More and more online customers are reaching checkout and abandoning their baskets. In 2013, 78% of online shoppers abandoned their baskets, the reasons ranging from unexpected costs, flawed checkout processes, to theoretical shopping. It's another way online shopping differs so greatly from shopping in store – you wouldn't expect to see people line up with arms full of hangers in clothes stores and then discard them at the checkout, nor at the supermarket.

Many firms are trying to counteract high abandonment rates and improve eCommerce conversion rates by sending targeted emails. Many firms already use re-targeting in site advertisements and in product recommendations, but not so many warn you when you have abandoned a basket full of goods.

You may think that having a better site design would stop the need to recapture the attention of potential customers and while a huge amount of effort already goes into site design, not all sites are optimised. According to research by eDigitalResearch and IMRG, one of the main reasons, 53%, that people abandoned their baskets was due to the discovery of delivery costs once reaching check out. A lack of clear information on charges, delivery times and product availability are all contributing to abandoned baskets and decreased eCommerce conversion rates. 26% of people use baskets to discover delivery costs (I do it too, I'll place things in my basket to check final costs, especially when shopping from international sites). It's important to be up-front about delivery costs and product availability; if a customer selects 'buy', is the product actually ready to ship?

Even with this information, people may still abandon their baskets. Customers often use baskets as a place to store a wish list or to save items for comparison. Sites must also be aware that sometimes, their selling tactics are sending people to the check out too early, forcing customers to commit before they are ready. Sometimes, you want to walk round the store a little before you go to the cashier. Being taken directly to checkout can be off-putting and result in basket abandonment. Whilst a lot of online purchases are on impulse, customers can still change their mind in the short buying process. Until their card details have been entered and processed, customers often see no commitment to the goods they have selected.

One avenue which marketers are testing in an attempt to reduce basket abandonment is basket abandonment emails. Do basket abandonment emails improve eCommerce conversion rates and increase revenue though? Nearly half (46%) of all cart abandonment emails are opened and over a third (35%) lead to a purchase back on-site, which certainly suggests a positive effect. An interesting discovery is that the average order value (AOV) of purchases from basket abandonment emails is 19% higher than the initial intended purchase. People are being brought back to the website, not only to complete purchases, but to complete greater purchases. The average cart abandonment email generates $5 in additional revenue.

There are strong examples of how chasing up customers with basket abandonment emails has directly improved eCommerce conversion rates. After discovery of a 75% basket abandonment rate (equivalent to 28,000 orders each month) Movies Unlimited instigated an email campaign which contacted the customer after basket abandonment up to three times. The first email, sent 24 hours after basket abandonment reminded the customer they had left something in their basket, the second, five days later, was similar, but featured a different subject line. If there was still no response, a final reminder would be sent to the customer. On average, 43% of emails were read, 25.2% of people clicked back through to the website and the campaign resulted in a 26% conversion rate. This program of emails resulted in a 27.7% higher order value than any of their other promotional campaigns. In total, the campaign achieved a return on investment (ROI) of 500%.

Another idea that has been particularly effective in improving eCommerce conversion rates is not only sending reminders but sending incentives. Emails such as: “We see you've still not processed your order for ---, will 10% off change your mind?” can be incredibly effective in generating revenue. As well as incentives, sending emails stating potential basket emptying - the idea that unless you purchase now, you will lose your item – can also provoke purchase. Movies Unlimited found that sending an offer in the chase-up emails drove 26% more transactions and resulted in 36% more movies ordered than the emails sent without an offer.

As frustrating as it can be for businesses, basket abandonment can be addressed. Through sending basket abandonment emails, sellers can improve their eCommerce conversion rate. Simply reminding customers that they have left the site without completing their purchase may not cause a dramatic increase in eCommerce conversion rates though, additional incentives should be considered too and getting to the heart of why customers abandon in the first place is important. Live chat, for example, allows you to reduce basket abandonment in the short and long run. Read our blog post 4 Ways Live Chat Improves Sales to find out more about how live chat can reduce basket abandonment and increase eCommerce conversion rates.

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