Shopping Cart Recovery: What Top Retailers are Doing Right and Wrong

Dec 03, 2013 3:30 PM  By

cartFor the fifth consecutive year, Listrak shopped and abandoned the websites of the largest 1,000 retailers to see what they were doing to recover abandoned shopping carts; specifically, the number and timing of emails they sent out and the use of discounts in those emails.

For the first time this year, we also took a look at what they’re doing to boost reachable rates and engagement, such as modal acquisition tactics, product recommendations and ratings and reviews.

What we observed is that even though overall top retailers continue to improve on adopting best practices in their shopping cart recovery tactics, there are a surprising number who are clearly missing opportunities, and literally leaving money on the table. Here are some key takeaways:

What They’re Getting Right

Listrak’s Shopping Cart Abandonment Index shows that an average of 73% of online carts is abandoned, and fortunately our study shows that top retailers are getting better at attempting to recover them.

More Sending
Nearly one quarter of the top 1000 retailers sent at least one remarketing email after a cart was abandoned – 29% more than those who did last year (but still, a surprisingly low number)

Sending Sooner
Reaching back to abandoners within the first 24 hours is a best practice, and 73% of the top 1000 retailers who sent recovery emails did this, which is more than 9% more than last year

Sending More
A shopping cart recovery series always outperforms a single message, and compared to 2012, 27% fewer of the retailers studied only sent one email, while 30% more sent two messages and an impressive 40% more sent three (heck, one even sent 11!)

Saving More
Realizing that they don’t need to sacrifice margins by rushing to offer a discount, only about 30% included an offer in the first email, while 75% included one in the third.

Where There’s Room for Improvement

Email Acquisition
You can’t reach back to a cart abandoner unless you have an email address. The single most effective way to build your list is by using a modal lightbox or pop-over on-site, yet, amazingly, fewer than 20% of the top 1000 retailers were using one when we visited.

Even more surprising, of those who were, only 41% sent us at least one remarketing email. With a shopper’s email address and items she showed intent to buy at their fingertips, reaching back to try to recover the sale should really be a no-brainer for retailers.

Product Recommendations
History shows that product recommendations increase average order value and number of conversions, and in our study we found that more than 80% of the top 1000 retailers wisely used them on their websites. In fact, of the retailers who sent shopping cart recovery emails, nearly nine out of 10 had product recommendations online. What was eye-opening, however, was that fewer than one in 10 used them in their retargeting email, as well – a seemingly huge missed opportunity.

Ratings and Reviews
We’ve all heard by now that shoppers trust the ratings and reviews of other consumers more than any type of advertising, and in our study, nearly three quarters of the top 1000 retailers used ratings and reviews on their websites. Similar to product recommendations, however, of the three quarters of top 1000 retailers who used ratings and reviews on their websites and also sent at least one shopping cart recovery email, a mere 4% used ratings and reviews in recovery emails, as well. Again, it just doesn’t seem to make sense.

Ross Kramer is the CEO of Listrak