The online “shopping cart” problem: Can retailers fix it?

RetailWire panelists recently discussed the phenomenon of “abandoned shopping carts” at e-commerce sites. Apparently shoppers walk away from other 2/3 of their transactions. The question before retailers: How to re-engage the customer (and close the sale) without being overly intrusive? Here are some of my thoughts:

Display ads containing abandoned items are so commonplace that most consumers are unlikely to find them disturbing. Likewise for followup e-mails…I’ve gotten many e-mails from travel sites in particular showing lower prices on hotels that I may have searched for. I do think more intrusive types of followup (especially unwanted text messages or phone calls) probably cross the line.

The bigger question is whether these follow-up methods (especially the first two) are effective in closing the sale? If so, was an added price incentive involved? If not, why not? And why were the carts abandoned in the first place? Retailers have a lot to learn about how to cut down on this issue, or to view it as a “cost of doing business.”

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