adding items to their cart.
Online Retailer Challenges
On the retailer end, it really comes down to two things, technology and management. “Omnichannel” refers to a lot more than just a combination of marketing channels because shoppers are differentiating between the online shopping experience and the in-store shopping experience less and less. Retailers haven’t developed the processes to keep up.
The Digital Shelf
A “digital shelf” is all the digital places where a brand’s products are up for display and shoppers can click to buy. For retailers, that means their online store, which could include stock that’s on the physical shelf as well as provide an “endless aisle,” or the ability to provide stock online that isn’t available in-store. Unfortunately, there are two problems. Nearly half of businesses don’t think they have the technology in place to leverage these toward saving a sale. Sometimes, even when they do, the technology is so outdated or cumbersome that it becomes an obstacle rather than a tool, and undermines the opportunity for an associate to save the sale. With 93% of shoppers researching on mobile going on to make a purchase of a product or a service, an updated, technologically-advanced digital shelf could have a positive impact on sales results. Second, 29% of retailers won’t or can’t trust the technology they do have in place to accurately reflect the status of their inventory in warehouses or across multiple locations.
It’s not enough to simply have the tools in place, or for upper management or corporate leadership to have a driving interest in saving the sale. It needs to be a part of training — all associates should be educated on the technology they’re using and its capabilities, as well as how to use it. What’s more, saving the sale needs to be actively encouraged. An unfortunate 40% of retailers believe that shoppers don’t want to save the sale actions as a part of their shopper experience. Perhaps this is due to shopper disillusionment with the traditional sales pitch, but retailers should understand that it’s not about pushing a sale at uninterested shoppers, it’s about improving the experience and providing ultimate value to shoppers interested in making a purchase only moments before.
Retail Technology to Handle These Issues
While some changes might come from how retail employees and management approach saving a sale, there’s technology available to help make that process easier. In fact, depending on how recently certain equipment or other areas have been updated, the technology may already be in place in stores.
Order Management Systems
An order management system (OMS) is the digital process used to track inventory levels, especially for online sales. It should be fully integrated with overall inventory tracking, and provides the ability to track labels, invoices, and actual shipments. It offers insight into stock levels in a particular store, other stores, and in distribution centers for online shoppers. This helps ensure a smooth experience because it streamlines the shipping process, and what’s more, it helps identify stock levels in real time with better accuracy. When a shopper heads to an ecommerce site and can see that only a few more items are left in stock, or that they can make a click-and-collect order for a particular location, that’s the OMS at work.
Retail Associate Platform
This platform is a software tool — either on terminals and kiosks or on mobile devices that associates can carry with them throughout the store — which gives an employee access to the OMS and inventory, and thus the endless aisle at all times, along with associated information about products and product look-books, and even direct access to management or other support staff. It allows them to easily find an answer for any questions shoppers have, identify whether specific stock is available in-store (e.g., a particular size or color shirt that’s not on the shelf), or even to order stock for pickup at another location or for delivery to someone’s house, right from wherever they are in the store. It could also be leveraged to identify loyalty members to provide a personalized experience or customized recommendations for other products that are in-store. Of the retailers that have save the sale technologies in place, 57% use a retail associate platform.
As another in-store solution, 49% of retailers leverage their POS as technology to save a sale. It can leverage the same technology as the retail associate platform in terms of accessing inventory data and placing orders. Shoppers are also more likely to trust making a payment for their purchase-to-pick-up at another location or purchase-for-delivery at a POS station. Depending on the system utilized, the POS station could even help leverage the content of abandoned carts to enhance the checkout experience and ensure they receive everything they were looking for.
Dedicated Shopper Support
Ecommerce is available 24/7, and the speed at which shoppers expect to receive shopper support is getting faster. Dedicated support ensures that support representatives can focus just on solving shopper issues. It could include live chat assistance on the online store itself, so whenever a person runs into a problem (e.g., becoming confused by the checkout process, technical difficulties, or not finding the product they want, etc.), it takes no effort at all to reach out for assistance.
Retargeting is the advertising tactic of reaching out to a shopper that’s recently been to your online store. (Or, if beacon technology is tied to loyalty programs, it could even be applied to people that came into a store but didn’t make a purchase.) Thanks to underlying technology that identifies shoppers across online locations, programmatic advertising can be served to help remind them about your brand, the products that were in their cart, or related products. Similarly, automated emails can be generated for shoppers who are signed in to an account, but abandon their cart; this also provides the opportunity to offer incentives to make a purchase when it’s appropriate.
When it comes down to it, shoppers have good reasons to abandon their carts, but retailers don’t have a lot of great reasons to not save the sale. The retail technology needed to do so is probably already in place in-store or will be soon, which makes it a matter of perspective, management, and dedication. These in-store technologies go hand in hand with online retail technology and tactics, giving businesses clear insights into their digital shelf and flexible options for reaching shoppers where they’re at in their journey.