In a study of 500 online retail shopping websites, just 11 percent of Internet merchants sent email responses to shoppers who abandoned carts. The abandoned cart study was conducted by, Listrak, an email marketing solution provider based in Lititz, PA. Its purpose was to provide online businesses with recommended timings for sending abandoned cart messages, using automated email messaging.
In conducting the study, two Listrak employees visited all 500 of Internet Retail magazine's top 500 web merchants. They shopped and abandoned carts on 398 sites. The remaining 102 sites, or just over 20 percent, could not be shopped or included in the study, either because they required a credit card number to put items in a shopping cart, or they did not require an email sign in, meaning abandoning a cart could not trigger an abandonment email.
"Not asking for an email address before asking for a credit card number limits an eRetailer's ability to maximize their reach back opportunities, and contributes to missed ROI potential," said Ross Kramer CEO of Listrak. Of even greater significance however, is that of the 398 sites effectively shopped, just 42, or 10.55 percent, sent an Abandoned Cart email. Given that a 2006 study by MarketingSherpa indicated an average cart abandon rate of 59.8 percent, that potentially adds up to a large missed opportunity to communicate with potential buyers. In addition to tracking the number of abandoned cart emails received, Listrak also tracked the amount of time it took eRetailers to respond following a cart being abandoned. Just 26 percent of online merchants that sent abandoned cart emails did so within 24 hours.
According to Listrak analysts, one day is a generally accepted industry best practice for businesses to reach back to potential customers or subscribers, in order to reach them while they are most engaged. "However, the only way to learn the optimum time frame in which your particular business should send out an abandonment email is to test various intervals and to test various offers as well," said Kramer. Slightly less than 60 percent of the eRetailers responded within 72 hours, with some sites responding up to two weeks after a cart was abandoned. Just over one third of merchants sent personalized messages using the would be shopper's first and last name, despite all of them having collected this data. Notably, six out of 10 retailers that offered an incentive in their abandonment email also personalized the email.
Why more online retailers are not using automated Cart Abandonment emails, or using personalization, is not clear, said Kramer. "It may be that many eRetailers, even among the Top 500, still consider that automated cart abandonment email messages or automated marketing conversations are too difficult or too costly to set up and manage, or because their infrastructure doesn't support it. In reality, this is largely no longer the case, and those eRetailers who do implement a shopping cart abandonment campaign using automated email conversations have a substantial opportunity to boost their bottom line by engaging potential shoppers and guiding them to complete their purchase," he said.
The majority of responses were sent on a Thursday, with the fewest sent on Sunday, seemingly unrelated to the day of web visits and shopping. The number of items shopped, the amount of money spent and the number of pages visited and shopped per site, as well as time spent on each site, were random.
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