Cart Abandonment: 3 Disturbing Industry Statistics + 7 Tips for Successful Cart Reminders


Cart reminder programs, set up through email and other digital channels, can help increase conversions. Are you using this technique?

I had the pleasure of leading not one but two webinars last month on digital marketing for retailers. I always like to round out my case studies and practical advice with industry statistics. And what I learned about online cart abandonment surprised and disturbed me:

  • 70 percent of online shopping carts are abandoned (Bronto/Magento Study, 2013)
  • Shopping cart abandonment accounts for $18 billion in lost revenue each year (Surepayroll, 2014)

There’s a simple solution: cart reminder programs that utilize email and other digital communication channels to draw consumers back to complete their purchase. But an informal experiment done by Return Path in December 2014 found that fewer than 21 percent of retailers are sending cart abandonment emails.

Fewer than 21 percent.

This is despite the fact that according to a 2014 report from SaleCycle:

  • 35.5 percent of clicks on cart reminder emails lead to a purchase
  • Cart reminder emails generate an average order value that is 19.1 percent higher than typical purchases
  • An average of $5.64 in revenue is generated for every cart reminder email sent

Even more concerning, of the 21 percent of retailers that did have a cart reminder email program in place:

  • Only 60 percent included the image of a product from the abandoned cart
  • Only 40 percent sent more than one reminder

If you don’t have a cart reminder program, it’s time to put one in place. If you do, it’s time to make sure you’re doing everything you can to make it successful. Either way, here are some tips to help.

1. Offer a Discount

Consumers are looking for a deal. In 2014 Visual Web Optimizer polled online shoppers and found that:

  • 54 percent said that a discount would motivate them to return and complete their purchase
  • Millennial shoppers (aged 25 to 34) were even more motivated by discounts; 72 percent of this group said they would buy if a discount were offered

Many retailers are concerned that offering discounts in cart reminder emails will encourage shoppers to abandon carts. This may be the case. But you need to weigh this potential downside against the revenue that cart reminder emails generate.

2. Include Product Images

A picture is worth a thousand words. Shoppers may not remember what they left in their cart. Showing them what they left behind will help motivate them to return. Dynamic content is the natural way to do this. While it takes time to set up, once in place it’s easy to maintain. The boost in revenue should more than cover the cost of the initial set-up.

3. Offer Assistance

Many people abandon carts because they have questions about the product. Offer them a way to get the answers they need to complete the purchase. Phone and email are great ways to allow them to contact you.

4. Add Urgency

There will come a point when these products are removed from the shopper’s cart – tell them when this will happen. This will help focus the shopper’s attention – and if they want the product they will come back rather than risk losing it.

5. Leverage Your Brand’s Personality

Cart reminder emails don’t have to be dull; take a cue from the online experience and carry it through to your emails. The more your brand personality comes through the more likely it will be that your shopper returns to engage with your brand.

6. Go Omnichannel

I love email, but there are other digital channels you can leverage to reach shoppers who have abandoned carts. If you have an app there’s a huge opportunity here. According to Visual Web Optimizer:

  • 40 percent of people have a shopping app installed on their mobile phone or tablet
  • This rises to 60 percent when you look at just Millennial shoppers

App notifications used in combination with email messages can increase the likelihood that a shopper will return to buy.

7. Send More Than One Reminder

Return Path reported that:

  • Brands sending a second cart reminder saw a 50 percent increase in revenue generated from carts that were abandoned compared to their first message
  • A third message increased revenue by 56 percent compared to sending just one missive

Sending more than one reminder also allows you to hold off on offering a discount until the second or third message. And it gives you more chances to test to improve performance of your program (see my article “15 Types of Email Marketing Tests You Should be Doing” for ideas).

So there you have it. The case for developing and maintaining a multi-effort cart reminder program, along with seven tips to help you optimize revenue generated. Now’s the time to build or upgrade your program – give these tips a try and let me know how it goes.

Until next time,