How to Convert Abandoned Carts: 16 Tips to Claw Back Abandoned Carts


Why is it important to know how to convert abandoned carts? Does it even happen

Depressingly, between 60 and 75% of all shopping carts are abandoned according to The Baymard Institute.  Worse still, a study by SAP Hybris reports that 99% of visitors won’t buy on their first visit.  This inevitably means trillions of dollars of merchandise will be left behind this year.

All the effort you’ve gone to, honing your traffic, optimizing your funnel, testing different offers and pricing, and perfecting your theme and just about 7 out of every 10 people are going to fall short at the last hurdle. Crushing I know…

But it doesn’t have to be this way, according to Barilliance, 63% of abandoned carts are potentially recoverable with a series of well-executed cart recovery emails.

Not to mention that you can also follow-up with a well thought out retargeting ad campaign.  Plus, you can send cart abandonment recovery messages inside Facebook Messenger using an app like ReCart (which we use on our demo store for the Shoptimized Theme).

What to do?

So how do you ensure you mop-up every last drop of leakage with your emails?

  • Remind your customers that they’ve forgotten to finish their purchase. This can generate almost £10 extra per email.
  • Be timely and relevant.  Nobody wants ten aggressive emails telling you to finish what you started.
  • Email almost immediately – 90% of leads go cold within the first hour (MIT Research). So be sure to follow-up on these leads almost immediately. After you have sent your first follow-up email, target your customer in stages – 23 hours, 6 days.

How to Convert Abandoned Carts Tip #1 – Persist Your Cart

Here’s something that’s often completely overlooked, cart recovery only works if you keep the cart contents in-tact.  Shopify only persists carts for 14-days. So you’ll need an app like Persistent Cart to extend this if you want to do what Amazon does and persist your cart indefinitely.

Luckily, the Barilliance study found that only 5% of recovered carts occurred after 14-days

But what if you’re not able to keep carts live past the initial session because you sell fast-moving products that don’t get restocked?

Fashion store, doesn’t persist their cart because their stock doesn’t hang around long enough to make it effective.  So instead of taking customers back to their cart, items get moved into a “saved items” list for retrieval. This saves the frustration of a broken user experience if an item is no longer available.

How to Convert Abandoned Carts Tip #2 – Strike Fast

SAP Hybris’s study of over 60,000 abandoned carts reveals that 54% of all carts that are successfully recovered are won back within the first few hours after abandonment.

This means you need to act fast and not let the lead go cold. For our stores, the first recovery email is triggered 30-minutes after abandoning.

According to the SAP Hybris study, the average time between the first visit to a store and purchase is 19 hours, but 72% of visitors will buy within the first 12 – 24 hours.

When you consider that 75% of visitors genuinely have intent to buy, it’s critical to trigger not only your cart abandonment emails but also retargeting ads within minutes of someone abandoning.

Here’s the breakdown of the “time-to-purchase” stats:

  • 30% purchase in less than 20 minutes
  • 50% purchase in 20 minutes to an hour
  • 60% purchase in 1 to 3 hours
  • 65% purchase in 3 to 12 hours
  • 72% purchase in 12-24 hours
  • 80% purchase in 3-7 days
  • 95% purchase in 1-2 weeks
  • 100% purchase in more than 2 weeks

Assuming a fair chunk of visitors are abandoning their carts because they’re looking for a better deal or free shipping, you want to be all over them like a rash in the first few hours whilst they’re still researching.

Not only that but sending cart recovery emails immediately results in higher open rates (60% vs 55%). Which makes sense as you stand a higher chance of catching the shopper in the buying mood.

The revenue per email is also much higher in the first few hours ($11 vs $4).

How to Convert Abandoned Carts Tip #3 – Craft & Test Compelling Subject Lines

Let’s face it, nothing is going to happen with cart recovery unless your emails get opened, so it’s vital that you craft a subject line that will get noticed and get opened.

So which types of email subject lines work best?

