Why do mobile users add things to shopping carts and then not
purchase those items? It’s a vexing problem faced by merchants, made even more
prominent by the meteoric rise of mobile e-commerce. Shopping cart abandonment
on websites has been examined for more than a decade, but most research shows
that nearly 70% of web shoppers still abandon their carts, and on mobile
devices, it's above 90%! We recently completed an in-depth study on shopping cart
abandonment, and the results were surprising. Typical reasons for abandonment
user not ready
shopping cart as a wish list or comparison tool
user needs more
complicated website UX/UI (user interface?)
These reasons for not completing the purchase process are logical;
things only get interesting when we consider how much the actual process of
shopping has changed in the digital age. Now, more than ever, all purchasing behavior begins with the user.
A user’s core purchasing drivers, based largely on life experiences, desires
and personalities, are filtered through externalities and turned into behaviors
that can affect any part of the purchasing process. Technological innovation
has exposed markets to widespread fragmentation and merchants are losing
control of the sales funnel in an era of mass customization. The result is that there are multiple stages of the buying
decision that, for most users, take place within the “shopping cart” flow.
Digital shopping cart behavior is thus a more fluid phase in purchasing than in
a traditional, physical shopping cart or even in early e-commerce websites. In
the mobile environment, where purchase behavior is geographically dynamic, it
is even more difficult to strictly measure shopping cart abandonment data by
attaching it to a particular point of the purchasing process. Merchants should examine and assess the purchasing process and
potential buyers from a holistic perspective. This kind of sophisticated
approach requires not only data-based observations, but also attempting to
acknowledge and illuminate the core purchasing drivers that exist in every
user. The resulting contextual observations allow more customized, effective
communications with users. Consider that in the past, server-client technology was driven by
“dumb” appliances: dumb terminals, dumb routers, dumb pipes, etc. But advances
in data acquisition and storage have made ubiquitous analysis available on a
scale never imagined. This development presents an enormous opportunity to
derive not only data insights, but to apply those insights in a contextual
manner. Unfortunately, most mobile and portals are reactionary and treat
all users exactly the same, a mere net to either capture browsers in the act of
purchasing or to prevent visitors from escaping. Knowledge of users is not
applied discretely, and virtually none of the experience is customized. This is
a lost opportunity to not only nurture relationships with consumers, but also
in sales. A few merchants are smart, or getting smarter. Amazon, for
example, often customizes the browsing experience based on past purchases,
browsing, and similar items. Some merchants use transactional information to
generate purchasing recommendations. Some merchants note previous visits and
acknowledge their users. A rare group of merchants even allows preferences to
customize each visit on the surface level. But almost no merchants at all are
leveraging the vast amounts of user/visitor/customer knowledge available into a
truly personal user experience. This lack of action is both a surprise and an opportunity. For
example, the level of behavioral data available to most merchants is stunning:
preferences data, Facebook’s open graph, LinkedIn data, Twitter feeds, etc.
Advertisers use algorithms based on this and similar data to serve incredibly
prescient advertising, but the same brains aren’t being applied to the rest of
the digital experience. The result is a homogenous, reactive experience for
most users, and it forms the core of shopping cart abandonment. We created the following whitepaper: http://mypref.co/107aa2s based on our research that
delves into the reasons for shopping cart abandoment and provides guidance on
addressing it. In the coming weeks, we will share some tangible solutions
you can use to address this problem from your consumer’s perspective.
When I travel I give the airline my cell phone number as a point
of contact for last-minute changes or cancellations. This is a case where I'm
happy to give out a personal number so that I can know as soon as possible if
there is a change of plans. But that doesn't mean that I want the airline
calling me to let me know there’s a fare sale to a destination where I have
previously traveled. In other words, use of my cell number is on a conditional
It’s pretty common for a customer to provide a wireless number to
a company for contact around a specific transaction, like an airline flight or
other reservations. Or a customer may give a call-back number related to calls
for sales or technical support. On the customer's part, there is typically an
implied understanding that the number should be used only for that one
transaction. In a few months, however, that understanding will become more
In October 2013, companies will have to obtain express consent for
contacting customers via wireless device, for example by call or text message.
