Abandoned Cart Recovery Strategies That Actually Work

Man adds credit card to ecommerce order to avoid abandoned cart

Have you noticed your shoppers enthusiastically add items to their online carts, only to never complete their purchase? It’s estimated that over $18 billion is lost annually by eCommerce brands from abandoned carts. As an eCommerce business owner, losing potential sales in this way can be incredibly frustrating. But don’t lose hope – with the right strategies, you can recover many of those abandoned carts and turn casual browsers into loyal, repeat customers.

We want to share several simple yet highly effective techniques that eCommerce businesses are using to successfully reconnect with past customers and get them to finish what they started. We’ll look at best practices for communication and incentives that motivate action. By the end, you’ll walk away empowered with practical knowledge to significantly boost your sales without a major increase in effort.

Let’s dive in!

Understanding Why Carts Get Abandoned

Before jumping into solutions, it’s important to recognize why shoppers might leave items sitting unpurchased in their online carts. The top three reasons are:

  1. They got distracted or busy – An online shopping cart doesn’t physically lock up items like an in-store one does. It’s very easy for customers to get pulled away to something else before completing checkout.
  2. Shipping costs are too high – Unexpected fees at checkout can completely ruin the experience for shoppers. Customers might not have budgeted for a high shipping cost.
  3. They found a better price elsewhere – With a quick online search always just a click away, it’s easy for shoppers to compare prices at the last minute. 
  4. Product questions went unanswered – Things like sizing details, delivery dates, or compatibility issues left them unsure if it was the right choice.

With awareness of these common barriers, you can craft targeted recovery strategies to directly overcome each specific objection point.

Send a Timely Reminder

One of the simplest yet most impactful tactics is following up with customers who abandoned their carts within 2 hours and another in 24 hours. Sending a friendly email thanking them for their interest and gently reminding them of what’s still waiting in their cart has been shown to increase purchase completion rates by 15-30%.

The key is keeping the reminder friendly and non-pushy. For example, you could say “Just wanted to let you know those items are still here if you decide to checkout today. Let me know if you have any other questions!” This light touch helps shoppers feel they haven’t been forgotten without any pressure to buy.

Offer a Discount to Seal the Deal

Giving people an incentive or reason to act immediately can be highly persuasive for fence-sitters. Sending abandoned cart customers a limited-time discount code is proven to get more of them over the line.

The discount acknowledges their previous interest while also creating a sense of urgency since the promotional code will expire within a set timeframe. Be sure to clearly state the expiration date right in the email subject line, such as “5% off today only for these items!”.

Address Their Specific Concerns Directly

When possible, try to directly address the exact reason a shopper didn’t previously complete their purchase. For example, if their abandoned cart included higher than expected shipping costs, you could offer free shipping on orders over $50 or provide local pickup options to eliminate fees.

If their items were available cheaper elsewhere last time, match or beat the competitor’s price on those products to remove any concerns about value. This shows customers you understand their unique situation and are willing to solve their specific problem, which builds trust in the process.

Flowium abandoned cart statistics
Image Credit: Flowium

Offer Low-Risk Trial Periods

For product-based businesses, introducing a risk-reversal tactic can help indecisive shoppers feel more comfortable taking the plunge. Options like free returns within 14 days or a money-back guarantee if not 100% satisfied are very reassuring, as they acknowledge the natural hesitation people feel buying something expensive or important online without trying or testing it first.

Free and easy returns have become an expectation for many online shoppers thanks to Amazon Prime. In fact, research shows that 79% of customers won’t purchase from an ecommerce site that charges return shipping fees.

Offering free return shipping may not align with every business’ profit margins. However, providing this perk could lead to a substantial boost in sales that offsets the associated costs. We recommend calculating the numbers to determine just how many additional orders may be needed to reach the break-even point for covering free return shipping.

Provide Helpful Educational Resources

For products or industries that require explanation, providing educational resources can help indecisive shoppers feel more informed to make their choice with confidence. This could include blog posts, eBooks, video tutorials, or live online workshops related to common questions around your offerings.

The goal is to reduce any knowledge gaps holding customers back from committing to buy. As an example, an e-commerce store selling computer accessories targeted towards seniors could share a helpful guide on “Top 5 Tips for Navigating Windows 10.”

Follow Up Periodically Over Time

Don’t just make a single attempt immediately after an abandoned cart – keep the lines of communication open by following up occasionally over weeks and months. Sending gentle reminders about abandoned items every few weeks keeps your business top of mind as customers’ needs, budgets, and situations change over time.

Lightly inquire if their situation may have changed or if they have any other questions. The goal is to nurture them as a potential repeat, long-term customer – not just make a single sale. 

Summing things Up

With some creativity and testing different approaches, there are many ways eCommerce businesses can successfully recover lost revenue from abandoned online shopping carts. The most important things are timely follow up communication, directly addressing concerns, providing value, and nurturing customers as long-term relationships – not just one-time transactions.

If you implement a few of our tailored strategies for your specific audience and products, we’re confident you’ll see meaningful increases in completed purchases over time. And remember – don’t get discouraged if some tactics don’t work immediately. Testing, optimizing, and continually improving is an ongoing process that leads to success.


Ready to build an abandoned cart strategy for your eCommerce business? Schedule a consultation and let’s discuss how we can help recover your lost revenue!

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