Abandoned Carts: How to Avoid Leaving Money on the Table

...I think you mean [in the] cart... 


Beyond the Cart Lightburn Podcast - Ecommerce
Graphic illustration of how to recover abandoned carts from customers.

Today, we're talking about abandoned carts. Learn how to avoid leaving money on the table by streamlining the checkout process and offering genuine value that connects with your customers. 

Today’s Topics:

  • Reducing distractions
  • Identifying the barriers
  • Investments versus commodities
  • Curating the brand experience
  • Filling in the gaps


So, we're talking abandoned carts today. Yeah. Yeah. I saw this statistic recently just to get us started on whether or not this is a valuable topic, 55% of shoppers. So potential customers will abandon their cart for having to reenter their credit card or payment details. I just had that happen last night. Tell me about it. 

It didn't bother me because I decided to go back and change what was in my cart. And then I went back through the checkout. Let's pretend I didn't abandon, so, okay. Well. I lied, but it is, you know, it's… A point of friction, right? I don't save any of my credit cards in the browser or I always type it in. I have no problem with that just for, I have mine saved in 1Password and that's helpful to me. There you go. 

But I think, you know, the reason I brought that up is just that, you know, is this a valuable topic? Absolutely. Because we, we see so many clients or potential clients or just us as customers, ourselves, places where, you know, you're, you're making it hard for someone to make a purchase. When I hit that point of friction, when I'm checking out, I always feel like Julia Roberts at the boutique and pretty woman where I'm getting my money out and saying, I just, I just want to buy, oh. Yeah. I always gotta hunt down my wallet. I have found that shop pay has changed the game there. I am so much more likely to convert. If shop pay is enabled on a Shopify site. Dang. It, it is so easy. Yeah. Yeah. They've really, they've really made that smooth. It's very cool. Yeah. 

But so let's talk about abandoned carts, right? Yeah. So you go into the grocery store, you even go into a Target. I picture it. You don't see carts just laying around full of crap. Right. You go to those stores. Chances are, I mean, it's rare to see anyone. If you stood outside of target with a little notepad and you took count of how many people walk in versus how many people walk out in an hour. What's the percentage of people with bags and obviously families don't count like that's one. Well, yeah, you could also, it's going to  be like crazy high. Yeah. Crazy. Like 90 it's high. Yeah. So what's your point? Well, you know, I think there's a lot of people we've had people come to us and say, Hey, our shopping counter abandonments, you know, we're getting 42,000 sessions a week and we're only getting 400 orders. Okay. It's really easy to window shop on the inner webs. Right. You're on your phone, you're in your car, you're at a bus stop, whatever. Yeah. It's easier. So you're going to, it's not going to be like the brick-and-mortar store. Yeah. We can't, you go there to buy something and not just shop around. 

Reducing distractions 

Do we need to start a campaign to change the terminology? So we don't call it a cart anymore. Yeah.  I think the key is focusing on people that have gotten all way into the checkout, you know, like the very last step where there, there is clear intent that something at the last moment gotten want to miss. Yeah. So I think that's one, you know, streamlining that checkout process is just fundamental for this. If you're seeing high abandoned cart rates, there is going to be abandoned carts. Yeah. Cross devices. Like obviously it's going to happen more frequently. How many times have you put something in a cart, on a phone and then finished on the, on your desktop? Like with a new session, if you're beating yourself up because it's like, oh, our abandoned carts are high. Yeah. Hey, it might not be true. So all that said you still there's, there's probably something to do to streamline the checkout process. We see it a lot where people create distractions. There's a reason they want to, um, promote a discount that they're doing maybe in a different category. They want to remind of accessories or something we talked about in a previous episode that that's valuable. But if you do it in the wrong way, you can distract someone. So you gotta keep an eye on those distractions. Yeah. 

