Businesses are battling like never before to stand out in the Attention Economy. In fact, the Australian Psychological Society believes the pandemic may have led many to losing any sense of boundaries with technology, costing everyday Aussies sleep, an ability to focus at work, or foster hobbies, exercise or relationships.

But if you’re a retailer, you don’t need the experts to tell you that people are easily distracted. You just need to count your abandoned carts.

There’s a growing number of virtual shopping carts floating out there in cyberspace, half-filled with shoes, books or soaps. Chances are, you own a few too. You may have gone to a website, picked out a few products, started to fill in your banking details before getting distracted by something else and abandoning the cart altogether.

It may sound absurd, but an extraordinary 69.57% of all online shopping carts are abandoned transactions, according to the Bayard Institute.

It’s a huge problem, but it can be fixed. Ask the good folks at Coffex Coffee Roasters, Melbourne.

This Melbourne coffee wholesaler has selling been roasting and blending beans for more than half a century. They know their stuff, and their product is seriously good. In recent years, the roaster’s website sales have been booming but they’ve had to endure plenty of ‘almost sales’ too.

When the scale of this problem started to become apparent, Coffex tried to solve it with automated emails, but mostly found themselves being ignored. So, Marketing Manager Wendy Faire approached MessageMedia to see if a targeted SMS campaign might reap better results.

The solution was to send out short, simple, friendly reminders to potentially forgetful customers within an hour of abandoning their carts.

Over time, the results were extraordinary. In 6 months since implementing SMS marketing via MessageMedia, shoppers abandoned online carts worth a total of $4,127.24. In response, 205 reminder text messages were sent at a mere total cost of $28.56. What did they directly earn as a result? An incredible $4,875.18 in recovered sales. That’s right, shoppers not only retrieved their abandoned carts, but they added more to them before sealing the deal.

As Wendy happily puts it, the texts “have been going gangbusters. A lot of people are not just following up on their original purchase, but they’re purchasing even more. The return on investment has just been amazing.”

To solve your store’s abandoned cart issues, here’s what you can do:

  • Evaluate your online shopping process. Take a look at your website. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think about how easy it is to check out your products. Make sure buying from you doesn’t take too long, or if the website is too confusing. If your experience is straightforward, you’re far more likely to secure a sale on the spot.
  • Be transparent. There are so many reasons a shopper may abandon a sale. But often it’s due to unexpected surprises in the last-mile of check out. Extra shipping costs, taxes or fees make many shoppers jump ship, and so can unexpectedly long delivery times or the lack of a returns policy. Find ways to eliminate these buzzkills well ahead of the eleventh hour of a sale. 
  • You simply can’t rely on emails. We know we’re biased, but more often than not, emailing about an abandoned cart is a mistake. Studies suggest the open rate for any email campaign sits at just a little more than 20 per cent, while just 4 per cent of recipients tend to click on a link. The bottom line is, we all get way too many emails, and have got into the habit of deleting them without even reading the subject line.
  • SMS remains a simple and effective strategy. You don’t even need to rely on the internet to cut through with SMS. With 90 per cent of text messages read in 90 seconds, you’re much more likely to re-engage shoppers soon after they’ve disappeared from your website. In fact, for every 100 text messages sent, about 16.4% of recently abandoned carts can be recovered.
  • Get creative. Would-be shoppers can change their mind in an instant. But perhaps injecting some life and colour into your communications can help them come back around. For example, adding links and images to an MMS can increase click-through rates. Or perhaps a two-way SMS could help you find out why they changed their minds in the first place.

Our New Shopping Normal Report shows that many shoppers have become Digital Devotees and plan to keep shopping online at the same volume as COVID-19 lockdowns. As growing numbers of people take to online shopping, it’s pretty clear their attention will remain hard to grab. So, while tech’s evolution can keep us on our toes, it’s important to work with the changes, rather than against them. 

Step one? Get smart about abandoned carts.

Tara Salmon is chief marketing officer for Australia & New Zealand at MessageMedia.