The Baymard Institute has reported that 68 percent of online shoppers put products or services in their cart, and then leave them sitting there without checking out. That’s called cart abandonment, and if you’re a marketer who works for an ecommerce company, or a company with a significant online sales channel, it might not be a very surprising stat.


In fact, you’ve likely made attempts to address cart abandonment. Perhaps you’ve revised your checkout flow or employed retargeting emails or ads. But there’s another way to think about online cart abandonment. And oddly enough, we’d like to introduce it with a story about a clothing shop and its creepy mannequins. So, with that:


Stephen and the Abandoned Mannequins


Stephen, the owner of a small clothing store, was reading a magazine and came across an article that suggested that you shouldn’t use lifelike mannequins in your storefront, because some people now find them to be “eerie, off-putting prohibition-era relics.”


So Stephen, concerned that his business was suffering, took the mannequins out of his storefront and placed them in a storage closet by the register.


For the next several weeks, business went on as usual. Then Stephen began to notice an upsetting trend. Customers would walk into the store in their usual numbers. They’d browse the aisles, look at price tags, hold up garments against their bodies. However, an increased number of them would eventually walk out without buying anything. They wouldn’t even ask to use the fitting rooms in the back of the store.


Determined to remedy the issue, Stephen placed coupons in the local paper. He lowered his prices. He hired an expensive fashion consultant to walk through the store and determine whether he was stocking the right styles, patterns, and sizes.


All of this had little effect.


Finally, Stephen recognized a shopper who’d been in the store several times without making a purchase. He approached the shopper as he was walking out of the store and asked him why he was leaving.


The shopper, somewhat surprised, turned and pointed toward the storage closet, where two lifelike mannequin feet were visible below the door.


“Every time I come in here the fitting room’s occupied.”


Mannequin feet

Lessons Learned

Let’s think about this (admittedly, somewhat quirky) example for a minute. What did Stephen do wrong? Was he wrong to remove the mannequins from the storefront? Not necessarily. Many would say that staying ahead of industry trends is doing your due diligence, as long as the source and/or data is credible.


Was it putting the mannequins in the storage closet, leading some people to think, at a glance, that the storage closet was the fitting room, and it was perpetually occupied? That seems unlikely to have caused more than a small portion of the lost sales.


Where Steven went wrong, in our opinion, was that he watched customer after customer leave his store without asking them why they were leaving. And as a result, he took some sweeping actions and made some potentially unnecessary investments, like hiring the expensive fashion consultant.


Engage Your Site Visitors Directly

Time to jump back into the real digital world and out of our fictional one. There are many levers a digital marketer can pull to increase conversion on a site-wide scale. But the issues that cause cart abandonment can be elusive, they can be surprising and they differ from person to person. For these reasons, if you’re not engaging your customers directly, you’re not doing as much as you can to address cart abandonment.


Now, you certainly can’t staff enough people to reach out and start a person-to-person conversation with every visitor on your site. And really, you don’t want to—you only want to reach out to the right visitors, the ones who aren’t converting.


That’s where intelligent software can make things easy and efficient. Qualtrics Site Intercept, for example, can be employed to:


  • Recognize behavior that indicates a visitor is about to leave your site without making a purchase
  • Engage that visitor directly with a short & simple survey
  • Address abandonment issues in real time, by serving up incentives (like free shipping) within the survey flow, or connecting visitors with your service team to address their unanswered questions or unfulfilled needs
  • Accrue a wealth of truly representative, qualitative data that can help you understand the “why” behind cart abandonment on your site


For additional strategies that help you drive site conversion, capture targeted feedback and increase loyalty, download our ebook below.


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