Menu Search
Jump to the content X X
Smashing Conf Barcelona 2016

We use ad-blockers as well, you know. We gotta keep those servers running though. Did you know that we publish useful books and run friendly conferences — crafted for pros like yourself? E.g. upcoming SmashingConf Barcelona, dedicated to smart front-end techniques and design patterns.

Reducing Abandoned Shopping Carts In E-Commerce

In March 2014, the Baymard Institute, a web research company based in the UK, reported that 67.91%1 of online shopping carts are abandoned. An abandonment means that a customer has visited a website, browsed around, added one or more products to their cart and then left without completing their purchase. A month later in April 2014, Econsultancy stated2 that global retailers are losing $3 trillion (USD) in sales every year from abandoned carts.

Clearly, reducing the number of abandoned carts would lead to higher store revenue — the goal of every online retailer. The question then becomes how can we, as designers and developers, help convert these “warm leads” into paying customers for our clients?

Before Cart Abandonment Link

Let’s begin by looking at recognized improvements we can make to an online store to reduce the number of “before cart” abandonments. These improvements focus on changes that aid the customer’s experience prior to reaching the cart and checkout process, and they include the following:

  • Show images of products.
    This reinforces what the customer is buying, especially on the cart page.
  • Display security logos and compliance information.
    This can allay fears related to credit-card and payment security.
  • Display contact details.
    Showing offline contact details (including a phone number and mailing address) in addition to an email address adds credibility to the website.
  • Make editing the cart easier.
    Make it as simple as possible for customers to change their order prior to checking out.
  • Offer alternative payment methods.
    Let people check out with their preferred method of payment (such as PayPal and American Express, in addition to Visa and MasterCard).
  • Offer support.
    Providing a telephone number and/or online chat functionality on the website and, in particular, on the checkout page will give shoppers confidence and ease any concerns they might have.
  • Don’t require registration.
    This one resonates with me personally. I often click away from websites that require lengthy registration forms to be filled out. By allowing customers to “just” check out, friction is reduced.
  • Offer free shipping.
    While merchants might include shipping costs in the price, “free shipping” is nevertheless an added enticement to buy.
  • Be transparent about shipping costs and time.
    Larger than expected shipping costs and unpublished lead times will add unexpected costs and frustration.
  • Show testimonials.
    Showcasing reviews from happy customers will alleviate concerns any people might have about your service.
  • Offer price guarantees and refunds.
    Offering a price guarantee gives shoppers the confidence that they have found the best deal. Additionally, a clear refund policy will add peace of mind.
  • Optimize for mobile.
    Econsultancy reports that sales from mobile devices increased by 63% in 2013. This represents a real business case to move to a “responsive” approach.
  • Display product information.
    Customers shouldn’t have to dig around a website to get the information they need. Complex navigation and/or a lack of product information make for a frustrating experience.

Unfortunately, even if you follow all of these recommendations, the reality is that customers will still abandon their carts — whether through frustration, bad design or any other reason they see fit.

After Cart Abandonment Link

The second approach is to look at things we can do once a cart has been abandoned. One tactic is to email the customer with a personalized message and a link to a prepopulated cart containing the items they had selected. This is known as an “abandoned cart email.”

The concept is pretty simple. At the right time, a customizable email is sent, complete with a personalized message and a link to the customer’s abandoned cart. Of course, this approach assumes that the customer has submitted their email address — effectively, they’ve done everything but paid. Abandoned cart emails represent one last attempt by the merchant to convince the buyer to check out.

In September 2013, Econsultancy outlined3 how an online cookie retailer recaptured 29% of its abandoned shopping carts via email. This is a huge figure and one we might naturally be skeptical of.

To get a more realistic perspective, I asked my colleagues at Shopify4 to share some of their data on this, and they kindly agreed. Shopify introduced “abandoned cart recovery” (ACR) in mid-September 2013 (just over a year ago at the time of writing). Here’s a summary of its effectiveness:

  • In the 12 months since launching automatic ACR, $12.9 million have been recovered through ACR emails in Shopify.
  • 4,085,592 emails were sent during this period, of which 147,021 carts were completed as a result. This represents a 3.6% recovery rate.
  • Shop owners may choose to send an email 6 or 24 hours after abandonment. Between the two, 6-hour emails convert much better: a 4.1% recovery rate for 6 hours versus 3% for 24 hours.