Emojis can work well to draw attention. And from there you need to “join the conversation” that’s going on in your prospect’s head.  What I mean by this is that you need to meet them where they’re at.  If your subject line is a complete disconnect, it will fall flat on its face.

Here are some good examples of the first email:

  • Oops! Did something go wrong?
  • Hey [Name], was there a problem checking out?
  • It looks like you’ve left something behind…
  • Uh oh! Your cart is about to expire!

According to data from Klaviyo, subject lines that merely reminded the shopper that they left something behind tended to perform the best with an open rate of 47.24%, almost 4% higher than the average.  This style of subject line achieved not only a very high open rate, but also a high revenue per recipient of $10.22 on average. The most popular subject line was “It looks like you left something behind…”

How to Convert Abandoned Carts Tip #4 – Test Product Recommendations

According to Digital Commerce 360, more than half of customers who return to their cart end up spending more than the value of what they left behind.

So it’s a good idea to show them related products at the very least but here’s where you can get creepily clever with your recommendations…

With apps like Perzonalization that deliver personalized recommendations in real-time as the email is opened, you can show the shopper the items they last viewed as well as the item(s) they abandoned.  This works even if they have returned to this site in between you sending the email and them opening it.

Clever, huh?

How to Convert Abandoned Carts Tip #5 – Don’t Act Desperate

A big mistake that I see a lot of Shopify store owners making with their cart abandonment emails is giving away a discount straight out of the gate.

This is a mistake for two reasons:

  1. If someone is still in research mode, the discount may not be necessary, a gentle reminder may be enough to bring them back.  You’d be giving away valuable margin for no reason.
  2. It trains your customers to expect a discount at the drop of a hat.  This is bad news for the long term as you don’t want to fall into a spiral of perpetual discounting.

It’s best to save your bribe until email 3 like 80sTees does:

How to Convert Abandoned Carts don’t give away any precious margin until a shopper has ignored their first two emails.

And the best part is, once you’ve sent the discount coupon, you now have a reason to follow-up again warning them of the coupon expiry.

Remind abandoners to use their coupon before it expires
Remind abandoners to use their coupon before it expires.

There’s no harm in reminding them 48, 24, 12 and 4 hours before it expires.

So, you’re probably wondering how much discount to give?  Well, you might want to invoke Jonah Berger’s Rule of 100 here:

According to his research, discounts are better communicated as a percentage when the original price was under $100.  So, if the original price was $50, show the discount at 10% off when the saving is $5.   The 10% is perceived to be a bigger saving than $5 because it’s a bigger number.

If the original price was over $100, it’s better communicated in a dollar value. The numbers will be larger so the discount will appear larger to the shopper.

Having said that, I would also strongly urge you to test offering a free shipping coupon as your incentive if the abandoned order didn’t already qualify for it.  Numerous research studies have cited the lack of free shipping as the biggest reason for abandoned carts.

How to Convert Abandoned Carts Tip #6 – Learn from Others That Have it Figured Out Already

The easiest way to demonstrate the rest of my tips is to show you the “closest to perfect” cart recovery email that I have found to date:

How to Convert Abandoned Carts

Want our cart abandonment email templates for free? Go here.

Want to reduce cart abandonment from happening in the first place? Install the Shoptimized™ Theme, it’s the highest converting Shopify theme there is.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 × five =

Bradley Long

Bradley Long

Bradley is a Conversion Rate Expert and store owner since 2005. He’s helped some of the world’s most sophisticated brands to double and sometimes triple their conversion rates. He architected the #1 unofficial Shopify theme, Shoptimized™ and is also CEO of Funnel Buildr, the perfect tool for massively growing your store’s Average Order Value.

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

Turn More Clicks Into Customers

#1 Unofficial Shopify Theme

Based on 6,700 split-tests across dozen of niches. All proven to rapidly scale your Shopify store to 7‑figure & beyond in 12-months.
By clicking the button, you’ll
1) Confirm you’re a genius
2) Get my 51 helpful Shopify growth hacking tips
We guarantee 100% privacy.
Your information will not be shared.
Privacy Policy