Everyone knows that cart abandonment is a universal fact for all ecommerce retailers, with 70% of consumers abandoning before a sale. 

It’s a big problem and I wanted to see how well the UK’s top ecommerce brands carry out cart recovery.

They all do it really well, right?

After all, the UK’s ecommerce sector is booming with home-grown brands doing brilliantly at gaining traffic and sales from all over Europe and beyond.

According to research recently released by Britain’s Retail E-mpire, the UK will become the world’s leading ecommerce exporter, with online sales generated by UK retailers from international markets expected to soar sevenfold to £28bn by 2020.

So, clearly the UK’s online brands have their ecommerce strategy sorted. I wanted to find out if these companies have their complicated internationalisation efforts running like Rolls Royces, and how they are doing with the basics, particularly cart recovery. 

Within the research, companies were ranked on an ‘internationalisation index’, based purely on consumer searches, with these well-known companies as the top five:

  1. ASOS
  2. Farfetch
  3. Book Depository
  4. Burberry 
  5. Boohoo

So I went away and abandoned some carts with these five brands and waited to see what happened. The results were surprising. 


Boohoo’s retargeting was delivered 24 hours after abandoning the sale and is a great example of how to create a strong retargeting email and convert abandoned sales.

Overall the messaging is right on target- helpful but not pushy with a simple question:

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

Clear actions points too:  

You can retrieve your bag by clicking on the link below. Alternatively you can contact our friendly customer care team customerservices@boohoo.com who will be happy to help.

Boohoo adds further reassurance to the customer in a ‘Did you know…?’ section that highlights its strengths and offers more customer service advice.

All calls-to-action are clearly labelled and highlighted, and surround a strong visual reminder of the products that have been abandoned. Any delivery, customer service or frequent queries can be quickly resolved as the email contains easy to spot directions to further information on these common sale sticking point. 

Branding is consistent with the Boohoo website, and the email is given a personal touch by being signed off by the head of customer care. However, the email could be personalised further by addressing the recipient by name.



Visually, Farfetch’s retargeting email could not be more different to Boohoo’s; retailers can take from this that there is no single ‘right’ way to lay out a retargeting email, each one must be individual to the brand.

However, this email does contain the same key content which is essential to converting abandoned sales.

The Farfetch example is a strong one, but there are areas it could improve on. The product imagery and branding is perhaps the best element as it is very impactful for its intended luxury fashion audience. All tabs directing to customer service and solutions to frequent queries are very clearly highlighted and easy to spot.

In terms of what could be improved; although the leading message is helpful and says all it needs to, the email could be easily personalised by addressing the customer directly.  It’s surprising the difference correctly addressing your customer can make. 

Another improvement point lays within the call-to-action. The click-through definitely stands out within the email and is easy to spot, however the action itself could be more persuasive. ‘Go to shopping bag’ does not immediately spark the thought of making a purchase as much as the message ‘complete your order’ as is used in the Boohoo example.

Farfetch example

Implications for businesses

Amazingly, only two of the five retailers have any cart abandonment strategy in place, with ASOS and Burberry surprising omissions. A recent report from KPMG found that of almost 200 retailers surveyed only a third contacted customers after they abandoned an online sale, confirming that the majority of online retailers in the UK are missing a huge opportunity.

Boohoo came out top when tested against response time, message content, branding, personalisation and calls-to-action. These great visual examples provide a good starting point for retailers to begin considering their own cart abandonment strategies.

At a minimum, I would always consider why a customer has abandoned their cart and make this the number one focus of your retargeting emails, include quick and easy to access information about delivery times and costs, product details and any other FAQs customers may have.

Having allayed their worries about buying a product, I would make it easy for customers to get their hands on the item using highly visible and persuasive calls to action. 

It might seem straightforward, but one thing I’ve noticed many retailers doing is forgetting to personalise emails, it really is surprising the difference it makes addressing your customer by their name.

I would always advise that you stay true to your brand, treating retargeting emails as you would any other marketing material and make sure it really sells the message of your brand.

Ensure that any emails you send are responsive to view on every platform from tablets to smartphones to desktops and that no quality is lost on any screen. Mobile emails opens grew 21% in 2013 and now 68% of Gmail and Yahoo! users’ opens occur on a smartphone or tablet (Litmus, Jan 2014).

Cart abandonment increases on smartphone and tablets and if you’ve spent all this time and effort creating a great retargeting email, you need to make sure that you don’t fall at the final hurdle and lose sales from an illegible email.

Last but not least, keep it simple. Shopping should be an enjoyable experience so make it as easy as possible for your customers to buy. They’ve already engaged with your brand, all it takes is a quick nudge to push them over the edge and make a sale.

At the end of the day, implementing cart recovery technology is not rocket science and I would like to know why some brands don’t appear to be doing so.


Published 5 March, 2014 by James Critchley

James Critchley is CEO and founder of cloud.IQ. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

4 more posts from this author

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Comments (5)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

The business case for big brands doing real-time marketing, such as cart and browse abandonment is undeniable.

For example, our bigger customers make up to £1 million per month in extra sales from cart and browse abandonment, at a cost which looks like a rounding error in comparison. Some data:

The brands you mention could be up-and running on a trial within a week of designing a couple of email templates and installing a one-line script and a tracking pixel on their websites. (Other marketing platforms are also available.)

I think the problem is that big brands get so many approaches from marketers in other fields (*cough* social *cough*) that they have become understandably cynical and tend to reject everything.

over 4 years ago



Ecommerce websites have evolved, like how man evolved from apes! From oscommerce to magento's latest edition of 1.8 it has been a very long journey for the ecommerce experts

We have seen the good and the bad both, the lack of search engine friendliness, browser compatibility issues, issues with payment and shipping methods! The current edition of magento has overcome all and is a best possible solution for medium and large enterprises, having said that not all can handle magento, only experts like Enlightened It Development can do that.

over 4 years ago



One of the strongest reasons to cart abandonment is user authentication methods used at the very last step before the user completes the purchase.
CAPTCHA, for example. Just the one that's used here before submitting the comment. It's an obstacle, an additional barrier. It doesn't simplify the purchase, but complicates it. Users tend to quit their interaction with the website after having failed at CAPTCHA.
E-commerce sites need to use user friendly verification that doesn't require any actions from the users. Keypic is a good tool.

PS. Ok, and now I have to try and solve CAPTCHA to post this comment....(

over 4 years ago



This article is really interesting, especially as today I did some eCommerce sales funnel failure research, today. I joined several mailing lists (surprising how few brands place a priority on list building), and checked to see where I ended up, and the follow up email.

Nearly all dropped me back on the homepage after signing up. No thank you, how can we help, got any questions, etc. Didn't even know if my email had gone through or not.

Others took me off site, to ugly uncustomised generic "you've subscribed" landing pages.

But most interesting was, how few of the maybe 20 lists I joined today, sent me a welcome email - and the ones that did, went in for the hard sale immediately.

I know these observations are off topic, but this article just shone a light to me as to how some of the things we marketers, and people who reverse engineer the user experience, think of as just 'common sense', just isn't to the untrained eye. However, with big brands working with massive multi-channel digital strategists, there's no excuse. It's very surprising that carts are being left abandoned without so much as a.."can we help?", So much money being left on the proverbial table. Fab article...thanks!

over 4 years ago

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

@Stacey. Great observation and very true! If you're not already writing a blog post about this, and if eConsultancy aren't interested because this is their blog after all :-), would you consider writing a longer version for us to run as a guest blog post? Contact me if you're interested.

over 4 years ago

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