Cart Abandonment Guide & Case Studies

The Step by step process to recover sales

Brought to you by Barilliance

In 2016, the average cart abandonment rate was 77.24%.

The question is why? Why do over three quarters of customers abandon carts? More importantly, what can you do to lower cart abandonment and recover sales? 

This guide is written to equip you with the knowledge, strategies, tactics, and tools to reduce cart abandonment. We will create better experiences for your customers, transform anonymous visitors into leads, and ultimately recover sales with relevant, personal messages.

Free Bonus: Click here to request a 1 on 1 demo with a shopping cart abandonment expert and see if Barilliance can help your brand recover sales.


Understand why customers abandon 77.24% of carts

Before you can craft a solution to cart abandonment, you need to understand the problem. In this section, we'll break down how to calculate abandonment rate statistics and uncover the reasons behind cart abandonment.

How to calculate cart abandonment rate

First we will break down how to calculate abandoned cart rates. The formula requires you to calculate the number of abandoned transactions and the number of initiated sales.

Barilliance Cart Abandonment Dashboard

Source: Barilliance Cart Abandonment Dashboard

The formula for cart abandonment is simple: take the number of abandoned transactions divided by the number of initiated sales.

Abandoned transactions: # of carts that did not result in a purchase.

Initiated Sales: Most eCommerce stores define "initiated sales" as the number of sessions that a unique user added at least one item to their cart.

We wrote a detailed article on cart abandonment rate statistics. It dives into how abandonment rate changes across countries and devices, and is a good starting point to contextualize your data.

Top 10 Reasons for Shopping Cart Abandonment

Your strategies should be based on how customers are shopping online today.

While every store is unique, we can learn a lot by industry wide surveys and studies. Luckily, there have been numerous studies meant to uncover why customers decide to leave a site without purchase.

reasons for cart abandonment

Source: Statista

You can find the entire top 10 list (and solutions) for cart abandonment here. By understanding the most common reasons, we can proactively guard our sales. My recommendation is to walk through the list slowly.

For each common cause of cart abandonment, challenge your site. Go beyond the stat and into the reason behind the reason.

Once you go through each of the
top reasons for cart abandonment, you are ready to begin creating your own campaign to recover sales.

Key Takeaway: Go beyond the statistic

For example, the top reason for cart abandonment is unexpected shipping costs. The obvious litmus test is whether or not you fully disclose shipping costs on each product page. But going beyond the stat, we can see why this is important to customers.

First, they don't like when you violate their expectations. Second, they value transparency. Third, they appreciate value.


Track cart abandonment & measure ROI

Analytics is key to growth. Without proper tracking, you will not know if your marketing efforts are succeeding or not.

Understanding Marketing Funnels and Conversion Points

You are now ready to begin constructing a campaign to win back customers.

First, we want to take what we learned about calculating cart abandonment and automate it. If you are using Barilliance for cart abandonment software, you can skip this part. We automatically calculate your conversion rates throughout the entire funnel and integrate seamlessly.

You can see a sample dashboard below.  For those that prefer Google Analytics, you can integrate your Analytics account and this data will be pushed automatically.

Cart abandonment analytics

Source: Barilliance Cart Abandonment Dashboard

As you can see, Barilliance automatically tracks the conversion rates through the entire funnel, and allows you to easily see the various conversion rates in each campaign. 

If you don't use Barilliance we wrote a short guide with everything you need to know below.

In Google Analytics, your final dashboard will look similar to the image below. 

Luckily, the process for tracking cart abandonment is easy. We wrote this quick how-to so that you can begin tracking abandonment rates in Google Analytics. The guide is complete with step by step instructions and screenshots.

5 Steps to Track Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate in Google Analytics


Maximize conversions. Cart abandonment best practices that work

Speed your results with data-proven strategies from a variety of eCommerce leaders. We've collected a number of best practices in one place for easy reference and immediate action.

With tracking set up, we can begin sketching out your campaign.

Again, every store is unique. Because your industry, customers, and brand are different than everyone else (including your competitors), you should use this as a general guide. That being said, here are the most effective best practices in cart abandonment. 

Send more than one email

It is not enough to send one email.

Too many marketers are scared to send consistent emails. They fear they are annoying their customers. They fear their customers will unsubscribe, mark them as spam, disengage, and curse their brand.

This is not true.

Customers react to value.

Many popular newsletters are sent and read daily. Other newsletters are sent and read weekly.

In the world of cart abandonment, we've found across the board that the best performing campaigns sent multiple emails. The trick is making these emails valuable, personal, and relevant.

