Abandoned Cart Recovery: Step-by-Step Guide

22 December 2022 ~ 20 min read 819 views
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Claspo Blog Abandoned Cart Recovery: Step-by-Step Guide

Would it fit into your apartment if you bought everything you've ever put in your online shopping cart? Probably not. Sometimes people drop their purchases, and that's normal human behavior. 

But marketing exists for a reason, so the analysts invented a pool of strategic moves to reduce the number of unfinished orders. The scientific term for it is “abandoned cart recovery.” If you’re a part of the e-commerce sphere, you might want to learn more about it.

What is Abandoned Cart Recovery?

Abandoned cart recovery is a sales acquisition strategy where ecommerce websites use different marketing approaches and UX to return visitors that abandoned carts and turn them into customers. 

To understand the essence of abandoned cart recovery, we must first clarify the notion of shopping cart abandonment. You might be a seller, but you’re most likely an online shopper in this digital world. Hence, you can relate to the thoughts: 

  • “That T-shirt with funny kittens is too childish, it was foolish of me to choose it”;
  • “Hm, that sleepy owl coffee mug looks cute… Well, with that shipping cost, I’m not buying it”;
  • “This witch costume is incredible, but there is no way they’ll make it before Halloween with this speed of delivery.”

Then you exit the website to escape the temptation of your wishful thinking or to look for a better option. If you had anything in your cart, these items would be abandoned. That’s why the process is called “shopping cart abandonment.”


The phenomenon of cart abandonment is complex and multidimensional. We addressed all of its aspects in another article. You can find it here if you’re interested in the subject.

People’s behavioral patterns are incredibly unpredictable, and all of us are entitled to free will, so why would you even bother to change the mind of those who are not ready or willing to buy from you? Because there’s a chance that your efforts would be beneficial for both your company and your potential clients. 

We often resent going to the malls because they are overcrowded. Yet, if they had the same abandonment rate as online stores, you wouldn’t even be able to enter them because approximately 7 out of 10 shoppers drop their carts.  Baymard Institute shared these disturbing statistics. Their specialists report that if you combine 46 studies on cart abandonment statistics, you’ll get an average cart abandonment rate of 69.82%.

This makes the whole e-commerce industry's achievements look bleak because the traders are losing a lot of potential revenue. This dreadful situation needs to be approached and resolved, and that’s when shopping cart recovery comes in handy.

Why Cart Abandonment Happens

Indeed, it’s impossible to cover a million factors motivating shoppers to drop their carts. So, let’s take a closer look at the top 11 of them, according to the data published by Baymard Institute.

The most common reasons for abandoning online shopping carts in 2021.png

The most common reasons for abandoning online shopping carts in 2021.

The most prevalent cause, “I was just browsing/not ready to buy” (58.6% of all the abandoned carts), is excluded from the diagram. 

Trust Issues & Miscommunication

Online shopping has many advantages:

  • No need to wait in line or interact with anyone.
  • You can enjoy the comfort of your cozy home, casually shopping in your pajamas.
  • It’s fast, you can order almost anything with a couple of clicks while sipping coffee at your favorite coffee place.

Yet, some of its most appealing traits are the source of its main flaws:

  • The website might be a scam.
  • You have to wait for your order to arrive.
  • You might feel lost and abandoned by the overwhelming diversity of products and services.

Face-to-face interaction offers significant leverage when it comes to persuading people. A real person can answer your questions, provide guarantees, explain the deal's details and company’s policies, recommend the most suitable options, offer a discount, or just lighten the mood with an amicable impression. Entrepreneurs often fail to compensate for this lack of communication, relying primarily on a support team, FAQ, and chatbots. 

As a result, no one takes care of customers’ needs in advance, so they bail because they are left alone with these issues:

  • Deals didn’t look convincing/lucrative enough ("Just browsing").
  • Extra costs made the overall price too high.
  • Slow speed of delivery.
  • Lack of trust.
  • Inability to see/calculate the total cost upfront.
  • Unclear/complicated returns policy.       

Software & Design Failures

Efficient communication is complex, especially when you have to predict the customers’ behavior and guess their needs. However, if you decide to sell online, accomplishing technical excellence should be at the top of the list of your priorities. Judging by your experience, you can understand how annoying it can be when it takes too long for the site to download, crashes in the middle of a transaction, or takes forever to find anything.

In a world where you can pay for groceries with your watch, being limited solely to a credit card is disappointing. So, don’t underestimate the power of advanced technologies, or potential clients will flee because of the following:    

  • Mandatory registration.
  • Complicated/long checkout process.
  • Technical issues.
  • Insufficient selection of payment options.
  • Declined credit card. 

Step-by-Step Abandoned Cart Recovery Strategy

The process of developing a shopping cart recovery strategy consists of 3 stages. First, you assess the damage, discover what causes it, and brainstorm possible measures to overcome it. Let’s review the whole procedure step-by-step.   

