Vin65 Blog

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Andrew Kamphuis
May 25, 2009 | Marketing | Andrew Kamphuis

Pursuing Abandoned Shopping Carts

A customer comes to your website, adds several items to their cart, and then abandons their  cart and leaves your website. How maddening! You don't even know why they left. So what can you do about it?

Some reasons they might not be checking out.

  1. They are just comparison shopping or window shopping.
  2. They were scared off by the shipping costs.
  3. They had technical issues checking out.
  4. There was a lack of direction or some confusion.
  5. Maybe the website didn't give them the correct assurances.

And there are a lot of reasons not listed here.

How intrusive do you want to be?
Visitors on the internet are hardly anonymous. If a visitor has been to your store before and given you personal information, there is a good chance that you know who they are as soon as they come back to your website. If a visitor has entered personal information in the checkout area, but does not complete the checkout, you should definitely know who this visitor is.

Do you want to survey them about why they didn't complete the checkout? Perhaps with a popup survey? Or spamming them with an email survey? How about sending them an email coupon for the items in their cart that they didn't purchase?

How intrusive should you be with contacting this visitor? Maybe you just want to send an email asking them about their recent shopping experience?

Taking a hint from the offline world.
There is a great article at Future Now about gorilla marketing. To quote the opening line "In the offline world, have you ever been chased by retail staff because you opted not to buy something at their store?"

My Opinion
Nobody likes intrusive or pushy people. If a person abandons your website in the pre-checkout area (on a product page or cart page) you shouldn't contact them (via email, popup survey, phone, etc). In an offline world, if someone entered your store, and then left, you would never chase them. Having a feedback button on your site and a clear phone number for customer support are both good ideas to get this visitor to contact you. Look at ways to improve your conversion via A/B tests is also a good idea.

How about if a visitor enters the checkout area, completes their peronal information and shipping information, but fails to enter their payment information? Here it gets a little more interesting. Having a tactful phone call from customer service might be good idea to try. (In an offline world, if someone entered the checkout area, and then decided to leave, a good clerk would ask them if they could assist in anyway - without being pushy). I would side with a tactful phone call more than an automated generic email, or any kind of spam email. Take a hint from some of the ideas in this article.


RIchard Smith's Gravatar
RIchard Smith
@ May 26, 2009 at 11:29 PM
Andrew, we track abandonded carts and send an email (see below) after 48 hours. We have found this to be very effective in eliciting responses from customers. We may learn about a problem with our service, our pricing, or even our competition, and often we are able to save the order by addressing the client's concerns. I have never had any negative feedback regarding the email, only positive. For larger orders, I may follow up by phone.

Anyway, here is the email we send.

Dear ,

Thank you for your interest in Stoney Creek Wine Press. This is an auto response email. 48 hours ago you started, but did not complete, the order shown below.

It is our goal to ensure that you have a great experience with our company. If you have any questions about your order or have not completed your order because of concerns over our process or costs, please let me know. I would be delighted to discuss them with you and see if there is a way to resolve the issue for you.

I look forward to serving you.


Richard Smith Customer Service

Melissa Dobson's Gravatar
Melissa Dobson
@ May 28, 2009 at 5:05 AM

I don't remember which online retailer it is, but I've received an email about "items in your cart are due to expire" and I don't mind that. Perhaps providing the customer service number and a quick list of FAQ's that could help the customer complete check out within that follow up email would be another subtle option to save the sale. And an offer or coupon might entice the customer even more.

Larry Chandler's Gravatar
Larry Chandler
@ May 28, 2009 at 2:02 PM
I actually find an email like that intrusive. Abandoning a cart is a rational decision that doesn't call for second-guessing on the part of the site owner. While I'm aware that leaving personal info on a site can allow an owner to figure out who abandons a cart, I don't need to feel people are watching my every move. I'm less likely to return ever.

What could work would be a general email sent out mentioning new wines or discounting wine or shipping and let me decide if I want to return.

A clerk in a grocery store saying "Did you find everything you were looking for"? is fine, but saying "I noticed you put the box of Oatmeal back on the shelf. Was there something wrong with it?" is not fine at all.

Richard Smith's Gravatar
Richard Smith
@ May 29, 2009 at 9:38 AM
I would imagine it also depends a little on the type opf product being sold. The 'bricks and mortar' store comparison works for static products but, in our world, when a client abandons a cart with all of their contact information included, they have already gone to a lot of trouble to create custom product. Abandonments are relatively rare and usually spurred by something - shipping costs too high, inability to pay by Visa or MC, for example. Often, a gentle prod will result in some feedback and a conversation that results in us finding a solution for the customer. I suspect this is something that needs to be carefully considered and adapted top individual circumstances.

Guy Harel's Gravatar
Guy Harel
@ Sep 9, 2009 at 9:13 AM
Analyzing abandoned carts can also lead to some interesting conclusions even without speaking to the customer. For example, you may find a large percentage of certain items that are abandoned, and then notice that they are simply on sale somewhere else - someone shopped at your store, added the items, and then went price-shopping to make sure they have the best deal!

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