In the land before ecommerce, shoppers went to stores knowing exactly what they wanted, and generally would not put something in their cart unless they meant to buy it. They certainly would not spend hours walking around a store and filling their carts, just to leave them behind and run out the front door.

shutterstock_88703836However, since the dawn of ecommerce, cart abandonment has plagued online retailers. These cart abandoners might be gathering ideas for the people on their holiday shopping lists, comparing prices, or just have bad short-term memory, but the overall problem is they are not actually converting!

Like an animal backed in a corner (or any company losing revenue), the ecommerce industry has fought back in many ways. The most obvious and recent tactic is the abandoned cart lightbox. Triggering a lightbox when cart abandoners return and reminding them of their saved cart contents definitely can work for shoppers who actually forgot to buy.

For every other reason a shopper had for abandoning their cart, a lightbox might be nothing more than a nuisance that drives them away. For these shoppers, we need to explore going beyond the lightbox, and focus on them in real time during their current sessions.

Here are a few ideas to test that can help encourage shoppers to convert now, instead of later:

1) Let them know

beyond lightbox_text colorIt’s important to consistently remind shoppers, without being overbearing or annoying, that they have items in their cart. A simple, but underutilized, way to do that is highlighting the perpetual cart once an item has been placed in it. Many times, retailers will update the item quantity or dollar amount in the perpetual cart, but the messaging is washed away by the overall design of the website. To help cart updates stand out against other elements on the page, retailers can test the impact of changing the text color for the item quantity or the cart value. This also is a less intrusive way to remind returning visitors about any items from their last visit that are waiting in their saved cart.

2) Emphasize the incentive

It’s fantastic to serve banners that offer free shipping or other conversion incentives based on cart value, but a good portion of people will ignore these messages as they shop and forget about the promotion when they get to their cart page. Just like a marathon runner needs constant support to finish the race, shoppers need encouragement to reach these incentives. A great way to accomplish that is through site-wide threshold messaging. A common approach to threshold messaging is using a banner that follows a shopper throughout their entire website experience; for example, a banner that runs below the navigation.

beyond lightbox_threshold

Threshold campaigns also offer retailers an opportunity to use a lightbox in a more user-friendly way, firing it in the cart only if the shopper has not reached the minimum needed to qualify for the incentive.

3) Eliminate distractions

Generally when a shopper gets to the cart page, it’s because they are ready to buy their items and leave. Unlike brick-and-mortar stores that have had success with last-minute impulse buys, ecommerce websites have to acknowledge that online shoppers are easily distracted. It’s important to eliminate distractions during the checkout stage, and focus on leading shoppers through the process. Highlight messaging that is relevant to checkout, such as coupon code reminders, but think twice about upsells. They can distract shoppers, and eventually lead to those dreaded abandoned carts.

The biggest thing to remember is that all shoppers and websites are different. Retailers will want to learn what works best with their customers, and use those methods to their advantage. Realistically, there will always be shoppers abandoning carts, but it’s important not to give up on the effort to convince them to convert!

Buy Now image courtesy of Shutterstock.