Time your email sequence like this

You must decide how much time you will wait between each email.

Going through 100s of campaings, we found the timing dramatically affects conversion rates of each email (and ultimate success of the campaing.

First, the stats.

  • Email 1 Sub-Optimal Timing - 12.2% conversion rate.
  • Follow-up Email Sub-Optimal Timing - 7.7% conversion rate.

  • Email 1 Optimal Timing - 20.3% conversion rate.
  • Follow-up Email Optimal Timing - 17.7% conversion rate.

The optimal time to send cart abandonment emails

The question is, what is the best time to send cart abandonment emails. Which times resulted in such dramatic improvements in conversions?

The first email should be sent within one hour. If you wait beyond 24 hours, the conversion rate almost halves.

The second email should be sent around 24 hours after the first. If you wait to send the followup even a day later, you will lose over half of your sales.

Finally, the best campaigns sent a follow-up to their followup. This third email resulted on average an additional 18.2% of sales.

Following these best practices for cart abandonment campaigns, your email sequence should look like this:

1 hour after abandonment - Send email 1.

24-36 hours after abandonment - Send email 2.

72 hours after cart abandonment - Send email 3.

Email Timing Case Study

Examples help. We published this
case study for cart abandonment before, but this is an updated version.

Surfstitch follows this formula impeccably.

cart abandonment campaign

I visited Surfstitch on March 9th a little after 3:30pm. After browsing a few product categories, I added three products to my cart.

Then I left.

The first email from Surfstitch arrived 50 minutes later, at 4:09 pm.

first email in cart abandonment campaign

Did you notice that the email wasn't sent immediately? Think about that for a second.

We are often told that immediacy is the best thing. But when you think about how digital consumers shop online today, it makes sense to wait a few minutes.

The second and third emails arrived on the following days (March 10th and March 11th respectively). Both emails arrived promptly at 3:37pm. This was the same time I was shopping on their site.

This is the beauty of pegging your emails to the time of abandonment. Chances are good that this particular customer is active during that time. Not everyone works first shift. Not everyone shops at peak times.

Followup emails in cart abandonment campaign
Followup emails in cart abandonment campaign

Write a subject line that gets opened

You know when to send. Now we need to know what to send. Before anything else, you need to get visitors to actually read your emails.

It starts with the subject line.

The goal of a cart abandonment subject line is the same as any email subject line: stand out, grab attention, and compel the reader to read the next line.

Here are the keys to a great cart abandonment subject line.

1. Get on a first time name basis

We covered a complete guide to abandoned cart email subject lines here.

The guide goes in depth on the strategies and tactics used by top eCommerce brands to get their emails noticed and opened. In the study, we identified 8 major types of subject lines used by retailers, and include a number of screenshots and examples. 

Read the complete guide for examples of subject lines that get opened.

The most common tactic we saw was personalization.

To include a visitor's name in the email subject line you need to insert a dynamic tag. Every major email provider should have this capability, and is a simple search away to find the exact step by steps of how to do this for your platform.

Please note that this power comes with responsibility.

No one wants to see a bogus name appear again and again.

Set up a schedule and regularly check that a valid name corresponds to each email address.

The truth behind personalization

There are some who say this tactic is dated.

However, according to a study done by MarketingSherpa, subject line personalization can increase an email's open rate by as much as 29.3%, the transaction rate by 49%, and the revenue per email by an outstanding 73%.

2. Identify yourself

This tip comes form the
Copyblogger team. In their words:

"...the most compelling thing about an email message should be that it's from you.....Either make it crystal clear by smart use of your "From" field, or start every subject line with the same identifier."

I love this because it brings us back to the truth about cart abandonment marketing. If you aren't providing value, you will not receive compensation.

Your visitors should want the email you are sending them. Do they?

3. Use spam checking

You hate spam. Your customer's hate spam. Email providers hate spam.

Spam filters represent one of the biggest threats to your abandoned cart email campaign. Before you send a templated email, you need to run it through a major spam checker.

Popular options include:

3 Reasons to Embed Product Recommendations

Including product recommendations in your cart abandonment emails will increase both your click-through rate and average order value.

recommendations for abandoned cart abandonment

Good personalized product recommendations benefit your business in a number of ways.

  • Increase the value of your offer by providing additional choices.
  • Increases the relevancy of your email by tailoring each choice to their past on-site behavior..
  • Increases cross-sales by showing products that are frequently bought together.

While all recommendations improve conversions, the more relevant you can make your offers the better your results. Barilliance's recommendation system is able to predict which products are frequently bought together, as well as which products are most often compared against each other.

