Even Top Retailers Leave Money on the Table

By Ross Kramer

iMediaConnection blog post, November 26, 2013

Nearly three-quarters of online carts are abandoned, but top retailers are getting increasingly better at recovering them. When it comes to using simple acquisition tactics to boost reachable rates and using successful online tactics in email to engage customers and further personalize their brand experience, well, not so much.

Every year Listrak shops and abandons the websites of retailers ranked in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide and Second 500 Guide to compile a shopping cart abandonment study. We look at what they’re doing to recover abandoned carts (how many emails, when they’re sending them, how they’re using discounts), and, for the first time this year, we also noted whether or not they’re using modal lightboxes to boost reachable rates and ratings and reviews and product recommendations to enhance customer engagement.

The findings were eye-opening. While we found that, overall, top retailers continue to improve on their use of shopping cart recovery best practices – more are sending retargeting emails, they’re sending them sooner and sending more of them, but waiting to offer discounts until later emails – however, they’re literally leaving money on the table when it comes to maximizing reachable rates and extending the personalized experiences they offer customers online to the emails they send them.

First things first. Obviously, you can’t reach back to cart abandoners unless you have their email addresses, and the single most effective (not to mention simple) way to build your list is by using a modal lightbox or pop-over onsite. Yet, our study actually found that fewer than two out of every 10 top 1000 retailers was using this highly recommended acquisition tactic when we visited their sites.

Equally surprising was that of those retailers who did use modal lightboxes, only four out of every 10 sent us a retargeting email after we abandoned a cart. Even with an email address and the product or products we showed intent to purchase right at their fingertips, they didn’t make the effort to send a single email to try to recover the lost sale.

Then there were ratings and reviews. We’ve all heard that shoppers trust the ratings and reviews of other shoppers more than any form of marketing, so it was nice to find that nearly three quarters of top 1000 retailers were featuring them onsite. What we did not expect to see, however, was that of those who sent shopping cart recovery emails and featured ratings and reviews onsite, only four percent used them in their recovery campaigns.

And finally, there were recommendations. It’s widely known that product recommendations increase average order value and number of conversions, and we found that more than eight out of 10 of the top 1000 retailers used them on their websites. Even better, of the retailers who sent shopping cart recovery emails, nearly nine out of 10 used featured product recommendations on their websites. What we found that we would not have expected, however, was that fewer than one in 10 included them in their retargeting emails, as well – like ratings and reviews, another missed opportunity to provide a seamless brand experience, likely resulting in money down the drain.

Today’s consumers are engaging with your brand in-store, on your website, in emails, and most likely via social media and digital advertising, as well, and on an array of devices. Still, to them, you are one brand no matter how or where they encounter you and they expect you to deliver a seamless and personalized experience. Anytime you fail to engage them and present them with products that suit their particular tastes and information and experiences that suit their personal shopping behaviors, you miss an opportunity to earn and keep their business. It’s a reality that it seems even top retailers still need to recognize. Next year, we’ll find out if they did.

To read details of the study, download the report.

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