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Why Abandoned Carts Aren’t the End of the World for Your Ecommerce Store

I’m sure everyone has abandoned an online shopping cart at some point. You fill it with the things you need (or want) and then, for whatever reason, never make it to the checkout. It happens to every online retailer, and remarkably often: over 68% of online shopping carts are abandoned. You’d need 312 visitors to start the checkout process for 100 to complete it. However, the 212 others shouldn’t be given up on, which is why you need to have a decent email strategy in place for when your customers abandon their carts.

This is where sales-savvy businesses cash in on checkout abandonment emails, which can recover between 5 and 11% of sales which would have been lost. The value of checkout abandonment emails can quickly add up and provide an impressive return on investment. In this article, we’ll cover why people abandon their shopping carts, how to lure them back into the sales funnel, and the best time and frequency for follow-up emails.

abandoned shopping cart

Why Do People Abandon Shopping Carts?

There are many reasons that your cart may be abandoned. The most obvious is simply distraction. For example, a potential customer may be shopping online when suddenly their doorbell rings or child wakes up from their nap. The cart becomes abandoned, and they simply forget to finish the checkout process when they return to the computer. Along similar lines, your potential customers boss could have spotted that they’re shopping online when they should be working. Or, their phone battery could have died before they got the chance to checkout, and they forgot to go back to your site when it restarted.

Studies have shown that the average person gets interrupted every 8 minutes, and the figures are even higher for office-based employees. If one of these reasons are behind your potential customer abandoning their cart, it’s good news for your: it means that they haven’t lost interest in the product.

Of course, there might be a more telling reason behind an abandoned cart. Some customers happily fill their carts up with goods, only to look at the price upon checkout and decide against it. It’s easy for numbers to add up quickly into something they can’t afford. Similarly, some customers fill up carts with the same goods on multiple sites and then go with the one offering their wares for less. It may even be the postage and packaging charges that puts a customer off sealing the deal.

To Discount or Not to Discount?

You may think that a great way of encouraging the customer to continue shopping is to offer them some sort of money off their purchase, or a special deal. However, not every cart abandonment follow-up email has to offer an irresistible discount. As we’ve already discussed, distractions are a major reason why your customers abandon their carts. So it is not always necessary to coax them back into your sales funnel with a discount. Most customers will still be perfectly willing to complete the shop, but simply may need a quick email to remind them that they still have items in their basket and haven’t checked out yet.

To start with, it’s usually best to keep the first email to a friendly follow-up. Keep the copy brief and engaging, showing the value of your brand and product and encouraging the customer to finish the sale. Obviously, include a call to action directing the customer to their abandoned shopping cart. Chances are, they’ll take the bait and continue with their purchase. This way, you won’t be taking a hit in your sales margins.

However, some customers aren’t so easy to win back. If they fail to respond to the initial email(s), it may be that they’ve changed their mind about their purchase due to a “price shock”. It’s likely that additional tax or shipping charges have been applied that they aren’t happy with. Either that, or they didn’t realise how much their shop would come to, and balked when they saw the total at the end. If this is the case, then offering free shipping on orders over a certain amount, or a 10% discount, may be enough to prompt them to complete the purchase.

Email Quantity

As a general rule, the more checkout abandonment emails that you send, the greater the chance of the recipients completing the purchase. Major retailers tend to follow a 6-stage recovery process which allows them to offer a more tempting discount with each email. However, it is important to make sure that you’re not being overly aggressive with your sales pitches.

Start with an email reminding your potential customers that there are still items in the cart. Follow up with time-limited discounts of 10%. Keeping the offers limited to 3, 5 or 7 days will be more likely to incite an immediate response. Before the offer expires, send two follow up emails which count down the remaining amount of time for the promotion along with a crystal-clear call to action. After the initial offer has expired, an offer of a 25% discount can be made, followed by two more reminder emails.

The amount of abandonment emails that will work best for your audience will be determined over time. For some, receiving 6 cart abandonment emails can prove to be a little much. So always ensure you optimise and test accordingly. If your company is fresh from its inception, a good general rule is to send 3 emails over the course of a week maximum. If your resources are restricted, draft one simple checkout abandonment email. A singular email will yield more results than not sending one at all.

Remember, make your time limitations very clear. Indicating a limitation of stock can also incite an immediate response from your recipients to trigger their fear of missing out.

Email Timing

It is advised to allow your consumer time to complete the sale themselves, before sending out the first cart abandonment email. This helps your sales pitch to seem more forgiving and less aggressive, whilst also keeping your product fresh in your potential customer’s mind. The optimal timeframe for the first cart abandonment email to be sent in is around 3 hours. Your follow up email doesn’t need to be flashy: it can simply be a plain text email that includes everything your customer needs. If they’ve simply forgotten to press checkout, or been distracted, this will be more than sufficient. Remember to include a link back to the checkout page, a list of the items that they’ve forgotten and a sense of urgency about the product. Keep your first email friendly and casual; all you are offering is a helpful reminder!

Increasing Efficiency

Before fine tuning your cart abandonment email strategy, it is important to analyse your sales funnel to gain an accurate view of why you are losing your customers. In an ideal world, carts wouldn’t be abandoned in the first place. Marketing tools can now enable you to see exactly how your prospective customers interact with your sales funnel. Where you find hesitation, you will usually find an opportunity for improvement.

Once your sales funnel has been optimised, you can then turn your energy onto your checkout abandonment email strategy. The most crucial element to perfect is the timing for your first follow-up email. Between 2 and 3 hours after the cart abandonment is a perfect starting point. After your first email, send your second two days after cart abandonment, where you can tempt the potential customer with a discount if you choose as following the strategy above.

We hope that this article has been helpful for you. Hopefully, you now have a good jumping-off point to start creating your own cart abandonment email system. With luck and skill, this should prove to be a valuable tool for you to recoup some of your lost sales.