Steve Denner
Steve Denner 17 December 2014

Recovering The Abandoned Digital Basket

The explosion in digital and mobile technologies has led to a massive step-change in the way consumers spend their money with brands.

A retailer’s relationship with its customers is no longer just about ensuring they are happy with their in-store experience; they also need to receive a seamless, multichannel and digital experience that translates across their various devices.

Managing the digital versus in-store experience, and tracking the online and offline touch points of a customer’s journey, is paramount to the success of any marketing strategy. Despite brands having more data about their customers and their shopping habits than ever before, tracking their digital ‘footprints’ is no easy task.

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It is no surprise that marketers get lost in the maze of channels through which consumers can now reach them, and they face a big challenge in drawing on all of the information and data from these sources to form an accurate ’single customer view’.

Attempting to recreate the in-store customer experience online, via their website or social media channels, can be extremely difficult for brands. Picture a customer browsing a store, putting a number of products into a basket, and then abandoning the basket at the door before making a swift exit. Hopefully, a member of staff would see this and intervene if appropriate, before potentially tempting the customer back into the shop, to recover their basket and continue towards an eventual sale.

Now imagine the same scenario in the digital world. It is far more difficult for a brand to offer a customer the support needed to make them return to an abandoned online basket. The more digital-savvy retailers will tend to hold items for a short period of time, and then use an automated marketing tool to send an email to customers reminding them that their basket is still waiting for them. But, incredibly, recent research conducted by Adestra reveals that almost three quarters (73%) of companies say an abandoned customer basket in the digital world wouldn’t trigger an automated email being sent to the prospective customer.

Furthermore, it’s not restricted to abandoned baskets: 41% of companies reveal that if a customer subscribes to their website it doesn’t trigger an automated confirmation email to that person.

This is also the case when content, such as product information or a white paper, is downloaded (74%), or there is a customer click-through with no purchase (76%). Reacting to a range of customer actions, brands should implement a comprehensive range of triggers to entice customers into a sale and improve conversion rates, particularly when it comes to recovering an abandoned basket.

However, thorough testing needs to be done in this area, as timing is everything when it comes to salvaging a sale. If brands send a prospective customer an email immediately after they abandon their basket, they may end up aggravating them, pushing them further away from a purchase.

Equally, brands should not wait too long as their prospective customer may switch to a competitor to purchase the product. Typically, somewhere between three and 24 hours is the ideal time to follow up with these customers. In terms of what to include in the email, the following points are a good guideline:

  • Pull together a brief description or picture of the products that the recipient has in their basket into the email creative, reminding them of what they wanted to purchase 
  • Keep it simple and concise: avoid cluttering the email by including other messages alongside those that focus on the basket 
  • Place a strong and clear call to action within the email, e.g. “Return to your basket here”, or “Did you forget something?” 
  • Reinforce your brand values: why should they buy the product from you rather than a competitor? 
  • Offer the recipient help and assistance in order to complete their transaction by including a phone number they can call in case they are having problems or have a question they wish to ask

Before generating an email to a customer about an abandoned basket, marketers need to understand the consumer’s entire journey. Mapping out customer footprints can provide valuable insight that will help encourage them to return to their abandoned basket. There is also the option of perhaps offering an incentive in the email, although this tactic should not be employed every time as customers will become savvy to it.


Translating the in-store shopping experience online will help marketers to improve conversion rates and create a more compelling customer experience that reduces the volume of abandoned customer baskets and, crucially, improves conversion rates across all channels. 

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