Bronto's study of more than 100 major retailers analyzes their B2C email strategies. Here's how these companies encourage shoppers to return to abandoned carts and complete their transactions.

On average, 60 to 70 percent of retail website visits conclude with the visitor leaving items in the cart without completing the order. You've probably heard that stat before. But are these potential buyers really gone forever?

A majority of online shoppers - 73 percent of them - use the shopping cart to store items to view or buy later, and 18 percent of them do this every time they shop, according to a study by Bronto. This shows that for most online shoppers, some level of purchase intent remains when items are left in the cart. The cart may simply be a tool to transition between devices or channels, or pause shopping so it can be picked back up at a later time.

This shift in consumer behavior has led many retailers to rethink their shopping cart reminder strategies, which have been proven to increase sales. Today, some shoppers have started to rely on reminder messages as a way to reconnect with items they want to buy, but first may want to research more thoroughly. Retailers need to strike a balance between a friendly reminder reinforced with customer service options and a marketing message that will encourage the shopper to complete their order.

At Bronto, we wanted to know what retailers are doing to reel in the revenue value of those abandoned transactions. So we audited how more than 100 major U.S. retailers tackle the issue.

Since many shoppers who leave items in their carts have some intention of returning, the first and most obvious action is to send a cart reminder email. Here are some key findings about how (Read more...) are using cart reminders to help customers reconnect with their cart and complete the order.

Who Is Sending Cart Reminder Emails?

A fair number of retailers - 41 percent - are sending the email. This is up from 13 percent since a similar Bronto study completed in 2013.

How Many Cart Reminders Do Retailers Send?

According to our research, after items are left in the shopping cart:

  • One in five retailers sends one reminder. 
  • 11 percent of retailers send two reminders. 
  • 5 percent of retailers send three reminders.
  • 4 percent of retailers send four reminders. 

If you are only sending one message, consider expanding to a series that focuses on specific themes that help the customer consider completing the order.

When Are Cart Reminders Sent?

This varies from retailer to retailer:

  • 12 percent send their first cart reminder email one hour after items are left in the cart.
  • 23 percent send reminders after 12 hours of the cart's abandonment.
  • 37 percent send reminders within 24 to 48 hours of the cart being left.
  • 28 percent of retailers wait three or more days before sending the first reminder. 

While some retailers find success via sending messages quickly after items are left behind, try testing longer durations that may put less pressure on your shoppers.

How Are Price and Product Used in the Cart Reminder?

The majority of retailers surveyed - 84 percent - feature a photo of the product that was left behind, and 86 percent also include a link to the product. 56 percent of retailers did not show the price of the carted products, and nearly 91 percent avoided showing the order total. Only 5 percent showed shipping details.

Should You Discount?

According to Bronto's research, most retailers - 77 percent - do not offer an incentive or discount to the shopper for completing the order. Customer service-themed reminders are much more common than discounts. Consider placing the discount in a second or third cart reminder if the shopper does not respond to the first one.

Are You There to Help?

More than half of retailers - 53 percent - also feature customer service details in their cart reminders. Customer service numbers, live chat, store information, support email addresses, and links to FAQs, forums, and other resources can help the shopper find answers to questions that can make them ready to buy.

Shopping cart reminder messages can be powerful tools. They rescue revenue from visitors who shopped but did not buy, but as with any marketing tactic, you must implement these reminders in a way that keeps the shopper engaged - not annoyed.

Homepage image via Shutterstock. 

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