It will have to be made clear to the customer how his number will be used. And
even if a company has a customer’s wireless number on file from previous
interactions, it does not grant the company permission to contact the customer
via wireless in the future. The new regulations make it clear that the company
cannot use that number as a customer contact point for other messages or
solicitations without the customer’s express consent.
This new rule is similar to the existing Do Not Call rules for
landlines, with an emphasis this time on wireless devices. The rules impact
pre-recorded telemarketing calls as well as text messages. Unlike the Do Not
Call list where the preference is initiated by the customer and customers who
do not opt out are fair game for contact, express consent to dial a wireless
number must be obtained by the company prior to any contact.
Because the regulation is new, companies have to gain consent from
all customers, new or existing. One way to do this is to address the matter as
customers are in contact for sales or service situations. Regulations require
"written" consent from the customer, but consent recorded over the phone or
opt-in or out via an online form will also be accepted.
Companies are training their customer service representatives on
the new rule and some are already moving forward with obtaining consent. We are
working with companies to put these steps in place and recommend specific best
practices, including language explaining consent and measures to ensure that a
record of the customer’s preference is made, either via written consent or by
Companies can also set up an interface within an existing
preference center that allows customers to update their preferences online.
There are various ways to communicate this to customers, including by regular
email messages or newsletters that a customer has opted to receive, or through
a prompt when a customer logs into his profile. For new customers, wireless
consent will simply be one more step in setting up preferences on a profile.
Within the online interface customers will be taken to a
Preference Profile page upon login or when setting up a new profile. If the
customer selects phone or SMS as preferred mode of contact he will be prompted
to enter a phone number. When a wireless number is entered, specific disclosure
language will be displayed and the customer will be asked to click a checkbox
to provide consent. Note that the customer must opt in, unlike other preference
profiles where the opt-in is automatic and the customer can choose to opt-out.
We expect that there will be confusion on the part of companies,
as well as customers, on how this new regulation will be implemented. We are
currently testing new preference centers and tracking customer response and
will be reporting case studies as the new rules get closer to implementation in
About the Author:
Mike Madison is the Director of Product Architecture at PossibleNOW.
On Wednesday, May 8, I will be participating
in a panel presentation at the North American Retail Hardware Association All-Industry Conference. The NRHA
All-Industry Conference is a series of free educational seminars and breakout
sessions held at the 2013 National Hardware Show®in Las Vegas, May 7-9. Designed for
retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and industry professionals alike, the
conference line-up offers valuable insights into industry-wide topics,
including multi-channel retailing, the changing consumer, emerging niches and
I’m speaking on a panel with
some of the most astute and forward-thinking people in the industry.
Our keynote address discusses
one of the hottest and most complex issues that retailers face — the role of
mobile devices in the shopping experience.
We all realize that customers
are increasingly using mobile devices while in the store or on the go. The
customer will make it all the way through the process of researching and adding
products to their shopping cart, but when they make it to the last step —
clicking on the “Purchase” button — something prevents them from actually
making the purchase.
This is a vexing problem faced
by retail merchants as more and more consumers participate in what the industry
has termed “showrooming” – using the store to view a product, but purchasing it
later online. The need to address this problem is made even more important by
the meteoric rise of mobile e-commerce.
Our presentation will discuss
the barriers to taking this last step, and provide insight into a successful
implementation that encourages the user to go ahead and buy.
The primary research of the
mobile shopping experience will include:
values and drivers of the consumers to better understand why shopping carts are
at the mobile purchasing cycle
cart abandonment and its source — the user
Each of the panelists will lend
their insights to these online shopping issues. My co-panelists include:
Hyneman, search marketer and CMO at National Builder Supply
Davis, strategic developer and CEO at Proving Ground
My portion of the panel presentation
will provide background and observations on consumer behavior and offer
solutions to the virtual last mile.
If you are attending this NRHA
All-Industry Conference, please attend our presentation and say hello!
About the Author:
Eric V. Holtzclaw is Vice President and General Manager of
PossibleNOW's preference management consulting group. He's a researcher,
writer, serial entrepreneur and challenger-of-conventional wisdom. His book
with Wiley Publishing on consumer behavior - Laddering: Unlocking the Potential
of Consumer Behavior - hits bookstores this summer. Eric leads the
professional services organization to strategically guide companies on the
implementation of enterprise-wide preference management solutions.