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Abandoned Cart Email Strategies: How to Boost your Ecommerce Sales (Part 1/2)

Abandoned cart
This is a two-part blog series that ventures deep into the migraine that is abandoned shopping carts.

By the time you are done with it, you will be able to better understand the issue of abandoned eCommerce carts, the reasons customers leave their carts, and the abandoned cart email strategies you can implement to increase your sales.

That out of the way, let’s get straight to it.

There are a few bad things that can happen to good ecommerce stores, and shopping cart abandonment is right up there with the worst of them.

If there was ever a more exasperating aspect to owning an online business, it has to be this.

This frustration is exacerbated the more by the simple fact that you’re not running operations like in a brick-and-mortar – you know, where you would just walk up to the customer who left their shopping cart to inquire what went wrong.

No! Online business doesn’t come with that luxury.

Sometimes, things can get really discouraging on the virtual aisles.

You have spent heaven knows how long to carefully choose the products you want to sell. You have set up a great store to merchandise those products, with a smooth user experience, beautifully highlighting your offering and conveying the essence of your brand.

And you have burned the midnight oil and poured funds into online marketing in a bid to strategically reach your potential customers out there.

So, when they do finally show up, they shop around, place their preferred product(s) in the shopping cart, and before you know it, they have abandoned the cart and vanished. Gone. Like a phantom. It’s like they were never there.

Welcome to the world of ecommerce.

Now You See Me, Now You Don’t

Shopping cart abandonment is the sort of stuff that keeps plenty of storeowners up at night, sweating throughout the day and knocking back energy shots in between.

And if you are huddled up bathing in kitten tears and wondering why your visitors are hurtling towards the exits, if it is any consolation, know that you are not alone in this. It is just a sad fact of ecommerce life.

A crunching of statistics by web usability researcher Baymard Institute involving 37 different studies found that 69.23% of ecommerce shopping carts are abandoned by shoppers. That is by no means a small figure.

A Forrester study established that as much as 89% of customers have abandoned their cart at least once. You, yourself, are probably guilty of it.

As the time of publishing, Listrak places the day’s total abandonment rate at 78%. You can use the Listrak Shopping Cart Abandonment Index to keep track of the numbers.

That is nothing short of a scourge.

Silver Lining

With such high cart abandonment rates, most online businesses are having to contend with a lot of lost revenue. A LOT. Business Insider places the number at a whopping $4 trillion – and that’s in a single year alone.

The sad truth is that no matter how much you go out of your way to limit the damage, you need to accept that some shoppers will always get away.

Hard to imagine there being a silver lining in all of this, but turns out, there actually is.

A different report by BI revealed that three-quarters of shoppers who ditch their shopping carts plan to revisit the store they left to complete their purchases at some point. In other words, there is every chance you could potentially recover three out of every four lost sales!

It’s not all gloom after all.

The one thing you need to do first is establish the root cause of the abandonment. This will help you tweak whatever needs to be tweaked and then turn those abandoned carts into sales.

Causes of Abandoned Shopping Carts

We decided to make the job easier for you by outlining the possible causes why potential customers may be abandoning their carts, and what you can do about it.

We base these claims upon revelations emanating from data compiled by Statista.

#1 Unexpected costs

If you have been in the ecommerce business for awhile now, you will agree a little bit of transparency goes a long way, and double so during the checkout process.

According to figures from Statista, the number one reason buyers abandon their carts is because they are presented with unexpected costs (86%).

Of course, it is understandable to pass certain fees on to the buyer – processing costs, for example. Or shipping. And taxes.

There is nothing wrong with that. Problem arises when you wait until the customers have entered the checkout flow then, surprise, surprise – “the figure just went up!”

Consumers consider undisclosed fees unwelcome and deceptive, which they are, and they are your number one deal-breaker.

#2 Overall price too expensive

Another common reason that might explain your high shopping cart abandonment rate are total order costs which end up steeper than the buyer had anticipated.

We know, they are placing the items on the cart themselves; it is not like you are forcing it on them. But when the overall order whizzes past the mark they had in mind, some opt out. It’s just one of those things.

You can make it easier for them by being upfront with your costs and fees to avoid “sticker shock” which may lead to abandonment.

#3 Security concerns

Security has become a big deal since circa 2013 when we were inundated with dozens upon dozens of data breach revelations resulting from online shopping.