It’s worth noting that the 3.6% recovery rate is from Shopify’s ACR emails. Many merchants use third-party apps5 instead of Shopify’s native feature. Given that Shopify is unable to collect data on these services, the number of emails sent and the percentage of recovered carts may well be higher.

Given the statistics, abandoned cart emails are clearly an important part of an online retailer’s marketing strategy. Luckily, most leading e-commerce platforms enable merchants to send custom emails, either in plain text or HTML. Knowing how to implement these notifications is a useful skill if you are designing for e-commerce, and they represent added value to your services.

Creating An HTML Abandoned Cart Email Link

The implementation of abandoned cart emails varies from platform to platform. Some platforms require third-party plugins, whereas others have the functionality built in. For example, both plain-text and HTML versions are available on Shopify. While the boilerplates are very usable, you might want to create a custom HTML version to complement the branding of your store. We’ll look at options and some quick wins shortly.

In recent years, HTML email newsletters have really flourished. You only have to look at the many galleries6 to see how far this form of marketing has progressed. Sending an HTML version, while not essential, certainly allows for more flexibility and visual design (although always sending a plain-text version, too, is recommended). However, it’s not without its pain points.

If you’ve been developing and designing for the web since the 1990s, then you will remember, fondly or otherwise, the “fun” of beating browsers into shape. Designing HTML newsletters is in many ways a throwback to this era. Table-based layouts are the norm, and we also have to contend with email clients that render HTML inconsistently.

Luckily for us, the teams at both Campaign Monitor7 and MailChimp8 have written extensively on this subject and provide many solutions to common problems. For example, Campaign Monitor maintains a matrix and provides a downloadable poster9 outlining the CSS support of each major desktop and mobile email client. MailChimp, for its part, provides numerous resources on CSS10 and email template design11. Familiarizing yourself with the basics before tackling your first HTML email is worthwhile — even if you ultimately use a template.

Open-Source Responsive Email Templates Link

While many of you might wish to “roll your own” template, I often find it easier to build on the great work of others. For example, a number of great open-source projects focus on HTML email templates, including Email Blueprints12 by MailChimp.

Another example comes from Lee Munroe. His “transactional HTML email templates13” differ in that they are not intended for use as newsletters, but rather as “transactional” templates. To clarify the difference, Lee breaks down transactional email into three categories:

  • action emails
    “Activate your account,” “Reset your password”
  • email alerts
    “You’ve reached a limit,” “A problem has occurred”
  • billing emails
    monthly receipts and invoices

The templates are purposefully simple yet elegant. They also have the added benefit of having been throughly tested in all major email clients. Finally, because they are responsive, they cater to the 50+%14 of emails opened via mobile devices.

The Challenge Link

Lee’s templates are a good option for creating a simple HTML email for abandoned carts. Therefore, let’s move on from the theory and look at how to create an HTML template for the Shopify platform.

Let’s begin by setting some constraints on the challenge:

  1. make the fewest number of markup changes to Lee’s template;
  2. make use of the boilerplate text that is set as the default in the abandoned cart HTML template in Shopify;
  3. inline all CSS (a best practice for HTML email);
  4. send a test email with dummy data, and review the results in Airmail, Gmail and Apple Mail (on iOS).

1. Create a Local Copy of the Action Email Template Link

Having looked at the three templates, the “action” version appears to offer the best starting point. You can download the HTML for this template directly from GitHub15 if you wish to follow along.

The first step is to take the contents of Lee’s template and save it locally as abandoned-cart.html. A quick sanity check in a browser shows that the style sheet isn’t being picked up.

Basic template setup.16
Basic template setup. (View large version17)

Inlining all CSS is recommended (we’ll look at this in a later step), so add the styles to the <head> section of abandoned-cart.html. You can copy the CSS in its entirety from GitHub18 and then paste it in a <style> element. Another check in the browser shows that the styles are being applied.

CSS applied.
CSS applied.

