Insights / Marketing

Shopping Cart Abandoners Spend 55% More

Retailers who use email remarketing to reconnect with and convert shopping cart abandoners will see the results in their bottom line, advises Charles Nicholls.

New research shows that email remarketing drives higher order values, showing increases of as much as 55%, and that the majority of customers who are going to buy as a result of a remarketing campaign, will do so within 24 hours of abandoning a purchase.

The SeeWhy Research team set out to answer these key questions: When visitors abandon their shopping carts, and they receive a remarketing campaign, what do they do? How many come back and buy? When do they buy? And how much do they spend?

Based on this research, which covered a sample of more than 65,000 recovered shopping carts, this is what happens after the remarketing campaign is launched:

1. Recovery rates

The average recovery rate for each e-commerce site in the sample was 19.8%, which translates into an average revenue recovery of $2.2m per site. Recovery rates ranged between 6% and 50%. The significant differences in the recovery rates can be attributed to:

• The types of products being sold by the different sites


• The number of remarketing emails used


• The timing of the campaign


• Campaign creative


• Promotions – only 1/3rd of campaigns used a promotion

The recovery rate is calculated as a percentage of visitors who abandoned their shopping carts and were subsequently sent a multi-stage email remarketing campaign. In all cases the first email was sent immediately following the abandonment, in line with best practices. [Multiple studies have shown that a real time follow up is critical – for example an MIT study showed that 90% of ecommerce leads go cold within one hour.]

2. Time to conversion, following remarketing

In the 24 hours following a shopping cart abandonment, 54% of those who are going to buy, do so in the first few hours. By 48 hours, the proportion has climbed to 64%. By 7 days 82% of abandoners returning to purchase will have done so. This is a very steep graph, and is shown below, and again reinforces the need to follow up immediately on abandoned shopping carts since it is clear that customers interest in making a purchase goes cold very rapidly.

3. Abandoners spend more when remarketed

Customers that abandon their shopping carts spend more when they receive email remarketing campaigns. That’s the conclusion from analysing purchase patterns: Using customers that make a purchase ‘straight through’ on an e-commerce site as a reference point, those that abandon their shopping carts spend on average 55% more. This parallels a research study from Forrester Research last year that concluded that consumers that abandon shopping carts spend 16% more overall online each year than those that don’t.

Hmm. So why would someone that abandons their shopping cart spend more than someone that doesn’t? Studies from Forrester and other research firms have suggested several reasons for this:

• Sophisticated online buyers: Abandoners tend to be more sophisticated online, better educated, and higher earners, so leaving a cart full while they go and look for a better deal is a simple and familiar process.

• Carts as shopping lists: More sophisticated customers are increasingly using shopping carts as places to store items that they may buy in the future, in essence as a shopping list.

• Buy more items: Having shopped around and decided to make a purchase on a given e-commerce site, they are more likely to purchase other items at the same time in order to maximise postage efficiency, perhaps through taking advantage of a ‘Free shipping with a minimum order’ offer.

Remarketing, when done correctly, is very well received by customers, and builds on these in the following ways:

• Brand Trust: Remarketing emails reassure prospective customers about the site through demonstrated service, reminders about warranty and no hassle returns, phone numbers of customer services etc. Most won’t call a phone number, but feel reassured that it’s there should there be a problem with the order.

• Bookmarks: Remarketing emails often get used by customers as easy book marks, making use of direct links back directly to the shopping cart. For this reason, many remarketing emails are kept, sometimes for months, and opened many times.

• Price: Price is the number one reason for shopping cart abandonment, and remarketing can address this issue very effectively with highly targeted price based promotions. The key is to get them reinvigorated into buying one item, then, many having decided to buy, will buy more items, increasing the average order value significantly.

• Timing: Timing is the second highest reason for shopping cart abandonment. Remarketing gently nudges prospective customers keeping both the product they were interested in and your brand at their front of mind while they make up their mind.

Research Methodology


The SeeWhy Research team took a sample of ecommerce data from across multiple e-commerce sites. The data set was made up from 65,000 shopping baskets sampled from a broad cross section of e-commerce sites, in order that the results should be broadly representative of the e-commerce sector as a whole.

Republished with writer’s permission from original post by Charles Nicholls.

Charles Nicholls

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Charles Nicholls is a leading industry expert on e-commerce, web analytics, social media marketing, and online buyer behaviour. He specialises in shopping cart abandonment and email remarketing, and serves as Chair of the Conversion Academy. He has authored two books: 'Lessons Learned From The Top 10 Converting Websites' and 'In Search of Insight.' Charles is a market analyst, blogger, commentator and regular contributor to ecommerce and analytics publications including Practical eCommerce, CustomerThink and BusinessWeek. He is also founder and Chief Strategy Officer at website conversion company SeeWhy.

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