During the past 10 years, retail businesses have increasingly adopted new strategies and technologies to better meet customers’ rapidly changing needs and behaviours. For example, the rise in mobile phone use has been a catalyst for a huge shift in consumer behaviour. Customers are now able to purchase goods and services from their phone and expecting more convenience and more seamless experiences than ever.

Despite greater ease of purchase, many online retail businesses still struggle with significantly high rates of cart abandonment. According to the Baymard Institute the average rate of shopping cart abandonment is just shy of 70 per cent. That’s not to say all is hopeless. Baymard research also suggests $260B of lost orders are recoverable just through further checkout flow optimisation.

What is an abandoned cart and why does it happen

Similar to shopping trolleys left floating around a physical store, abandoned carts in ecommerce occur when customers add items to their online shopping carts but never successfully complete their orders. There are multiple reasons why customers might desert their items before checking out, including realising the cost of shipping when they reach checkout, the lack of payment options available, poor customer experience, or they may just not be ready to make their purchase.

What’s the solution

Some common methods used to help with mitigating these issues include simple upgrades to websites, improving the user experience, or even offering free shipping. However, if you’ve done all these things and are still struggling to convert, text reminders are an easy and effective way to drive better results. According to our research, we’ve seen results of up to 20 carts recovered per 100 SMS sends.

SMS reminders & two-way texting

One technology that has been game-changing for the retail industry is the increased adoption of SMS in the marketing mix. In a matter of seconds, businesses can communicate a reminder, update, announcement, or promotion and have the reassurance of knowing the message will be delivered and read in a matter of a few minutes. in fact, 90% of SMS messages are read within 90 seconds; making it one of the most powerful communication mediums today.

SMS technology has accelerated the deepening of real-time, personalised engagement and can help reduce the number of abandoned carts through simple reminder texts. Abandoned cart reminders, much like appointment text reminders, simply prompt customers about the purchases they’ve abandoned in a brief 160-character message, often including a custom link back to their abandoned cart.

One of the key challenges when sending an abandoned cart SMS is figuring out the optimal time to send your reminder. Our research tells us a 60-minute delay is the best time to send an abandoned cart SMS. This gives customers time to consider their purchase while also catching them while the potential purchase is still at the front of their mind.

Additionally, you could introduce two-way texting. This allows customers to quickly gain access to a knowledgeable expert if they are still uncertain about their purchase and is an opportunity for your business to forge stronger, more trusted relationships with consumers through personal 1-on-1 interactions.

When a message is sent from a business to a recipient, you enable the recipient to join the conversation, ask more questions, or gain more information they might need before purchasing. Using an SMS provider – either directly or through an integration with your ecommerce tool like Shopify or CRM and marketing automation platform like HubSpot –  responses from the sender can be automated or relayed to a customer representative who can reply directly. It also allows customers to reply at their own pace, instead of focusing all their attention on the conversation like you would with a phone call.

Coupled with the ability to add personalised discount codes and other details, the cut-through and versatility of SMS is unparalleled. Marketing personalisation means interacting with your audience and customers in a way that feels customised and human, and SMS makes this extremely easy to do.

How effective is it

At MessageMedia, we’ve seen that customers who use SMS to tackle cart abandonment can achieve up to a 40 per cent recovery rate in sales. To maximise the effectiveness, we recommend sending two texts –one initial and one follow-up.

Shopping online, whether it’s on a laptop or a phone, can be distracting –  sometimes customers need that extra nudge to bring potential purchases front of mind again!

Tara Salmon is chief marketing officer for global business messaging provider MessageMedia.