There are any number of reasons that online shoppers might abandon a shopping basket, ranging from the site UX to unexpected delivery charges.

Or it could just be that they were shopping around and had no real intention of making a purchase.

Similarly, it could be that the user intentionally dropped out late in the checkout process in order to trigger a cart abandonment email so they could analyse them for a blog post.

This latter course of action is exactly the one I took last Friday with several ecommerce sites so I could pull together a few different examples of retargeting emails.

Below are five examples that I received, though it’s worth noting that I also carried out the same exercise on John Lewis, Currys, Selfridges, Macy’s and Nordstrom, however none of them sent an abandonment email.

First though, I’ll run through a few stats on basket abandonment and tactics for optimising cart abandonment emails. And if you want to read more on this topic, check out our blog post on the main causes of basket abandonment.

The stats...

I’ve written a separate blog post listing case studies that prove the efficacy of cart abandonment emails, but the headline stats are that:

  • According to SaleCycle, in Q1 2013 48.1% of basket abandonment emails were opened (up from 45.9% in Q4 2012) and 33.3% of these clickers went on to purchase a product (up from 30.1% in Q4).
  • The average order value was 58% higher for purchases from basket abandonment emails compared with direct sales (up from 36% in Q4).
  • Online retailer implemented a three stage process for retargeting customers that had abandoned a shopping cart. On average, the triggered email series recaptures 29% of the abandoned shopping carts it targets, turning them into sales. 
  • managed to cut checkout abandonment by 40% with emails targeted at three different types of customers, resulting in a 65% increase in checkout conversions.

And here are five real-life examples of cart abandonment emails...


Quiksilver sent a short, simple email the day after I abandoned the shopping cart. It included just two sentences of copy before displaying the items lefts in my shopping basket.

Personally I think the copy is concise but effective, stating that Quiksilver hopes there weren’t any problems with my order before nudging me back towards the checkout.

One criticism is that the same red colour is used for both calls-to-action in the email, so the ‘discover the collection’ and ‘return to basket’ buttons are given almost equal prominence.

Also, Quiksilver could possibly make more of its free shipping offer as that’s known to be an effective sales tool.

At the moment there is a small ‘free shipping’ promo in the top left of the email and it shows that delivery is £0 in the order subtotal, however a bigger banner or a mention of free shipping in the email copy might help to make the message clearer to shoppers.


Fashion retailer Boohoo also presents its abandonment email as a helpful customer service message.

It comes from Mark, the company’s head of customer care, and states:

We noticed that you didn’t complete your boohoo order and wondered if there was something we could do to help?

As with Quiksilver it’s a concise message that quickly gives way to the shopping cart, complete with two brightly coloured ‘Complete your order’ CTAs.

One aspect I’m unsure of is the big, purple ‘Did you know’ box, which is quite eye-catching and takes up a lot of space. It contains details of the company’s product range and customer base, as well as mentioning the free returns service.

Boohoo’s USP is that it doesn’t sell any branded clothes so its prices tend to be lower. As such it could be that it needs to reassure customers that it’s still a quality, trusted retailer.


Though I left about £500 worth of items in my shopping basket Reiss didn’t actually mention any of the products in its abandonment email.

Instead the email simply acknowledges that I had been on the site recently and asks if I need ‘help or advice’.

Reiss offers a phone number in case I want to speak to the customer service team, but unlike Quiksilver it isn’t a toll free service.

The only CTA is a ‘Visit us again’ button that directs the user back to the site to continue browsing the site.


Camping supplier Millets sent a basket abandonment email after I failed to complete the purchase of a jacket.

The design was fairly simple and mirrored its standard checkout layout. The email included an image of the product, price and a brief message stating that Millets was holding the item for my ‘convenience’.

The calls-to-action need to be redesigned though, as the turquoise colour blends in with the rest of the email.


Furniture retailer OKA sent an abandoned cart email shortly after I left the site, however I don’t feel the design was particularly effective.

The bulk of the email is taken up by four paragraphs of text and several random images. It’s necessary to explain the purpose of the email and giving the number for a customer care hotline is a good idea, but asking me to sign up to an email newsletter is a step too far.

It means that the product details and CTA appear below the fold which weakens the impact of the message.

David Moth

Published 4 December, 2013 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (2)

Mike Austin

Mike Austin, CEO at Triggered Messaging

It's good to analyze these examples. They're all covering the basics - sending something on abandonment is much better than sending nothing. Some of them go to the next level with lists of products from the cart.

So far so good, but there's lots of potential to do more. How about:
* Changing the offer based on whether the shopper had purchased before?
* Changing the offer based on cart value and/or how much time they'd spent browsing.
* Identifying frequent purchasers and deliver different content
* Changing the messaging based on the category of product that the shopper was looking at. For example for, they could have included a message targeted at promoting Menswear, or even jumpers.

It's a fine line between promotion and customer service in cast abandonment emails, but I think there's a lot more potential there to drive more value from these emails.

Triggered Messaging can help run these highly personalised cart and browse abandonment email campaigns:

over 4 years ago

Philip Docherty

Philip Docherty, Marketing Executive at SaleCycle

Brilliant article David!

At SaleCycle we know that sending a timely and well designed email is the key to a successful cart abandonment email programme.

There's some great examples of different styles and approaches in the Cart Abandonment Emails Look Book here:

over 4 years ago

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