1. Measure Your Cart Abandonment Rate

Cart abandonment and cart conversion rates are the most important metrics when it comes to evaluating how bad your state of affairs is. It takes only two formulas to calculate them, so don’t worry, it won’t be challenging at all. 

Cart Conversion Rate.png

Let’s illustrate the process with an example. For instance, your online store’s current statistics display the following results:

  • 86 000 visitors;
  • 54 000 users added something to the cart;
  • 15 000 customers completed the purchase. 

Follow this algorithm to do the math:

  1. 15 000/54 000=0.27
  2. 1-0.27=0.73
  3. 0.73*100=73.

As a result, your cart abandonment rate is 73%, while your conversion rate is 27%. Considering the average abandonment rate is 69%, you aren’t struggling with any significant difficulties. Still, you can exert some effort to step up your game.

Remember that the average rate may vary vastly in different industries. So, make sure to compare your results accordingly. Overall, the cart abandonment rate is a handy indicator for abandoned cart recovery. You can learn more about how to Calculate Cart Abandonment Rate.    

Shopping cart abandonment rate by industries in March 2021.png

Shopping cart abandonment rate by industries in March 2021

Rule #1

Don’t go gently into that good night, but make peace with the fact that some carts cannot be recovered.

2. Identify the Cause of Cart Abandonment

Generally, the bulk of cart abandonment can be divided into 2 main stages: “add to cart” and checkout. The first implies that the user never got to the checkout page, and the second shows that something went wrong during the checkout process. 

Pre-checkout dropouts are hard to deal with because they usually have the vaguest reason to quit, and it’s the infamous “I was just browsing” phrase. You might think that you don’t have anything at your disposal to beat it. But you forget that discounts, personalized recommendations, and limited offers are great inducements and can become feasible cart recovery options. 

Troubles with the checkout are easier to single out and solve because, in most cases, they don’t require massive efforts or a marketing campaign. Baymard Institute confirmed that sellers could achieve a 35.26% growth in conversion rate by modifying the checkout forms to make them simple and smooth.

Here are some ways how you can find out the roots of cart abandonment:

  • Use statistics. All information you can get is applicable. It all matters, including the total number of visitors, how many initiated or completed a purchase, and at what stage the abandonment typically happens.  
  • Apply the “trial and error” method. Install new features and monitor the users’ reactions.
  • Ask the customers. Gather data through emails and pop-up messages. Popups can be a better solution. They gather data when the impression is as recent as possible and permit users to stay anonymous. Plus, with the Claspo cart abandonment popup, crafting this form will be as simple as writing an email.
Rule #2

Experiment, but don’t do it blindly. Rely on facts, figures, and feedback collected via analysis or surveys

3. Find a Suitable Tactic for Each Motive 

Now you have all the background information and a “diagnosis”, so you can finally prescribe the proper remedy. Cart abandonment stems from many factors and affects your business in multiple ways. Hence, it’s essential to develop an abandoned cart recovery strategy containing pre- and post-abandonment measures.

Besides Baymard Institute’s statistics, Marketing Charts also obtained exciting figures from the UPS report called “The Online Shopping Customer Experience Study”. This data can be beneficial when it comes to prioritizing your cart recovery efforts.  

Pre-abandonment Tactics

This category includes methods, policies, and features that you can incorporate to make customers more eager to order something while they’re still on the platform. There are many options here, so let’s focus on the most efficient ones.

1. Shipping & Return Policies

Don’t underestimate the power of these aspects. Shipping costs are equally significant to shoppers as the item’s price (23% vs. 26%). Moreover, 58% of the respondents are dissatisfied with the current availability of shipping options among retailers, and 42% find the existing refund/exchange rules too complicated. 

Thus, what can you do to win the potential clients over? Let’s see which options the shoppers are rooting for:

  • Provide free shipping (73%) or economy (78%) options. Generally, people are willing to wait for the package for 4-7 days, so you can add a speed delivery for those who can pay for fast shipping. 
  • Adopt a coherent, simple, straightforward policy for returns, refunds, and exchanges. People genuinely dislike it when you make them pay for return shipping (66%) or charge a restocking fee (43%). They would appreciate it if you offered them an automatic refund (57%), an easy-to-print return label (61%), or a return label inside the box (62%).    
  • Display valuable information such as shipping options, guaranteed/estimated delivery date, return policy, and total cost before the checkout process. 
  • Ensure that customers can track their orders.

If you improve in these areas, people will not only choose you as their favorite marketplace but also recommend you to their friends, relatives, and colleagues. At least almost 50% of the respondents said they would. Thus, don’t miss this great opportunity.   

How shipping policies affect customers' behavior in online retail.png

How shipping policies affect customers' behavior in online retail

2. Targeted Marketing Campaigns

When it comes to this segment, your primary tasks include:

  • Make shoppers feel welcome. 
  • Show them that you’re trustworthy.
  • Guide them through the selection process. 

