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This article was published on July 16, 2015

What we can learn from abandoned e-store shopping carts

What we can learn from abandoned e-store shopping carts
Paras Arora
Story by

Paras Arora

Paras heads Product Marketing at TargetingMantra. He in an expert in Personalization and has consulted over 50 clients across the globe on c Paras heads Product Marketing at TargetingMantra. He in an expert in Personalization and has consulted over 50 clients across the globe on conversion optimization, personalization and increasing customer loyalty. An expert in behavioral targeting, Paras focuses on helping clients in optimizing conversions and client engagement across all marketing channels including website, email, mobile, native apps and search. A serial entrepreneur from IIT-Guwahati and Indian School of Business, he loves to spend his time exploring new technologies.

A persistent problem faced by online stores is that of abandoned carts. Reminding customers of shopping carts that they have forgotten or left behind is essential for the success of online stores. Let us look at some different types of abandoned cart emails sent by e-stores in the US.

The 15 stores we compared were:

1. Amazon

2. eBay

3. Best Buy

4. Shop

5. Erno Laszlo

6. Juicy Couture

7. Karma Loop

8. Natural Life

9. Oakley

10. Overstock

11. Sephora

12. Think Geek

13. Kate Spade

14. Nine West

15. Bloomingdale’s

We used six parameters to score abandoned cart emails from each company. The details of these six parameters and why they matter are:


(Bloomingdale’s and Nine West did not send any abandoned cart email in 48 hours of abandoning the cart. So we were essentially reduced to 13 candidates)

Now, let us discuss these parameters individually.

1. Product Abandoned In The Cart

It is crucial to include the product image, details, and a buy-link in the abandoned cart email. This reminds potential customers of what they had liked and almost bought, and also gives them an opportunity to give it a second thought. However, some eCommerce companies do not follow this basic rule.


Karmaloop Abandoned Cart Email

Problems: No Abandoned Cart Product

Let us now take a look at Amazon’s abandoned cart email:


Amazon Abandoned Cart Email

Problems: No Relevant Recommendations 

The email from Amazon clearly shows the product that was abandoned. This awakens in the customer, the same feelings that they had when they first saw the product and added it to cart.

2. Call To Action

A prominent call-to-action button/link should be part of the email to take the customer back to the e-store. Nearly all abandoned cart emails had clear CTAs. However, some emails, like those sent by Think Geek, did not direct the customer to the abandoned cart. This is a big mistake.


Think Geek Abandoned Cart Email

Problems: No Call to Action, No Recommendations, Offers Discount

3. Relevant Product Recommendations

Recommending relevant products in the email is not just an option, but a necessity. Customers abandon carts for multiple reasons which can include:

i) not completely sure about the product

ii) the price put them off

The e-store must make an effort to show more products similar to the one abandoned to regain the customer’s interest. This is where most abandoned cart emails (10/13) fail.

The following are emails sent by Shop and Natural Life:


Shop Abandoned Cart Email

Problems: No Recommendations, Offers Discount


Natural Life Abandoned Cart Email

Problems: No Recommendations

Both these emails fail to rouse the customer’s interest as no alternatives are suggested to the abandoned products.

On the other hand, some abandoned cart emails do recommend other products, but they have no relevance to the abandoned product and are just as ineffective. The following email from Overstock is an example:


Overstock Abandoned Cart Email

Problems: Irrelevant Recommendations, Too Long, Offers Discount, Unrelated Category Promotion


eBay Abandoned Cart Email

Problems: Irrelevant Recommendations, Unrelated Category Promotion

Let us now take a look at Oakley’s abandoned cart email:


Oakley Abandoned Cart Email

A similar product to the one that was abandoned, and two other products for cross-sell have been added to the email. This not only reminds the customer of the product they had abandoned, but shows them other products that they could be interested in.

4. Responsive Design

All the abandoned cart emails are responsive. *thumbs up*

5. Short & Sweet

Abandoned cart emails are meant to draw the customer back to the store, not give a history of the store to the customer. They should be crisp and direct. Too much information or trying to show your extensive catalog does not work in your favor. The purpose of this email is to remind your customers of the products they left behind and inspire them to come back and make a purchase.


Erno Laszlo Abandoned Cart Email

Problems: Too Long, No Relevant Recommendations

6. No Discount

Offering discounts in an abandoned cart email is the height of folly! It devalues your products, sets wrong expectations, and fails in its purpose to show relevant products and entice the customer to make a purchase.

Also, once customers understand that they will get discounts in abandoned cart emails, they will intentionally abandon carts so as to avail a discount and purchase the same item at a lower price. Several stores look at discounts as an easy way to win back customers, but discounting should be avoided in abandoned cart emails.


Kate Spade Abandoned Cart Email

Problems: No Abandoned Cart Product, Offers Discount


The abandoned cart email should never be sent as a mere obligation. It can be very effective in bringing back potential customers to the e-store and nudging them to make purchases. Thus, it must be well thought out, well structured, and most importantly, personalized. The recipient should feel that the email was sent specifically to them, and is not part of a generic bulk. Let us take a look at an effective abandoned cart email:


Why is this better?

– Abandoned Product Included with details and pictures

– Clear Call to Action

– Relevant Recommendations

– Responsive

– Short & Sweet

– Doesn’t offer any discount

The Snowflake email marketing solution by TargetingMantra enables e-stores to send each customer an email specifically crafted for him. A million customers have a million different tastes, and Snowflake uses advanced machine learning to ensure that just the right email reaches the right customer.

To see a comparative analysis of abandoned cart emails by India’s biggest eCommerce companies, click here.

Read Next: How America’s e-commerce giants compare across the desktop, mobile Web and mobile app arenas

Image credit: Shutterstock

This post first appeared on TargetingMantra.