With consumers just as busy as you are, nurturing those abandoned carts is even more important during the holidays. Your ecommerce customers may have several different websites open at one time, so it’s easy for them to navigate away from your page without making a purchase, even if they meant to - which makes abandoned cart nurturing an easy win for ecommerce marketers. Other factors might just cause accidental abandonment, such as technical difficulties or a belated “out of stock” message. Still others may experience sticker shock when presented with shipping prices. Whatever the reason, some people will abandon your checkout process. So what will you do when that happens?

Welcome to the Top 19%

First off, if you're doing any kind of shopping cart abandonment you're way ahead of the game. Currently, only 19% of even the top 1000 ecommerce companies engage in any kind of shopping cart abandonment recovery. Which is interesting, given that up to half of the customers who abandon their carts will complete the purchase when asked.

Given that the average ecommerce store sees 50%-75% of the carts created in their stores abandoned before purchase, that could mean an additional 25% in sales for the average store.

And yet, only 19% are doing it. *sigh*

Consumers are already beyond expecting us to help them remember to checkout and make it easier for them. Of the 19% of marketers who do any marketing, 77.5% of their campaigns include just a single email. It's time to grow beyond that and recognize an abandoned cart for what it is: A unique opportunity to start a relationship with a customer off on the right foot.

Start With Pursuit

You probably already know the many ways possible for chasing down a cart abandoner. There’s email, social media, and targeted ads, and that’s all if you don’t managed to catch them with an exit message. Most ecommerce sites have a visit-to-customer conversion rate of less than 1% from a customer's first visit, so you can pretty much count on 99% of those who visit your site to not buy anything the first time around. However, 75% of those who abandon do so with the intention of returning. If you don’t go after them, they might never come back.


With marketing automation, creating an email workflow for abandoned carts is easy. The key is making the content valuable to the recipient.

Unexpected Bonus

In the case of forgotten carts or those interrupted by technical difficulties, your recovery emails are actually the first step in a great relationship. In the case of REAL Watersports, which has a pretty high average order value, an abandoned cart could result in the loss of thousands of dollars. The company sells surfing and kiteboarding equipment, which can be pretty good sized investments. If a customer abandons a shopping cart, it's a good idea to make sure that the didn't run into technical issues before you go after any other recovery methods.

abandoned cart email example

Note the email shows an image of the abandoned product (which customizes itself to the recipient - hence the blank icon), pricing information, a button to return to the cart, and perhaps most importantly, various contact methods including email, chat, and phone number. If they weren't able to checkout through the shopping cart (not everyone intuitively understands your system) or they weren't comfortable doing so, it's a good idea to give them other options to complete their purchase.

Had the company not pursued this particular customer, they might have entirely lost the revenue from the purchase. Cart abandonment due to technical difficulties is probably the easiest to recover, since the only thing standing in the way of the purchase is a malfunction. When sending out the remarketing email, along with photos of the abandoned item, they not only recovered the purchase, but they also likely gained a loyal customer.

To make sure that customer gets the best possible service, you may also want to trigger an internal email to a customer service or sales representative with the information about each abandoned cart. As you can see in the example below, an image of the abandoned product is shown, as well as the user name and contact information. When that buyer is recovered, anyone in the company can help him complete the transaction, because they have all the necessary details at hand.

internal email example

Proof of Success

When you can see the success, reaching out to customers who abandoned becomes easier. For this first email, REAL Watersports saw a 25% engagement rate with just a single abandoned cart email. It's an easy campaign that can bring a double digit lift in sales.

engagement rate

Those are all customers that might never have returned without the push they received from the nurturing email.

A shocking number of ecommerce companies simply don’t follow up with emails after a cart has been abandoned. Opening any line of communication with a potential customer is a great way to start the process of delighting and surpassing buyer needs. Before you write off an abandoned cart as a lost cause, consider the many reasons that cart might not have made it through the checkout process. Then, take your moment to shine as a company who provides service even before the sale.

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Originally published Dec 11, 2013 2:00:00 PM, updated October 02 2023