Which brings back to something that you always say is use your own product. Like be checking out on your site. Yeah. Did you have somebody from your marketing team and some sort of like sign up for our email list and they accidentally put it on the checkout so that you're distracting someone. Yeah. That's, that's a, that's a kind of thing that you see sometimes. And, you know, getting rid of those distractions is one easy way to start moving people through that process. Yeah. I think our point abandoned cart emails. We love them. They do work. We can get, we can recapture that, but our, you know, if we had a pick, right. If you had a pick between getting abandoned cart emails perfect. Versus. Avoiding it in the first place. Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, it is, it's something you should try to avoid. Yeah. Avoid it in the first place. I think, you know, I think sometimes when you talk about abandoned carts, people immediately go to the abandoned cart reminders as the focus. And, you know, we really want to step back and think about what's wrong with your user experience.

Identifying the barriers

Try to minimize those so simple as making sure that people know everything that they need to know about this product they're about to buy, have they already, you know, been given the information, do they feel comfortable in that checkout? Do they know what returns and you know, exchanges looks like, so they don't have to step back and, you know, right. Some, sometimes what you see is people kind of circle back. They put something in their cart, especially if it's a higher value product and then they need to back up into the research phase.

Yeah. So what can you do to make that process really smooth so that they already know that information? So, you know, that's, that's kind of this intersection of like knowing your customer, knowing your product and, and knowing the relationship there. Yeah. So let's say we do, you know, we, we had a whole conversation about the UX last season about, you know, UX of, uh, a shopping experience. So I think that would be a whole different conversation to get into like how you can streamline that process. One thing that you see a lot, and I think, you know, the, the value is there, uh, obviously depends on your product and, and how your site is set up. But, you know, getting rid of all of those distracting elements, like navigation and popups and everything, like that's, that's a trend, that's a pretty solid trend in just a pretty streamline. All you see is the checkout forms. Like the, the, the data you have to put in and there's nothing else. Yeah. It's all pointed in one direction. Uh, any other thoughts … Question for you though? Yeah. Like, so, and we've all done. It we've all abandoned a cart. 

I probably did it 14 times this morning. Why though? What are the reasons... Um, well, I, I think one reason is, um, price, you know, if something is a higher ticket item, so you've validating, you got your cart built down and you're like, oh yeah. I don't know if I want to spend this much. I, I, my guess is I I've definitely had this happen recently is getting surprised by shipping. Yeah. Yeah. I had something where they have a $20 shipping charge, no matter what it's, it's close. And I didn't know that. And then I get in the cart and it's 20 bucks. Okay. Flat. It's a flat $20. Flat $20, no matter what notice. So that did inspire you to order more, to make that shipping seem less, it, it was, it prompted you to leave. Well, no, it prompted me to go back into then what am I, what's the next thing I'm going to  buy to make it, maybe I want two... this is like a higher end clothing. I'm doing this whole sustainable fashion thing. Okay. So like every piece I buy is a little bit more expensive cuz I'm not doing fast fashion anymore. So I might be buying, you know, $500 worth of stuff from this company potentially. Okay. So do I, you know, do I want to pay 20 bucks five times. Right. Off of those five pieces? Or do I want to try to truncate that into one order? Right. So interesting. Okay. You know, my recommend, if I, if I had a relationship with, with them, I would absolutely look at free shipping. Like I would really push them to a, a dollar amount where you can offer free shipping. Yeah. They're choosing not to. So what would it take for them to get you to finish? Oh, on that the, the shipping, the shipping was right. Was the, the shipping was the barrier. So if they sent you an email, you know, they noticed that you have, did you get all the way through, you know what I do, they know who you are.  

On a product like that. What would've made me finish would be an incentive. My next order would be free shipping. If I order within 30 days, there you go. I get free shipping. Yeah. Because I was, it was like a, try me. It was the first product I was buying from this company. Yeah. Returns are difficult, you know, like it's an investment sort of thing. So if they would've shown me that if I ordered something else, you know, presuming that shipping is a barrier for other consumers. Because if I'm thinking about buying three, five pieces from them, that's, you know, five pieces over the course of a year is, is a hundred bucks in shipping. 

