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Recovering lost sales - Giving a customer a second chance to buy

Putting your database of abandoned customers to work

2:05 pm on Sep 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Im thinking of doing a 'second chance to buy' option. You see, I have all the customers information when they abandon the cart, once they get to the shipping screen. And this accounts for 50% of my shopping cart abandonment.

I was thinking of offering the customer free shipping, to these abandoned customers

I could send them an email, with a URL where they could be sent back to our website, at the point of abandonment, but this time with free shipping.

This would be a bit of work, but is technically possible.

Has anybody tried this? Do you think this may work in recovering loss sales?

I have this database of 'almost sales', and im sure other companies have the same, but I have never seen this technique done on the web.

In brick and mortar retail, its done all the time. If you think the customer is going to walk, you give a discount or incentive to save the sale.

How would you react if you got one of these offers? Place yourself in the 'you were almost ready to buy, so you were interested in the product', rather than in spam mode.

3:08 pm on Sept 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Depends what information you have available...

If you're at the point where you can say "this is who they are / who they work for and this is what they wanted to buy" then it should be possible to intelligently make follow-ups to likely candidates.

Should you be unable to convert them you should at the very least be able to learn why they didn't buy from you and perhaps fix the problem, alternately your follow-up may remind them that they were looking at your site right before that big meeting / lunch / whatever and encourage them to take another look.

I've seen it used with e-commerce in the past and it can work well if used intelligently - after all not every person in a shop is a potential buyer.

- Tony

4:50 pm on Sept 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

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We will be looking at the type of customer that has spent some time on our web site, added mulitple items into the shopping cart, and thus has invested time and effort, any may have been scared away by the shipping charge. Just like in brick and mortar retail, you don't care if you lose the $10 sale, but you rather take a little less profit than lose that $100 sale.

Also you are more likely to negotiate if you know that the customer has a high margin item, rather than a low margin item, and build that into the equation also.

Most of the browser type customers, should be filtered out, before they finish entering name, address, email type info, so we should be dealing with qualified buyers, once we reach the shipping details.

I have never seen this type of marketing done before, and I can't find any reference on it, searching the web, so either this is an untapped market, or it has been tried and failed and is now old news.

5:58 pm on Sept 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I've seen similar approaches on websites.

One was on a legal site that I was looking at to help me incorporate. I don't recall the name, but it was affiliated/owned/sponsored/something by one of the lawyers from the OJ Simpson case.

I filled out all my information for incorporation and then decided at the last minute to just do it myself rather than pay them.

Shortly after I abandoned the cart, I got an email from them with a discount if I'd come back and use them.

12:31 pm on Sept 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Download one of the trial books at Sitepoint, they normally follow this up with a couple of emails (over the next few weeks) offering a discount.

Works great the first time (well I bought the book:)). But what happens the next time I'm thinking of buying - I'll probably wait and see if they do the same.

3:25 pm on Sept 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Yeah, I do this on my site, and it works well. I don't have a record in my database until I've got the full shipping information, like you. The people I catch are the ones that bottle out at the payment stage, or have problems with their card.

Most people I just send a polite email explaining that their order has been saved and they can finish it by clicking a link, offering no discount. The link takes them right to the payment page.

There's been a few abandoned big orders where I've added a 10% discount. I've only done this a few times, but it has worked every time.

3:48 pm on Sept 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Just a comment from a shopper's point of view:

Being forced to give personal details before I can see what my total costs will be is a major turnoff. The sites that let me see what shipping or other charges will be before I fill in personal information are more likely to get my repeat business.

Pay careful attention to Elgumbo's comment: be cautious about what you "teach" your shoppers. If you reward shoppers with a discount for bailing out of the checkout process, they'll quickly learn how to manipulate that, and tell friends too. That might or might not be a good thing, depending on your profit margins, marketing strategies, etc.

4:29 pm on Sept 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Buckworth. The problem is, we run a site where we accurately calculate the shipping charge, based on the weight and volume. So we need the address information,
to calculate the shipping. Sort of the cart before the horse situation.

I guess I could ask just for the zipcode/postal code
and use that info, but I have never seen this done, on a site that charges actual shipping charges.

Im beginning to think, maybe I should boost my prices, and have a flat shipping charge, a small order handling fee for those 'pain the rear small orders', and free shipping at a certain level.

Using this method, I could get my checkout down to
two pages.

1) Order total with Shipping and Personal Information
and credit card info.

2) Thank You for your order.

10:50 am on Sept 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I show actualy shipping charges in my shopping cart once they enter their zip/postal code (and country) in a little box in my shopping cart. It calculates it based on the products in their cart and shows all their options before they have to enter any other info.

Just takes a little programming...


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