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Saving a Sale After a Cart is Abandoned

Posted by Origins Ecommerce - December 1, 2015 in ,

As consumers, we’ve all ‘abandoned’ a purchase at one time or another; whether we’re browsing online or shopping in a bricks-and-mortar store. Approximately 67% of online shopping carts are abandoned before the customer completes a sale.

However, abandoning a cart doesn’t necessarily mean that the transaction is over - it’s simply part of the buying cycle. A Forrester study found that 41% of online shoppers who abandon their carts do so because they are unprepared in some way to make the purchase. This could be in part due to indecision, timing, or obstacles on the retailer’s website. Specific reasons include:

  • Product or service is too expensive
  • Customer is browsing, with no intention to buy at that point
  • Checkout process was too complicated
  • Internet connection timed out
  • Tab/browser accidentally crashed or closed
  • Customer faces hidden fees, such as taxes and shipping (AKA ‘sticker shock’)
  • Customer has website security concerns
  • Site lacks a ‘Save for Later’ or ‘Wish List’ feature for the customer to save items
  • Customer loses interest in the product

There’s not a lot you can do about the customer’s behavior or state of mind at the time of their shopping experience, but you can identify and mitigate any barriers that may cause resistance. But what if it’s past that point? How can you potentially regain that lost sale?

Cart Recovery Emails

By far the most effective way to recover ‘lost’ customers without investing a lot of time and money is through cart recovery emails. These are typically sent to a customer who started shopping on your site and added items to their cart, but failed to click the checkout button. Sending a reminder email serves as a trigger for the customer to take action: purchase the abandoned items or save them for later. Another option is to offer them selections and have them purchase a similar but different product.

Reminding customers of an abandoned shopping cart can play a big part in actually persuading them to buy. In fact, 33% of consumers who opened a reminder email went on to complete their purchase. Better yet, abandoners who re-engage with the company spend 55% more than non-abandoners. Photography retailer Peak Design has used this tactic to recover 12% of their abandoned carts. Ensure you have clear, actionable subject lines and pictures of what interested the customer in the first place for best results.

Wish List / Save for Later

The ‘Save for Later’ or ‘Wish List’ feature is prevalent in most online shopping carts from established retailers such as Amazon, and is an essential component to have on your ecommerce site to retain sales. It serves as an item reminder for the customer, making it easy for them to come back to the site, see what they’ve saved, and proceed to the checkout.

This option also integrates nicely with cart recovery emails. One clever tactic is to track the specific items your customer is browsing, and then following up with a fully-customized email reminding them to buy these items. Effective messaging such as “It’s still for sale!” or “Buy now before it’s gone!” can trigger a powerful buying response from the customer.


If a customer still hasn’t completed their purchase, offering an incentive, a digital coupon or discount with their purchase might be just the catalyst you need to complete the sale. After sending a couple of initial reminder emails, try one that offers a 20% discount on their item of interest. Put a limited duration on the offer to create a sense of urgency.

Offering discounts should be seen as a last resort of the recovery strategy, as you don’t want to condition your customers to expect these offers and ‘game’ your strategy. Your efforts would be better spent investing in a seamless shopping experience to avoid cart abandonment altogether.

Don’t Leave Money on the Table

As a digital merchant, it’s essential to have a strategy in place to rescue sales previously lost to cart abandonment. Not doing so can reduce your potential transaction value by a third. Instead of accepting abandoned carts as lost sales, think of them as an opportunity that isn’t available to your bricks-and-mortar competitors to re-engage with your customers, continue to build a meaningful relationship, and optimize your checkout.

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About the Author

Origins Ecommerce

We love sharing our expertise in online payments and helping our customers succeed. From the technical team to our customer service team, everyone at Origins Ecommerce is ready to support your success. Our goal is to reduce your expenses and risks while optimizing your revenue, by managing your online payments for you. The Origins Ecommerce payment solution is there to keep your payments in motion, so you don’t have to.
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