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Cyber Monday is on the horizon. Retailers are ready for increased online traffic and big revenue results. As we ramp up for holiday shopping, let’s consider the state of the industry:

  • Cyber Monday is still a big deal; in 2015, Cyber Monday was eCommerce’s biggest sales day ever, with online sales totaling more than $3 billion and retailers seeing a 16% increase in sales over the previous year.
  • But, customers might not think about it that way; 58% of consumers claim that special deals on specific days like Cyber Monday don’t affect their shopping behavior, presumably because deals are extending to span more days during the holiday season.
  • More consumers shop for the holidays online, increasingly from mobile devices.
  • Omnichannel options to “pick up in store” generate huge web sales growth for retailers like Target that have brick-and-mortar locations.
  • Online shoppers increasingly expect same-day delivery; 70% have used Amazon’s same-day delivery service and 4% have considered not purchasing an item online because same-day delivery wasn’t offered.

Whether shoppers are hitting your site in droves on Cyber Monday or taking advantage of offers throughout the season; whether they’re searching for same-day delivery or opting for the security of in-store pick-up; eCommerce companies still have to solve this pesky problem: cart abandonment.

Customers abandon 67.45% of online shopping carts.

Digital business and performance teams must take a two-fold approach: mitigate and prevent.

Mitigating Cart Abandonment

Some cart abandonment cannot be avoided. People like to window shop on the web. For example, I have a friend who buys lots of cosmetics online. She stays logged in on her favorite shops and saves items at her leisure. She waits for a great promo or coupon code. Then, she visits her cart to purchase her saved items. This method doesn’t work well super-hyped, limited edition products that sell out quickly. But, it’s a pretty common behavior for online shoppers.

In fact, Baymard found that 58.6% of US online shoppers abandoned a cart within the last 3 months because they were “just browsing.” Fortunately, businesses can persuade many “just browsing” shoppers to complete their purchases.

How do you persuade them?

Send automatic emails. Friendly reminders prompt users to purchase, and can be great opportunities to suggest items or promote brand loyalty, too.

eCommerce platforms such as Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, and others integrate with email marketing systems such as MailChimp, Emma, and others. These integrations facilitate follow-up emails to remind shoppers of the items in their carts. MailChimp found that for most eCommerce customers, cart abandonment campaigns paid for the cost of using the email marketing system by recouping sales from abandoned carts. If you’re interested in learning more about cart abandonment email best practices, MailChimp has a great blog post here.

You should absolutely have a system in place to respond to abandoned carts, but don’t stop there.

Preventing Cart Abandonment

Baymard found that of online shoppers who were ready to buy, 22% of those shoppers abandoned the cart because the website had errors or crashed. Other top issues prompting abandonment were related to design and user experience. In many cases, you can prevent cart abandonment with smart design and reliable performance.

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Common cart abandonment reasons, according to a Baymard study referenced in this article.

Teams need to be able to respond quickly and also prevent performance problems if possible.

To make sure your team is enabled to respond to issues:

  • Monitor complete transactions that simulate real user paths (from an ad to a checkout, for example)
  • Test end-to-end API transactions
  • Monitor availability of critical third-party platforms and services
  • Use notifications and status pages to alert and empower customer-facing support

Prevent cart abandonment due to design or performance issues:

  • Optimize performance under load
  • Use CDNs to optimize performance according to locations
  • Look for bottlenecks and optimize response times on the right pages
  • Test transactions in staging environments to catch new features that might degrade performance before they go live to real shoppers
  • Design simple, checkout processes with as few form fields as possible
  • Integrate trusted, convenient payment options

Final Thoughts and Takeaways

The other day my friend received a report. “JavaScript errors breaking the checkout process.”

Site status looked fine. Servers looked fine. Proactive monitoring tests showed no errors. Investigating further, my friend learned that shoppers with broken carts entered the site from online ads. Those ads included tracked links with UTM parameters. The UTM parameters conflicted with the JavaScript functionality of the cart’s checkout.

Imagine: how much money did that retailer spend on advertisements sending shoppers into broken carts? Would an automated email campaign have helped complete the transaction? Or, would that have compounded the problem?

When designing and monitoring to prevent cart abandonment, think critically through buyer paths. Apply a holistic approach to design, performance, and response. It’s no longer enough to sit and watch the servers to make sure they stay alive under high traffic. We must consider multiple integrated systems – some outside of our control.

The best way to combat Cyber Monday cart abandonment is to prevent it. Monitor often. Test early. Create a plan to deliver a fast, reliable experience for online shoppers.

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