2. Add the Content Link

Now that the template is working as a standalone document, it’s time to look at integrating Liquid19’s boilerplate code from Shopify’s default template. This can be found in the Shopify admin section under “Settings” → “Notifications” → “Abandoned cart.” If you wish to follow along with these code examples, you can set up a free fully featured development store20 by signing up to Shopify’s Partner Program21.

Hey{% if %} {{ }}{% endif %},
Your shopping cart at {{ shop_name }} has been reserved and is waiting for your return!
In your cart, you left:
{% for line in line_items %}{{ line.quantity }}x {{ line.title }}{% endfor %}
But it’s not too late! To complete your purchase, click this link:
{{ url }}
Thanks for shopping!
{{ shop_name }}

All notification emails in Shopify make use of Liquid, the templating language developed by Shopify and now available as an open-source project and found in tools such as Mixture22 and software such as Jekyll23 and SiteLeaf24. Liquid makes it possible to pull data from the store — in this case, all of the details related to the abandoned cart and the user it belonged to.

Having studied the markup, I’ve decided to place the boilerplate content in a single table cell, starting on line 2725 of Lee’s original document.

After pasting in the boilerplate code, let’s double-check that the template renders as expected in the browser. At this stage, Liquid’s code is appearing “as is.” Only once the template is applied to Shopify’s template will this be replaced with data from the store.

Boilerplate text added.

Boilerplate text added.

3. Modify the Boilerplate Code Link

The next stage involves tidying up some of the boilerplate code, including wrapping the boilerplate text in <p> tags. Then, it’s time to work out how best to display the cart’s contents in markup. For speed, I’ve chosen an unordered list. Liquid’s refactored for loop26 is pretty straightforward:

{% for line in line_items %}
<li>{{ line.quantity }} x {{ line.title }}</li>
{% endfor %}

After another sanity check, things are looking much more promising. However, we need to make a few final tweaks to make it work:

  • remove unwanted table rows,
  • add the correct link to the blue call-to-action button,
  • change the contents of the footer.
Tidying up.
Tidying up.

4. Make Final Adjustments Link

Lee’s template includes markup to create a big blue “Click me” button. You can see this on line 3827:

<a href="" class="btn-primary">Upgrade my account</a>

Let’s turn this into a relevant link by changing the markup to this:

<p><a href="{{ url }}" class="btn-primary">Check out now</a></p>
Adding the call-to-action URL.
Adding the call-to-action URL.

In this case, {{ url }} represents the link to the abandoned (and saved) cart. I’ve enclosed the anchor in a paragraph to ensure consistent spacing when the email is rendered, and I’ve moved it up into the main section.

Finally, we’ve changed the unsubscribe link in the footer to a link to the shop:

<a href="{{ shop.url }}">Visit {{ shop_name }}</a>

After a few minutes of editing, the template looks more than respectable. However, we’ve neglected one section, the text in the yellow highlighted “alert” section. I’ve changed this, along with the title element in the HTML, to this:

Changing the header text and footer link.
Changing the header text and footer link.
Your cart at {{ shop_name }} has been reserved and is waiting for your return!

Email notifications in Shopify have access to a number of variables that can be accessed via Liquid. A full list is available in Shopify’s documentation28.

5. Inline the CSS Link

To recap, we’ve changed the template’s markup very little, and the CSS is identical to Lee’s original (albeit in the template, rather than in an external file). Shopify’s boilerplate text is also intact, albeit with a very small change to Liquid’s for loop.

The next step is to inline the CSS in the HTML file. Because some email clients remove <head> and <style> tags from email, moving the CSS inline means that our email should render as intended. Chris Coyier penned “Using CSS in HTML Emails: The Real Story29” back in November 2007 — the landscape hasn’t changed much since.

Thankfully, taking your CSS inline isn’t a long or difficult process. In fact, it’s surprisingly easy. A number of free services30 enable you to paste markup and will effectively add your styles inline.

I’ve chosen Premailer31 principally because it has a few extra features, including the ability to remove native CSS from the <head> section of the HTML document, which saves a few kilobytes from the file’s size. After pasting in the markup and pressing “Submit,” Premailer generates a new HTML version that you can copy and paste back into your document. It also creates a plain-text version of the email, should you need it.

