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May 23, 2017
E-commerce  |  12 min read

Increase Sales with These Best Practices for Converting Abandoned Carts into Sales

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Amanda Farmer

It happens all too often. You pour your time and energy into creating personalized ad campaigns and targeting the “right” audience members in hopes of boosting your web traffic. Maybe it even works and visitors flock to your site.

But instead of buying your products, these strategically acquired visitors fill their cart with goodies, then suddenly leave without checking out. Sound familiar?

Abandoned carts are an incredibly common happening in the e-commerce world with nearly 70 percent of online consumers saying they fill their carts, only to abandon them at the last moment.

This can be frustrating and confusing for e-commerce store owners who are left wondering, “Was it something I said?”

The good news is, if visitors are filling their carts, you are likely only a few adjustments away from getting those prospective buyers to convert.

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Take a step back to find out where your checkout process is going astray and get your sales back on track with these best practices for reducing your abandoned cart rate.

Address low-hanging fruit

No matter the industry, there are a few common reasons carts are abandoned:

  • Extra costs like shipping and taxes were too high (61 percent)
  • Visitor didn’t want to create an account (35 percent)
  • Checkout process was too long or complex (27 percent)
  • Couldn’t see or calculate total order cost up front (24 percent)
  • Website had errors or crashed (22 percent)
  • Visitor didn’t trust the site with credit card info (18 percent)
  • Delivery timeline was much too slow (16 percent)

Now, take a look at your checkout process. Do any of these issues apply? (If so, breathe a sigh of relief. They’re easy to fix.)

Give your customers the freedom to check out as a guest

Build in transparency by showing estimated tax, shipping fees, and the total cost before they click to check out, and consider creating a checkout process that fits on one page to save time.

Shop around with different carriers to find a wider range of delivery options that could get your products into consumers’ hands faster, even if it means a heftier shipping cost for them.


[Caption] Example 1: This checkout cart is doing several things right, including keeping the process short and transparent, offering multiple payment options and clearly showing the total order cost. However, it would be even stronger if estimated shipping costs were shown before checkout

Take a look at your site’s analytics

Is the majority of your traffic shopping with you on mobile devices? This is something to consider when designing your checkout process, as inputting payment details on small screens can be tedious. Implementing pay buttons like Apple Pay and Amazon Pay make it easier for visitors to check out without having to type in payment info.

Your analytics may also alert you to any issues your site is experiencing, such as slow page load times or other errors. Having a website that is fully responsive (resizes itself for mobile devices) and high-functioning is a key part in building brand trust with your site’s visitors, who are unlikely to spend money with you if they sense that you or your site are unreliable.

Figure out your options for automated emails

The best way to get those visitors to come back and check out is to simply remind them to do so. Having a platform that allows you to send automated, personalized emails will give you the time and manpower necessary to follow up with all of those lost sales.

Some e-commerce platforms, like BigCommerce, come with a built-in automated email platform that drives more than 17 percent of your abandoned carts back to purchase on the site.

Using your platform’s in-house email feature can streamline your marketing process, as you don’t have to get familiar with a new platform and can easily click to send emails and view data from your Control Panel.

You can customize discount options to create a simple, straight-to-the-point email campaign like the one below:

However, as you can see, built-in email automation platforms can be lacking when it comes to design options, so you must weigh out how important the appearance of your emails is when choosing an email solution.

Another option is to integrate a platform like Infusionsoft that will enable you to use more sophisticated layouts with imagery.

Draft your email series

Though automation services make it easy to follow up with visitors, you still must craft the copy yourself.

Most brands choose to send out a series of three abandoned cart emails, as follows:

  1. Reminder: This is a friendly reminder that the customer simply forgot to finish the checkout process. Including a photo of the product can be helpful in spurring their memory and initial attraction to the item, as well as other details like price and brand. If you are able, include information about how to reach customer support so that the visitor may ask unanswered questions about the product that stopped them from purchasing it, such as warranty info or fit details.

  2. Discount with deadline: It’s a good practice to wait until the second email to send a discount, as you don’t want customers to begin assuming that if they fill their cart and don’t check out, they’ll immediately be offered a discount. Including a deadline for using the discount may create the sense of urgency needed to get them back to checkout.

  3. Deadline reminder: Including a deadline in the second email also gives you a reason to send a final email. It’s likely that visitors who are still reading by your third offer originally abandoned their cart due to price, so offering a small discount or free shipping can be the final push they need to commit. Try out a variety of methods to find out over time what is most effective for your brand (more on that later).

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Segment and customize

The more personalized your automated emails are, the more likely they are to persuade the visitor to return and check out. Here are a few questions to ask yourself while crafting different versions of your emails:

  • Who is the customer? Set up different email campaigns for first-time customers and returning customers. Not only will this help you overcome the potential problem of repeat customers expecting discounts, it also makes your first-time customers feel special by offering a discount just for them. For return customers, utilizing a cross-selling or upselling section in your emails may be more effective than with first-time customers, as you already know this audience is interested in and trusts your brand.

  • What are they shopping for? Some shoppers may be abandoning their carts due to the nature of the products themselves. If you know some of your products are complex, include a link to customer support, your return policy or the Frequently Asked Questions page. You can also include testimonials or reviews if the products in their cart are popular with other shoppers.

  • How much is the total price of the cart? If the total amount of the cart meets a certain threshold, consider offering free shipping or a small discount. This may be the small nudge visitors need to feel okay with spending the total cost. Also, consider spacing your emails out a bit more for these customers as they may need more time to think about it than customers buying only one or two products.

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A/B test and optimize

The best part of using automated emails to meet any of your marketing needs is that you can continue to test and tweak your strategy over time until you get it right. A/B testing allows you to send out two similar emails with one difference between them, such as the subject line, so you can test what gets the best response.

You should also A/B test the timing of emails, language, and the size of the discount you offer to find what drives both traffic and conversions from visitors who abandon their carts.

More often than not, customers who abandon their carts need only a simple nudge or upgraded experience to come back and convert. Luckily for today’s merchants, there is an abundance of data available to learn where your checkout process is going wrong and how to get it back on track, should you choose to take the time to analyze, understand and act on it.

Need further convincing that you should make time for your “nearly there” customers? Check out just how much more revenue you could earn by investing in your abandoned cart strategy with this calculator.

More than Sales: Using CRM to Grow and Manage Your Entire Business - Download Now


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Amanda Farmer is a BigCommerce researcher and copywriter. She is also the principal at Dreamtown Creative, a marketing firm working with Fortune 500 companies to grow revenue through online initiatives and campaigns. Her deep understanding of branding, content marketing and storytelling across a wide variety of platforms has won her multiple awards, including placement as a Screenplay Competition Finalist at the Austin Film Festival.

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