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Why You Need An Abandoned Cart Email Strategy

by Arianne Foulks

January 15, 2019 / Updated: July 1, 2022
abandoned cart email strategy

I often get questions from our clients about abandoned checkouts and how they should try to win back these customers. I wanted to offer some anecdotal evidence on why you need an abandoned cart email strategy.

First, what does abandoned cart mean?

Sometimes people are browsing your website, and they place a product in their shopping cart, but they don’t complete their order. When they do this and also log in or otherwise provide their contact information, Shopify stores their cart as an abandoned checkout. (If a customer doesn’t log in or enter their email address prior to abandoning the checkout, Shopify doesn’t save the information about the items in their cart or create a customer account for them.) For the abandoned checkouts that get stored in Shopify, you can manually or automatically send abandoned cart emails to try to entice those people to return to your shop and complete their purchase.

On average, 69.89% of online shopping carts are abandoned, for a variety of reasons. Many abandoned checkouts occur because visitors are just browsing and not ready to buy, but there are plenty of other reasons (that you can do something about!) that stop shoppers from completing their purchases. Studies have shown that things like unexpectedly high costs of shipping or sales tax can cause a customer to abandon their cart. Long or complicated checkout processes or requiring shoppers to create an account can also be a reason that some people won’t complete their purchase.

How do I find abandoned carts on Shopify?

On your Shopify admin dashboard, go to Orders, then click Abandoned checkouts. Shopify saves the abandoned checkouts for three months, and it removes any abandoned checkouts that are older than three months each Monday. (If you want to track or store this data for longer, you can export this information along with the rest of your order info as a CSV file.)

By reviewing your abandoned checkouts in Shopify, you may notice patterns or reasons why your customers aren’t completing their purchases.

Won’t I be annoying my customers by sending them abandoned cart emails?

I’ve had clients reach out to me, wondering when and how often they should send abandoned cart emails. They were worried about annoying their customers. My question to them was, “Did you get any customer feedback about that?” My feeling is that if the customer didn’t purchase, you’ve already lost them, so what’s the harm in trying to see if they’ll engage with a few reminders? I doubt very much that you have people who were about ready to purchase, then decided not to because they got a reminder email.

My anecdotal evidence is that I fell in love with some velvet pillows on recently, and got as far as adding them to my cart, but then couldn’t quite make the purchase, because pillows are definitely something I can sew myself at home. I left the site, and then they sent me an email on the 9th, 10th, 12th, and 16th about the pillows. I didn’t feel annoyed any of the times, I felt insanely tempted. The last email was titled, “***Lucky you!*** You’re getting one last look at our Round Lush Velvet Pillows *Plus, Early Black Friday Deals” and I couldn’t take it anymore and I bought them, realizing that hunting down and buying the velvet and pillow inserts was going to be a hassle and not as fun as getting some soft pillows in the mail.

You have to remember that you’re emailing people about something they wanted so much that they put it into a shopping cart. They love to hear about it and see pictures of it and imagine it in their life. Not only that, anyone who shops online is used to getting these emails, and may even be hoping for a reminder (for instance, if they added to cart on a phone and want to make the purchase when they’re sitting at their computer). I’d strongly recommend you give abandoned cart emails another try.

When should I send an abandoned cart email?

The first email that gets sent after an abandoned checkout is generally the most effective. Your first abandoned cart email should be sent within one hour of the customer leaving the unpurchased products in their shopping cart. This first email should focus on being helpful and not overly salesy. Think of it as a friendly customer service reminder. Maybe the customer was interrupted by something at home or work during their purchase, or maybe their credit card was declined. You might also check to ensure they didn’t encounter any technical difficulties and offer a customer service email or phone number as an alternate way to complete their order instead.

In a discussion about abandoned carts over at our Facebook group, The Shipshape Collective, member Lisa Mann shared this experience:

I experienced it from the other end (which I love because I get good insight). I started purchasing something and was called into something else and completely forgot about it. A couple of hours later I got a reminder email. I loved it! For me, there was no need for a discount, just the feeling of good customer service. The only thing I would say is that the email needs to seem personal, not too “clever” or robotic.

The second abandoned cart email should arrive about 24 hours after the first email. This is a good time to focus on urgency and/or scarcity. If your products are one-of-a-kind or limited edition, gently remind your customers about the limited stock available. They’ll need to act quickly so they don’t miss out on your amazing products!

For the third email, wait 2-3 days after the second email. Your customers have already gotten a couple of abandoned cart emails from you at this point, and you don’t want to seem pushy or spammy, so think about ways to incentivize them. Maybe you can offer free shipping or a limited-time offer here.

Other things to keep in mind

Make sure that your abandoned cart emails are coming from a monitored email address (think versus, so that the customer can easily reply directly to the abandoned cart email if they have a question or need additional help completing their purchase.

You can also combine an abandoned cart email strategy with retargeting ads on Facebook and/or Instagram to further remind your almost-customers to complete their purchase.

Unexpectedly high shipping rates is one of the main reasons that people abandon their shopping carts. If you’re noticing a large number of abandoned checkouts, you may need to rethink your shipping rate strategy.

If you use Shopify, you can set up automatic emails to be sent to customers after they have abandoned their checkout. You can also set up an automated email sequence by connecting your Shopify store to Klaviyo.

Need help creating an abandoned cart email strategy?

An abandoned cart email campaign is just one of many advanced email marketing techniques you can use to level up your e-commerce strategy. We also offer advanced Klaviyo setup services for Shopify, including setting up ecommerce automation such as abandoned carts, purchase follow-up, and/or re-engagement campaigns.

If you’re ready to make more sales on Shopify, get our rates and details about working with us.

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