The landscape of e-commerce is littered with abandoned carts. Billions of dollars of purchases that never were, from Amazon books to Macy’s pants, stretch towards the horizon. E-commerce firm Barilliance estimates cart abandonment at around 77%.The Baymard Institute have it at 70%. But whoever you listen to, there’s plenty of evidence that shoppers would rather walk away from online purchases than complete them.
While there are many reasons for cart abandonment, a few simple technological tweaks can make it less likely. And before you start thinking that you have to spend many times your annual budget developing software that allows you to perform this magic on your customers, there are much cheaper options.
For a start, using Google Analytics will help show just where in your website people are leaving before placing an order. Use this to check your concerns about wayward customers before making any tweaks to the journey from a visit to a purchase. As most sites have a problem with cart abandonment, there are solutions that can help – and involve nothing more complex than email and Facebook Messenger.
Enter the Messenger
Using Shopify and various third party apps, you can put a Facebook Messenger button below the ‘add to cart’ option. Provided your customer has signed in, they get a message on Facebook after they left your site reminding them they have items in their cart. The software can generally be configured to take note of the intervals between which reminders are sent depending on how insistent you want to be.
Many of the same apps also make it possible to send email reminders, although there’s some evidence to suggest that Facebook Messenger is more likely to be opened than an email. Regardless, the more functional apps will make it possible for customers to give their email addresses through a popup known as an ‘exit-intent’ message, but the Facebook Messenger app also offers significantly more functionality.
You can program Messenger to respond with a set of basic responses to questions people ask, but remember to use guided responses. A response that makes the customer respond in a range of ways which are hard to factor in will mean they have a difficult and confusing experience. You also need to avoid selling too hard, or too early. You don’t want customers to sense desperation or to block you.
Finally, make it easy for them to chat with a real person. The point of using Messenger is that you can save time and expense having someone monitor every message, but there are times when you will need a person on the other end, so make sure you have someone in place to answer questions.
Once you have decided to use this, it will become more useful the more you monitor it. Checking customer interactions and how well Messenger manages them will help you refine the software and the way it interacts with real people. You can even solicit feedback by saying ‘how did we do?’ but you need to brace yourself for negative responses from irate customers who have found themselves caught in a loop.
Enter the chatbot
This way of using Messenger turns it into a chatbot. For the uninitiated, chatbots are normally used in web interfaces by companies that want to offer personalized customer service at moments such as cart abandonment without paying thousands to have live customer service operatives at the end of the line. The chatbot fields the bulk of the inquiries, while a small number of people deal with more complicated problems.
One of the ways to get a chatbot is to learn to code and to spend several years perfecting the art while simultaneously running your business and fielding calls. Most companies don’t have the luxury of time or a spare employee, so a significantly less labor-intensive way to proceed is to buy in a chatbot from a third party that can be customized to the needs and size of your business.
The wonder of competition is that the price of these is coming down all the time and the vendors range from small, cheap and yet talented companies, to much larger ones that have a list of large organizations they work with. Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure the chatbot can be connected seamlessly with your tech stack and will work well with your sales teams to get maximum value.
You’ll also need to make sure that it can be customized in a way that suits the needs of your business. Buying a dedicated tech chatbot solution is unlikely to help shift promo products and would require so much work to customize that it would be a waste of time and money. Most chatbots give you an option to trial the software first, and may also give you a discount code when you make a purchase.
There are no easy ways to stop cart abandonment. If there were, chances are Amazon, Macy’s, and a million other retailers would have found them. But with basic email and Messenger tools, a host of companies competing to offer apps that integrate them, and dedicated chatbots, it’s never been easier to start cleaning up that online landscape and winning more customers.