Premailer has the ability to remove native CSS which saves a few kilobytes.32
Premailer has the ability to remove native CSS which saves a few kilobytes. (View large version33)

Another great feature of Premailer is that you can view the new markup in the browser. You’ll find a link above the text box containing the new markup, titled “Click to View the HTML Results.” Clicking the link opens a hosted version of the new markup, which you can use to check your sanity or share with colleagues and clients.

If you are keen to automate the creation of e-commerce notification emails, then Premailer also offers an API34. A number of libraries that support it are also available on GitHub, including PHP-Premailer35.

The final task is to copy the new HTML code and paste it in the “HTML” tab of our abandoned cart notification in Shopify’s admin area. Once it’s applied, you can preview the email in the browser, as well as send a dummy copy to an email address.

Shopify admin.36
Shopify admin. (View large version37)

Below are the results in various email clients (both mobile and desktop).

Airmail Link

Airmail rendering.38
Airmail rendering. (View large version39)

Apple Mail Link

Apple Mail rendering.40
Apple Mail rendering. (View large version41)

Gmail (Browser) Link

Gmail rendering.42
Gmail rendering. (View large version43)

Apple Mail on iOS Link

Apple Mail on iOS rendering.44
Apple Mail on iOS rendering. (View large version45)

The process of turning Lee’s template into a usable email took around 30 minutes, and I am pretty pleased with the result from such little input.

Of course, this process screams out for automation. For those who are interested, Lee has also posted about his workflow for creating HTML email templates46 and the toolkit he uses (Sketch, Sublime, Grunt, SCSS, Handlebars, GitHub, Mailgun, Litmus).

Taking It Further Link

The template produced above is admittedly quite basic and only scratches the surface of what is possible. We could do plenty more to customize our email for abandoned carts, such as:

  • consider tone of voice,
  • show product images to jog the customer’s memory,
  • add a discount code to encourage the user to return and buy,
  • add upsells,
  • list complementary products.

Dodo Case Link

Tone of voice is a key consideration and goes a long way to engaging the customer. Dodo Case4947 has a great example:

Dodo Case’s email for abandoned carts.48
Dodo Case4947’s email for abandoned carts. (View large version50)

As always, context is very important when it comes to tone of voice. What’s right for Dodo Case might not be right for a company specializing in healthcare equipment.

Let’s review a few examples (taken from Shopify’s blog51) to get a taste of what other companies are doing.

Fab Link

Fab’s email for abandoned carts.52
Fab5553’s email for abandoned carts. (View large version54)

While this email from Fab5553 is pretty standard, the subject line is very attention-grabbing and is a big call to action.

Chubbies Link

Chubbies’ email for abandoned carts.56
Chubbies57’ email for abandoned carts. (View large version58)

The language and tone used in Chubbies’ email really stands out and is in line with the brand: fun-loving people. There’s also no shortage of links back to the cart, including the title, the main image and the call to action towards the bottom of the email.

Black Milk Clothing Link

Black Milk’s email for abandoned carts.59
Black Milk60’s email for abandoned carts. (View large version61)

Black Milk Clothing62 includes a dog photo and employs playful language, such as “Your shopping cart at Black Milk Clothing has let us know it’s been waiting a while for you to come back.”

Holstee Link

Holstee’s email for abandoned carts.63
Holstee6664’s email for abandoned carts. (View large version65)

Finally, Holstee6664 asks if there’s a problem they can help with. It even goes so far as to include a direct phone number to its “Community Love Director.” Having worked with Holstee, I can confirm that this is a real position within the company!

Conclusion Link

While there are many tactics to persuade customers to buy, inevitably some people will get to the payment screen and decide not to continue. Any tactic that helps to seal the deal is certainly worth considering, and given the small amount of work involved in implementing an email to recover abandoned carts, it’s a great place to start. Designers and developers are in a powerful position to help their clients increase their revenue, and being armed with tactics such as the ones outlined in this article will hopefully enable them to offer a wider range of services.

