Transform abandoned shopping carts into cash

Let’s talk about the elephant in the ecommerce room, shopping cart abandonment.

Shopping cart abandonment occurs when a visitor to an ecommerce website goes through the process of putting a product into a shopping cart and then has the cheek to click away without making a purchase. This is not an unusual occurrence. Research has shown that roughly two out of every three online shopping carts are abandoned. Or, to put it another way, for every sale you make two are lost.

Why do people go to your website, spend time selecting products, and put them in a shopping cart, only then to abandon it? Here are just a few reasons:

  • Something distracted the customer before they could complete the buying process.
  • Your site was being used for price comparison purposes. 
  • The customer wanted to check your shipping costs.
  • The customer was just browsing and never had any intention of making a purchase from you.
  • To find out if your site is offering a discount or the level of discount offered by a voucher.

The key question you have to ask is: “Is it worth trying to get the owners of these abandoned shopping carts back into the buying process?” The following figures indicate that the answer is a resounding yes.

  • A report from Experian Cheetahmail revealed that, on average, follow up emails to the owners of abandoned shopping carts resulted in transaction rates and revenue, per email, 20 times greater than that generated by a standard marketing email.
  • has claimed that 10% of their email marketing revenue is now derived from emails sent out to shopping cart abandoners. Even though these reminder emails only make up 2.7% of their total email marketing output.
  • A leading email marketing company has found that, on average, each follow up email sent generates $5 of revenue.

Why is this? Perhaps it’s because these customers have already expressed an interest in what a website has to offer. They know the product and have, to some degree, shown an interest in making a purchase. They are ripe, low hanging fruit just waiting to be picked.

So we know the problem exists and that it’s possible to turn it around, transforming those unwanted shopping carts into revenue. So how is it done? The answer, dear readers, is to use automated follow up messages called cart abandonment emails. They are also often referred to as transactional emails. How do they work?

  1. You set up your ecommerce system so that you collect an email address from the customer before they can put anything into a cart. This gives you a communications channel through which you can follow up the client if they abandon their cart.
  2. You create a set of automated follow up emails that are sent out in the event that the customer fails to complete the buying process. Here is one possible approach to use:
  • The first email, which should be sent out within 60 minutes of the cart being abandoned, should offer to assist the customer in the buying process. Perhaps offering a telephone number or alternative payment options.
  • The second email, sent out within a few days of the cart abandonment, should inform the customer that their items are still waiting for them and provide a link so that they can easily resume the buying process at the point they left it.
  • The third email, sent a week or two later, should offer the customer an incentive to complete the buying process. Perhaps a small discount on the items in their shopping cart or a free shipping voucher.

Remember, communication is a matter of both what you say AND how you say it. The same principle applies to these follow up emails. The right design and approach is critical to their success. Here are a few tips to help you:

  • Many email clients don’t automatically display images when an email is opened. That means you should put your main message into plain text format to ensure it gets seen.
  • Tell the shopping cart abandoner exactly what it is they’ve left behind. Don’t just invite them back with a generic message.
  • Finish with a clear call to action and a link that will take them back to the point they abandoned the sales process.

One final point, not everyone wants to be reminded that they’ve left something behind in a shopping cart. Not everyone wants a stream of follow up emails popping up on a regular basis. Include an opt-out link so the recipient can avoid further reminders at the click of a button. This shows that you’re a responsible and professional seller and the customers just might appreciate the courtesy.

About The Author

Gints Trubins
Gints Trubins

IT and marketing blogger at LeaderSend, transactional email platform for web and mobile apps. He cares about marketers to use transactional emails effectively in their businesses and keep us up to date with the latest global trends.

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