Identifying Opportunities in Shopping Cart Abandonment


An abandoned shopping cart isn’t the be-all and end-all of a purchase journey and an online merchant’s profit. It offers opportunities for reversal towards increased sales and the further cultivation of brand awareness.

An abandoned eCommerce shopping cart is but one stage in a series of steps that the consumer has already taken towards a purchase. As such, the abandoned cart itself indicates prior consumer interest.

In this sense, remarketing efforts to bring the consumer back to the cart are essential, especially when there is lost revenue at hand – according to Business Insider, a hefty US$4.6 million worth of it.[1] Knowing what makes online shoppers leave your eCommerce site with nothing in hand will also help you to better tweak your strategies to convert site visitors into customers.

The Preliminary Dilemmas of the Asian Online Shopper

A bad beginning to a shopping experience online increases the likelihood of the customer abandoning the cart prematurely and the loss of revenue. One major cause can be poor site design, such as having to click through multiple pages to get to the payment destination, or an overcrowded page.

Getting the technical and design aspects of your webstore right paves the way for the consumer to push their shopping cart through to purchase. This includes creating a better customer experience through convenience features, such as a persistent shopping cart, which can encourage further browsing. These aspects are not just applicable to eCommerce sites, but also for mobile and other digital channels, especially for omnichannel retailers – who can recoup lost sales through more than one channel.

Creating a different consumer journey, though with a similar ease of purchase, on other digital devices may thus be a worthwhile strategy, such as giving discount codes for mobile app users and subscribers. Given that the Asia Pacific region is leading the world in smartphone and Internet penetration (366.3 million new consumers from China and India alone between 2014 and 2017, according to Adobe)[2], making it easy to push that shopping cart along in multiple virtual spaces is integral to keeping your customers and improving mobile conversion rates.

Putting the Product in the Online Consumer’s Hand

Even with a multitude of markets, APAC online shoppers agree on the grievances that cause them to ditch their carts. Despite its maturity, the region experiences high levels of shopping cart abandonment rates (75.9% as of 2016),[3] driven by factors such as high shipping costs or times (18%), high prices (18%), and a preference to buy in-store (15%).[4]

But dumping a shopping cart does not mean a dead end for the consumer journey. Carts can be used, for example, as wish lists, in which case addressing the consumer’s objections to buying products can recover revenue that might be given to a competitor in the time a consumer takes to make a final decision. As such, instead of seeing a dumped cart as a non-transaction, look upon an abandoned shopping cart as a transaction in stasis, wherein the decision to abandon the cart is reversible.

The APAC consumer psyche, in particular, is also concerned about payment options. A study of 10 APAC markets in 2016 revealed that nearly a third of Japan’s online shoppers, for instance, had abandoned their carts due to a lack of their preferred payment method.[5] To add on, the country is only one of several where cash payments remain king due to cultural and security concerns.[6]

Aside from ease of payment, a frictionless payment experience is also shaped by the transparency and security of purchases. This means giving the consumers the information they need and placing the details of country-specific shipping and delivery charges upfront for a streamlined purchase journey.

To cut down on shipping and delivery costs and increase the ability to offer free shipping to price-conscious APAC consumers, online retailers can work with logistics and delivery vendors based in local territories. Having alternative pick-up and delivery locations provides greater convenience to the Asian consumer. This decreases the amount of friction points in their consumer journey, which would otherwise create a frustrating customer experience and the dumping of carts.

Moving the Online Shopper Back to the Cart

All that said and done, there remains another possible step in the online shopping expedition where the consumer still decides to leave the site. That is when remarketing efforts are imperative, such as cart abandonment emails. Such email programmes can have more purpose than as a reminder with attractive copy and visuals. Given the intention of cajoling online shoppers and nudging them back to their pending purchases, these emails should ideally re-engage and be relevant to consumer needs.

For example, online retailers may consider sending an email to inform consumers of a discount offered to an item left behind in their cart. This can encourage re-engagement, especially if the deterrent to the consumer’s hesitation to purchase initially was high prices. eCommerce platform giant, Rakuten for example, has offered a discount to Indonesian users in cart abandonment emails.[7]

It may seem like giving consumers an incentive post-cart abandonment may result in the unintentional effect of consumers merely waiting for that incentive to come along. In addition, the use of the cart as a wish list among Asian online shoppers may also indicate their eventual return, which downplays the urgency of remarketing efforts.  This, however, equally downplays the varied desires of online shoppers.

Cart abandonment emails do not necessarily have to focus solely on what is left behind. Reminders can often be opportunities for additional sales, too, if they are directed at the shopper’s preferences. For instance, customizing cart abandonment email content by analyzing a shopper’s purchase history data is likely to increase further engagement or a return to engagement with the brand, such as through the recommendation of similar products or products they might like. Providing further alternatives to what consumers have an interest in may have an effect on driving sales, especially with consumer demographics where shopping behavior consists of more browsing than buying.

This strategy is especially useful to the Asian eCommerce landscape where there is a high adoption rate of curated subscription services by online shoppers.[8] This means that APAC shoppers, and in particular China, South Korea and Singapore, are fairly open to products targeted at their preferences. This service is often in the form of the retailer providing samples to consumers based on their purchase histories to increase the likelihood of future purchases.

However, online retailers do not have to feel compelled to offer incentives to anyone who abandons their carts, and re-engage consumers at the expense of other business objectives. It is simply that syncing your email reminder programme and cart abandonment emails to the timeline of your other business strategies, such as a seasonal sale, can work in tandem to have a positive effect on returning customers.

What is significant to remember is that even when these remarketing efforts are not converted into purchases and profit, these strategies may prove to be additional channels to build a relationship with your consumer and promote brand engagement and awareness. These are intangible benefits for your eCommerce business that cannot be measured by the quantity of clicks.