Further Reading Link

(al, ml)

Footnotes Link

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14
  15. 15
  16. 16
  17. 17
  18. 18
  19. 19
  20. 20
  21. 21
  22. 22
  23. 23
  24. 24
  25. 25
  26. 26
  27. 27
  28. 28
  29. 29
  30. 30;ion=1&amp;espv=2&amp;ie=UTF-8#q=inline+css+html+email
  31. 31
  32. 32
  33. 33
  34. 34
  35. 35
  36. 36
  37. 37
  38. 38
  39. 39
  40. 40
  41. 41
  42. 42
  43. 43
  44. 44
  45. 45
  46. 46
  47. 47
  48. 48
  49. 49
  50. 50
  51. 51
  52. 52
  53. 53
  54. 54
  55. 55
  56. 56
  57. 57
  58. 58
  59. 59
  60. 60
  61. 61
  62. 62
  63. 63
  64. 64
  65. 65
  66. 66
  67. 67
  68. 68
  69. 69
  70. 70
SmashingConf Barcelona 2016

Hold on, Tiger! Thank you for reading the article. Did you know that we also publish printed books and run friendly conferences – crafted for pros like you? Like SmashingConf Barcelona, on October 25–26, with smart design patterns and front-end techniques.

↑ Back to top Tweet itShare on Facebook


Keir Whitaker works at Shopify & co-hosts The Back to Front Show podcast. He regulary writes about, and shares links on, ecommerce, the web industry & podcasting.

  1. 1

    One of the reason for abandoning the cart is simply because we can’t get a price until we reach the cart. It would happen a lot less if companies would put the price of an item from the start. I often don’t even get to the cart because they want me to register before seing the cart. Plain stupid.

    • 2

      I agree. The most common reason I abandon a cart is because it is the only way to see the full price incl. shipping and if the shipping is too much I’ll leave. I love stores that offer free shipping or flat rates that take the guess work out of shopping.

    • 3

      I totally agree with AB. The only way for buyers to truly compare prices with brick and mortar stores is to include free shipping in the price of the item, at least for standard shipping. A store could then easily add ‘premium’ shipping for those who have the need for it or don’t care about the enormous costs it adds onto the price of the item. Heck, in some countries like Canada, shipping, duties, brokerage and taxes is often higher than the actual cost of the item.

      Please don’t hide these fees from prospective buyers, it is deceptive and disrespectful.

  2. 4

    I have to agree with AB. I never understood why retailers refuse to be up front about pricing… “Add to cart to see the price” is ridiculous.

    Moreover, I refuse to count abandoned cart totals as “lost revenues”… There’s no reason to assume that because someone added a product to their shopping cart, they ever intended to purchase it from that retailer. I do this all the time. I use a shopping cart much like a bookmark list. I’ll add things, make some comparisons, shop around for better deals, etc… I may never have intended on buying anything in my basket… at least not right now.

    • 5

      Keir Whitaker

      October 23, 2014 3:18 pm

      @Jim – I absolutely see your point.

      Personally I think the main reason this can be classed as “lost revenue” is that the buyer has got as far as entering their details (name, address etc) but has not gone as far as paying. This would suggest that they had a positive intention to buy but for some reason did not to follow through. This is pretty common with smaller online stores from my experience.

      I actually do add things to cart a lot myself – especially when logged into sites like Amazon which I use a lot and have an account with.

      • 6

        Part of the problem stems from “shopping cart” referring to the cart page or the entire shopping mechanism on a site.

        The industry refers to woocommerce as a “shopping cart” but is more correctly an ecommerce platform or something else.

        The shopping cart is where products selected by the user live prior to purchase.

        Checkout abandonment is a better name.

    • 8

      Dmitri Tcherbadji

      October 23, 2014 3:25 pm

      Agreed. It’s not like the customers’ money belong to me once they almost bought an item but didn’t. Intent is the key. Sending a reminder email and adjusting design+content can sway their intent buy not “fix” it :)

    • 9

      The “add to cart to see price” phenomenon is largely due to vendor minimum advertised price (MAP) policies. For example, retailer S-Mart may decide they want to offer a sale on a product, say an Apple iPad. If the sale price is lower than Apple’s MAP, then the retailer can’t display the sale price. Or rather, they can, but they run the risk of Apple terminating their sales agreement with the retailer.

      It’s a shame that vendors require retailers to adhere to such policies. It adds friction to the user experience and reduces conversions. It’s an unfortunate results, considering all the retailer is trying to do is offer a more competitive price.

    • 10

      Most of these retailers have relatively little choice.

