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Digital Doughnut Contributor
Digital Doughnut Contributor 25 November 2019

The Mysterious Case of the Abandoned Online Shopping Basket

By Nick Cole, Managing Director, Go Inspire Group

We already know that seven out of ten online shopping baskets are abandoned before check-out,[1] but what can retailers do with this information to increase the number of customers who see their purchasing journey all the way through? Having an awareness of abandonment rates is not enough. If marketers are to improve their reactivation rates, they must invest time into understanding the factors that cause consumers to shy away from the check-out line, as well as those that prompt customers to click the “proceed to check-out” button.

Presently, a surprisingly small number of retailers are dedicating energy to understanding these underlying factors, with only 27% claiming to analyse the browsing behaviour of customers who do not complete their purchase.[2] Investigating what influences shoppers to exit the virtual store and reviving their interest in those deserted products is a simple way of increasing sales and overall revenues for stores with an online presence.

At media-neutral Go Inspire Group, we thought that if retailers knew the true value of their accumulated abandoned baskets, and were provided with hard evidence about the effectiveness of various reactivation techniques – then maybe they might feel more inclined to put the work into retrieving this lost stream of revenue. While email reactivation strategies are commonplace, few businesses recognise the value of postal mail in helping to bridge the reactivation gap. Hoping to demonstrate the ongoing utility of postal methods, we decided to conduct a control trial to compare the effectiveness of both offline and online techniques.

In particular, we wanted to estimate the added efficiency of reactivation techniques for businesses who integrate offline channels into their strategy, compared with businesses that do not. The objective was to provide data which could aid businesses with decisions surrounding their media channels and, effectively, help retailers boost their sales by nudging customers to resume their shopping experience where they left off.

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The trial consisted of sending a highly personalised, yet automated postal mailing to customers within a week of product abandonment, urging customers who had not responded to previous e-mail attempts to complete their transaction. The comparative effectiveness of postal techniques was deduced from the effectiveness of standalone triggered email systems, which tend to hover around a conversion rate of 5-7%.[3]

The outcome was very insightful for marketers. Conversion rates of postal activity were in excess of the email activity alone – more specifically 113.5%. Furthermore, because respondents to the postal mail had not been responsive to the initial email activity, the output of both reactivation activities in combination amounted to more than double the commercial result of reactivation emails alone. The results of the test clearly point towards the frequently overlooked added value that postal reactivation strategies can bring to businesses’ conversion methods

So evidently, combining all available channels is more effective at recovering lost transactions, but how much revenue can retailers retrieve by adopting this optimal strategy? Looking at several different UK retail categories, we sought to estimate the additional revenue to be gained from triggered postal mail reactivation follow-ups for each sector. The fashion industry has the most added value to claim, with over £850 million of estimated sales revenue left up for grabs.[4]

This is then followed closely by the consumer electronics industry, which is leaving over £657 million in revenue on the table by not implementing postal mail basket reactivation techniques.[5]

Even the food and beverage sector alone has more than £450 million of retrievable revenue.[6] These figures represent a significant amount of revenue at stake that businesses could lose to competitors if they fail to harness the power of postal mail to optimise their abandonment reactivation success rate.

There is great myopia in exclusively using electronic methods to communicate with customers, particularly when based on the unfounded assumption that their effectiveness is greater. Clearly this also applies to the reactivation of abandoned online shopping baskets. In a world where data is power, savvy retailers should take advantage of the valuable trail of information that browsing customers leave behind. While many businesses wrongly dismiss this information, marketers who use this data to model a reactivation strategy that matches the preferences of their unique client base will inevitably be more successful at luring fugitive shoppers back in store.

The first step for marketers is therefore to collect information surrounding the customer profiles of basket-abandoners, and the stage of the purchasing journey at which the greatest number of baskets get left behind. Equipped with this information, marketers should then deploy all available channels to maximize the success rate of their reactivation techniques from which they can derive significant additional revenue.


[1] Go Inspire Group, The Abandoned Basket Reactivation Gap, September 2019

[2] Ibid, Go Inspire Group, The Abandoned Basket Reactivation Gap September 2019

[3] Go Inspire Group, The Abandoned Basket Reactivation Gap, September 2019

[4] Go Inspire Group, The Abandoned Basket Reactivation Gap, September 2019

[5] Ibid, Go Inspire Group, The Abandoned Basket Reactivation Gap, September 2019

[6] Ibid, Go Inspire Group, The Abandoned Basket Reactivation Gap, September 2019

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