The UK’s economic climate is in for a bumpy ride over the next few years, and retailers are going to find it hard not to get caught up in the middle of it all. This month in July, GfK reported a record decline in consumer confidence, last seen in March 1990 in the build-up to a UK recession.

Optimising the website should be every retailer’s first move in order to understand the gaps in the buyer journey and identify where they are losing customers. And nowhere can this drop off be seen more than in cart abandonment. Every retailer knows how severely a high cart abandonment rate can damage their bottom line. But not enough retailers know of data-driven strategies they can use in 2017 to guarantee that more of their visitors who place items in their basket follow on to purchase them.

1. Instil urgency

Our psychologies are wired to avoid loss. So much so that psychologists have shown that we would rather avoid a loss than acquire an equivalent gain. This is known as loss aversion, and this psychology can be influenced by retailers to drive purchases. For example, you could show a countdown timer during sale periods or display stock levels – both designed to suggest that the product they want to buy could soon be unavailable.

Retailers can also provide real-time figures of customers viewing the product to indicate its popularity and so infer it will run out of stock. These tactics also play upon another behavioural psychology known as scarcity bias – the psychology of placing a higher value on an object perceived to be scarce than on an object considered to be abundant. Utilising retargeting strategies, an email could be sent to a user of a product they have browsed but not bought, indicating it is running low in stock and so stirring a sense of urgency to transform abandoners into buyers.

A mistake many marketers make is to cover their product and checkout pages with phrases like ‘last chance’ and ‘hurry’. This can instil an emotion similar to the phenomenon known as banner blindness whereby users consciously and subconsciously refuse to interact with advertising. In this case, shoppers instinctively ignore these types of urgency-fuelled phrases. Marketers must, therefore, be more intelligent with their wording. Use terminology that infers the popularity of a product, and so the likelihood of it selling out, without using cliche and so untrustworthy wording; for example, ‘Hot Buy’ or ‘A customer favourite’.

2. Offer flexible finance

Of 100 users who place an item in their basket, on average only 23 will complete the purchase, whilst the remaining 77 will abandon. Although there are a plethora of causes for this, there will always be one that stands out most firmly in the customer’s mind – price.

To tackle this, and without simply offering sales and cutting prices that will damage the bottom line, retailers should offer flexible customer finance at the checkout. At the precise moment when a customer is hesitating at the thought of spending a large lump sum, retailers can present a finance offering, allowing the customer to pay for the item in flexible monthly instalments at 0% interest.

The obstacle to purchase is therefore immediately removed, reassuring a range of shoppers who could otherwise have abandoned. It’s not all about cost, however. Many customers of finance are accepting of the price, but would rather the convenience of spreading the cost, rather than paying upfront or using a credit card that charges a high APR or that they are untrustworthy of. Offering finance, therefore, caters to a variety of buyer of personas.

3. Optimise the checkout for mobile

Mobile shopping has undoubtedly boomed in the past few years. In fact, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Quarterly Benchmarking report, an average of 54.5% of all retail sales came through mobile devices in Q1 2017. However, although this figure may seem promising, a study by Barilliance reveals that retailers could be doing much more to boost these sales on mobile.

According to the report, mobile phone cart abandonment stands at an unappealing 85.65%, whilst desktop drops to 73.07%. To reduce this abandonment on mobile, you must ensure your checkout is not only mobile optimised but has a mobile-first design. Firstly, you must take into account how a user interacts with their mobile. Studies have shown that most people use their smartphone with one hand, with the majority using their right thumb. You need to, therefore, ensure that you position the most important elements in areas easily reachable by the right thumb. Wide end-to-end CTA buttons will also improve usability.

Utilise mobile UI elements too, such as increment selectors rather than drop down menus, the phone’s inbuilt data selection UI and digital wallets to facilitate a one-click checkout. Implement these elements and retailers can truly take advantage of the boom in mobile shopping.

4. Implement dynamic cart recovery

Of the users who view a checkout form, 43.5% begin filling it out yet only 12.20% complete the form. This is an exceptionally large drop-off but it can be improved. These users shouldn’t be considered lost. By implementing a cart recovery tool, you can dynamically capture these user’s email address they have entered before abandoning the form.

With this information, you can then deliver automated emails to these high-intent users and bring them back to site to complete the purchase. What’s more, these emails can be personalised, containing the products that were in their basket before they abandoned, as well as targeted promotional content based on their order value to drive them to purchase. Easy to set up and delivering high CTR, cart recovery can be a highly effective conversion rate optimisation (CRO) strategy.

We are a nation of browsers with a psychology of constant change, so cart abandonment will never disappear altogether. However, this is not to say that it cannot be extremely reduced if retailers adopt the right strategies for their customers and in the process, upturn the record fall in consumer confidence.