Abandoned Basket Syndrome: not just the retail sector!

Our recent article The Very Sad Tale of the Abandoned Basket explored the growing trend for customers to abandon their online baskets, and looked at what marketers can do to try and persuade customers to complete their purchase.

In that article we explained that the average basket abandonment rate from 500 leading global retail brands is 74.4%! But that got us thinking: is it only the retail sector that is struggling with abandoned baskets?

The answer is very categorically NO!

As can be seen from the image below, many other sectors are also suffering from different levels of abandoned basket syndrome:

Let’s explore each of them briefly in turn. We will look at specific reasons for why baskets are abandoned in that particular sector and see if there are any common themes as compared with the retail sector we explored in our previous article. We will also consider why some sectors have a lower abandonment rate than others to see if there are lessons to be learned.

Fashion – 67.4%
Interestingly this is the lowest abandonment rate of any sector. There could be three main reasons for this:

  • Customers are loyal to their brand and the user experience of that brand. This makes the purchase process both easier and more habitual than in some other sectors;
  • Leading on from the above, the fashion world moves quickly and operates more on a “must have it now” basis than many other sectors: hence there is a shorter consideration time in the purchasing process;
  • Interestingly, consumer habits in the fashion sector include an increased willingness to return unsuitable goods. This makes seeing a purchase through to completion less of an issue than it appears to be for other sectors – sometimes consumers even purchasing a product in multiple sizes – as they know they can return anything they don’t want to keep.

eGaming – 71.2%
Whilst not insignificant, this abandonment rate is still lower than general retail. In a slight parallel to the fashion sector this could be because customers going to an eGaming site are enthusiastic about the product and therefore have a greater intent to purchase. Purchases are also often time critical – for example they may want to place a bet for an imminent major sporting event – so consumers do not have the luxury of consideration time.

Another potential reason for slightly lower basket abandonment rates in this sector is the array of generous deals – particularly for new customers – that eGaming sites tend to offer.

Travel – 81.6%
So, the first of the three sectors that have higher basket abandonment rates than general retail is the travel sector. The main reason for this is that it is a much more considered purchase with lots of research involved before purchase takes place. Millward Brown found that many consumers booking holidays can take up to 45 days and 38 travel site visits before finalising their plans.

Research conducted by Salecycle in 2016, in which 1,000 consumers were asked why they abandoned travel purchases, indicated two main reasons for basket abandonment in this sector. The first (39%) was that they had more research to do before making a decision and the second (37%) due to trying to get a better price elsewhere. The need to check with others involved in the booking was also cited by 21% of consumers as a reason for preventing immediate completion of a purchase.

A smaller number also quoted logistical reasons such as the booking process being too long or complicated, technical issues with the website or problems with payments or payment methods.

Non-profit – 82.1%
In the non-profit sector basket abandonment seems to occur largely due to logistics. Unfortunately the non-profit sector can suffer from lack of financial resources and digital skills to be able to do retail ecommerce really well. However, progress is being made, with 21% of non-profits making sales or taking orders online during 2016 as compared to only 10% in 2015. So it is to be hoped that the basket abandonment in this sector may soon begin to fall.

Utilities – 84.4%
Utilities have attracted a bit of a bad reputation as the sector that everyone loves to hate! Many people that are not happy with their current supplier start the process of switching in the hope of finding a better rate. So why do they have the highest rate of basket abandonment?

The main issue here seems to be the complexity of the process. To switch utility supplier the consumer needs to be armed with all their latest bills and usage information: switching is a process that requires the time and effort that so many of us simply do not have. It could be argued that utility companies are missing a trick here and that if one of them came up with a way to simplify the switching process without the need for so much current data up front they would clean up the market!

So there are lessons to be learned from the above information by marketers – whether you work for a large corporate, a small business or a digital marketing agency. It seems clear that to reduce basket abandonment levels we need to:

  • Engender brand loyalty so that it is an easy and intuitive decision to purchase from us rather than the competition
  • Ensure UX is top notch so that customers love to come back to us
  • Build in a sense of urgency so that the item or the offer is only available for a limited time
  • Ensure our logistics and payment processes are as all inclusive and easy as they can be
  • Provide customers with everything they need to know at their fingertips so they don’t have to leave the site to do any additional research

By working on the above areas we should in theory be able to improve basket abandonment rates whatever sector or size of business we are in. We’d love to hear your experiences and will return to this topic later in the year!

Author: Emily Williams