Abandoned cart Q&A

21 Nov ‘16

The abandoned cart scenario is one of the most popular elements of e-commerce. That said, not everybody understands what it is, what it should look like, and whether it helps generate revenue. For those of you who do not have experience working with this scenario, Mindbox will highlight the key points: how the abandoned cart scenario is triggered and measured, along with several examples. We’ll go deeper into ways to test and improve the abandoned cart later on.

What is it, even? It’s like, some kind of letter, right?

Not entirely. Abandoned cart is more like a scenario. The most important part is that the customer clicked «buy» on a product, adding it to their shopping cart, but didn’t finish placing the order. What you can do with these customers is a question of possibilities and imagination. If the customer was interested in something, it will cost less to convince them to buy it than to attract a new customer.

Why didn’t the customer place an order?

Nobody will ever know this for sure. The reasons can be roughly divided into two categories: the outside world and your store. Maybe their internet stopped working, an important call distracted them, or they’re getting kicked out of the bathroom already. Maybe it’s not a matter of circumstances, but rather a conscious decision related to your site: your «Checkout» button might not have worked, you might not have had the right size or color, or perhaps you couldn’t deliver on a convenient day. Ultimately, you should try to put yourself in the customer’s shoes.

Could you give some more examples, please?

Vasily, an internet marketer, was goofing off at work and picked out a new couch from Legkomarket. He had already added it to his cart and even logged in, but just before he finished checkout his boss burst into the office and distracted him with some super-important new work. Vasily quickly closed the browser tab and forgot about the couch. When he got home, he saw that the store had sent him an email with a link to the products in his shopping cart so he could finish what he started. Vasily finally ordered his couch!


Darya, a homemaker, was looking on PS-Box for a gift for her husband. After Darya figured out her budget, she realised that she couldn’t afford it and left the site. A day later, Darya got an email with a discount that was large enough to change her mind, and she placed her order.

How can you convince this kind of customer to place an order?

For starters, you need to begin tracking your abandoned carts. Then you should use various channels to communicate with your customers, ranked by speed and cost. Email is the simplest starting point, as it is a proven method of catching up with your customers. The internet is full of great material about how your abandoned cart emails should look. For example, «12 great examples of abandoned cart emails» or «Copywriting abandoned cart emails». Then you should expand your email sequence to follow up with the client, and then start to gradually improve your offerings.

What else can you use, other than emails?
Lots of things. You could send SMS messages, personalise your site, award bonus points and promo codes or, for example, send the customer’s contact info to your call centre so they can give them a ring. Find out from the customer firsthand why they didn’t finish checkout. Sending SMS messages can be convenient if a customer hasn’t opened your last few emails, though it is more costly.


How do Mindbox’s clients use abandoned cart scenarios?

Most of the time, we start with the logic that the customer simply forgot about their order. For example, the scenario that Legkomarket uses has an email reminding the customer about the products in their shopping cart, along with other product recommendations. They send it after an hour. Based on GA data, their abandoned cart email has a conversion rate of 10.53%.

KARATOV, a jewellery hypermarket, starts with a similar approach: they send an email after an hour, and then a while later they send a message with bonus points.


If that message gets ignored, then they give even more bonus points a couple days later. The email sequence stops if the customer places an order. Note that the second and third emails don’t even include the products in the customer’s shopping cart. The idea is that by this point in time, the issue is not with the products but with the price. The conversion data from these emails are quite interesting: 

First email Second email Third email
8,19 % 9,38 % 7,06 %

Experiment with sequence length and different variables. The first email might not be the one that seals the deal, and it doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s. Remember, there’s no reason why you have to limit yourself to email: one of our clients sends SMS messages if their customers don’t respond to emails about unpaid orders.

You can communicate with any possible number of customer segments in different ways. Here’s what they do at Mann, Ivanov & Ferber: new customers receive one kind of abandoned cart email, while regular customers receive another – everyone gets a personal promo offer. Book recommendations change depending on genre preference and purchase history. If you are a fan of science fiction e-books, and won’t touch a paperback, MIF puts this information to use. Based on GA data, the conversion rate for these emails is more than 30%.


So, all I have to do is run an abandoned cart scenario, and money will come flooding in!?


…What do you mean, «no»?

Just that. It’s entirely possible that your customer planned to finish checkout, but just wanted to wait a bit, or was reminded by other triggers or manual emails.

To understand whether your abandoned cart (or any other scenario) is generating revenue, use a control group. Basically, this is when you don’t send any emails at all to some of your customers (even though you should have). Then, we compare whether your abandoned cart communication is influencing checkout behaviour. You might find out that you should avoid using this scenario in your particular strategy so as not to bother your customers with too many emails.

The graph below shows the results of experiments run at two different online shops. Some of the customers (green bar) received abandoned cart emails, while others (orange) didn’t.


During a seven-day test, the number of carts that were converted to orders was roughly the same in both groups, with a difference of around 1% of customers. There may be no difference because the abandoned cart email gets lost in a bunch of other mailings. The important thing is to carefully measure the impact of your improvements, so you don’t shoot yourself in the foot.

So it could turn out that there’s no point in using the abandoned cart scenario? 

There’s always a point: even if your abandoned cart communication is not actually generating incremental revenue, the scenario is a good way to remind customers about your offerings and help them with ordering. Besides, the results from your own shop’s control group tests could be entirely different.

OK. I want to try out this scenario. Where should I start?

We recommend the following:

  • Set up tracking for abandoned carts on your site
  • Start with the email channel – make the first letter that will be sent if a customer doesn’t finish checkout
  • Expand your communication into an entire sequence, using various channels
  • Use A/B tests and control groups to measure the impact of your improvements
  • If you’re using Google Analytics, don’t pay for CPO (you could be throwing your money away!)


We’ve explained what the abandoned cart scenario is, how it happens, and some ways you can convince your customers to finish checkout. By determining the reasons why customers abandon their carts, you can use our examples to set up an abandoned cart scenario on your own site and think about how to measure revenue correctly.

Author: Filipp Volnov

Additional help with the article: Semyon Mikanyov, Anna Stepanova

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