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Email Marketing Can Recapture Abandoned Carts

According to a recent study, as many as 50% to 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned without the customer completing their purchase. In fact, Forrester Research has found that the number is as high as 87% with seventy percent of carts being abandoned immediately prior to check-out. Obviously such high rates of cart abandonment are a real issue for owners of ecommerce sites but there are strategies that can be put into place to ensure that companies begin to recapture these customers.

Why Does Cart Abandonment Happen?

Despite what many of us in the industry might think, shopping cart abandonment is driven by much more than the customer’s last-minute decision to bolt out of your virtual store before the sale is completed. In general there are three primary reasons for cart abandonment: shipping prices and delivery times, user-experience and window shopping.

Shipping Prices and Delivery Times

Despite all of the advantages online retailers have over their brick and mortar competition, shipping and delivery are a huge obstacle for ecommerce. Take into consideration the following numbers:

  • 55% of comScore’s respondents indicated that they abandoned their cart because the shipping cost was too high.
  • When a purchase path includes an estimated delivery time of eight days or more, it results in 38% cart abandonment, according to comScore. That number drops to 8% when the estimated delivery is three days or fewer.


The design and functionality of your website directly influence abandonment rates. One major issue that can often result in customer flight is shipping calculation that takes place too late in the check-out process and results in an unpleasant surprise for customers. Another user-experience driven factor in cart abandonment is simply that a website fails to save customer information and requires them to go through a lengthy registration process each time a sale is to be made.

Window Shopping

Perhaps the most common cause of the problem is the fact that many buyers online have no intention of making an immediate purchase. In fact, according to comScore, as many s 56% of customers add an item to their cart in order to purchase it at a later time. Interestingly enough, two additional factors may account for a sites abandonment numbers:

  • The “budgeting effect”: Customers at times place items in their cart to calculate shipping, promotional discounts, etc. without an immediate intention to buy.
  • Mobile cart abandonment has been estimated as high as 97% in a recent study by SeeWhy. A customer often browses on mobile or tablet, but, two times out of three, prefers to purchase and pay on a desktop.

Email Strategies for Recapturing Customers

Most companies now have the means to re-target cart abandoners with a follow-up email. According to a number of recent studies,the most important factor in recapturing the customer is speed of deployment so companies should be sending out a re-targeting email within 12 to 24 hours of abandonment. The real key to effectiveness, however, is an understanding of a customer’s browsing and purchase history. The following steps represent one possible plan of action that utilizes smart re-targeting through email to recapture lost sales:

  1. An email is sent as soon as a cart is abandoned, reminding the customer to complete the purchase and showing additional products that would complement the sale and which they have previously viewed.
  2. Two to three hours after the sale an email is sent which offers a promotion on a complementary item that is of a lower dollar amount which can be purchased in addition to the original item in the cart.
  3. If the sale has still not been completed the retailer could offer incentives such as free or expedited shipping or other incentives to make a purchase.

It should be clear that the options to for converting abandoned carts into sales are as endless as your imagination but must have a real understanding of a customer’s needs and wants if they are to be successful. By refocusing your efforts on customers who were interested enough to add your products to their carts you can capture incremental sales that will help propel your business into better profitability and give you a competitive advantage.



Forrester Research: Understanding Shopping Cart Abandonment

Econsultancy via ComScore: 55% of shoppers abandon carts due to shipping costs: infographic

Econsultancy via ComScore: Online Shopping Customer Experience Study

Marketing Daily Commentary: Shopping Cart Abandonment On Mobile



About Michael Rickicki

I am a freelance writer, translator, social media manager and co-owner of a mid-sized automotive accessories manufacturer and retailer in Brooklyn.

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