Yeah. That's, that's a big percentage of the… Yeah. So they should know. It's very easy to know that, oh, Nora Lahl stopped at this part of the checkout. Yeah. Uh, and if you set up your checkout correctly and in a way where you can, you know, and this is where multi-step checkouts really become valuable. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, even though they add a little bit of burden on the user, I think there's a, there's a balance you can take there. Yeah. That's worthwhile, is okay. We know that they stopped at the shipping and here's what we showed them. I think multistep is fine. As long as it's still seamless. Yeah. And it's fast, right. If you can do fast and clearer multistep, I don't have a problem with that. Correct. I think the days of like, don't make me click on another button. Oh, we do it all day. And like, there's also having to see a big, long list of information that I have to put in can be a barrier too. Yeah. Can feel overwhelming. Yeah. So, going back to your experience, if we were to, if they were, they have the data mm-hmm <affirmative> presumably they have the data that says Nora Lahl stopped at the shipping. We know our shipping is deterring people, right. If they sent you an email and said, Hey, we're we want to offer you free shipping. If you finish this order in the next 12 hours hours. Absolutely. You Would do it now. Can I tell you a spot… But it's but if they came back to you and just said, Hey… Don't forget. You know, we see this a lot, which is where I, I'm kind of a down downer on abandoned carts. It' like, where you just get that email, like you left stuff in your cart, come back. Like, no shit. I left stuff in my purpose cart did. Right. Like I, that was a conscious decision.

Investment versus commodity 

Well, yeah. And I think that goes back to, you know, knowing your, if I were let's compare that brand that I'm talking about this higher end sustainable fashion brand, it's an investment piece that you're going to versus old Navy corduroy pants. I can buy both from both. Okay. Companies. One is going to be, you know, maybe $40 and the other is $200, $250 for a pair of pants, Andy. But that's, you know, that this is my choice. The point is I'm only buying one pair of pants instead of five. Right. Whatever. That's an idea. So again, you're, you're assuming you're, you're pretty confident that that one pair of pants is going to last you 20 years versus… Yes. I've already decided a year that this is a good brand. Yeah. But my point…Is, so the value is there for you, you see the value in the product. Yeah. The abandoned cart message is totally different, right. Because if I'm just like abandoned my $40 Old Navy cords, like yeah. Maybe I just forgot. And that's probably what happened. I, this is a commodity, right? I'm just buying the pants that old Navy has been selling for years and will continue to sell in some shape or form. So my barrier is probably not price this other brand. Maybe their return window is small. They're, you know, sizing I'm not familiar with yet because I'm a first time purchaser, which you should know, right. You should know this about me if I'm already in your system or not. And maybe the shipping is another barrier. So that journey is harder to take and it should be right. Like this, this brand is probably embracing that, that, that choice is a little bit more intentional than the old Navy choice. 

Curating the brand experience 

So that message is really different. So it's maybe the same trigger of, oh, they abandon their cart. We're going to  send out an email in a sudden amount of time. What's that email going to say, what problem might you be solving for someone when you send that email? And I think that that's where you can really tune, you know, your abandoned cart messaging to your audience, but then also you're reinforcing your brand through that. That's another brand touchpoint that I think is really, really valuable. Cause you're reminding people who you are. So the tone that you use matters. So you love something in your cart is so bland. Yeah. I see it as another opportunity to build a connection too. So it's not just, you know, maybe that cart is abandoned forever, but if I infused a little bit of personality into it or reminded you about, you know, our breadth of products or whatever, you might come back in a month. So that abandoned cart email, yeah. Can do some, some heavy lifting for you. Yeah. And we see that a lot. So I agree with you. That is a, that is part of the brand experience. Yeah. 

