A Successful Cart Recovery Strategy Puts the Customer First

Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst

Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst

Author Bio

Greg Zakowicz is a senior commerce marketing analyst at Bronto Software, a leading cloud-based commerce marketing automation platform provider and Oracle (NYSE: ORCL) company. With more than 10 years of experience in email, mobile and social media marketing, Zakowicz knows the retail industry and its challenges, staying on top of the latest trends by leveraging deep insight into the marketing spectrum. His subject matter expertise stems from his experience in providing commerce marketers — including numerous Internet Retailer Top 1000 clients — with in-depth analysis of their marketing programs, recommendations for improvement, best practice support and implementation guidance and execution. Zakowicz is a frequent webinar speaker and presenter at ecommerce events, such as IRCE, eTail West, eTail Canada, Fashion Digital New York, SIA Snow Show and ROI Revolution Summit. He has been published by top retail and marketing publications, including Multichannel Merchant, ClickZ and Power Retail, and is a regular contributor to Bronto’s Commerce Marketing blog. Follow him on Twitter at @WhatsGregDoing.

Zakowicz is a frequent webinar speaker and presenter at ecommerce events, such as Fashion Digital New York, SIA Snow Show and ROI Revolution Summit. He has been published by top retail and marketing publications, including Power Retail and Inside Retail, and is a regular contributor to Bronto’s Commerce Marketing blog. You can follow him on Twitter at @WhatsGregDoing.

Cart recovery emails are commonly the most profitable emails retailers send. Contacts are so far down the purchase funnel at that point that the message can often overcome the reasons they didn’t buy the first time around. Think unsuitable delivery times, shipping costs or a shopping session that was simply interrupted. But in order to be effective, these messages must continue to be relevant and helpful to shoppers as they consider their purchase. But what’s relevant and helpful for products at one price point may be the complete opposite of what works for products at another. Be aware of the difference, and personalize your messages accordingly.

I was recently in the market for a dishwasher and began a typical omnichannel shopping journey. I browsed online (via laptop and smartphone), read reviews, carted products and did a little in-store showrooming. In the midst of it all, I began receiving abandoned cart emails for dishwashers I had previously added to my shopping cart, and something about them immediately jumped out at me. They were relevant (sort of), but not helpful at all. Frankly, these messages failed.

Consider Buyer Motivations and Obstacles

Brands should consider the motivations of their buyers and obstacles to conversion. How does the shopping experience for someone on the hunt for a $40 item differ from the consumer considering $700 products? For one thing, consumers shopping larger ticket items generally do more comparison shopping. Their sales cycle is often longer. They also frequently have different post-purchase needs, such as satisfaction guarantees, and may even need services attached to their purchase, such as delivery, installation or haul-away. In my case, I needed all of the above.

Take a look at three of the emails I received during my shopping process. Hhgregg’s message is unhelpful, even though they say they can help. While I’m told they can help, there are no details about how. Should I call their general customer service number, wait for another email or go to the store? I just don’t know. They also include a very prominent callout to receive free shipping on orders over $35, which is of no benefit to me whatsoever based on the price point of the item I’m shopping for. And while I generally like product recommendations in emails, one of theirs is for a refrigerator, not a dishwasher. There’s nothing in this message that would make me even click, much less purchase.

With Sears, the first message tells me I have “a whole lotta awesome” in my cart. This is true. They definitely do a better job of offering to help me, but then they tell me to contact them if I experienced trouble at checkout. Are they only offering help if I experienced trouble? Their follow-up message a couple days later is once again unhelpful. I do like the larger callout for the layaway option, as it is a bigger ticket item, but again, the message fails to address most of the obstacles I face as a consumer buying a dishwasher.

Email ExamplesHad these companies factored in the actual product and the obstacles that may have caused me to abandon my purchase, they could have better personalized the message with more relevant callouts. Perhaps they could tout their knowledgeable appliance reps who are willing to help or make recommendations, promote their delivery scheduling flexibility or FAQs, or offer more details on their satisfaction guarantees, installation or haul-away services. They could even direct me to additional appliance resources, such as buying guides or product reviews. Instead, they wasted a great opportunity with a mostly unhelpful, generic message.

Optimize Your Messaging

When developing your cart recovery strategy, factor in your product price points, and take time to tailor your messaging to the specific items left in the cart. What are the motivations for buyers at a particular price point? What tends to cause them to abandon the sale? When you have a better understanding of your customer segments and how or why they have come to shop with you, you can target them with more relevant visuals and incentives, time your messages appropriately, and create the ideal cart recovery series to effectively prompt shoppers back to buy from you.

Most retailers now aim to provide the most relevant user experience possible, but they can often lose sight of the consumer and their needs. As I said, cart recovery messages are some of the most profitable messages you can send. Let customers know you understand them and really want their business by offering relevant, useful information. Make it easy to come back and reconsider their purchase, and make them feel like you’re the best brand for them. Analyze your messaging strategy, and see where there’s room for improvement. Remember: All cart abandoners are not created equal; neither should your messages.