Cart Abandonment: Actually, It's A Good Thing

As we head into the high season of shopping-cart abandonment, a new study reports this fact of ecommerce life has become a regular stage in the online shopping process, something that opens up new opportunities to use email marketing to close the deal.  

We already know email reminders can bring shoppers back to purchase. However, this study, by remarketing technology provider SeeWhy (Disclosure: SeeWhy is a Silverpop technology partner), delves deeper into why shoppers don't buy right away and the value they represent to retailers. 

Below are a few facts you probably didn't know about your cart abandoners, as reported in "The Science of Shopping Cart Abandonment," which studied 250,000 online transactions of 600,000 shoppers: 

  • "Serial abandoners" often come back and buy more: 42% of shoppers who abandon carts do so an average of 2.4 times over a four-week period. However, nearly half of them will respond to remarketing or cart-reminder emails, compared with only 18% of those who abandoned their carts only once. When they do come back, they spend 55% more than less-frequent abandoners.




  • New customers abandon more often but respond better to reminders: Only 5% of first-time buyers return to buy again, and they abandon their carts more often than other shoppers (an average 2.2 times per purchase compared with 1.3 overall). However, more of them (57%) come back to buy when reminded via recovery emails.


  • Three of four cart abandoners will respond to recovery emails: 25% of cart abandoners are gone for good, but the rest will keep coming back when prompted via email, whether to purchase or just to browse.


"Price and timing are two of the primary reasons people abandon shopping carts online," says Charles Nicholls SeeWhy's founder/ Chief Strategy Officer. "We can't do anything about that on the website, but we can absolutely address that in email. 

"People are so comfortable now with leaving items in the cart because they know they can come back. If you make it easy for them, they'll come back, and a greater proportion will buy."  

Rethink Email's Role in Remarketing 

Here are three takeaways from the study for email marketers:  

1. Welcome program is key. Your welcome program can be crucial to bringing back more first-time shoppers and potentially reducing the factors that cause them to abandon carts more often than other shoppers.  

Although the research doesn't specify which percentage of returning shoppers also are new email subscribers, it stands to reason that effective, value-filled messages will motivate shoppers who have already shown intent. 

Thus, the process of on-boarding new subscribers -- sending unique welcome messages, redeeming incentives after confirmation, even changing cadence or message content -- becomes even more important.  

2. Upgrade remarketing for permanent carts. If you already have a remarketing program, it might be time to retool it for long-term cart-parkers. 

In addition to the recommended series of three cart-reminder messages (for example one sent within a few hours after abandonment, the next within 24 hours and the third up to a week later), consider testing periodic reminders for shoppers who leave items in carts for extended periods beyond your regular remarketing window.

With so many subscribers using your shopping cart as a wish list, you may also want to test including gentle cart reminders into your regular broadcast emails, either by linking to the cart if you have that level of ecommerce and email integration, or by segmenting out those customers and including a general cart reminder, minus the link.

My Email Insider column "Using Email to Remarket to Customers" lists more tips, including timing and content. 

3. Create a new customer class. The term "cart abandonment" is obsolete for many online shoppers. They're not really abandoning their carts; they're just using them as makeshift wish lists.

Why not give them that functionality instead, complete with an email message stream that promotes the items they've singled out?  

Until next time, take it up a notch!

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