I’m on mailing lists for a bunch of companies that I’ve occasionally bought stuff from. Last week I was looking at their site to buy something. I did click on a couple other interesting items, but did not go ahead and actually submit the order.
Yesterday I got an email from them saying I hadn’t bought anything for some time, and it offered me free shipping and 25 percent off my purchase. So I went back and bought the one item that wasn’t discontinued, and a couple others that were on sale. The 25 percent off applied to everything, including the sale items.
My four items ended up costing me $24 instead of $56 with shipping!
Is this something that other online businesses do? I know I’ve gotten emails in the past that I left something in my cart, but never a discount offer. But it’s a trick I’ll certainly try in the future elsewhere.”
You’ve stumbled across a tactic that many online retailers use to combat online shopping cart abandonment: Remarketing. Remarketing is the practice of trying to reach potential shoppers who’ve visited a shopping website or app and expressed interest in making a purchase.
Have you ever searched the web for a specific item – say, a pair of shoes – and then seen that same item featured in online banner ads while you’re browsing around the web? This is a remarketing technique: putting the item’s photo in front of you again to remind you that you were interested in it.
If you’ve left an item or two in your shopping cart without completing your transaction, the retailer may reach out to you in an effort to get you to finish shopping. Perhaps they’ll offer you a discount code, free shipping or another promotion. Why?
Shopping cart abandonment is a serious issue for online retailers. According to the Baymard Institute research firm, the average shopping cart abandonment rate is more than 68 percent. Nearly seven out of every 10 people who begin the online purchase process do not complete it. Their research notes the top reason people abandon online shopping carts is excessive extra costs added before purchase: shipping and handling, taxes and fees.
No business wants to lose seven out of 10 potential customers. This is where remarketing efforts come in. Web trackers called “cookies” enable the technology that will have a product you previously browsed for seemingly “follow” you in banner ads across multiple websites in an effort to re-entice you to click on the item again.
If a website knows exactly who you are, it’s even easier to market directly to you. If you us a social media platform like Facebook, your account may be linked to online retailers you frequent, and they can easily target you directly for a remarketing “come back” offer. The same is true if you’re a member of a retailer’s email list.
I’ve long been aware of these tactics. When I see items I’m interested in buying, but the price isn’t quite where I’d like it to be, I’ll add the products to my online shopping cart anyway. I make sure to log into the website first, so they know exactly who I am.
Then, I wait. I’ll leave the cart alone and forget about it for a few days. More often than not, I’ll receive an email within the next week either reminding me that I still have items in my cart or offering me a general shopping or shipping discount. These efforts are specifically designed to re-engage shoppers so they return to the website and make a purchase.
A few weeks ago, I was looking online for some thick, wool winter socks for my son. The socks were a fair price, but the shipping charges were high. I left them in my cart, and three days later, I received a 15 percent off coupon code with free shipping. You can bet that I went right back and ordered the socks for an even better price – sans shipping.
Jill Cataldo is a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three.