Why B2B eCommerce Cart Abandonments Can Be a Good Thing

Abandoned shopping carts are a bad thing.  Bad. Bad. Bad.

Do everything you can to minimize your cart abandonment rate and your eCommerce website will generate more revenue for you.

Right?

Maybe not.

I came across this really thought provoking white paper (do they come in any other colors?) that was co-authored by Magento and Bronto Software that you can get over here for free.

Their bottom line conclusion?  Maybe there are good reasons why consumers “abandon” items in their carts.  Here are a few suggested use cases:

  1. Consumers are just using the cart to summarize their purchases so they can decide which items to buy.
  2. They are saving items in the cart to buy later.
  3. They are building a wish list of items that they can use as a starting point when they continue to shop later on.
  4. They store items in the cart so that they can be viewed later on a different device. (I love this one!  Use your mobile phone to start an order and finish it on your laptop in the office.)
  5. Simply view products on a mobile device while shopping in a store (maybe not as relevant for most of our B2B customers).

So that got me to thinking.  Exactly how big a problem is cart abandonment anyway and what are the differences between B2B and B2C abandonment rates?

In terms of the industry as a whole, the folks over at Baymard Institute have been kind enough to aggregate the results of 28 cart abandonment studies over the past 8 years.  I did them a favor and plotted their overall results to see if there was any pattern to the data.  What you can see from the following chart is that it appears that with all the focus on preventing cart abandonments over the years, the problem seems to be getting progressively “worse”.

 

Abandonment Rates

The question that the Bronto survey raises is: Is the problem really getting worse? Or, maybe the problem isn’t getting worse at all, but that with the evolution of mobile, and the increase in the number of sophisticated eCommerce users, that they’re using shopping carts a little differently nowadays?  It’s really hard to tell from the data but my guess is that the truth is probably a little bit of both.

With respect to the differences between B2C and B2B abandonment rates, I compiled a sampling of data from our clients.  Here is what that looks like:

2014-10-16_1001

You can see that there is a really wide spread between our clients.  One of our clients has customers who leave the website close to 95% of the time without making a purchase.  On the other end of the spectrum, we have a client who has customers that only leave their website 11% of the time without making a purchase.  That 11% abandonment is off of the B2C charts by the way.

So are our clients on the left hand of this chart doing “bad” and the ones on the right side doing “great”?

It’s not that simple in the B2B world because customers come to B2B eCommerce website for many more reasons than to simply buy products.  Here are some additional use cases for coming to one of our SAP® Integrated B2B websites:

  1. Check on order status
  2. Check on product availability and contract pricing
  3. Look at open invoices
  4. Look at payments made
  5. Pay invoices
  6. Download reprints of order related documents (order confirmations, invoices, bill of ladings etc.)
  7. Analyze order history
  8. Initiate the return of a product
  9. Access literature or product documentation
  10. Update an order to adjust quantities and/or delivery schedules

Just to name a few.

You certainly don’t want to mistakenly send your customers a “we noticed that you left items in your cart” email when what they actually did was come to your website to early pay a few open invoices. 🙂

That’s what I love about the B2B eCommerce world.  There is so much more going on than simply merchandising products to consumers.  There really is a lot of additional value that is being delivered by our SAP® integrated websites and many more opportunities to establish real working relationships with your customers…who, after all, are people just like you and me.

Sam

 

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