Millennials: The Shopping Cart Masters

Retailers have been trying to find innovative ways to capture the attention and wallet share of Millennials. Their buying power can’t be denied, and the combination of their technical savvy and willingness to search for the best price has presented a challenge to commerce marketers.

But, with many retailers seeing a decline in both brand loyalty and sales thanks to e-commerce behemoths like Amazon offering deep discounts and evergreen free shipping, how can retailers keep Millennials engaged and coming back to buy?

While many emerging technologies (think wearables and beacons) are trying to connect the in-store and online shopping experience in innovative and exciting ways, Millennials may have already found a way to make these multi-device, cross-channel connections via their online shopping carts. The way to best reach them may not only be found in these forward-looking technologies but also with effective cart reminder messages.

Bronto asked online shoppers to reveal how they utilize online shopping carts and what they expect to happen when they leave items behind. The results, featured in the Consumers Tell All white paper series, show that 88 percent of Millennials (aged 18-29) leave items in the shopping cart with plans to buy later, and nearly half of that group (42 percent) will do this every time they shop. This percentage is nearly double that of those ages 30 to 39. Clearly, leaving items in the cart does not mean Millenials are abandoning their carts with no plans to return.

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So how are Millennials revisiting their carts after leaving items behind? Two-thirds of them will view the cart later on a different device (67 percent) or while in a store (66 percent). This is more than 25 percent higher than the overall rate for all online shoppers (40 percent).

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With so many Millennials using the shopping cart to pause the shopping experience and pick it back up later, it’s surprising that more retailers have not started moving away from shopping cart abandonment strategies that use urgency and incentive-focused messages. Shifting the shopping cart marketing perspective toward an experience that keeps the customer (especially Millennials) engaged and helps them make these channel and device transitions to continue shopping could keep them from going elsewhere to find the information they need to make a purchase decision.

Yes, shoppers will still abandon carts with no plans to return. Yes, urgency and incentives can be successful in bringing these shoppers back to the cart. But relying on these tactics alone has now become dated. You may be shouting, “10 percent off if you complete your order now” or “Your cart will expire in 7 days,” when what Millennials want to hear is, “Your nearest store closes at 9 p.m.,” “We have live chat if you have questions,” or “The product in your cart has 300 reviews. Check them out.” You can always use urgency and incentives in a later message if the shopper still hasn’t completed his or her order.

Cart reminders represent a dichotomy in e-commerce. They are automated messages that require minimal ongoing maintenance, which means they are often overlooked and fall into the clichéd “set it and forget it” trap. Yet, these messages are massive money-makers that keep consumers shopping and have become an essential part of a successful e-commerce program. I’m willing to bet most marketers would prioritize revenue over a “set it and forget it” solution.

If your cart reminders have been neglected and you’re trying to find a way to reach Millennials, it may be time for you to revisit the tone, timing and content of these messages to see if they are truly helping your customers shop and buy, or simply saying the wrong thing.

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