Why emails capture wandering sales: Today’s consumers have it made. Mobile devices have been deeply integrated into the shopping process, giving shoppers more control over when and where they shop. In fact, many predict that smartphones will drive more shopping traffic than computers by the end of the decade. In this multi-device, cross-channel experience, there are two critical moments when consumers tend to stray from the shopping process: product pages and the shopping cart. Commonly referred to as Product Page Abandonment and Shopping Cart Abandonment, retailers must begin to break away from the traditional, outdated view that all shoppers leave with no intention of returning to complete the purchase and start planning for the other alternatives.
According to recent studies, 40% of all online shoppers will leave items in a shopping cart to view later on a different device or in a brick-and-mortar location. These rates are even higher among digital natives and Millennials who grew up in a world of high- speed Internet connections and mobile devices. They know content often remains in the shopping cart awaiting their return. Shoppers are using product pages and the shopping cart as tools to transition across devices and between channels. There is good news for retailers, as the add-to-cart rate is up 6% across all visitors, and up 13% amongst registered shoppers. But retailers must adjust their tactics and strategies surrounding these pivotal moments to facilitate these transitions or risk losing sales.
Product Page Abandonment
It can be difficult to accurately determine why shoppers leave product pages. Unlike shopping cart abandonment where the shopper is further down the purchase path and closer to the “submit order” button, a product page visitor may be casually browsing products with little to no intent to purchase.
Alternatively, shoppers may abandon your product pages if the ease and flexibility of your site doesn’t translate well to a mobile device. That said, optimizing product pages should be an ongoing focus for retailers. These pages should not only be visually optimized for mobile devices, but all functionality should also be available regardless of the device (or devices) a shopper is using. As new features such as real-time inventory look-up, in-store pick-up, robust product galleries and other customization options are added to product pages, retailers should not lose sight of multi-device, cross-channel shopper expectations.
This study outlines post-abandonment strategies and how retailers can recover revenue once shoppers have left. As this study makes clear, retailers want to expand on the success of cart reminder emails and are using a variety of methods to convert product page abandoners into customers. The reminders are often less direct than shopping cart reminders, where purchase intent is higher and the reason items were left in the cart may be better defined, but many of the same principles apply.
The concept of triggering an email when a shopper leaves a product page may be new to some retailers. These automated messages have traditionally not been as common as shopping cart reminders, though many retailers have started to add the email to their marketing toolbox.
Only 15% of retailers are currently sending at least one product page abandonment reminder email, and just 5% of those send a series of two reminders. While this may seem low, similar rates for shopping cart reminders were seen only a few years ago. Marketers now have access to tools which make automating these messages easier than before and no longer need to make significant time and resource investments to launch them. Messages can also be easily tested and modified to reach maximum revenue recovery potential. SwiftERM is one such system, proven to deliver a 6 fold increase in transaction rate.
Why emails capture wandering sales is because retailers send product page reminders
Most product page abandonment reminders (56%) were sent within a 24-hour period after the shopper left the product page. Unlike shopping cart reminders, which frequently include detailed information about the items left in the shopping cart and a clear call to action to complete the order, product page abandonment reminders often take a more subtle approach. The “strike while the iron is hot” philosophy works well for shopping cart reminders but could be too aggressive for product page abandonment reminders where many shoppers have less commitment to actually complete the purchase. The softer sell of the product page reminder message is often balanced with less aggressive timing.
Many product page abandonment reminders (28%) were sent 24-48 hours post- abandonment. This gap between abandonment and triggering the message could give the shopper additional time to move further down the purchase path to cart the product or make a purchase in-store. Criteria such as additional product page visits, store interactions and carting the item must be factored into the timing of the message and potentially used as exclusion criteria. While product page abandonment reminders can effectively keep consumers shopping and help retailers recover sales, the content and copy of the message often present a softer sell when compared to cart reminder emails or other promotional messages.
The majority of retailers sending a product page reminder email (61%) broke the fourth wall by directly stating that the message was being received because the shopper had visited a product page. The remaining retailers (39%) either featured the abandoned product without noting that the product page was visited, included the product among other related items or used a generic, non-product related customer service theme. These reminders also do not rely on evoking a sense of urgency to get the shopper back to the site. In fact, only 28% of the reminders tried to get shoppers to act fast.
Many shoppers will not expect to receive an email after abandoning a product page and some may not be comfortable with the retailer using that browsing data in the email. Thirty- nine per cent of product page abandonment reminder emails disassociated the triggered message from the recent abandonment by using a generic subject line. SwiftERM features the title of the item abandoned or that of the product most likely to be purchased. Eleven per cent included a subject line that offered an incentive to return or used a service-related theme, and the remainder (39%) referenced the product that was browsed either explicitly or in a more vague way.
