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3 Ways to Optimize Your Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate

You enter Target’s hallowed doors to simply buy toilet paper or a new bath mat and suddenly you’re transported to a liminal space filled with benevolent guardians donning red shirts and khaki pants. Before you can blink you’re holding an iced vanilla latte from the Starbucks kiosk and your cart is completely full with small kitchen appliances, board games, and a bathing suit (no matter what the season). 

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

This is called the “Target Effect”,  a phenomenon in which a customer walks into Target for a single item and walks out with what feels like the store’s entire inventory. Despite filling their carts with treats that fall into the want instead of the need category, you’ll seldom see customers abandon their carts in a Target checkout line. 

And yet, when it comes to ecommerce, high shopping cart abandonment seems to be one of the main issues plaguing online retailers. In fact, according to the Baymard Institute the average shopping cart abandonment rate is 69.82%

This begs the question: how can you create your own version of the Target Effect on your ecommerce site to optimize your shopping cart abandonment rate?

To answer this question, we’ve devised a list of three tips that will help you hit the bullseye when reducing your shopping cart abandonment rate.

Analyze Shopping Cart Abandonment by Referring Traffic Channels

When trying to understand where your customers are dropping off in the purchasing process, you must first consider who is dropping off. To gather this data, start by setting up tracking and reports that allow you to see which acquisition channels your customers tend to come from. From there, take it one step further, and create a report that shows you which traffic sources result in the highest rates of shopping cart abandonment. Are there particular days, or times across the month where shoppers are more likely to digital window shop and abandon their cart? - if so, adjust your media plan accordingly to the days more likely to complete a purchase.

Spending time understanding shopping cart abandonment through the lens of acquisition can allow you to diagnose potential problems with your purchasing flow. Your findings will identify where you can implement personalization at key parts of the checkout process that cater to customers with varying familiarity with your brand. There is no reason for a repeat buyer to have an identical website experience as a brand new customer acquired through an Instagram ad. Analyzing your shopping cart abandonment rate by referring traffic channels can help you locate the places on your site that are in desperate need of personalization.

Establish Real-time Reporting

When it comes to shopping cart abandonment rates, old data just won’t cut it! Tracking your real-time shopping cart abandonment rates will allow your team to pinpoint problems as soon as they occur. Maybe you’re running a sale or promotion and your shopping cart abandonment rate is soaring higher than ever before– this should set off an alarm for your team that something is very wrong and needs to be taken care of immediately.

On the other hand, what if your shopping cart abandonment rate is shockingly low as was the case during an incident Cassey Deveau coined as “Abercrombie and Glitch”? In the final days of 2021, online shoppers discovered a loophole in which they could use multiple discount codes on the same item on the Abercrombie and Fitch website. This resulted in many customers securing discounts up to 80%-90% depending on the item! While low shopping cart abandonment rates are usually indicative of a great shopping experience, seeing a major dip in live time can allow your team to identify issues in your purchasing process. More than that, your team will be able to adjust on the fly just like Abercrombie and Fitch did—by mid New Years Day 2022 they had rectified the issue on their site!

Invest in a Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) Solution

When it comes to reducing your shopping cart abandonment rate you need to think about your site experience holistically. While a broken promo code can certainly cause a snafu when it comes time to checkout, a positive customer experience starts the moment someone lands on your site—well before it’s time to take out their credit card. 

To create a cohesive and frictionless shopping experience, you’ll need to invest in a CRO solution that allows you to personalize your site with content dynamically curated for each visitor. 

This will enable you to keep a consistent brand experience throughout and establish trust in your business and security through all touchpoints, not just at checkout (in case they don’t make it that far). This can set up the groundwork for a customer to make a purchase in the future even if their shopping cart rolls to a stop today.

While the Target Effect still remains a mystery, these proven strategies are sure to make waves when optimizing your shopping cart abandonment rate. For many more tactical tips on how to optimize every single foundational ecommerce KPI check out our new guide: The Marketer's Ultimate Guide to Ecommerce Metrics.