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Karin Ballestrazze
 
September 10, 2014 | Karin Ballestrazze

Creating a Persistent Shopping Cart

It's a well-known fact that when customers visit an ecommerce site to shop for goods the first time, they don't always make a purchase. They may not even complete the transaction after a few visits. But they will eventually buy that case of muscat and soft cheese plate to go with it if you have the right systems in place. When running an online wine store, consumers are expected to window shop for some time. Giving them a point to pick up where they left off is essential to ensuring they finally make the purchase. Having to recreate the items in the shopping cart repeatedly will only drive away customers in the long run. That is why the persistent shopping cart is becoming a very important feature in any online shop.

Remembering your customers
Magento, an ecommerce firm, defines a persistent shopping cart as a mechanism on a Web-based store where items in the shopping cart that have yet to be purchased are saved for future visits. This is usually done through a cookie, which saves information locally on the customer's computer or mobile device, or globally through a user login. There are usually two cookies involved: The first one, a "session" cookie, covers when a patron is on the site at one given time, while the second "persistent" cookie saves the information after he or she leaves for an extended period of time. The first can give data, such as the addition or removal of a bottle of a blend, to the second when necessary.

To your customers, this is basically shown as a "Remember Me" option. If they come back to your online wine store, the site will remember who they are. Secondly, if they had anything in their shopping carts during their previous visit, the items will be stored and returned to them when they log back in. This latter feature is particularly important, since consumers are using an increasing number of devices to visit your site, from desktop and laptop computers to tablets and smartphones. Having access to the same items at any time is what makes the shopping cart persistent. It's different from a wish​ list feature found on some websites, however. While persistent carts allow you to check out immediately, wish​ lists force you to take the extra step of adding it into the cart. This is usually a good way for customers to control their spending habits.

Ending abandonment
One of the key issues having a persistent shopping cart deals with is abandoned carts, according to Netsphere Strategies. For one, carts are sometimes abandoned because a visitor is interrupted mid-shopping and steps away from the computer or clicks out of the tab to do something else. Persistent carts allow them to go back to their session when they feel ready, providing an added feeling of convenience that isn't found in physical storefronts. You can also let them seamlessly switch between devices, so that if consumers have an errand to run, they can still shop and perhaps complete the transaction along the way.

In case this customer doesn't come back right away, there are still benefits from a persistent cart that answer for abandonment. If they saved their selections of blends during a logged-in session, you can email the customers some time later to remind them of what's in the cart. You can then utilize that email to recommend they try new bottles to go with what they have, or offer coupons that will entice them to complete the purchase. It becomes an important feature in personalizing the shopping experience for customers everywhere, especially by making the process more accessible at any point in time.

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