Every day, new prospective customers find their way to your online store, browsing through what you have on display and occasionally dropping items into their cart that pique their interest. Your marketing team has been working diligently to get them to this point, developing targeted campaigns and spending hard-earned cash on ads to lure new prospects through your doorstep. The prospect continues to add items to their cart, and you smile encouragingly, suggesting other products they may like and even mentioning a discount if they check out in the next 10 minutes.

Your confidence begins to swell. You’ve done your research, and you know this prospect well. You’d be perfect for each other! You turn away briefly to tidy up your product line, but as you turn back around to seal the deal, you find that the prospect has vanished. What happened?

Why abandoned carts are important to your business

According to the Baymard Institute, which compiled online abandoned cart statistics from 34 studies over the last decade, more than 68% of online shopping carts are abandoned. You read that right – for every 100 prospects that make it to your online store and create a new cart, only 32 convert to an order. If you could turn around one of these abandoned carts to a converted order, this would represent a 3% boost in your overall sales. Convince 3 of those 68 carts to come back and now you’ve increased your sales by nearly 10%!

How to identify abandoned carts

Abandoned carts represent a significant proportion of potential revenue. However, before you can consider the reasons for why these prospects were lost or develop a plan for minimizing the abandonment rate, you first need a way to identify which carts are being abandoned.

Lucky for you, if you run a Magento store, all of this information is logged automatically in your sales_flat_quote table (quote in Magento 2.x).

Although Magento stores abandoned cart information by default, analyzing abandoned carts requires that you keep this information without deleting it. If your Magento implementation deletes records from your sales_flat_quote table after a certain number of days, all of the abandoned cart details will be lost. 

More specific details on the quote schema in Magento is available here, but to summarize, every cart created in your Magento store is logged as a separate entry in the sales_flat_quote table, including the timestamp that the cart was created as well as the customer details and total value of the cart items.

Identifying an abandoned cart is simply a matter of filtering for a few specific conditions, namely:

  • is_active = 1: By default, all carts have a status of is_active = 1, until this cart converts to an order. At the moment of conversion, is_active flips to 0, indicating that the cart is no longer active and that an order has been created instead
  • items_count > 0: In some instances a cart may be created even though the prospect has not added any items. For most businesses, a cart with no items that is later abandoned doesn’t really count as an abandoned cart, since the prospect never made it to the point of indicating that they were interested. Filtering for records where items_count > 0 ensures that only carts that contain items are considered
  • Seconds since cart creation > x: If you relied exclusively on the conditions outlined above, a cart would be considered abandoned as soon as the first item is added to it, since it has not yet converted to an order. Obviously, a cart isn’t really abandoned if the prospect just created it a few seconds ago, so this last condition requires some threshold beyond which a cart should be considered abandoned. For example, if you find that the median conversion time from cart to order creation is 1 day, you may want to consider all carts created more than 1 day ago to be abandoned assuming they have not converted to an order. If that’s the case, x above would be set to 86400 seconds (the number of seconds in day)

Developing a plan to prevent cart abandonment

There are a multitude of potential reasons for why a cart is abandoned. Great gains can be made by adjusting your fulfillment process so that fewer prospects are lost along the way. But for the prospects who have already abandoned you, what can you do to bring them back?

Two great approaches to make up for that lost ground include:

  1. Identify trends among abandoned carts. Are specific products abandoned more often than others? Is there a correlation between cart value and abandonment rate? Do shipping costs or hidden fees impact conversions? Does your free shipping threshold need to be adjusted to capture more customers? Aggregate and segment your abandoned carts across the hundreds of attributes logged by the Magento fulfillment system to start answering the questions above. More information on the item-level details recorded in an abandoned cart can be found here.
  2. Retarget lost prospects. Once you have a few hypotheses as to why your prospects are leaving you, it’s time to launch a retargeting campaign. When available, Magento tracks customer details for abandoned carts including the customer’s email address. Using this as a starting point, create targeted email lists depending on your suspected reasons for why they left. For example, did a large proportion of prospects abandon a cart containing a particularly high-priced item? Send them an email once this product goes on sale. Or do you find that many of your prospects fail to convert when shipping accounts for a large percentage of the overall order value? Offer to give them free or discounted shipping if they come back.

In summary

Abandoned carts are too valuable to forget about. With every missed opportunity, you are losing potential lifelong customers who simply don’t commit to the last couple of steps. By optimizing your order process and retargeting lost prospects with specific, targeted campaigns, you can boost your overall sales while improving the ROI on your acquisition campaigns.

However before you can do any of the above, you first need to start tracking your abandoned carts and analyzing abandonment trends. If you run a Magento store, this information is already available at your fingertips. And if you’re an RJMetrics user, the process of analyzing abandoned carts is a breeze. Contact RJMetrics today for support in setting up abandoned carts reports or schedule a demo if you’re not yet a customer.