STORES - September 2010 - (Page 28)

WORTH WATCHING / CUSTOMER RETENTION Claim That Cart Follow-up e-mails turn abandoned carts into sales BY FRED MINNICK s margins tighten for online retailers, getting consumers to re-engage with abandoned shopping carts could be the difference between profits and losses. A According to a 2010 Experian CheetahMail benchmark study, online shopping carts are abandoned at a rate of 56.2 percent. Furthermore, 61.2 percent of all items placed in carts are left behind without purchase. “If you’re running a multimillion or multibillion dollar company, that’s a lot of money to leave on the table,” says Bernardine Wu, CEO of e-commerce consultancy firm FitForCommerce. That’s why the likes of Walmart, Over and Nordstrom send their registered customers e-mail reminders about the items they left in their shopping carts. Wu says flatly that any retailer not sending abandoned cart e-mails is behind the times. “This is no longer a nice to have — it’s becoming a must have,” she says. Experian CheetahMail data shows abandoned-cart e-mails result in more than 20 times the transaction rates and revenue per e-mail than standard bulk mailings. According to the study, abandoned-cart campaigns have 62.9 percent total open rate and revenue per e-mail is $3.20 on a $175.76 average order. Omniture data shows targeted e-mail campaigns based on site visitors’ behavior generate more than 300 percent more onsite conversions than undifferentiated broadcast campaigns. So, while abandoned-cart e-mail conversion rates often range from 20 to 30 percent, many experts believe that the true benefit of this tactic is the extra touch with the customer. “It’s another way to communicate to a 28 STORES / SEPTEMBER 2010 customer, who has already shown serious intent to buy,” says Jeff Finkelstein, founder of Internet marketing firm Customer Paradigm. Today’s consumer understands retailers will contact them, especially if they are a registered user to a site. But the challenge with abandoned cart e-mails is when to send them, Wu says. She recommends notifying the customer within 24 to 48 hours. “There’s some debate as to how long you should save the cart, but we recommend to save it for seven days if it’s anonymous and 30 days for a registered customer because they’re a loyal customer,” Wu says. Triggering more sales Most abandoned-cart e-mails are triggered just like a new registration or receipt e-mail. Many retailers are actually mailing the cart and upselling customers with relevant content. “If they abandoned shirts, shorts and socks, you might [upsell] a bag, tie or shoes,” Wu says. “You wouldn’t necessarily [push an offer for] a GPS, because it’s not relevant content.” In terms of how the information is presented, Finkelstein prefers the “Oops, looks like you closed your browser” method. He says online shopping is still new for a lot of consumers and sometimes they just need a reminder. “We like telling customers, ‘We’ve saved your cart for you and here’s what you can do,’” says Finkelstein, whose firm creates abandoned cart e-mails for “Most people find it’s a helpful feature.” In addition to the “oops,” a link in a Dis e-mail takes customers back to their cart, or they can call a toll-free number to complete the order. Many sites try to convince the customer that they better hurry to buy or their product might sell out.’s abandoned cart e-mail reads: “We don’t want you to miss out on a great product, so please keep in mind that popular items may go out of stock if you wait to buy them. If your item is eligible for Site to Store, you can take advantage of free shipping to the Walmart store of your choice and save even more.” It’s also important to let the customer know when the cart will expire, Wu says. This creates a sense of urgency. To make sure the deal is completed, some retailers offer incentives. RedEnve offers a 10 percent discount when customers click on the abandoned cart e-mail to complete the transaction. Whatever method retailers use to get their customers back, Finkelstein says it’s still too easy for consumers to leave their carts. “Retailers are always one click away from a customer leaving empty handed,” he says. “You have to go that extra mile” to get them back. StORES Fred Minnick is a professional writer based in Louisville, Ky. He covers a broad range of business topics. WWW.STORES.ORG http://WWW.STORES.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of STORES - September 2010

STORES - September 2010
Table of Contents
Editor's Page
President's Page
Retail People
Favorite 50
Retail Showcase
Customer Retention
Social Shopping
Gift Cards
Business Intelligence
Networking & Communications
Customer Centricity
Payments & Credit
Return Fraud
Green Issues
ARTS Update
Point of View
NRF News
Retail Industry Calendar
End Cap

STORES - September 2010