How to Create a Cart Abandonment Strategy to Win Back Lost Customers

Every eCommerce website loses customers to cart abandonment — what you need is a cart abandonment strategy to make sure those customers come back to close.

cart abandonment strategy

If you run an online business, you’ve probably come across this problem:

Shopping cart abandonment.

No matter which industry you operate in or how well-designed your site is, you will come across customers who come to your site, add products to their cart, and at the moment of checkout get cold feet.

This represents a significant loss of revenue.

Fortunately, with a well-structured cart abandonment strategy, you can prevent customers from leaving and also entice those who have abandoned to return and complete checkout.

In this post, we’ll share some marketing tips to create a cart abandonment strategy that helps you win back lost customers. We’ve broken down the post into sections which describe why people abandon carts, how to prevent it, and how to recover from it.


Why people abandon shopping carts:

Cart abandonment is no laughing matter.

Nearly 7 out 10 people abandon their carts, which implies that your sales numbers are probably only a third of what they potentially could be.

To prevent cart abandonment from happening, you first need to understand its root causes.

Here are the most common reasons according to a study:

Notice something?

Price related concerns and issues related to user experience round out the top of the list.

And cart abandonment rates are not improving. Take a look at the this 8 year-trend of average cart abandonment rates:

The rate is going up, not down. Clearly, something is amiss in how businesses deal with this problem.


How to prevent shopping cart abandonment


Let’s take a closer look at these top issues and how you can prevent them in order to shape your cart abandonment strategy.

Reason #1: Unexpected costs

One of the biggest reasons for cart abandonment is finding out that the price displayed isn’t the final price when it comes to payment. Taxes, shipping fees, service charges, etc. often get tacked on at the end, making customers leave.

The solution? Always state your shipping policies upfront.

Don’t make a customer go through pages during checkout displaying one price only to hit them with a shipping fee that changes the total price as soon as they get to the ‘complete purchase’ section.

Buyers will get sticker shock and abandon their carts.

If you are going to charge for shipping (or any other additional costs), make sure you make a customer aware of it before they begin the checkout process.

Take a look at how Amazon displays shipping fees before checkout begins:


However, to really reduce cart abandonment, it’s recommended that you remove shipping charges altogether.


Because 61% of customers are likely to cancel an online purchase if not offered free shipping, as per this ComScore study:

People simply don’t want to pay for something they have to wait for.

You are probably thinking that by offering free shipping, you will have to take a hit on your profit margins, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

You can have the customer finance the cost of shipping entirely by having them commit to a minimum purchase order to receive free shipping. In most cases, people will shop more than they intended to receive the benefit.

Take a look at how Hunt & Style displays their free shipping policy on the homepage. You get free shipping but you have to spend $50 at least:


Reason #2: Concerns about delivery and returns

For some people, free shipping isn’t enough to sway them to leave the physical shopping experience. In a store, they can see, touch, and feel a product.

While you can replicate this to good effect online by using high resolution images of your product from various angles or providing contextual images, it’s not a complete substitute to the physical experience.

So, there are going to be instances when a product doesn’t match expectations of a customer and they will want to return it.

Therefore, make sure your return policy is visible at all times during the browsing and checkout process.

Take a look at SlideShop’s checkout page:

They guarantee that once you purchase the product you can redownload it again.

This is to prevent those customers who are worrying what will happen if they lose their laptop or their hard drive crashes. Plus, words like guarantee are a strong social signal that you stand behind your product and its success.


Reason #3: Poor checkout process

If price isn’t the cause of abandonment, the checkout process itself can be.

Think about all the times you’ve been approached by a credit card representative while grocery shopping to sign up for their service.

Like most people, you probably shoo them away because you don’t want to fill in lengthy forms while shopping.

Similarly, customers online aren’t looking to complete surveys and 2-page forms just to buy a $25 t-shirt.

If you make checkout lengthy or ask too many questions, 26% of shoppers will abandon their cart.

Therefore, limit your checkout to five steps at maximum. After five steps, your checkout usability begins to decrease dangerously.

Now that you know to streamline the checkout process, it’s time to avoid another pet peeve of customers:

Forced account creations to complete a purchase.

It’s one of the greatest causes of customer frustration and will cause of them to abandon their shopping cart

So, unless you are an established brand like Amazon, don’t annoy people by having them do extra work to hand over their money. It’s not going to sit too well with them.

You can always collect customer information later, so make sure to offer guest checkouts.

Here’s how Nike does it:


Reason #4: Lack of trust

Last but not least, online shopping can be risky.

Online fraud is becoming prevalent and business databases are constantly being targeted for sensitive information such as credit card details and passwords.

Make sure you ease customer fears by displaying trust badges and security seals. If you don’t, 61% of customers are going to abandon their cart.

Take a look at the following A/B test:

After adding a McAfee security badge increased sales by 4-6%!


Win back customers with cart recovery emails

If despite all your efforts, shoppers are still abandoning their carts, don’t be disheartened.

An abandoned cart doesn’t indicate lack of interest in the product.

It’s very likely that a customer became distracted while browsing, experienced a technical issue such as a timed-out site, or is holding back while they look for a better offer elsewhere.

This makes it relatively easy to recover at least 35% of business abandoned carts.


Through cart recovery emails.

These are unique emails sent only to customers who added a product to their cart but failed to checkout.

And they are highly effective. Nearly half of all recovery emails are clicked and opened and almost a third of these clicks lead to a purchase back on the site.

Here’s an example of a cart recovery email from Fab:

Let’s take a look at how to create a great cart recovery email.

At the very basic level, your email should remind a customer what they abandoned.

As time passes by between initial abandonment and the recovery email, two things are likely to have happened. The first is that your customer might have changed their mind about purchasing a product or they might have forgotten what item they found so appealing on your site to begin with.

So tell them exactly what they left behind by using phrases such as “You left something in your cart!”

Take a look at this example from FiftyThree:

Notice how they use copy that grabs a customer’s attention, show the abandoned product visually, and also provide a direct link back to the cart for easy completion.

If your potential customer opens this recovery email but still doesn’t bite, consider sending a second recovery mail which entices them to complete purchase through discounts.

Tying back to price being a root cause of abandonment, offering a discount might just push a potential customer over the finishing line.

Discounts are fairly easy to create. All you need to do is decide on the discount amount, generate the discount code, and leave it on the recovery email.

It’s a good idea to include a time-limit to the code to spur quick action. Do this right and you’ll find that a lot of your departing customers come right back.



Cart abandonment is a problem that can’t be ignored.

Instead of wasting time lamenting about the fickleness of human behavior, spend time effectively to implement a well-planned strategy that targets the root causes of abandonment and ensures a customer completes a purchase on your site.

Follow the tactics mentioned above and you can win back not only your customers but also a significant amount of revenue.