Recovering the abandoned digital basket
on January 24, 2015
Digital marketing expert Steve Denner examines how retailers can offer positive online store experiences, particularly at check-out
Consumer purchasing behaviour has been transformed by digital and mobile technologies. A retailer’s relationship with its customers is now built upon creating a seamless customer experience that translates from in-store to online, and across multiple channels and devices.
“Attempting to recreate positive in-store customer experiences online, via their website or social media channels, can be extremely difficult for brands,” explained Steve Denner, co-founder and director of Adestra. “Marks & Spencer discovered this problem in 2014 after re-launching its website. The high street retailer suffered an 8.1% drop in online sales.”
The importance of web design
Denner quoted Ed Beard, head of creative strategy at digital agency DigitasLBi, who recently told another industry publication that the problem lies in the format and design of the website.
When you go onto the M&S site you are not quite sure if it is a magazine or somewhere to buy a shirt,” said Beard, who compared this to John Lewis’s site, where the ecommerce focus guarantees customers are led to the product and, when appropriate, clearance sales rather than editorial content.
Furthermore, Beard suggested that M&S overcomplicated the shopping experience and created an unfamiliar digital environment. For example, by replacing the ‘add to basket’ option with ‘Your bag’, the retailer simply confused customers.
Customer basket challenge
Denner noted that one of the main challenges for all retailers, including M&S, surrounds the customer basket. “It is far more difficult for a brand to offer a customer the same level of support and assistance needed to make them return to an abandoned basket online, as it is in a bricks and mortar store,” he said.
“Some retailers will hold items for a short period of time, and then use an automated marketing tool to send an email to customers reminding them that their basket is still waiting for them.”
Following up abandoned journeys
Recent research conducted by Adestra revealed that almost three quarters (73%) of companies say an abandoned customer basket in the digital world wouldn’t trigger an automated email being sent to the prospective customer.
“Brands should implement a comprehensive set of triggers to react to a range of customer actions and entice customers into a sale, with the ultimate aim of improving conversion rates,” said Denner, who said timing was everything when it comes to salvaging a sale so thorough testing needs to be done in this area.
“If brands send a prospective customer an email immediately after they abandon their basket for example, they may end up aggravating them, pushing them further away from a purchase.”
Equally, brands should not wait too long as their prospective customer may purchase the product from a competitor, warned Denner, who felt that typically, somewhere between three and 24 hours was the ideal time to follow up with customers.
In terms of what to include in the email, Denner recommended the following points as a good guideline:
- Include a brief description or picture of the products that the recipient has in their basket in the email creative, reminding them of what they wanted to purchase
- Keep it simple and concise: avoid cluttering the email by including other messages alongside those that focus on the abandoned basket
- Place a strong, clear call to action within the email, e.g. “Return to your basket here”, or “Did you forget something?”
- Reinforce your brand values: why should they buy the product from you rather than a competitor?
- Offer the recipient help and assistance in order to complete their transaction by including a phone number they can call in case they are having problems or have a question they wish to ask
Denner noted that before generating an email to a customer about an abandoned basket, marketers needed to understand the consumer’s entire journey. “Mapping out customer footprints can provide valuable insight that will help encourage them to return to their abandoned basket,” he explained. “There is also the option of offering an incentive in the email, although this tactic should not be employed every time as customers will become savvy to it.
“Translating the in-store shopping experience online will help marketers to improve conversion rates and create a more compelling customer experience that reduces the volume of abandoned customer baskets and, crucially, improves conversion rates across all channels,” concluded Denner.
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