Capitalizing on Shopping Cart Abandonment

By July 23, 2018

Shopping cart abandonment is a prevalent challenge in the ecommerce world. But it doesn’t have to be the kiss of death for your conversion rates. Yes, some customers are going to fill their carts with goodies only to exit the checkout process, leaving their unbought merchandise behind. But savvy marketing can help reduce the occurrence of shopping cart abandonment by drawing customers back to finish transactions.

Here are a few tips for capitalizing on shopping cart abandonment.

Shopping Cart Abandonment: The Statistics

Baymard Institute looked at 37 different studies on shopping cart abandonment to come up with an average rate of 69.23 percent. It’s fair to chalk up some of this phenomenon to “window shopping” in which consumers fill their carts for research purposes without any intention to buy. But other shopping cart abandonments result from reasons merchants can control.

These include:

  • Lengthy or complex checkout process
  • Opaque pricing, resulting in customers being surprised by the total
  • Website errors
  • Untrustworthy payment processing
  • Lack of suitable order fulfillment options
  • Lack of suitable payment options
  • Restrictive policy for returns or exchanges

Investigating why customers are abandoning their shopping carts should always be your first step. You may have to overhaul some of your existing infrastructure in some cases. Perhaps it’s time to upgrade your enterprise ecommerce platform to handle traffic spikes, secure payments or provide better navigation.

Strategies for Recapturing Cart Abandoners

The silver lining: Just because someone abandoned their shopping cart once doesn’t necessarily mean the sale is a lost cause altogether. Targeting these customers with personalized marketing messages can motivate them to re-enter the funnel and close the sale.

Email is one avenue to explore in this regard. Currently, only about four percent of online retailers send emails to cart abandoners, making this an underutilized strategy for re-engaging shoppers. These emails should feel consumer-specific, meaning they reference the exact products the prospective buyer in question missed the first time around. They should also contain an obvious call to action that takes the buyer right back to their cart, rather than your home page or product catalogue. If you want people to re-engage, remove all friction from the process.

One key to finding success with retargeting is timeliness. Whether you’re sending a follow-up email or showing a customer a personalized ad, it’s important to do so within a reasonable amount of time. As marketing firm Unific notes, “your conversion rate numbers will drop as time passes from initial cart abandonment.”


Customers may head elsewhere to buy a similar product. Or they may simply forget about their want or need for the product. The most effective emails or paid advertisements reach customers during the window of time in which they’re still open to finishing their purchase. You want your brand to stay top of mind as you work to re-engage shoppers. The first 12 hours present the greatest opportunity to convert, but email marketing can be effective for days or weeks afterward, depending on the messaging.

Shopping cart abandonment may seem frustrating for ecommerce operations. However, people who abandon their carts are still more likely to return and make a purchase than people who never filled a cart. Capitalizing on shopping cart abandonment is a matter of targeting customers with personalized messaging in the form of email and dynamic advertisements. It’s also imperative to understand why shoppers are leaving your site to find elements of your user experience in need of tweaking.