If there’s no money left in your wallet it’s because Black Friday and the following days are the product of a well-constructed hype machine that gets consumers in a wild frenzy every year. On Thanksgiving Day we sift through the newspaper ads, make notes of mind-blowing prices and devise a plan of attack. It’s an alarming reality that so may of us battle for the best deal possible by rising at ungodly hours and competing with boisterous crowds, all in the name of cramming as many discounted products into a shopping cart as possible.
I lead in with Black Friday to underscore an interesting parallel with its ‘eCounterpart’, Cyber Monday. While an estimated 106.9 million online shoppers likely neglected some work responsibilities last Monday and took to their favorite ecommerce stores for holiday bargains on the web, in my head were visions of abandoned shopping carts looming in the cyber parking lots of online stores everywhere. The numbers don’t lie, and the rate of this harsh reality for Internet retailers has hovered around 50-60% over the past few years. That’s a significant amount of business lost, and addressing the issue has no doubt been a priority for those seeking to recapture or remarket to this group.
In a report out earlier this year, Forrester Research noted the following reasons (not including my tailing commentary) people abandon their online cart:
1. Turned off by shipping costs (44%)
No one likes to pay for shipping, but it’ a hard cost that will never go away for an online store. Recent comScore data indicates that 41% of retail ecommerce purchases in Q3 2010 had a free shipping offer, and this year there were undoubtedly more free shipping offers than I’ve ever seen over the busy weekend. Bottom line, don’t hide a huge shipping cost on the very last page of the checkout process.
2. Not ready to buy (41%)
Granted September and the better part of November are the calm before the holiday storm, and most people spend that time being frugal. So this year’s promotions seemed to start about a month early since sales generally fall and abandonment runs rampant leading into Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Indeed, retailers have been making an obvious effort to persuade consumers that the weeks leading into these famous shopping days is also a good time to make a purchase. Why wait?
3. Looking for the best possible deal (27%)
These days being a savvy Internet shopper is practically second nature to consumers searching for great a deal. But looking for the best deal and making a purchase are two very different things. Comparison shopping has a significant impact on shopping cart abandonment rates, and the research and consulting firm Kantar Retail indicated in survey results that at least one-third of consumers will compare site prices this holiday season. That may mean filling an online cart at one store and then going somewhere else to determine who gets their business.
When you think about these reasons pragmatically it’s no wonder online retailers have had a hard time whittling down abandonment rates–although some never choose to give it a valiant effort. Since there’s no obvious fix-all it will likely have to be a combination of small things that will chip away at that staggeringly large abandonment number, whether it be some kind of validation that a shopper’s personal information will be safe and secure, or some sense of scarcity that without immediate action we would miss out on the deal of a lifetime. There’s no doubt people love great deals, but we’re also fickle creatures who need an occasional nudge to take action.
So who is really at fault here? Is it the behavioral characteristics of confident shoppers, or the lack of incentive, candor and reassurance from the enterprise ecommerce site? Yes and yes in both cases.
For brevity sake I won’t explore the proposed solutions to this ongoing anomaly, but I will leave you with one final thought, good for year-round consideration: If proactive measures for acquisition and retention don’t help do the trick then it may be time to re-think a strategy for remarketing and retargeting the one(s) who got away.
Happy conversion to all.
Jared Matkin is a staff writer for HotWax Media with a background in PR, Branding and Marketing. He’s also a light-hearted and an opinionated character who will join other HotWax Media employees and advisors in periodically posting his thoughts on topics ranging from enterprise eCommerce to business and technology.