Today, everyone is having to think twice, and then thrice, before sharing their personal information. And if you cannot guarantee secure transactions, then woe unto you.

For starters, incorporate SSL encryption on your checkout page. You can also make use of  trust seals and security badges to show the customers they are covered in the event something goes wrong with their order.

PayPal VERIFIED badge; McAfee SECURE, TRUST eVERIFIED, volusion SSL, Norton SECURED, Google Trusted Store, there are plenty of them.

#4 Competitors offering better prices

One of the benefits of online shopping, at least in the customer’s eyes, is that the whole world is just a few clicks away.

What we mean by this is that online consumers, who tend to be highly research-driven, can compare prices from a hundred different eCommerce shops if they so wish to – within no time.

And you can rest assured they are always on the lookout for the best deal out there, right until the very last minute.

So, in the event they happen to come across a better price, and there doesn’t appear to be anything that makes your offering special from the others in the marketplace, they are likely to bail out on you.

Flaky lot they are, online shoppers.

#5 Decided against buying

It is not unheard of to make up your mind to buy something, only to decide against it last minute for one reason or another.

Online buyers are real people like you and me. And they too can make the decision to purchase, and even proceed to order the item from an eCommerce store, only to opt out at the last minute.

Such indecision constitutes a substantial number of consumers.

#6 Complicated website navigation

Since the dawn of websites, centuries before ecommerce stores came about, a smooth user experience has always been preached. It is one of the very core basics of good website design.

That UX (user experience) you keep hearing about is a prime reason for cart abandonment, and it is not helped by a slow site that is constantly timing out or moving at the speed of molasses.

#7 Website crashed

When a website crashes, very few shoppers will be motivated to reload and complete their purchase.

Unless your offering is so unique that they are bereft of options, they will be out of there faster than you can say Bob’s your uncle.

A good deal of shoppers abandon their carts for this one reason alone.

#8 Checkout process is too long

It is best practice to make it convenient for shoppers to check out from your store – not to be a kill joy by exposing them to a long and winded process that makes them want to cry.

On average, 21% of potential buyers virtually bolt out of a lengthy checkout, never to be heard from again.

Make it a point of eliminating all the red tape that stands between your Add to Cart button and that satisfying “Order Complete” message. Weed out all the unnecessary information that isn’t needed to complete a purchase.

If you need that information much, save it for later use in the Order Complete page where you can ask follow-up questions.

#9 Excessive payment security checks

We get it, everyone, customers included, wants a safe platform to share private information such as credit card information, especially in a store the buyer has never purchased from before.

But there are many ways to guarantee customers security without having to make them feel like they are accessing the vault hiding the secret Coca Cola formula (see “Security concerns” above).

#10 Comparison shopping or ‘Just browsing’

The other probable reason you are experiencing cases of abandoned cart is that the potential buyers were window shopping or simply browsing without the intention to buy in the first place.

It’s okay if they do that.

Many people, mostly during the holidays, load their carts with items with the aim of knowing exactly how much the order total will cost them. Either that, or they want to save the items for later.


In addition to these 10 causes of shopping cart abandonment, other reasons why you may be missing out on potential sales include:

  • The hassle of dealing with returns.
  • Limited shipping options.
  • Failure to take international customers into account.
  • Site is not mobile-friendly – a lot of consumers are shopping from their mobile devices these days.
  • Waiting for a promotion or coupon code.

Abandoned Cart Re-marketing

Now that you are in position to tell what could be the reason for your cart abandonment, you need to find a way to get them back. You need to find a way to lure the three of the four likely buyers who ditched their carts and would consider coming back to your store to complete their purchase.

Because that is massive potential sales we are talking about.

How do you go about it, you may wonder?

Glad you asked.

Most eCommerce marketers are approaching these lost customers the wrong way by opting to use re-targeting ads. There seems to be a lack of a proper cart abandonment strategy to target these potential buyers early in the purchase process.

In all truth, Facebook ads alone are not likely to be convincing enough. What we don’t want is to solve this conundrum through guesswork as that is akin to taking a shot in the dark; hopeful at best.

Enter abandoned cart email strategies.

Join us in Part 2 of this series as we delve into the reasons you should be using abandoned cart emails and the best strategies that can help you move those abandoned carts through the checkout process.