In a very interesting article published in The Drum last month, tech solutions provider, Optilead, claimed that online retailers that fail to communicate with online shoppers who log-out before checking out their shopping basket are costing e-retailers over £1m in lost sales.
The company visited 50 U.K. online retailers including Amazon, Play.com, Argos, John Lewis, and Next, registered as a new customer, created an account on each site, then proceeded to order over £500 worth of goods before cancelling the transaction prior to confirming payment.
The company suggests that 25-40 per cent of these cancelled transactions can effectively be "rescued" simply by phoning customers directly to see if there is anything that retailers can help with to close the sale. It sounds a bit old fashioned, but it seems that even in e-tail, it is still good to talk. The research found that only two retailers sent an email after the order was abandoned and not one retailer telephoned to discuss the transaction. Why not?
According to the latest IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, British shoppers spent a mighty £5.58bn online last month, a 5 percent increase on June and an 11.5 percent year-on-year rise. Retailers that fail to follow up on incomplete sales are losing a slice of this very meaty pie and perhaps an untapped opportunity to connect with customers on a one-to-one basis and delight them.
After reading this article a few things came to mind. First, as consumers, how would we react to receiving a call from a representative enquiring about a sale we walked away from? We’re all so security conscious now, do we even trust that the unsolicited person on the other end of the phone is actually who they say they are? Also, would shoppers in fact feel spied on if someone could reel off the contents of their abandoned shopping basket and would that feeling draw them to the brand or send them running?
Funnily enough, I got to find out how I would feel when I finally decided to upgrade my HTC mobile phone a few weeks ago. I visited the Vodafone website, logged in, and proceeded to select the phone I wanted and the tariff that appealed. I picked my delivery day and entered in my address, but just before payment, I realized that I had selected a new mobile plan and not an upgrade so I closed the screen and got on with the rest of my day. Four days later I received an email, “Jaiye, You left a phone in your basket. Buy it now to get a great offer.”
Great, I thought, a reminder! I returned to my basket, had another look at the HTC website to make sure that the model was indeed the new phone that I wanted, but again I didn’t complete the sale. I decide instead to call Vodafone customer services and complete the transaction by phone while the handset remained in my shopping basket. My shiny phone arrived and I was happy. Two days later, I received a phone call from a sales rep enquiring about the item still in my basket and asking if I had a problem completing the sale. After I explained the situation, he offered me a free iPad on contract.
In this instance, Vodafone's efforts worked to bring me closer to the brand because I have been a Vodafone customer for many years and its staff was professional, friendly, and in line with past interactions that I ‘ve had. The amount of time that past before each approach also felt right and didn’t cause me to look over my shoulder in case I was being watched.
Finding ways to connect emotionally with consumers and establish deep, loyal relationships are challenges faced by brand owners in an ever-competitive marketplace. If brand owners listen to consumers and respond when they reach out they may get an emotional and financial return on that investment.