How to Avoid Shopping Cart Abandonment in Multifamily

online leasing

Three big reasons people leave websites without leasing – and what you can do about it.

In the world of online retail, shopping cart abandonment is a serious issue. It’s the term for walking away partway through the purchasing process –an “almost” sale. Close doesn’t count in retail, so B2C companies spend a lot of time studying and addressing shortcomings of their websites and checkout processes that cause would-be buyers to leave.

While you’re not an online retailer of products dropped into a shopping cart, some of the same “abandonment” issues apply in multifamily. And unless you have addressed them, it’s likely you are losing prospects.

We talked to Sherri Lindsey, a RealPage Industry Principal specializing in online leasing, to learn some of the main reasons for shopping cart abandonment in multifamily. Here are the top three reasons why prospects walk away from property websites without following through with a lease.

1. Missing amenities

More than ever, amenities sell. Often, assets such as the exercise room, pool, garage or tanning beds persuade a prospect as much as or more than the apartment itself. Lindsey says, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it!”

“I see too many websites that ignore some of the properties’ most enticing assets,” she explains. “People really love amenities these days, but you still see lots of properties with impressive ones that have no shots of them. Maybe they’re in a bullet-point list somewhere, but they’re not featured the way they should be.”

Lindsey says effectively promoting amenities can help properties recapture the money spent adding them, particularly for renewals. For example, a current resident living in an apartment with drab vinyl may be willing to pay $25 or $30 extra upon renewal if she sees pictures of the new, beautiful flooring upgrade available. “A lot of new builds center on amenity packages,” Lindsey adds.

Lindsey also includes selling points such as liberal pet policies and neighborhood features as perceived “extras” that really help close leases and need to be featured prominently on the website. “If a prospect only sees standard pictures featuring the exterior of a complex, and maybe a shot of the pool and some floor plans, they’re a lot more likely to move on than if they’re temped with featured amenities that make you stand out from your competition,” she says.

online leasing

2. Offering onsite leasing only

Online leasing is ideal for many renters. It allows them to apply for and sign a lease anytime, anywhere, instead of at the property during business hours. And yet, some properties still do not offer this increasingly popular option.

“There are those who say they want prospects to have the personal experience of visiting the site and being face-to-face with a property representative throughout the sales and leasing process,” says Lindsey. “Of course that’s nice, but only if it’s what the prospect wants. More and more consumers prefer the convenience of online resources, so it doesn’t make sense to force this increasing segment of prospects to be present on premises to apply for and lease a property.”

Many sites still limit themselves to asking for the prospect’s information and promising to have an agent contact them. “That’s the kiss of death for some people,” says Lindsey. “They don’t want to talk to a sales person, don’t know when they’ll be available, and just want to get on with it. A lot of transactions take place at night after work hours, because that’s when people have the time. If you don’t give prospects the option to take care of business on their own terms, you’re sure to lose more of them than you should.

online leasing

3. Teleporting Prospects

“Teleportation” sounds like something out of Star Trek®, but you’ve actually experienced it yourself. It takes place when you’re buying something on a website, and somewhere during the purchase process you’re taken to a separate page with a different look and URL to complete the process. Oftentimes, this process can cause shopping cart abandonment.

“Teleportation makes people really uncomfortable,” says Lindsey. “They experience insecurity because the original website has seemingly shipped them off somewhere else to complete the transaction, and they don’t really know who this third party is, what might happen to their information, or what to do if something goes wrong.”

To address this, RealPage offers a widget that maintains a consistent look and throughout the leasing process. After a user clicks on your “Lease Now” or ”Apply Now” button, they are taken from your company website to the RealPage Online Leasing platform, which adopts your colors and logo. This helps reassure the prospect that they are still conducting business with your company and strengthens your brand. The widget works not only on websites created by RealPage, but on other sites, as well.

“Good enough just isn’t an option when it comes to your #1 selling tool,” concludes Lindsey. “A prospect who makes it to your site has real value, and it’s up to you to keep them there, reduce as much as possible the reasons to go elsewhere and maximize your chance of getting a signed lease.”

If you want to avoid shopping cart abandonment and close more leads, you need the right tools. Learn more about online leasing and other RealPage products that boost website effectiveness.


Author and Contributor

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Based in New Orleans, Guy Lyman is a professional writer with over 25 years’ experience writing about multifamily and commercial real estate. Lyman is a frequent contributor and writer for the Property Management Insider blog.

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