For online merchants, the trackability of customer purchases and behavior is one of the biggest advantages of the business model. While real-world retailers must rely on old fashioned methods to track customer behavior, with the right tools, online retailers can tell which items a customer looked at, which ones they reviewed and which ones they placed in their shopping carts.

This last step, placing an item in an online shopping cart, is where many would-be purchases break down. A stunning percentage of online shopping carts are abandoned, costing online merchants millions of dollars in lost sales. If you want to save those sales and book those profits, you need to take a proactive approach to avoiding shopping cart abandonment. Here are five things online retailers can do to convince their customers to buy, and some ideas for bringing them back when they fail to make the initial purchase.

#1 Be Transparent about Pricing and Shipping Costs

Customers have many reasons for abandoning their shopping carts, but high shipping costs are among the most common. If you want to reduce shopping cart abandonment, you need to be transparent about how much the product costs – and how much it costs to ship.

Pushing shipping costs to the final page of the shipping cart is just asking for abandonment, especially if you do not offer free shipping. If you do charge for shipping, disclose those charges early and include information about how to qualify for free shipping. This simple tactic can reduce shopping cart abandonment and even entice customers to buy more.

#2 Give a Friendly Reminder

When the customer clicks away without making a purchase, you have one final chance to win them back. Adding an unobtrusive pop-up message or other friendly reminder is a great way to win back those customers, so build those enticements into your shopping cart software.

You can experiment with different types of reminders and enticements, testing to see which methods work the best. Once you know what works, you can build on those successes and drive abandonment rates down even further.

#3 Send Follow-Up Emails

Sometimes despite your best efforts the customer still abandons their shopping cart and what you do next could make a huge difference. Once you are sure the pending purchase has been abandoned, a friendly follow-up email could be extremely effectively.

The email should be as simple and straightforward as possible, something like “forget something?” or the like. Once again, you can experiment with a variety of reminder messages until you find the optimum combination; the one that brings in the best results.

#4 Notify Would-Be Customers of Price Changes and Free Shipping Offers

It is hard to know exactly why a particular customer failed to complete their purchase. Maybe they were turned off by high shipping costs. Perhaps they thought the product was too expensive. No matter what the reason, letting would-be buyers know that something has changed can be remarkably effective.

Sending reminder emails when a chosen product changes price and notifying would-be customers of free shipping offers could turn things around and bring them back to your site. Once their, those potential buyers may even see other things they like, so you could gain more sales and build loyalty for your business.

#5 Keep Pending Purchases in Online Shopping Carts

You never know when a customer will change their mind, so why make them return to an empty cart? Reluctant customers are unlikely to go through the trouble of sorting through your inventory all over again, and they may not even remember exactly what they had picked out.

Having your software remember pending purchases and keeping those items in their shopping carts can boost sales and build customer loyalty. Whether it takes an hour, a day or a week, many customers will return if you give them the chance.

When your customers shop online, you can see what they are doing, from how they choose their products to what they do before they buy. If you want to save your sales and boost your profits, reducing the rate of shopping cart abandonment is a good place to start. The five tactics listed above can help you turn things around, so you can gain more sales and give your customers exactly what they want.

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