Side note too. And this drives me crazy and I've been on a, a war path recently to clean up my inbox because I get so much email. I've had the same email address. Yeah. 24 years long story. Anyways, I've been on this mission to recapture control of my inbox. So that involves me unsubscribing from a lot of crap that I've gotten. Yeah. And it's amazing the customer experiences you have on the unsubscribe list. And it's very, to me, it's very similar to you. Oh, this is a tangent. This is a tangent, but it's the same to me. It's it's part of, I have dozens of email subscriptions that I unsubscribe to from companies that I still adore and I will still spend money from. There are some though that had, it's almost like they treated me, like I was dumping them. Yeah. It's anti antagonistic for sure. Yeah. Yeah. And some of that's antagonistic just because it's like, you've been unsubscribed, like billion dollar brands with it's like HTML, you've been unsubscribed that's it's on their page. Mm-hmm, <affirmative> nothing. It's like, it's not even branded. No. And I see that with a band of cart emails as well. Sure. And I think it's not branded, it's not friendly. Right. Um, so yeah, My point is marketers are, we're always consumed with, how do we get there, convers rate up? How do we get our ALV up? Mm-hmm <affirmative>, you know, and new customers, new customers, new customers. And there's all these like, Hey, we've left a whole bunch of things. Yeah. We're already here. Unfinished. Yeah. Yeah. Um, so slow Your role, get it right. Understand why people might be abandoning the cart. And this is a conversation we had in another podcast, right? The, the customer journey mm-hmm <affirmative> so part of your customer journey should be why people are, are bailing. 

Filling in the gaps 

You know, you, Why are they bailing? What can you do once they bail embrace that they might be bailing. Maybe that's like built in, in the journey. It's, it's very common for our best customers to put things in their cart over the course of a month. Right. And then they convert know that. And to your point, like knowing your customer and maybe that maybe an abandoned cart email, isn't a reminder that, Hey dude, you left shit in your cart. Maybe it's an email from the organization that says, Hey, we're here to help give us a call if you have any questions. Yeah, yeah. That could be triggered by an abandoned cart where everyone's, you know, Oh, the abandoned cart that isn't the abandoned cart email, is that Right? It's just a, you know, it doesn't have to be an email. It can just be a trigger for something else. It could be a trigger to write you a letter. It could be a, you know, there's

A handwritten Letter. Everyone thinks of abandoned cart emails or abandoned cart capture mm-hmm <affirmative> is, well, did you send the email? Yeah. Yeah. There's so much more to that. I mean, it's, it could be a whole, it could kick off a whole series of emails if you want it could. Right? Yep. And we've seen it and we've had luck where you start, you know, an email just saying, Hey, you got any questions? The second email, if we don't recapture is mm-hmm, <affirmative>, here's a little discount. We've tried all kinds of things. And, and you know, that's one of my recommendations is always, you know, just, this is one part of the ecommerce experience, the site that you have to constantly be maintaining you can't just say, do we have abandoned cart emails turned on? That's not the end of It in the system. Awesome.

Top takeaways 

So, you know, to wrap this conversation up, uh, I think the first step is just reducing friction in the process. So you can reduce the number of abandoned carts you have in the first place. Right? Absolutely. Yeah. And then, you know, when you do have abandoned carts, which is in inevitable, finding ways to tune that messaging and making sure that your reminders fit to the audience that you have. Yeah. You gotta optimize it's part of the brand experience. It's not just a thing that you guys do. You don't just send a abandoned card email. It's… An opportunity. Every time brand touchpoint. Yep. <laugh> and you gotta know the customer type and journey that is underway. Like, don't be a Dick. 

Don't send that like, you know, like I said, with your dress experience that you're going through, they could probably convert if they took a little bit of time and like, oh, we got, we got somebody in the checkout that's upset about shipping. Yeah. Most likely let's do something about that. Not just nor are you having abandoned cart, please come back. Yep. Don't be a robot.

Yeah. Oh, I think that's your theme song. Yeah. Don't be a robot, right? Yeah. So, And remember that what happens digitally? Doesn't have to stay digital, you can pick up a phone, you can send a letter, you can do Hot air balloon. I mean, Sky's the limit… Depending what you're selling. Yeah. Yeah. I think, you know, there's, It's not a one size fits all. It's always an opportunity to reinforce your brand and create a connection. And, and that's kind of the power of the abandoned cart email.

- - - - - -

Beyond the Cart is produced by Lightburn. Our episode today was produced and edited by our very own Staci Tischer and it was recorded in person for the very first time with our pal Ray Fister at 5th Floor Recording Company. 

Our music is the song Let's Go Go Go by Tigerblood Jewel. Be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or wherever you consume your audio, and you can always learn more about ecommerce at lightburn.co

We'll see you next time on Beyond the Cart.

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