How to Prevent and Convert Abandoned Shopping Carts

February 6th, 2014 Ashley Harbaugh No comments

The dreaded abandoned shopping cart: an unfortunate but unavoidable part of any merchant’s eCommerce strategy. Why didn’t the customer go through with buying your awesome products? He had them all ready-to-go in his shopping cart. He was just a click of a button away from making them his. But he didn’t commit – why?

We don’t always know the motivations behind every customer’s decision, but there are ways that we can help nudge them toward the checkout goal. And there are ways to get abandoned cart shoppers to come back and complete their purchases too.

1. Offer Wish Lists

The nice thing about an online shopping cart is that it stores all the things a customer likes in one neat, tidy place.

But, counterintuitive though it may sound, the ability to see items in a nicely-organized list can also prevent shoppers from pulling the purchasing trigger, with customers preferring to use the shopping cart as a holding container to remind themselves of which items they like and eventually want to purchase (but to not necessarily purchase today).

Instead of having web store customers use the shopping cart as their holding container, offer them the ability to set up their own personal wish list account.

With a wish list account, customers can keep a running library of all their desired merchandise without the pressure to buy – as the account title says, it’s just a “wish list”; it’s not a “buy right now list”.

But the wish list in itself is persuasive in getting customers to keep coming back, because it tempts them to review which items are currently there, and also what new items are available to add. And if they see something they want enough times, it also tempts them to purchase (that’s why it’s important to include the option to purchase items in a wish list too!)

So with a wish list and shopping cart separate, the customer sees both as having different purposes: the wish list for browsing, the shopping cart for purchasing – and then use them as such.

Allowing customers the ability to create wish list accounts not only helps them store and organize the items they like in one place, but it also indirectly pushes them toward purchasing as well

Allowing customers the ability to create wish list accounts not only helps them store and organize the items they like in one place, but it also indirectly pushes them toward purchasing as well.  

2. Don’t Spring Surprise Costs on Customers  

Shoppers want to feel completely in control of the purchase process, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be – after all, it is their hard-earned money they’re spending.

So when customers pause in browsing your store to view the items in their shopping cart, they should see the complete cost of their potential purchase – including any sales tax or shipping fees.

By showing shoppers the true total cost of their purchases, you create valuable trust with your customers – people don’t buy from places they don’t trust.

Showing the total cost also mentally prepares the shopper for payment. If a person knows what she has to pay, and if she feels the items are worth the price, there’s a far greater chance of her completing the checkout than if she were to get to the end and find an extra $50 tacked on for shipping and sales tax without knowing.

By showing customers the total cost of the items in their shopping cart, including any sales tax or shipping fees, you give them visibility and control over their purchase

By showing customers the total cost of the items in their shopping cart, including any sales tax or shipping fees, you give them visibility and control over their purchase

By showing customers the total cost of the items in their shopping cart, including any sales tax or shipping fees, you give them visibility and control over their purchase.

3. Streamlining the Checkout Process

Bottom line: the easier that you make it for people to checkout, then the quicker they will. If you add a lot of forms for them to fill out, or make the checkout process multi-step, it will scare people away from clicking the final button.

Because remember – today’s connected shoppers are focused on checkout speed and convenience.  And if you can’t provide this for them, they have no problem turning to your competitors (who are also just a click of a smartphone button away). So make sure to keep the checkout process smooth and painless.

Now, what should be done if you have an easy checkout process; you show the customer the true, total cost of their order; and you offer a separate wish list for them to put items that they’re browsing, and they still don’t choose to checkout?

4. Send a Follow-up Email

Perhaps the customer was interrupted while they were shopping, and he or she wasn’t able to complete the order. And maybe they forgot that they still have a shopping cart ready-to-go with items to checkout. A follow-up email serves as a friendly reminder for them to come back and complete the order.

Even if the shopper wasn’t interrupted and intentionally left their shopping cart, a follow-up email brings their attention back to the things they wanted, and nudges them to purchase. A shopper wouldn’t have put those items in a shopping cart if they didn’t want them in the first place, so an email follow-up is a helpful reminder.

But make sure to send out a follow-up email within 24-48 hours of the abandoned cart because the day’s shopping is still fresh in the shopper’s mind. And if the shopping is still fresh, then the intention to purchase is still fresh too. 

5. Include a Discount in the Follow-Up Email

Everyone likes a good deal, and everyone likes a discount. If you’ve already sent a follow-up email, wait a couple more days and then send out another follow-up email, but this time with a discount off the purchase.

Even if it’s as low as 5% off the shopping cart total, seeing a discount is a powerful psychological motivator for the abandoned cart customer, because 1) the shopping cart contains items the shopper wants (again, they wouldn’t have put them there if they didn’t), and 2) seeing that they could get a discount helps them justify the action of purchasing, which makes them go through with it.

In Conclusion – Provide Customers a Great Shopping Experience

While there is no surefire, 100% guaranteed abandoned cart prevention technique, the one way in which to get shoppers to purchase from you is to make shopping at your online store enjoyable. The easier, quicker, and more fun it is to shop and purchase, the sooner customers will come back.

If you would like to learn more about how to optimize the shopping experience of your eCommerce channel, please email us at

Ashley Harbaugh is a Product Marketing Specialist at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of CRMeCommerce and ERP, and Point of Sale software solutions to organizations. Ignify has won the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2013, 2012 and 2011. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 7 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine from 2007 to 2013.

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