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Turn Abandoned Carts into More Sales

By Andrew Luu

Did you know that nearly 70% of shoppers abandon their online shopping carts? If they’re shopping from their phones, it’s even worse at 86%!


That may sound bleak, but it also creates a huge opportunity to go after these online window shoppers and change their minds. It’s really not that difficult and we’re going to show you exactly how to turn these tire kickers into buyers.

First: Why Do People Abandon Carts?

It should come as no surprise that extra fees like shipping is the #1 cause of abandoned carts. Finding out those shoes will cost $20 more at checkout is a big turn off. A complicated process like forcing a customer to sign-up for checkout is another major culprit, along with a restrictive return policy. 


Right away there are simple solution. If you have free shipping (with or without limits) or flat shipping rates pump that right from the homepage. Got a great return policy? Showcase that too. And the Baymard Institute found by just redesigning and simplifying your checkout, retailers can lift cart conversation rates by 35%.

Reel Them Back In!

The ease of online shopping means many shoppers will browse just for entertainment leading to abandoned carts as a side effect. But they showed interest and you can capitalize on that by reaching out after they leave with abandoned cart emails, exit popups and push notifications. 


The Abandoned Cart Email 

We’re sure you’ve seen one of these before yourself because they work. Intent is important because it shows the customer is already thinking of making a purchase. These emails can convert many shoppers especially when they are presented with a compelling message and incentives like free shipping or a discount. 

Here’s a great example from Sephora with a strong call to action and free shipping promo code. 



Block the Exit 

Sometimes consumers just need a nudge and the exit popup throws up an incentive to buy now when they try to leave your site. If stock for that item is low, reminding them to create a sense of urgency can be effective. Nike will remind exiting customers if their order qualifies for free shipping. Often that’s all that’s needed to seal the deal.



The Push Notification 

If your customer is shopping through your app, you have another big advantage. Send them a quick and friendly reminder with an image of something they left in their cart. Target regularly uses this tactic to win over shoppers. 



Retargeting Ads 

This tactic works well because it doesn’t require a customer to have an app or provide an email. You can pay for retargeting ads in popular platforms like Google’s Display Network, Instagram and Facebook. This technology knows what customers left in their cart and will serve up ads in a more subtle way like during a YouTube video, an article or in a social media feed. Take a look at another example from Target – they know how to engage with customers. 



Make Your Email Stand Out

Here’s a quick checklist of what to include in an effective abandoned cart email: 


  • An eye-catching subject line
  • Persuasive pre-header text
  • Photos of items left in their cart
  • An offer or discount
  • A call to action to check out or buy now, with a link to their cart


Have fun with your subject line and talk to your customers, not at them. Being witty, funny and creating a sense of urgency are all good tactics to test out to see what works best for your customer base. Here are some idea starters: 


  • You left something behind
  • Come back to your cart
  • [Product] = low in stock
  • We saved your cart!
  • Don’t miss this — your cart is expiring soon
  • Oops, you forgot something!
  • Free shipping just for you
  • Still thinking it over, [Name]?


Here’s an abandoned cart email from Anthropologie that perfectly captures all of these elements. The email subject line is strong (“Circle back to your cart!”) and the email header recalls a popular song to show the brand’s personality (“Don’t you… forget about these.”):



You can also send more than one email reminder and experts recommend it. It’s called a drip campaign. The first one goes out within an hour or two of an abandoned cart. The next one can arrive a day or so later and the third a few days after that. 


Here’s how Pottery Barn does it. The first email starts out subtly, with a simple subject line (“You left something behind”). The body of the email opens with an incentive banner for free shipping and the main message motivates people to shop (“These products are almost yours! Pick up where you left off”).



In the second email, Pottery Barn applies more urgent messaging and continues to promote the incentive of free shipping. 



Beyond photos of items left behind, everything in the body the email should direct shoppers back to their cart. You can include reviews and social proof, or your buy not, pay later (BNPL) option. 


BNPL is a new consumer financing option that lets shoppers split a purchase into multiple installments, with four equal, interest-free payments being one of the most popular choices. BNPL gives budget conscious customers more buying power as price often holds them back from completing a purchase.  BNPL improves the experience and lowers checkout hesitation. That’s why Zip merchants enjoy an average 20% boost in conversion and 60% increase in average order value after implementing Zip. Enhance your checkout with Zip and make abandoned carts a thing of the past.

About the author
Andrew Luu

Andrew Luu is an international award-winning journalist who spent a decade writing about cars before turning to the world of advertising. His resume includes AutoWeek Magazine where he tested cars and hosted its TV show, along with clients such as Chrysler, Ford and TD Bank.