The UK is suffering from a serious condition – shopping basket abandonment. In fact, four out of 10 UK shoppers are prone to demonstrating this behaviour 50 per cent of the time that they shop online, recent research from data integration software provider Talend reveals.
Talend very worryingly claims this represents hundreds of billions in merchandise and a significant loss of potential revenue for retailers – adding that as much as 40 per cent of this revenue could be recovered with the timely delivery of special offers.
Add this to global figures that highlight how around 70 percent of all e-commerce shopping carts are abandoned, equating to a whopping more than $4 trillion worth of product left behind and you start to think that if this was a high street issue, you’d have a Mary Portas report commissioned faster than you can say “free delivery”.
Warning bells for SMEs
The issue is only set to increase, predicts BI Intelligence, as more customers become comfortable with mobile commerce – a platform that is notoriously hard to optimise, driving even more customers into the arms of big brands such as Amazon who have already made the investment in technology that keeps customers on the page.
These warning bells present a particular challenge to SMEs in the retail sector who’ve made the leap into e-commerce, but just don’t have the scale or resources to invest in technology that might tackle the problem by bringing customers back to their website.
For small businesses, the ability to recoup even a fraction of those lost orders can mean thousands in additional revenue.
But it’s not all grim reading if you’re an online retail SME looking to take on tech to tackle issues like basket abandonment. According to Rebecca McNeil, managing director of lending and enterprise at Barclays Bank, forecasted growth of the UK SME sector has been particularly linked to online expansion and access to better technology.
As she told This is Money earlier this year, three of the top five drivers for SME growth in 2015 are the availability of better technology, digital presence and new payment technology. Since SMEs make up the vast majority of all UK firms, they’re expected to be the engine of economic growth for the UK economy as a whole going forward, says the London School of Business and Finance.
The Confederation of British Industry backs this further, finding that the British economy is on a firm footing, having grown faster than previously thought and with solid, steady and sustainable growth predicted going into 2016.
The time is now ripe for SMEs to get ahead of the game and take advantage of the virtues of the internet and start packing a punch against the online behemoths by harnessing the right tech tools to knock basket abandonment on the head.
There is of course no shortage of tips for how to tackle basket abandonment, from offering perks such as free shipping or by streamlining the check-out process, but that’s assuming you have the tech know-how to get to that stage.
As an SME, perhaps big corporate software packages and dedicated online marketing teams to optimise the customer experience just aren’t quite in your reach when your focus has been, quite rightly, building your business and brand on a bigger level.
From the high street to online
But savvy SMEs are now harnessing technology to seamlessly take their businesses from the high street to online – to convert customers with the same ease as their bigger counterparts.
There are plenty of platforms for SMEs when it comes to funding and up-skilling, such as Government-funded training workshops via The Enterprise Europe Network for innovative entrepreneurs in SMEs all around the country or free online business courses to help SMEs build their brands through the Digital Business Academy.
And while Sky Media recently created a £500,000 production fund to encourage smaller brands to create ads on the broadcasters Adsmart platform, when it comes to digital marketing technology, scaleable, affordable resources have generally been harder to come by, until now.
Shopify, for example, a platform which has empowered over 175,000 SMEs to become successful e-commerce merchants, has since opened up our retargeting capabilities to its customers.
It means that SMEs can run their e-commerce ventures while simultaneously using straightforward tools to combat basket abandonment in real time.
Working together, we’ve come up with a simple solution to such a huge problem, meaning that SMEs can spend more time building their brands and businesses to get where they want to be in the market – and play their part in growing the British economy, as Rebecca McNeil from Barclays has highlighted.
As research by Citrix has found, a third of UK SMEs grew over the past two years and those that grew by 50 per cent or more were four times more likely to have spent ‘much more’ on technology.
It goes to show that with the right tools, support and know-how, there’s a very bright future ahead – one where basket abandonment is not an obstacle to growth.