      They’re hiding the price “behind the click” in order to comply with MAP (minimum advertised price) policies. If Canon tells B&H they can’t advertise the camera for less than $999, B&H can legally (odd, isn’t it?) bypass that policy by revealing the discounted price in the cart.

      Amazon also allows 3P merchants the ability to comply with MAP rules.

    • 11

      Nuno Guerreiro Josue

      October 30, 2014 8:49 pm

      The refusal to show prices upfront is not the retailer’s fault, but the manufacturers. This crazy rules, known as MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) are imposed by manufacturers as a way to control pricing. It’s basically semi-legal price fixing. Retailer who break MAP restrictions face serious reprisals (e.g. removed licenses, reduced stock acquisition, etc). Retailers hate this one sided contract rules, but their hands are tied. See:

  3. 12

    Ive added items by accident. Usually I end up going to the brick and mortar store anyway. :-)

  4. 13

    I’m curious about the resistance to registration. I understand why, especially a poorly designed or overloaded form, but if I didn’t ask for at least the e-mail of the person then I certainly can’t send them an e-mail asking them why they abandoned their cart.

    That point aside, however, the information required at registration has clear reasons of trying to simplify things for the user, and I wonder if it’s the presentation that makes it a grating experience. After all, you need to enter your address so the items can be shipped and if something goes wrong you’ll want to be contacted somehow, etc.

    Would you be more inclined to register if the up-front registration just took a username and password, and maybe an e-mail, and then asked for the rest of the details during checkout? You’ll have to fill out the information either way, but this does seem to shift the focus on “I’m doing this so I can use this site” to “I’m doing this so I can get this thing I want”. I’m just curious, as the sites I work on a ‘guest’ checkout is very difficult without some nasty work-around.

    • 14

      Don’t email me, I’ll email you. Ask for my email address and I’ll leave immediately.

      It’s like Walmart would ask for your address before you’re allowed to enter, so that they can send you advertisings if you don’t buy enough.

      You’re doing it wrong!

      • 15

        You’re comparing apples to oranges with the Wal-Mart analogy. There’s no shipping information that needs collected because the items you have are physically present. There’s very little data that needs to be collected in an in-person transaction.

        You are also imagining this prompt to happening at the door. I see most often that decide to register after they fill their cart and go to checkout. You still have to give your payment information, either in the amount of cash tendered or your credit card information at the time you checkout, even when buying from a brick-and-mortar store.

        I’d be interested in seeing some examples of sites you believe are doing it right, as the majority of e-commerce sites I have seen prompt for e-mail. I am not aware of any that manage to avoid it, of the ones I have used. I’d be curious to see how they deal with things like shipping issues and refunds without solid contact information.

        Also, your opinion of this article interests me. As you are against providing your e-mail, you must find the concept of an abandoned cart reminder as detailed in this article abhorrent, I presume?

      • 16

        VP of UX & Design here. You’re in the minority.

        I’ve run numerous tests focused on if and when to ask for email address and there is no evidence to support a general preference towards not asking for an email as opposed to asking/requiring one. Your view is your own, but most certainly does not represent an influencing minority, let alone the average consumer.

        • 17

          Not the minority here. You need to run more tests, being asked for email address is the scourge of the internet.

          • 18

            Silly load of nonsense.

            Email address you won’t freely divulge, but first and last name, credit card, CVV, expiration, phone #, billing and shipping address you will?

            I can imagine the customer service nightmare when you forget to write down your order number, become suddenly paranoid you offered the wrong shipping address or decided you want to cancel the order.

            “Hi, this is John Smith, but you must have 25 customers with that name. I have no idea what my order number is and have no way of looking it up. My email is, but that means nothing to you. Can you please kindly cancel the package you’re about to send to 55 Main Street? Take my word for it.”

    • 19

      I absolutely HATE the “new” breed of sites that insist you register before you can see anything at the site.

      They THINK they are cloaking themselves in some sort of exclusivity when they only have more or less the same stuff that can be purchased through amazon. I close the tabs on these sites after making a mental note never to return.

      If I can look around, if you can match amazon or better them with a wider range of your type of merchandise in a wide range of styles and sizes, THEN I may CHOOSE to register. Otherwise you’re just more noise than signal and I’m cutting noise out of my life.