We use this information to create the most relevant recommendations for each specific customer, automatically removing items that happen to be sold out at the time the email is opened.

Shifting from general product recommendations to personal recommendations produces an incredible 238% lift in sales.

Leverage More than one Channel

eCommerce stores are beginning to expand beyond email to recover revenue. 

We've seen incredible results leveraging Facebook Messenger for cart abandonment. Open rates on Messenger are currently a ridiculous 90%+. Technologies like Barilliance allow you to re-engage shoppers across multiple channels, from email to chat. 

Additional Resources on Cart Abandonment Best Practices

We've put together a number of articles detailing additional cart abandonment best practices.

Abandoned Cart Subject Line Guide breaks down the exact subject line types and real copy used by a number of the best performing eCommerce brands in 2018.

Abandoned Cart Email Template Guide takes a look at the exact multi-step email campaigns used by dozens of brands to recover sales.

Cart Abandonment Best Practices Part 1 focuses on who you shouldn't send cart abandonment emails to, cross-device considerations, and how to continually optimize emails for improved conversions.

Cart Abandonment Best Practices Part 2 focuses on the messaging necessary to recover abandoned carts. It covers the ideal call to action, what the body of the email should include, and a multitude of examples to help inspire you.


Widen Your Net. Retarget More Visitors

You can multiply your results by capturing more visitors. The best way to do this is by providing contextual, immediate value to your customers. By recognizing exit intent you can identify the right time to make an offer.

The Challenge

You cannot followup with customers if you do not have an open channel to communicate with them. This begs an obvious, hard question: What percentage of your visitors are registered? How many potential customers do you actually have permission to followup with?

Industry wide, e-commerce stores have a dismal registration rate of 8%. Worse, many registered users are not logged in during their visit.

Your income is a function of how many people you serve and how much value you create.

Multiplying the number of people you have a relationship with will multiply your conversions, and thus sales.

This section focuses on ways to transform anonymous visitors into known prospects that want to hear from you.

How our clients have earned 731,297+ new subscribers

Many of these tactics require advanced behavior tracking.

Barilliance tracks visitor's behavior, connects the data to your shopping cart, and allows you to create powerful offers through personalized product recommendations and advanced segmentation.

However, you do not need to use Barilliance to benefit from this section.

Instead of going through every tactic here, I encourage you to
download our book (it's free) about how to capture more email addresses.

Finally, I'm going to do a deep-dive on one of the tactics
in the book: Visit Summary emails.

The most important thing is not the tactic, but the mindset required to transform a visitor into a customer.

Grow Your List With Visit Summary Offers

Creating value starts with understanding your customer.

We know that visitors browse multiple sites. We also know they hop devices, and are more likely to browse on mobile and purchase on desktop. Lastly, we understand that the vast majority of visitors will abandon your site before they hit the checkout page.

I love this tactic because it turns these seemingly disadvantages on its head. Instead of desparately trying for the sale now, it creates excellent value through customer service.

By offering a simple email summary of the visit that your customer can reference later you create value in two major ways.

  • 1
    Convenience of not having to look up individual items
  • 2
    Price - by facilitating price comparisons, you are positioning your store as a helper.

How Barilliance Enables Visit Summary Offers

Here's how we automate powerful visit summary offers.

First, Barilliance detects when your visitor is about to leave your site. At that point, we show an exit intent pop-up (that we design to match your brand).

Instead of prompting your visitor to joining a newsletter, we offer them a summary of the items they viewed today. Barilliance has already tracked all the data in the session, including what categories and products they browsed.

When the customer opts in, a beautiful email is sent.


Shopping Cart Abandonment Tools + Software

Accelerate results with the proper tools. We have developed a number of unique features that enhance your ability to create compelling, personal offers and multiply opt-ins.

We have created a number of tools to help you actively reduce cart abandonment. 

Cart Abandonment - Our comprehensive cart abandonment tool centered around dynamic email opt-ins and personalized triggered emails. 

Product Recommendations - Product recommendations multiply success.  Our recommendation engine produces widgets you can use anywhere, including cart abandonment emails. 

Website Personalization - Create dynamic content, messages, and offers in real-time based on customer behavior and segments.

Barilliance Sponsored Studies

Want to learn more about shopping cart abandonment? Explore these studies which aggregate results from other premium, large eCommerce stores. You can benchmark your own efforts, and begin learning from the best of the best.

2017 Cart Abandonment Study on Black Friday - Cyber Monday Weekend

2016 Cart Abandonment Rates on Black Friday

19 Fool-Proof Tactics to Capture Email Addresses