How can you succeed in abandoned cart recovery? Here are some of the tactics:

  • Insert a welcoming pop-up message. Indeed, first-time visitors rarely leave with a purchase, but a pleasant discount can spark a fling that would transform into a long-lasting relationship.
  • Add a special section with reviews and testimonials. 28% of the users pay close attention to customer reviews and retailer reputation.  
  • Display trust seal. 
  • Show personalized recommendations, discounts, and limited offers. This technique is incredibly efficient when shoppers intend to quit the website. For instance, when the cursor reaches the exit button or when users copy text from the product’s page to the clipboard, you can display a pop-up message saying that they are qualified for a special discount or a coupon.  
  • Ask if they want to save the details of the purchase.

  A discount offer with a data collecting form..png

Greeting with a discount offer and a data collecting form

3. Form Optimization

Baymard Institute’s research results show that 20-60% of the checkout form elements are redundant. So, cut down your forms to the essential 12-14 elements and optimize the checkout flow. 

4. New Payment Methods

There are so many fast and secure payment methods. Some of them are more trustworthy than others. For instance, you should definitely choose PayPal over Bitcoin, but don’t be limited to the “credit cards only” policy. 

5. Software Testing 

What are the requirements for a good online store in 2023? Actually, pretty high:

  • It shouldn’t take long for a page to upload.
  • It has to be user-friendly and easy to navigate. 
  • There must be no errors or bugs in its code. 

So, make sure that your team knows how to match these standards. You have to control that the site regularly undergoes maintenance and usability/bug testing.

Of course, you might not be able to execute all of these abandoned cart recovery measures. There is always a budget problem. Plus, booking and financial forms are long or complicated for a reason. Anyway, you should try and do your best. If you need help with figuring out your plan, check our article about ways to reduce cart abandonment.      

Post-abandonment Techniques 

Despite what you might think, the shoppers that have already exited aren’t gone with the wind, you can win them back. How can you do it? Here are the two most effective abandoned cart recovery techniques you can try:

  • Follow-up emails. Those are incredibly helpful because they can be personal, and people appreciate an individual approach. Studies suggest you should use this opportunity to offer free/flat rate shipping (54%), a discount (36%), or a coupon (11%). It might also be useful to display recommendations and similar options in this letter.   
  • Retargeting. This method uses cookies to display personalized ads and is aimed at reminding people about you even after they leave the platform. The advertising banners of your website will appear while the user is casually browsing the web. That's how you can keep in touch with the customers even if they didn’t leave any contact information. 
  • Summing up, your abandoned cart recovery strategy is a toolbox that needs tools to put all your plans into practice, and pop-ups are well-suited for this job. You can apply them to welcome guests, offer free shipping, discounts, and coupons, gather contact info, conduct small surveys, etc. Choose Claspo pop-up builder to create the most functional, stylish, attention-drawing pop-ups and boost your conversion rate.    

Example of an engaging and entertaining follow-up letter.png

Example of an engaging and entertaining follow-up letter by Whisky Loot

Abandoned Cart Recovery Email Chain Example

How to build an email marketing strategy to minimize the negative effects of shopping cart abandonment? We suggest such a simple algorithm.

Abandoned Cart Recovery Letter 1. Reminder About the Goods

In the first letter of the chain, do not put pressure on the client, let him think about the choice. Let the first letter be just a polite reminder. At first glance, it should be clear to the subscriber that we are talking about products he recently liked. The letter should contain images, names, quantities, and prices of goods. There is also a clear call to action button – “Complete your order”.


Abandoned Cart Recovery Letter 2. Offer to Help

If the subscriber has yet to buy the product after the first email, send him a second email. In it, ask if the ordering process is clear. Suddenly there were difficulties with payment, or the subscriber needed to be consulted. The task of the second letter is to solve these problems. In it, give a link to payment methods, and tell us about the delivery and timing. Also, mention that the store has customer service and she will answer all questions. NYX allocates a whole block for this in the abandoned cart email. In it, the store leaves links to the service center, terms of delivery, and return of goods.



Abandoned Cart Recovery Letter 3. Purchase Motivation

If the first two fail, it's time for the third letter. In it, push the subscriber to buy: offer a discount, a gift, or free shipping, as Reebok does.


Abandoned Cart Recovery to Win Back Your Clients

Overall, cart abandonment is inevitable in e-commerce; not all purchases are bound to be completed. Some contributing factors you can neutralize, such as the demand for free shipping, but some are out of your control, like an unexpected urgent phone call. Still, there are plenty of viable options for brainstorming your abandoned cart recovery strategy. 

So, research, analyze customers’ feedback and behavior, experiment, and try new methods. You can quickly redesign a website, adjust checkout forms, find new shipping/payment options, present shoppers with personal discounts and recommendations, test your software, or revise a return policy. Eventually, you will succeed because it’s impossible that none of these things will improve the situation.

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