Can BT alone solve cart abandonment?

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The gloves are off
The gloves are off

E-commerce pros are always looking for ways to get customers to click all the way through to checkout. Two experts discuss whether behavioral targeting is a panacea or just one part


John Bastone
Global marketing manager for customer intelligence, SAS
More than a decade of DM experience

No. When combating the problem of shopping cart abandonment, behavioral targeting alone is no magic bullet. Shopping cart abandonment rates drop as the number of items in the basket increases, meaning just one more truly relevant product recommendation that makes it to the basket can be the difference between checkout and abandonment.

There are three facets in targeting that together ensure the best chance for eliciting the desired customer response. The first is behavioral: Understanding a customer's preferences, as it relates to brands, spending levels, shopping patterns or preferred categories, is inherently useful. It helps identify the most relevant offers to highlight in campaigns to generate incremental trips.

It is also critical to account for the transactional details of the current shopping basket occasion. Where behavioral modeling focuses on the relevance of an offer, transactional modeling ensures its utility. For example, behavioral modeling might tell you that the consumer electronics category is of interest to a customer, while transactional will tell you that the customer has a TV in his or her basket, and related product categories have a much higher utility.

That is why the third critical facet is real-time delivery. Where behavioral and transactional insights address relevance and utility, the delivery ensures its timeliness. A real-time process that leverages these three elements is the best approach for reducing abandoned shopping carts. 


Ryan Hoppe
Director of marketing, ATG's E-commerce Optimization Services
More than 13 years of industry experience

Yes. In addition to helping online retailers identify the many causes of shopping cart abandonment, behavioral targeting can also help merchants recover uncertain sales, remarket to browsers who leave the site and make improvements that can deter future abandonment.

By reviewing behavioral data, which can be gathered from personalization tools, site analytics and customer analytics, merchants can begin to recognize online shopping patterns and differentiate between when a cart is truly abandoned and when a shopper is merely browsing. Once a merchant understands where a consumer is in the buying process, how close he or she is to completing a transaction and what information would best keep him engaged, the merchant can determine what needs to happen in the shopping experience to ensure the transaction is completed.

For example, if a consumer's browser is hovering for longer than expected on a specific part of the shopping cart process, the merchant might offer live help to address doubt or problem, and recover the sale.

If the shopping cart is abandoned, all is not lost. Behavioral data captured from abandoned sessions, such as consumers' browsing history, cart contents and contact information, offers merchants an opportunity to remarket to the consumer and recover a percentage of abandoned transactions. A subtle e-mail reminder about an abandoned cart can help drive traffic back to the site.


Behavioral targeting is an effective tool that many e-commerce merchants can use to reduce shopping cart abandonment, but it's not the only option available. To be most effective, e-commerce marketers should use behavioral tools with other tactics, such as timely assistance and easy navigation, to convert customers.

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