Some of the lowest hanging fruit for any company that offers online purchasing is shopping cart abandonment. People load up their cart, go to checkout and then... nothing. This is a great problem to have. Actually, it's a major opportunity.

These potential customers clearly have a high intent to purchase, but something is holding them back. Their reasons for abandoning their carts could range from high shipping costs to long checkout times, or even the burden of creating yet another user account. So what can you do to get this high-intent user to complete a purchase? A major solution lies in the gold mine that is review collection.

Both positive and negative reviews can help.

Passionate people frequently take the time leave useful feedback that can help you improve your business. Long before I worked at ConsumerAffairs, I went out of my way to fill out surveys and write reviews of most major purchases I made. To this day, I even call out and shout out brands on social media when I have either a great or dismal experience. So be sure to take advantage of the information you get from customers like myself.

Recently I was shopping online for a part for my car. I added a part to my shopping cart on one site so I could easily find it again and then I shopped around for a better price. When I didn’t return make the purchase, the parts store put me in an email drip campaign. This was a great first step, but they didn’t go far enough to get my business.

I got three emails, each with one of the following subject lines; “Still interested?,” “Get distracted?,” “Don’t forget!” In the body of each email was simply an image of the car part I had placed in my cart and a button that said “Shop now.” Very clean and simple, but it wasn’t effective at getting me to go back and purchase the part.

If they had a lot of reviews on their website, or collected them through a third party, they could have added something to the emails that would have gone a long way toward getting me to make the purchase. Simply adding a quote or two from happy customers who had purchased the part would have gone a long way towards converting me from shopper to purchaser.

Positive reviews are a great example of social proof, which is incredibly effective at winning people over.

When I bought a mattress, last year, I spent months reading hundreds of reviews of half a dozen different brands. I finally settled on one because I felt like the reviewers who rated it highly liked the mattress for the same reasons I wanted a new one. I wanted to be a happy, satisfied customer just like them.

So when you use positive reviews to combat shopping cart abandonment, you need to focus on two key elements of the reviews from which you choose to pull quotes.

1. Highlighting your value proposition

You want people to see the value that you provide to your customers. Use quotes that emphasize elements such as:

  • The quality of the product
  • The personalized touch you provide through your services
  • Being faster, or otherwise better, than your competitors
  • Customers with particularly great success stories, or who really enjoyed the product or service they got from you

2. Addressing pain points

You want to address concerns that may have turned people away from completing a purchase. Try emphasizing quotes from reviews that focus on:

  • A quick checkout process
  • Fast shipping
  • Items arriving on time and in good condition
  • The fact that you accepted a customer's desired payment method
  • Problems that were quickly corrected by your team

By giving people first-hand accounts of your value proposition in action and showcasing stories from actual customers that highlight how well you address pain points in the shopping experience, you have a better chance at addressing the reason they didn't complete their purchase, and may be giving users information that they're not getting from your competitors.

Just like when I was shopping for my mattress, customers just want to be happy and satisfied. With positive reviews you can show them experiences of other users who were happy and satisfied with their purchase. Shoppers want to feel that way too and they will be much more likely to complete their purchase with you once you’ve demonstrated your ability to make other people feel good about their experience.

You can also make use of negative reviews when addressing shopping cart abandonment. As I mentioned earlier, as a consumer I’m constantly calling out and shouting out my negative and positive experiences. By examining the negative experiences that other users have had, you can identify the pain points in your process and correct them.

Once you correct them, many platforms, such as ConsumerAffairs, allow you to respond to reviews. Say someone complained about your slow checkout process, your website engineers could rebuild your checkout page to make it quicker and more user friendly, and then you could respond to the negative user review with a comment such as:

“Hey Mary, we’re so sorry you had a bad experience on our checkout page. We’ve recently streamlined it for a better experience and we hope you’ll continue shopping with us in the future! Be sure to let us know if you have any feedback on the new checkout process.”

A response like this is great for two reasons. First, it shows you are keyed-in to your customers needs and problems and that you are a great organization who actually takes feedback and acts on it. Secondly, this can preempt shopping cart abandonment by showing shoppers not only that you care, but that you have already worked to address an issue that could have been a dealbreaker for them.

So the next time someone abandons their cart, show them why other consumers say they shouldn’t!