      • 20

        It is annoying indeed, but in some way they such websites manage to be in business, for example it is very typical for flash sales or daily deal kind of websites.

    • 21

      zprospero, when I go into a store, I’m not asked my name, my address or my credentials. Asking to register just so that I may earn the ‘privilege’ to purchase one of you items is offensive and frankly, none of your business. The information you get from my PayPal or credit account and the shipping is all you should require.

  5. 22

    “Be transparent about shipping costs and time” – this, x1000.

    I live in Canada, and I’ve found that on many U.S. sites, the before-shipping price of an item is substantially lower than what I can find from Canadian retailers, but the higher shipping rates to Canadian addresses will eliminate or even invert the price difference ($30 shipping for a $20 t-shirt, for example). Too many sites don’t show any information on shipping costs to Canada (or whether they even ship to Canada) until you enter all your personal details (name / shipping address / billing address) in the checkout process. So, when trying to compare total prices between Canadian and U.S. online retailers, I end up abandoning a large number of carts.

    I’ve also abandoned carts when the “estimated shipping cost” in the cart ends up being completely wrong compared to the “actual shipping cost” in the checkout process. Maybe shippers charge retailers per API call for shipping quotes, so retailers are saving money by only showing estimated shipping costs until checkout?

    Finally, I’ve also abandoned carts when I discover that the only shipping option to Canada is UPS. Ask most Canadians who’ve had stuff delivered from the U.S. via UPS about the additional “customs brokerage” fee that UPS levies at the point of delivery (when they’re standing on your doorstep with your package, which they won’t hand over to you until you pay up), and you’ll never believe the “polite Canadian” stereotype ever again. In my experience, UPS is the only international shipper that does this. Fedex, USPS, etc. may have higher up-front shipping fees, but there’s no surprise fees to worry about.

    I’m sure that Canadian orders on U.S. sites aren’t a huge part of the $3 trillion that online retailers are supposedly losing in abandoned carts, but it’s definitely a pet peeve of mine.

    <stereotype class=”Canadian, polite”>Sorry for the rant.</stereotype>

    • 23

      +1 for UPS being a terrible option for Canadians. Not only the (seemingly arbitrary) fees and holding your package hostage, I’ve just had generally terrible experiences with UPS service. I will usually refuse to order if UPS is the only option, unless I can’t get the product anywhere else.

      If your business ships to Canada, PLEASE provide other options.

    • 24

      Right On and x1,000,000, Kirk. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

      But what irks me the most is these sites that CLAIM to ship to Canada with that prominent flag to lure you in AND have ‘free shipping’ prominently mentioned until you get to the cart and realize it was just a con and the so-called ‘free shipping’ is only valid for continental US addresses.

      Irks me to no end, especially since not only is there NO free shipping, but you got to pay duties, handling, brokerage and taxes on top of that!!!

  6. 25

    This post starts w/ a sloppy premise that assumes all abandoned carts are lost sales.

    All abandoned online shopping carts are NOT lost sales:
    * Maybe the shopper realized he/she doesn’t need that thing.
    * Maybe the shopper realized he/she can’t afford that thing.
    * Maybe the shopper the shopper decided to wait and see if he/she will get the item as a gift instead of buying it directly.

    And so on.

    So while many of the subsequent points are valid and may help an online shop lead to more sales, it will not recoup $3 trillion (USD) for the economy.

    • 26

      Keir Whitaker

      October 23, 2014 5:58 pm

      @Ted – Thanks for your comment. I am sorry if you took my intro to infer that all abandoned carts are lost sales – as you rightly say there are many reasons why a customer might not checkout and classing every abandoned cart as a lost sale would be hard to prove. Rather I like to think of them more as “warm lost leads”.

      • 27

        Actually, Keir, you have nothing to excuse yourself about, as the inference of lost sales came from the Econsultancy study, not you.

    • 28

      That’s like dropping 2 pairs of jeans and a t-shirt onto the floor next to the Macy’s cashier and leaving to check your Facebook newsfeed.

      Pretty sure that’s a lost potential opportunity.

