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How to Use WhatsApp Messages to Re-engage Abandoned Carts

July 26, 2023

There’s something unsettling about the idea of a busy supermarket whose aisles are bustling with customers and commerce, but full of abandoned shopping carts at the register. Where did all the customers go?

Disconcerting as that imagery may be (especially to marketers), this phenomenon is more common than you may think in ecommerce spaces — and can often be a leading driver of lost revenue for businesses who fail to undertake some basic preventive measures.

Luckily, there are a number of best practices that any brand can adopt to mitigate this kind of customer behavior — many of which are optimized, made easier, or even entirely automated when implemented through a powerful platform like WhatsApp.

WhatsApp not only allows businesses to effectively re-engage customers post-abandonment, but paves the way for improved customer communication and ultimately, helps to drive more transactions. Below, we’ll review a few ways this messaging channel can smartly address the reasons your customers may abandon their purchases.

Person sitting outside a storefront while smiling and reengaging with a business through WhatsApp

The Perils of Ignoring Cart Abandonment

While cart abandonment might seem like relatively small potatoes amid the grand scheme of your marketing efforts, it’s important to note that its associated costs can add up surprisingly fast: An alarming 81% of online shoppers who abandon their carts end up never returning to finish their purchase,1 resulting in a devastating loss of about $18 billion in sales revenue each year.2

Though there are all sorts of reasons a customer may abandon their cart, it can usually be traced back to one overarching problem that may present itself throughout your intended path to purchase: Friction.

Friction simply refers to any obstacles that may make it hard or inconvenient for customers to complete a purchase. Consider the reasons that you yourself have likely abandoned carts in the past: Was there a confusing or complicated checkout process? A last-minute, unexpected additional cost? A prohibitively long shipping time or expense? All of these instances of friction (and more) can easily pivot your customer’s attention and intent-to-purchase elsewhere.

Strikingly, research suggests that 99% of e-commerce sites have at least five friction points — all of which can begin to chip away at a customer’s willingness to buy.3 Thankfully, there are a number of best practices that businesses can adopt via the WhatsApp Business Platform in order to mitigate the effects of friction on their customers.

Person sitting on gray couch in office, wearing an orange long sleeve shirt, while smiling and reading a WhatsApp business message

Why WhatsApp?

Business messaging channels continue to see a rising tide of popularity among both marketers and customers alike. And while carefully engaging customers who abandon their carts with targeted follow-up messages is hardly a novel idea, the power of messaging platforms allows you to take these approaches to the next level — especially one as robust as WhatsApp.

Consider that, with over 2 billion users worldwide,4 WhatsApp didn’t just change users’ expectations for engaging with family, friends, and colleagues, but the brands they do business with. Engaging customers where they’re most comfortable can certainly have its benefits: WhatsApp messages boast an impressive 99% open rate, which towers over even its closest competitors, such as email’s 20% open rate.5

Thus, on WhatsApp, your message won’t just reach customers — it can help ensure that almost all of your shoppers will engage with them, too. This can help increase your likelihood of bringing them back to purchase.

Two people sitting next to each other at a table, both smiling. One is holding a credit card and making a purchase on their phone through WhatsApp.

Best Practices For Salvaging a Post-Abandonment Sale With WhatsApp

Of course, a big part of alleviating the effects of cart abandonment comes from understanding the reasons your customers are deciding to eject in the first place. What kinds of “friction” have they encountered along their path to purchase?

Balking at delivery/other hidden fees

One study found that extra costs are the top reason customers report abandoning their cart — 55% of shoppers report having done so.6

While you should always make an effort to ensure that any additional costs are clearly and transparently conveyed to the customer throughout the purchase process, if customers still balk at shipping fees, you do have some options. The WhatsApp Business Platform can provide a nudging message to a customer who abandons their cart — perhaps with an offer for free shipping to first time customers — to bring them back into the fold.

Another option may be to provide some cross-sell suggestions the customer could add to their cart to reach a free shipping price threshold.

Confusion about product details

If customers are left guessing about whether or not your product will address their needs, you may see a number of them begin to “drop off” along their journey to purchase.

Thankfully, WhatsApp Business Platform can allow both agents and automated chatbots to reply to customer’s inquiries 24 hours a day. Ideally, a bot can address some typical FAQs encountered by your business (e.g. questions about availability, shipping, return policies) while human agents are freed up to address more specific or sensitive issues that may arise.

This kind of availability will not only help answer your customers questions in an extremely timely manner, but foster a sense of trust with your customers that demonstrates your brand takes their concerns seriously — hopefully leading to repeat business in the future, rather than cart abandonment.

Frustration with a glitchy storefront

In today's economy, customers have zero tolerance for malfunctioning storefronts and other digital frustrations.

In fact, 57% of users report that they’ll abandon a cart if they have to wait more than three seconds for a page to load.7 And remember — 81% of them will never come back!

The nature of conversational commerce allows WhatsApp to not only quickly identify these issues as they arise (i.e. from customer feedback/messages), but allow agents to circumvent a malfunctioning storefront by conducting the purchase within the chat itself.

Fear Of Abandonment? Listen To Your Customers

Ultimately, the strength of business messaging platforms like WhatsApp lies in their ability to both identify and quickly address "friction" when it appears along your path to purchase.

These channels can help to reduce customer frustration by providing a more streamlined and personalized experience, while resolving customer issues quickly and efficiently — all of which can lead to decreased cart abandonment, while increasing brand loyalty and conversions among your shoppers.

Interested in learning more about how WhatsApp Business Platform can improve your customer retention and conversions? Check out our guide exploring “Why Your Ecommerce Business Needs WhatsApp.”

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