For both the retailer and the consumer, placing an item in an online shopping basket is a decisive moment. 

Marketers may cheer because they believe their efforts have paid out and a match has been made. But in reality the shopper is in a different mindset – the prospect of purchasing the item will have just begun to really hit home. They have moved from window shopping and now see signs everywhere that they are about to part with their money – order totals are visible, shipping costs appear and credit card logos suggest payment details are about to be requested. 

In a multi-device, multi-channel environment, shoppers know that there are different options available as to when and where they can make a purchase. With that in mind, the transition from shopping to buying is a vital moment – any barrier can lead the consumer to uncertainty, indecision, sticker shock or an unwillingness to invest the time to complete the order. Shoppers look for the best deal before they are ready to buy – and are quite prepared to walk away from the purchase if it’s not on the terms they want. 

BI Intelligence estimates that approximately £2.6 trillion worth of merchandise will be abandoned in online shopping carts this year, so it’s vital to understand how to re-engage shoppers who leave their shopping basket behind.

Reaching out to a consumer via an email can help reconnect them to the shopping experience and encourage shoppers who may have had no plans to return to the basket to reconsider the purchase. Outlined below are some pointers on how to create the perfect email to bring the consumer back on board:

1. Timing is everything

Be sure to test when basket reminder emails trigger the best ROI. We found that 86% percent of UK retailers send the message within 12 hours after items were left in the basket, but the optimal send time will vary substantially from business to business. While it’s important to give consumers the space to return to the site in their own time, don’t wait so long that their enthusiasm and interest wanes or they’ve already made the purchase with a competitor. 

2. Don’t beat about the bush

Clearly state why you are emailing the customer. This can help diminish any concerns or questions the shopper may have about why they are receiving a message featuring items they have recently placed in their cart.

3. Remind the consumer about what they wanted

There are a host of ways to whet the consumer’s appetite for an item they’ve abandoned. Beyond an image of the product and link back to the associated web page, outline additional useful information, such as availability, positive customer reviews as well as related products.

4. Is there anything else? 

Showcase your excellent customer service credentials: Tell customers about alternative ways they can buy the product from you, e.g. your closest bricks-and-mortar store, and provide contact details in case they want to ask you any questions before making the purchase.

5. Project your personality

Your e-commerce strategy probably strives to project emotional as well as logical reasons to prompt consumers to make a purchase from your brand. Basket abandonment emails are no different. Does your brand have a playful character when it comes to use of language and images? Do you regularly showcase the team behind your brand? Reflect that in the recovery email’s subject line and copy.

6. Watch your language 

Structuring the call to action of your message is important. Effective basket abandonment emails avoid an overload of competing information and clearly state the objective of the message. Equally, don’t pressure the consumer too much – put yourself in their shoes. A passive-aggressive message along the lines of “your basket is going to be emptied unless you act now” will be considered a step too far by most consumers.

Recent research we conducted found that only 41% of UK retailers send basket reminders. Whether you are yet to implement an email programme to combat basket abandonment – or indeed are looking to improve your existing approach – following these tips will prove invaluable in helping you save sales when shoppers stray.