Mastering Abandoned Cart Recovery

January 27, 2015 | Admin

Last updated on October 25th, 2019

Kevy Mastering-Cart-RecoveryAbandoned carts. The dreaded basket piled high with revenue you could have gained that month.  If you are like most online retailers, this number taunts you by pointing out some flaw in your checkout system, product or pricing. Why did these customers get so close to converting, only to change their mind at the last minute?

It seems abandoned carts are an unavoidable hazard in the ecommerce industry. While there are a variety of reasons people may jump ship, CP Strategy found there are a few overwhelming reasons why people abandon shopping carts at the last minute.

  • Your webpage was too slow to load
  • High shipping cost -> 44% of shoppers left due to shipping costs
  • Confusing or lengthy checkout process

This list is not inclusive, your customers may abandon for a variety of reasons but this does not mean they are beyond recovery. And recovery is certainly worth pursuing.

Shopify studied this and found 67.45% of online shopping carts are abandoned. This means you could be sacrificing nearly two-thirds of potential sales. Don’t think it is a big deal? Approximately $4 trillion worth of merchandise will be abandoned in online shopping carts this year.

So how do we recover? How can we turn these seemingly lost shoppers into real revenue? Here are some tips we found in talking to experts on cart recovery.

Emails Actually Work

Emails are still an incredibly powerful way to reengage lost users. In fact, most conversions are found within the first 1-3 hours after abandoning. Business Insider found that sending an initial email three hours after a consumer abandons a cart, results in a 40% open rate and a 20% click through rate.

And it isn’t just about the clicks –  SaleCycle found over a third of cart retrieval emails result in purchases. 

 Kevy Cart-Recovery

Content & Timing

We all know content is king, but this is especially true in abandoned cart emails.  You want to be personal, you don’t want to seem pushy, or impatient or obnoxious and on top of this, you need to be sure you are sending the right message at the right time.

This type of customization can often be highly time consuming involving great amounts of manual labor. An innovative, automatic (and more efficient) method is to create a nurture campaign for these abandoned customers. This nurture campaign can fit a pre-determined cadence that works best with your customers.

Email #1    As we mentioned, this should be within a few hours of them leaving your store, and their product, behind. Since you are sending an email so soon, the last thing you want is to be pushy. Your first email should aim to help the customer, not sell to them.

But test this! If you find it takes time for your customers to research your products, they may still be browsing your site and could become confused or annoyed by your premature email.

Check out how Madewell has mastered the art of cart recovery emails.

Kevy mastering cart recovery 2What we like:

  • Clear non-pushy verbiage
  • Link to see what is in their bag
  • Large image of the left behind item

Email #2  This is a reminder email that should be sent roughly 24-48 hour after the first email send.  This second email can be very powerful. The Internet Retailer Top 500 and Second 500 companies that sent abandoned cart emails, 53.2% of the Top 500 and 60.9% of the Second 500 send more than one message. There is a reason they send more than one, and it seems to be effective for these high-revenue companies.

Check out Wayfair’s version of the automated cart-recovery email:

kevy mastering cart recovery 3

What we like:

  • Sense of urgency with “Don’t let it get away!”
  • How they address possible technical issues at checkout 
  • Clear link to get help or keep shopping

Email #3 – This is where the incentive comes in. Notice that no incentive has been included until this point. Why not send an incentive immediately? You absolutely can and in some cases this is a great strategy, but you may be sacrificing non-discounted revenue.  Shopping cart abandonment messages have some of the highest conversion rates, with the average conversion rate between 20-25% for the first message. So why cheat yourself the revenue when your customers are most likely to return with a simple reminder.

The third, and often final try, is where the incentives take the spotlight. The third email typically sees best results around the 48-hours to one-week mark. At this point they may still be hesitant which is why the incentive is important to give them that extra push to finish that purchase.

Piperlime has found incredible results with their incentive. And full disclosure – this follow up email has actually gotten me to return and purchase!

Kevy cart-recovery-piperlime

What we like:

  • Sense of urgency with “48 hours only!”
  • Large incentive to buy 
  • Compelling Call to Action button ‘Act Fast’

Side Note:

With a nurture campaign like we talked about above, it is important to apply some sort of filter or check-point between each message to see if the customer has purchased or perhaps emptied their cart. Don’t expose your automated system by sending them ‘We Miss You’ emails when they converted from your previous email. 

Fun Fact: Shopify has an abandoned cart recovery program where they have converted 12.9 million through emails sent to abandoned carts.

Get Personal 

You cannot make these recovery emails generic. They must be relevant and personal. Always include details about the exact item they left in their cart –  item name, description, price and image.

You can also include product recommendations or similar items. Maybe they abandoned because what they found was close, but not 100% what they wanted.  If this is the case, you may find impressive results by including product recommendations or you may also like” emails.

Your Store

Everything so far has hinged on the idea that you already have the guest’s email address. But what if you don’t? What if they never converted so you have no idea who this mystery person is that left something behind. This is why asking for an email address as soon as possible in the shopping experience is vital to follow up.

But, if you find yourself dealing with filled carts and empty email fields, there are a number of things you can do to recover these ‘unknowns’ outside of their inbox. This begins with optimizing your store.

Start looking for patterns in the abandon cart phenomenon. Determine how far along customers typically get in the checkout process before sneaking away. Had they finished browsing? Did they start to input their shipping or billing information? Did they get to the price total page? Did they leave when they saw extra fees added to the cost? Was it extra shipping that scared them away? Or was it simply a confusing process?

Once you have this information, you can tailor your shopping experience based on customer behaviors to help buyers complete their purchase before high-tailing it off your site. Optimize data entry, make shipping costs known before the last step, limit the number of fields they need to fill out or be sure your check-out has an easy-to-follow flow.


A growing trend in the cart recovery game is the art of the pop-up. Many companies implement in app pop-ups to remind browsers their cart is full and they need to complete their purchase before the items are gone. 

Pop-ups are also effective when a user returns to your site to remind them of items in their cart. If they are returning you could even offer a discount or coupon. While pop-ups can be powerful, they need to be based on unique user behaviors to be most effective.

Pop-ups are also a powerful way of getting emails before the customer starts browsing and buying. And remember, the earlier you get their email, the sooner you can begin retargeting and marketing. 

No matter which channel you plan to use for your cart recovery, content and timing are by far the most important. Make these emails fun and catchy and memorable. Remind users of their almost-purchased products and make it simple for them to return. Once you master the art of cart recovery, you will see a dramatic increase in your bottom line. You have two-thirds of your potential buyers ready to convert, so help them to do so.

What are some other ways you can recover lost carts on your store?