Only 11% of the reminders included the abandoned product in the subject line while 17% made reference to the product category. The vast majority (72%) did not reference the product at all in the subject line. Note that extremely vague reference such as “Are you still interested in this product?” were not counted as product mentions. By mentioning the product significantly increases its buying susceptibility.
Unlike shopping cart reminders, where marketers often have a better grasp on why a shopper left items in the cart and what it will take to get them back, product page abandonment can be a bit more mysterious. Marketers may not know exactly why a shopper left a product page or what they need to get back into the shopping mood.
How do retailers create product page abandonment reminders to reconnect the shopper to the product they browsed and re-engage them in the shopping process? Additional influencers, such as product ratings, reviews and availability can give the shopper information that will motivate them to start shopping again. Eleven per cent of product page reminders included product ratings, 6% featured reviews and another 6% featured both. Including product availability information can create a sense of urgency, especially for retailers offering limited-time sales or one-of-a-kind items. Only 6% of reminders featured product inventory levels in their product page abandonment reminders.
One-third of the product page reminders received in this study did not include a photo of the abandoned product or a direct link back to the product page. Often the product category or related items, which are detailed later in the study, are used instead of a direct product reference. Many shoppers have started to expect shopping cart reminders, but product page abandonment reminders may not yet be as familiar. While marketers may have accumulated a mass of data on product page abandoners, they should not feel compelled to use every bit and byte available.
Test prioritizing data points that create a value proposition for a specific product or product category like “Shop our wide selection of dinnerware. 100s of styles and colours” against more direct copy like “You recently browsed our large blue ceramic bowl. Click here to buy it now!” Facilitate the move back to engaged shopping rather than a hard sell to complete the order. Shopping cart reminders can introduce that theme once an item has been left in the cart.
Price & Shipping Options
The majority of retailers sending product page abandonment emails (56%) avoided showing the price of the abandoned product in the post-abandonment email, and only 28% featured any savings or product discounts. Some shoppers may have left the page because of the price of the product, so featuring the dollar amount could cause the shopper not to re-engage in the shopping experience. As detailed previously in this study, other content elements, such as ratings and reviews or other ways to shop, could spark the shopper to revisit the product page. Of course, this should not be seen as a rule for all scenarios. Test how price points versus other content elements work for certain shopper segments or when paired with specific product categories. Featuring savings and costs may work well for certain groups.
None of the product page reminders offered information about shipping options or durations, and only 11% included shipping costs, which makes a lot of sense. Shoppers in the early stages of the purchase path may not be focused on shipping-related details. Don’t lose sight of the shopper’s stage in the customer lifecycle and ensure that your message is relevant.
Many consumers may be in the mood to shop but still unsure about what they want to purchase. The item that was browsed may not be the one they will end up purchasing but could serve as an indicator of the kind of products that interest them. Including related and recommended products can give shoppers a way to explore items similar to the one that was browsed and abandoned.
For example, if the shopper abandoned a product page for a red V-neck sweater, additional sweaters in assorted colours, made of various fabrics and in different cuts could be included to give shopper alternatives that are closely related to the original item. Half of the product page abandonment reminders included related products. SwiftERM includes not only colour and size affinity but pays special attention to brand loyalty featuring the styles the shopper has, by their browsing actions, illustrated a loyalty to. Product page abandoners may want to shop in multiple channels before deciding where to complete the purchase. Avoid forcing these shoppers into a specific channel when possible.
Recommended products were included in 39% of product page abandonment reminders. These may include related items though, often, top sellers or products based on previous purchases or browsing behaviour are included. Using the example above, an alternate sweater may be shown along with a pair of jeans and a belt. Some messages may include a selection of products that are currently on sale and may not even be related to the item that was abandoned. You may find that certain product categories will benefit from related products more than the recommended products. It’s worth testing various combinations to determine the mix of supplemental products that work best for these messages. SwiftERM takes typically the top-20 most likely to be purchase products and then, to think outside-the-box, takes another 3 that shoppers most commonly purchased using the first 20 as the denominator.
Product page abandoners might want to complete their order in a different channel or may have questions about the item that need to be answered before they are ready to buy. Including customer service contact information, and other ways the order can be completed may help these shoppers transition from your site to their preferred channel. Surprisingly, only 22% of the product page abandonment reminders in this study included this information.
Like abandoned shopping cart messages, product page abandonment messages have the potential to be highly effective when implemented in a way that is relevant to the consumer. As with any strategy, testing will be needed to see what works best for each audience. The data shown in this study can be used to guide the development of a product page abandonment reminder email program that strikes the optimal balance of timing and message content while giving the shopper the flexibility to shop and buy when they are ready.
Other poignant articles of interest: