Grab ‘em before they bail

What if over half of your customers became frustrated or impatient at the checkout line, and walked out of your store? That's essentially what's happening to e-tailers today: roughly 60% of online shopping carts are being abandoned in the checkout process.

What if over half of your customers became frustrated or impatient at the checkout line, and walked out of your store? That’s essentially what’s happening to e-tailers today: roughly 60% of online shopping carts are being abandoned in the checkout process.

So, to fight this problem, Agoura Hills, Calif.-based e-commerce solutions company inQ has launched cartQ, which allows live salespeople to initiate conversations through ‘Chat Boxes’ that pop up either at the beginning of the customer’s checkout process, or when the customer tries to leave the Web site. Salespeople can help guide customers through checkout, and even test new offers to see what it takes to reel would-be abandoners back in. The salespeople are on hand 24/7, and stationed at inQ’s California-based 100-seat call centre. Clients, which include AOL and Barnes & Noble, can choose to have dedicated reps, who only handle their business, or they can use shared reps.

‘It gives us an opportunity to provide a human voice,’ explains client Conrad Saam, marketing director at Redmond, Wash.-based software developer/reseller Software Online. ‘Part of the challenge is convincing users there really is a person on the other side.’ To address this concern, salespeople are encouraged to use the customer’s name frequently, and the scripts are written to sound as personable as possible.

Saam, who’s been using the service since it became available a few months ago, says from an ROI perspective, cartQ more than pays for itself. ‘We’re basically losing a sale [with abandonment] – they are walking out on us. In terms of justifying the cost, there’s not a downside for us [since there's nothing to lose when the customer is already leaving].’

Bernard Louvat, inQ’s president/CEO, says the cartQ service is best suited for high-cost items, like consumer electronics. ‘If you lose a $500 cart, that’s a lot of money,’ he notes. The solution is sold on a performance basis, with inQ taking a ‘bounty’ from each cart saved, which so far has ranged from US$5-US$25. There’s also a set-up fee, with an average cost of US$10,000, and a US$5,000 monthly retainer fee for the marketing services inQ provides, which includes training in online marketing optimization. Clients can choose to ‘de-bundle’ and lose the marketing services after the first couple of months.