  7. 29

    Martin Kleis Sundstrøm

    October 23, 2014 7:45 pm

    Being in Europe, I often find myself shopping in American stores to get stuff I can’t even find here. Shipping costs from the states are often, not always, utterly ridiculous. They get added on at the very end, and it’s the deal-breaker for me. It’s as though many US retailers haven’t properly researched alternative shipping methods and use some totally insanely overpriced company to handle their international logistics. They need to invest time in getting the products overseas at reasonable rates and realize that once online, they’re actually international. If one clothing company can send me a sweatshirt, 2 t-shirts and a pair of sneakers at a quarter of the shipping price that another company has, I know for a fact somebody’s being lazy with their international logistics.

  8. 30

    Friendly advice for retailers who consider abandoned carts “lost revenue”: NEVER count your chickens til they hatch.

  9. 31

    I use carts as a wishlist, just browsing around and adding stuff that I “might” want to buy, and then I make final selections at check out – often nothing. Allowing users to collect items and see total pricing in another context than “cart” might reduce number of abandoned carts – although not increase sales….

  10. 32


    October 24, 2014 3:57 pm

    One of the reason for abandoning blogs is simply because we can’t add url(backlink). to our comments.

  11. 33

    There’s also no shortage of links back to the cart, including the title, the main image and the call to action towards the bottom of the email. Thanks for share.

  12. 34

    You don’t just need an email address. In many countries operating under Spam legislation, you need an email address AND explicit permission to email the prospect.

    A single transaction, let alone a partial transaction is not sufficient to imply an ongoing business relationship.

    Obviously, abandonment by members is a different story.

  13. 35

    It is a pity, isn’t it. Some designer and some marketer conspired with a wiz-kid programmer and the SEO expert to get your site all the way to some poor schlemiel’s desktop only to have him “walk out.”

    Well, there’s only so much money in the pocket and there’s a whole long list of places to spend it and a longer list of things I want. You are in competition and don’t blame the layout of the site. Blame the quality of the merchandise, the intrusiveness of your demands on me, the feedback on your site, and especially the ludicrous shipping that you want to charge for sending a four-ounce package across town.

    I buy nearly everything online these days. All the places that sell have a web presence, so you’re not unique any more. I’m looking for good overall prices (and that means taxes and shipping along with the item price) as well as the customer experience I expect. Most e-commerce sites don’t make the grade. Bad site, bad expectations. Bad expectations, no sale!

    Playing hide-the-weenie with prices or shipping charges or doubling a charge in order that I may have my package sometime this month is a killer.

    In other words, it’s policies, not presentation, that kill the e-commerce web site.

    And by the way, I, too, was logically offended with the implication that $3 trillion (USD) were lost every year to abandoned e-commerce sites. I can account for at least $45 million (USD) of that myself. It’s easy to rack up the amount of money I don’t spend ’cause I’ll never run out of it. I feel like going out and abandoning a dozen e-commerce carts today, just to celebrate.

  14. 36

    An abandoned shopping cart is the same as walking into a shop and not buying anything. You didn’t always want to buy something, or would have if the price was right.

  15. 37

    Christopher Rampey

    November 6, 2014 7:08 am

    Easiest way to reduce abandoned shopping carts? Come work at Amazon. ;~)

  16. 38

    These info were very excellent and definetely helpful in reducing shopping cart abandonment

  17. 39

    James Christopher

    March 6, 2015 1:24 pm

    I’d like to add something else, which I think is extremely important for online stores and that’s delivery confirmation. It’s a great idea to check the physical location of the visitor and pop a simple alert somewhere in the header “Hey, we deliver to Nicaragua! Go ahead and make your purchase!”

  18. 40

    Do you know why Amazon offers one-click purchases? Because everyone hates checking out. The first thing you get customers though the checkout, the more money you’re going to make or you should use what’s called breadcrumb navigation. And then last one thing you need is a secure checkout process.That means visitors should see “https” in the browser’s address bar and encrypted connection.

  19. 41

    As a digital marketing agency that develops and designs ecommerce websites, this was helpful. We particularly agree with the “Don’t require registration” point. The average internet user fills an endless number of registration forms today, and is fed up!

  20. 42

    This is a very insightful article. Interestingly we at WebEngage are helping thousands of online business tackle Cart Abandonment. You should check us out.


↑ Back to top